Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for April 11, 2017

Hola Amigos,

Another two weeks have gone by lickety-split!  We have been keeping very busy; Ben always has multiple projects going on, usually helping someone get something done, which is always an adventure here in Mexico.  Tomorrow, he's off to do something for himself!  He's flying up to Oregon to purchase an old Jeep, which he hopes to bring down here in May (another quick trip up and back).  Once the deed is done, we'll have stories to tell, I'm sure, but I can tell you this much so far...  The Jeep is located in St. Helens, Oregon, which is northwest of Portland.  The owner is located in upper New York State.  The buyer (Ben) is in Mexico.  We sent friends from Portland to check it out for us, and we are to trying to figure out all the logistics!  Phew.  He'll be glad to get back dealing with contractors and driveways and house-cleaning and repairing issues!  Oh yes, Greg:  He's flying back to Baja on the same flight as you and your family!  

In the mean time, my dogs and I will be walking the beach and checking for fun things to pick up.  (I found a $50 peso bill in the sand yesterday!)  

My latest project is another quilt top.  I hope to get it done in a couple weeks to give to my friend June, who delayed their trip back to Oregon by a month.  We'll see how ambitious I am (Hope to get to it today!) and how many squares I can complete.  I did this one without a pattern, so had to do a bit of trial and error first, but it's turning out pretty nice, I think.  Finished block size is 10".  I want to use the black polka-dot for flashing (strips between the blocks) with colorful squares of fabric at each intersection.  Should be fun!  

   Our daughter and her family got to take a spring break trip to Jordan last week, and they took the kids to places Ben and I got to go in 2009 (before any of the kids were born).  Petra, Jerash (ancient Roman city); they saw some amazing things.  Made me wish I was with them!   This is the Treasury Building at Petra.

David (the 7 year old) was excited to be able to read "Philadelphia" on some mosaic tiles they saw.  Of course, it was written in Greek!  

And a minor Mexican miracle this week... Chuyito, who is repairing our boat, found some used 15.5" tires that fit the '73 pickup!  Wow!   Here's a guy from a local tire shop getting ready to jack up the truck.    You can see Ben's and Chuyito's shadows to the left as they watch (it was a HOT day!)  The boat is close to done.  It needs a part Greg is bringing down, and we're getting the name re-done on the sides, and putting it on the back as well (as Mexican law requires), and Chuyito will be polishing it and doing bottom paint.  Soon!!!  (Mexican time!)  

We're eating meals on the veranda more often as the weather warms up, and the other day I spotted a male and female Phyrroloxia.  They look like Cardinals, and I guess are part of the same family of birds.  I really like their long tails and sharp top knots!  And they do love the sunflower seeds we put out!  

Easter Sunday is coming up, and this year is the first time since we've been here that it won't be a sunrise service on the beach.  As we all age, it's with a sigh of relief that we don't have to be up before the roosters to set up sound equipment on the beach.  And that's a good thing too, since Ben decided to be gone this Sunday.  Yikes!  (He runs the sound equipment at church, but we've got excellent help!)  Regardless, we wish you a joyous celebration of the resurrection!  He is risen!  (Here's an Easter morning shot from several years ago).

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for March 30, 2017

Hola Amigos!  

Si, si!  Yo estoy un poco tarde esta semana;  lo siento!  I think I'm finally getting into the Mexican mañana mode, where time isn't so important any more! It has been a rather busy week...lots to do and places to go.  However, we are enjoying it here at home.  Our shaving brush tree is blooming again, and it is prolific!  And there are as many or more blooms on the ground as there are on the tree.  The blooms last less than one day, then fall off, so the ground is littered with these beautiful bright pink blooms.

In the tree, they look like this....

On the ground, like this....

And for our friend John, the Cannas you gave to us (or at least their great-grandchildren) are still blooming.  We finally found a bug spray so that the leaves are not eaten as soon as they unfurl, so they are looking better all around.  You don't mind them sideways, do you?  In real life, these are redder.  

Another plant blooming in our garden is our Cardon Cactus.  Not real impressive, but the bugs and birds like them!  (Notice the little black ant on one of the petals.)

This is the same cactus, and our view to the FINAL garage construction project on this side of Vista del Mar park.  That should keep the crew busy for several months. 

I finished my quilt piecing for the latest quilt I'm making.  Now I need to get it to our friends who do the quilting for me.  They happen to spend 6 or 7 months here in Baja, so they live close by.  They'll take it home with them and quilt it for me, and I will add the binding.  I like how it turned out.  Very colorful!  This is for a new Wick baby.  No, not Rebecca, but her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, who are expecting this spring.  We'd better put a nice warm batting in it, because they live in northern Minnesota! 

The boat is coming together nicely.  It does start now, since the starter has been repaired, and the local electrician has rewired everything as well.  Evidently the connections were not "marine", so many were corroded.  That may be the trouble with keeping things for so long....they start falling apart on you!  For instance, about a month ago, we heard a big bang at our house.  Ben walked all around looking for a garden hose or air hose that blew, and couldn't find anything.  Then he noticed that his 1973 pickup had a blown tire.  He says he's never seen a tire blown as badly as that one, just sitting there!  The problem is, the tire is 15.5".... and that size is impossible to find anymore.  He even searched online and could find nothing.  So, now we need to change 4 wheels and tires or at least 2 of them.  Ugh!  (He probably put these on the truck before we drove it down to Baja in October 2000.  Not much wear, but how much longer will the other 3 last???  Best to replace the lot of them!

Oh!!  Here's a good tire story!  Last week we went to Costco to 1) return my hearing aid for a different kind and 2) check on tires for the 2006 Red truck.  Ben had bought the tires at Costco in Bend, Oregon, and they were wearing on the edges badly.  He showed them to the manager there, and he offered to replace all of them for full price!!  Wow!  They hadn't gone their full 70000 miles (maybe half that), so he said he'd refund the whole thing.  It took some time and about 3 clerks working the cash registers with their magic codes to get the money back (in the form of a Costco cash card).  We went back out to the tire department, turned it in, plus $110 pesos ($5 US) and we had a new set of tires.  Pretty cool deal!  

On that particular trip to Costco, we'd stayed the night before in San Jose with our friends Sandy and Debi, who'd just returned from a trip to the states, at their time share, Coral Baja.  Very nice place, and I got a couple pics of this "picture opportunity"... a family posing in their Mexican finery next to a cute burro.  They told me I should do it, and I told them I have my own personal burros at my casa!  This burro came with a poop bag attached, which I thought was pretty clever!  

Here's a view of the beach in front of Coral Baja....not recommended for swimming with the pounding surf (it rattled the doors in our rooms!)

Weather is warming up nicely, and the wind is not blowing so hard (usually!)  

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for March 14, 2017

Hola Amigos!

We are already almost half way through March! I can tell you now that it is truly spring-like here in Baja Sur.  Daytime temps are in the 80's, I had to put up my shade cloth for the lettuce bed, and there are more calm days than windy days. I told Ben the other day that there will be more boats moored out there in the bay soon!  (And fewer kite boarders and wind surfers will be in town, since there are less windy days for them).  

We took some friends to the Santa Rita hot springs out of San Jorge the other day.  That's the first time we were there this season!   It was a windy day, so it was a great day to visit (because it is NOT windy there).  We stopped for lunch first at Palomar in Santiago, which is almost a requirement for a day that includes a trip to the hot springs! 

Even though this picture doesn't show it, there were quite a few people visiting when we were there.  It is hot enough that a lot of people don't spend much time in there!  (Probably between 100 to 102F depending on where you sit). 

Our town has many fund raising activities throughout the year, and one that has touched our hearts is "Feeding the Hungry".  A local Mexican and his wife, Chuy and Lydia, spend many hours every week buying and delivering basic foods to 27 of the poorest families in Los Barriles.  The majority of the funds are donated to him by our church for food purchases.  For the past 5 years or so, an American lady in town has been putting on a Fashion Show, with all of the proceeds going to Chuy's "Pan de Vida" program.  Well, this year she said she'd like to quit organizing the show, and asked for volunteers to take it over.  My dear husband decided that WE should do it, and volunteered us!  Yes, friends, Ben now knows more than you can imagine about putting on a Fashion Show!  Fortunately, we don't have to do the show until December 1, 2017.  Phew!  I attended another Fashion show here in town last week (and took copious notes for Ben, who we didn't let attend!)  Many of the same presenters will be at our show, including Pepita from Magic of the Moon in Cabo San Lucas, and our local Victoria, who makes some gorgeous dresses.  It's a lot of fun, as many of our personal friends are models for these ladies.  And, to top it off, I won the beautiful centerpiece from our table.  (This show was to help raise funds for ALMA, an animal help organization.)  

Ben's latest project is to repair our "antique" wheelbarrow.

We bought it new when we lived in Eugene, so that's probably been 48 years ago!  This is at least the second set of wooden handles he's made (hanging in the pic to the left).  The hardest part about maintaining a wheelbarrow here is cactus thorns!  We gave up on an inflatable tire, and bought a sold rubber one last summer.  Yesterday, he had it sand-blasted (and got all the old concrete off put on by contractors that used our wheelbarrow!) and was going to have it painted, but the painter was sick.  So today, he bought lots of cans of spray paint and is painting away!  He said his index finger is getting very tired!  He even bought nice new bolts.

My project, FINALLY started yesterday, is another quilt.  It seemed to take forever to choose a pattern I liked, but I finally chose "Snail Takes a Detour".  (Maybe that "snail" name is something I can identify with???)  Anyhow, my work area is all set up and I got started putting things together yesterday.  Hopefully, it won't take too long!  The only thing missing from this picture is the ironing board, which I set up to the right of the table.  Fortunately, it doesn't have to be too big, since it is for a new baby.  I make them "child sized", so they can be used through nap time ages.  

 My little vegetable garden is doing well.  We have eaten a lot of lettuce and spinach, the Walla Walla onions are getting bigger daily, and I've canned 15 jars of beans and hoping for more (and we eat a lot of fresh ones, too).  And finally, I think the little lizards who've been eating my baby cucumbers are tired of them, and we're getting decent sized cukes.  Before, they'd been eating 1/2 of each one that got about 2" long!  Grrrrr!!  I'm very happy to see one get this big.  The plants are doing fantastic, and I've got lots of blooms and a promise of many more cukes....we'll see!

 I've started a 2017 March Album if you'd like to see more photos.  And I will get captions on them, manana if not before!  

We hope you are all well.  

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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for February 28, 2017

Hola Amigos!

Happy last day of February 2017.  Did that month fly by quickly or what?  

We have had some lovely calm, sunny days, some seriously windy days, and a few raindrops here or there!  We sometimes have what we call 6" rain ... that's when the raindrops are 6" apart!  We think spring is not far from us.  The birds are singing, the Doves are cooing, and the days are getting longer.  We're almost ready to start eating our dinners out on our veranda again, as it will be lighter and warmer.  (Daylight Savings will start a few weeks later here in Mexico than in the US).  We spent one of those windy afternoons at Rancho Buena Vista last Friday.  They were offering dinner and music, and you can't beat the venue!  It's one of our favorite places to be, and it's only about 1/2 mile from our casa.  Good food, good music and great friends with whom to spend the evening.  

Our friend Mark, who is part owner of the Ranch, plays in a band called "Skeleton Key", and they were doing the music that night.  Here's a link to a short video of the band.  Mark is on the left, singing.  Skeleton Key

We went to a Valentine's dinner / dance at another favorite place, La Playa.  The band there was called "Revolving Door", named for the musicians who come and go with regularity!  They're good, too, and played some great dance music for the crowds.  Just check out these dancers who showed up to join the fun! 

They had some pretty amazing moves in those unwieldy outfits!  

AND..... Miguel de Hoyos was in town again playing his wonderful guitar!  Hooray.  (We do seem to get out to dinner and music a lot, don't we?)  February has been a great month for it!  And it is even more fun with friends.  

Of course, the burros are still hanging around.  We took the opportunity to feed them some old tortillas the other day, and they appreciated it a lot!  The bray of the burro is heard here regularly in our barrio!

Ain't she sweet?  (Oh, and so is Ben!)

Our Los Frailes friends Kate and Mel have headed north (to fish on the Rogue), and they gave us their left-over bird seed and a neat sunflower seed feeder to store for them.  I filled it with a little bit of sunflower seeds and hung it out in our feeding area.  It took almost a week before I saw birds using it.  Now, it looks like I might be busy keeping it filled up!  We have Blue Jays, Cardinals, Finches, Woodpeckers and various other little birds enjoying it.  I might just have to find one like it this summer and bring down to use next season.  It has been fun watching them figure it out!  

Flag Day here in Mexico (Dia de la Bandera) was February 24th, and I got a shot of the flag on the monument coming home from Costco that afternoon.  I think they should fly it all the time, but they only do it on flag day.  We have a great view of the flag monument from our casa.

Ben and I have both met a major milestone in our lives.  We each got hearing aids; Ben for both ears and me for my left ear.  Ben's are special, in that he can control volume and other settings with his iPhone.  I chose a different type, which doesn't seem to do anything but sit in my ear and make things too loud!!  Sigh.... I have no volume control of any kind, and it took some convincing to get the technician (at Costco) to turn it down enough so it wasn't grating on my hearing nerves!  I will probably exchange this one for a different type....but I'm giving this one a go, for a week or two at least.  

I have added some new pics to our 2017 February album, including a couple videos.  I'll probably even put a couple captions on them, too!  

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for February 14, 2017

Hola Amigos!

Happy Valentine's Day!  We are going out tonight to celebrate at our favorite restaurant, and listen to some music.  Should be fun!  Thursday night, we're going out again to listen to some wonderful music played by our favorite guitarist, Miguel de Hoyos, who is back in town for a week.  Hooray!  We're getting our "fix"!  

For a little "sweetness" from Baja, here is the newest burrito in the neighborhood;  she (I'm assuming here on the gender!) was born last week to the black Mama.  This newest addition is SO friendly.  She came right up to me and sniffed my pockets for treats and rubbed up against me as I petted her.  I was afraid she was going to follow me home!  What a sweetheart!  And yes, her fur is very soft and thick.  

Ben has a home improvement project he hopes to finish today.  He is replacing the door frame around the kitchen door, since termites had gotten into it and did their dirty deeds.  The whole project involves going to the lumber stores in La Paz and/or San Jose, buying enough cedar for the project, cutting and planing and sanding the wood, figuring out where the hinges should really go on the door (research), making at least two trips to the local hardware store to buy new hinges (the old ones are corroded and ugly after 15 years).  Today, he was far enough along to remove the screen door and the old door frame, and is in the process of fitting the door and frame together, and adjusting for the new hinge positions.  It is windy today, but fortunately, not too windy, so it is pretty pleasant in the kitchen, where I'm writing this blog.  Sandals and a tank top are appropriate wear for the day, so you know it's pleasant here, about 74F in the shade.  

Here's the old frame, and my view as I was cooking breakfast!

The dogs are enjoying it, as there is no dog door to deal with! In fact, their hoping it stays just like this!

The Los Barriles street project has been finished with new concrete pavement!  Hooray!  The street goes by our church, and they did work one Sunday with the paving job, and now the concrete is curing for a few weeks;  hopefully we'll be able to drive on it before too long.  Right now it means a walk of about 200 yards or so to church from where we can park.  Not bad in this weather.

The dark red building on the left is our church.  The post in the road is complements of CFE (the electric company).  At least it's not in the middle of the street, like we've seen in other places around here!  And it was put there many years ago, before the street project was thought about. 

The above picture is when they were paving on Sunday a week ago.  It's really nice having pumper trucks to haul the concrete in.  There were about 5 lined up ready to go after this one dumped his load!  And what is even more amazing, the man hole covers line up the the top of the concrete!  

We took a drive last week out to El Cardonal for a sight-seeing tour, and for breakfast at a new restaurant out there.  When we asked for coffee, this is how it was served!  Nicest cup of coffee serving I've had in a long time!

Another really nice treat is that the road had been repaved for the majority of it.  And I mean "REALLY NICE"!  The last time I'd been on it it was falling apart, with pot holes and pieces of the road falling into canyons!   It was a very pleasant surprise.

The road that hasn't been improved (of course) was our route back, the coast road.  We get the best views of the Sea of Cortez from here, so it is always worth the trip a few times a yea.  And on nice days, we'll almost always stop at Punta Pescadero Hotel for a drink and/or snack (or to pick up friends who fly in and land their own private plane at the paved runway there).  Since we'd just had breakfast, we didn't stop this time.

Punta Pescadero Hotel is to the left of this beach about 1/4 mile.

Our house is located in front of that hill in the distance that is about 1/3 of the width of the picture on the right.  

That's about it.  Our last guests Tom and Karan drug themselves out of here, reluctantly.  Our next "for sure" guests are scheduled for April, so we've got room for you if you're tired of all the snow and freezing temps and rain and stuff that you're experiencing where you live.  The dogs would be glad to show you how to get to the beach, and where the burros hang out.   

We've got three baby burros this year!  Cuter 'n all get out!  

I've started a 2017 February album with a few more pics in it.  Remember, to see the captions, click on the little "i" (for info) near the right side.  I think you have to click on the picture first to make it full size, then you'll see the "i".  

Hasta la proxima vez,
Your doorless friends in Baja,  (reminds me of when we moved in in December 2002 ... we had windows, electricity, telephone and water, but no doors!)
Harriet, Ben, Sam & Zoey 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pic-of-the-Week for January 31, 2017

Hola Amigos!

We have been having a great time the last several weeks!  We have been back in the Los Frailes wilderness, been to the big city of San Jose for a fancy night, had a Paella cooking class, toured around on the Baja 300 race course (before the race!) and other assorted fun things.  We also celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary on January 27th.  Wow!  
Our friend Perla surprised us with a cake for our anniversary... It was so cute!  She got all the details, down to our two little black dachshunds!  The shot with us was the next day, and the cake cover kind of smashed the little people down into the beach, but the fresh look from the night before is just precious.

The day after our anniversary, we had our friends Hector Manuel and Rosi Amarillas come from La Paz and give us a Paella cooking class.  It was fun AND delicious!  

She made the final dish in her father-in-law's 50 year old aluminum Paella pan.  They brought chicken thighs, pork ribs, little clams, shrimp and other goodies to add to the final dish, and it was wonderful to watch and to eat.  (Thank you Ryan, for buying the Paella rice...she forgot to buy some in La Paz, and what you bought was just perfect.)

She even fixed up Ben's Mole sauce.  She added a touch of peanut butter and a teaspoon more of brown sugar.  It was very tasty with the Paella.  

Good news here in Los Barriles....they are finally paving the street they've been working on for over a year.  The street goes from here next to Tio Pablo's restaurant up the hill to the LB Delegacion, then on out to Hwy. 1.  They are only paving to just past the Delegacion for now.  It also goes right by our church building, so we may be parking a distance away while that new concrete cures before driving on it.  (Ben, the old ODOT employee, says 7 days).  They do have some nice equipment (again; Ben was impressed!)  

We took a couple days to go to town and celebrate.  Karan's birthday was the 26th, and our anniversary was the 27th, so we went to San Jose del Cabo.  We stayed at the Tropicana, an old hotel in downtown that is in the center of everything, and has a nice pool and very good restaurant.  We decided to have dinner on Karan's birthday at the restaurant of her choice, and ended up at Don Sanchez, which was right next door.  Delicious!  We each ordered 26 oz. Rib Eye steaks and split them with our spouses.  

Ben got a good photo of the resident parrot at the Tropicana.  He was better than a rooster in the morning when he got very vocal!  I'm sure he woke up everyone in our hotel, and some down the street!

Another January celebration is our granddaughter Eleanor's 3rd birthday on the 28th.  She loves everything pink, including the pink frosting on her birthday cupcakes!  (Yes, her talented Mom made and frosted them).  

On our way home from San Jose, we stopped off in Miraflores, and decided to go home the "old" way to Santiago, which also happened to be at least part of the course for the race that was run this Saturday.  No pictures of the race, this time, but the drive on the old Baja roads was fun.  We saw "pig on a rope" at several places (fattening it up for you know what). 

One last time, we took the drive out to Los Frailes to help set up Mel and Katie's new place.  They had the 5th wheel in place by the time we got there, but Ben installed a great little stairway he built to make the steps more manageable (5" each)  for Katie from one level of the camp to the other.  She was thrilled!  It is lightweight, so they can pick it up and move it to a safe place while they are gone.

Believe it or not, more photos are in our January 2017 album.  It includes a few more photos and videos of making Paella and the Frailes rancho set-up.  I think you probably believe all we do is eat good food all the time, and you're not far off!  (We ate a wonderful meal at Frailes, too!)  So, if you've got a hankering for some good Mexican food, come on down!

Tom & Karan are leaving tomorrow, but are already planning their trip for next year (start earlier, stay longer...)  and have put a deposit down on a place to rent.  We've had a great time with them, and are sorry to see them leave.  

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