Category Archives: retirement in Mexico

Birthday Party


8  DECEMBER, 2017

We woke to very cold wind in the morning, and it turned out to be the theme of the day. Most of it wasn’t fun, but there were some bright spots.

I gave Chon a present when we woke up. He had told me that on one birthday, when he was a boy, someone had given him some Oreo cookies, and he had really liked them. I bought him a little pack of Oreos. He was  surprised.

When we came out of our room to our portal where it’s pleasantly warm, the phone rang. A sister, Chabela called to wish Chon a happy birthday, “But first”, she said, she wanted to rant at him and complain that he hadn’t opened the door to Juana, their visiting sister who came the other day to our little town. We had been dead to the world the afternoon that she came, after a brutal rehearsal in the morning. We hadn’t known about her visit – not that she was coming, and not that she came to visit her sister-in-law, who had suffered a fall and broken a vertebra, (that we also were not informed of). Then María called to say happy birthday, and that – just like that – she had done her duty. Chon is very sensitive to these things (attacks? and opinions), and he felt hurt and angry. We got to work.

We hadn’t carried even one of our many speakers and other equipment to the stage. No a surprise. We’re both procrastinators. The plan had been to begin to move the biggest equipment on Wednesday. It proved difficult to stick to the plan.

We began in the cold, windy morning. We took things one or two (or four) at a time, resting in between. Other times we had peónes to help. Not this time, and it was to prove disastrous, to me, anyway. About noon or later, all the equipment was up there except for my keyboards and various cables.

A niece, Nena, daughter of Elena, Chon’s sister, had said she would come at 1:30. But she didn’t come, and I worriedly began to prepare some things for the food for the guests. Later we’d find that she had had to make a trip to San Francisco, to sign papers for the family’s health insurance.

So – here was our menu, as planned:

Tacos de aire, a charming name for a way to serve folded, crispy tacos (you can buy them prepared, in large sacks). All you have to do to serve them is top them with liquified beans flavored with some garlic (important!), shredded lettuce and/or cabbage, salsa (the eater’s choice of red or green), and a lovely cream (thinner than sour cream). Tacos de áire, “air tacos” – no meat – gotta love the name!

Hot chocolate. We bought a big container of Nestle, which is to be prepared with milk. We sampled some made with only water, which was “OK” to us. I thought people would probably like it just like that (chocolate is a luxury here).

Cake ( to be brought by a friend, Sarita).

For the tacos de aire I wrote earlier “all you have to do is” to make the tacos de áire, but that involves preparing the beans (think a couple of gallons of “bean dip”), making the salsa (a couple of quarts of each), shredding the lettuce and cabbage, and having the cream on hand. (Sarita told us about a very good cream that she likes, brand “Aguas Calientes”).

So I was in the kitchen, making quarts of salsa and cooking beans. Chon was on the stage, setting up. But when I went out to see how he was doing, he was resting, and thinking that nobody would come to the party, because it was so horribly windy and cold. He didn’t do much to make all the electrical connections. He seemed shocked and upset about the weather. (And the earlier calls from his sisters).

I stuck to preparing the salsa, and was feeling worried because Nena hadn’t showed up. I really, really hoped she’d show up because I didn’t feel like I had time to fry, season and liquify gallons of beans. She did show up, about 5 p.m. (the invitations were for 6:30), and I was so very relieved

The stage still wasn’t set up, and I kept working, starting the water for chocolate heating, helping in the kitchen, carrying gallons of dish-washing water from the faucet outside, and generally keeping up.

Nena told me the chocolate would be better if we added sticks of cinnamon and some bags of specially prepared finely ground corn for “atóle”, a hot Mexican drink based on corn and flavored with a dazzling array of flavors to select from. That turned out to be a good decision. It made the chocolate thicker and tastier. You may feel sceptical, but it turned out really well. I liked it, and I’m a bit picky about chocolate. It had enough chocolate flavor, and it was thicker than “regular” hot chocolate. Very tasty!

Nena continued in the kitchen, making the thick, “smearable” beans from the beans I had cooked earlier, and the red salsa (she said the green salsa I had made was good – yay! – the first time I made a large quantity of salsa – I just used a much larger quantity of jalapeños than I would have made for myself – about 3 times as much, haha).

The stage still wasn’t set up. We carried my two keyboards over there, and set them up on the stand, but the cords still weren’t connected.

A few people trailed in – a friend Paty brought several relatives, and they sat waiting in the cold. They waited and more people came, and waited. Chon spent quite a bit of time teasing the flock of kids that had come in through the open doors. It seemed that he wasn’t at all concerned about getting the music equipment working. No sound check. No nothing.

I’m not sure what time we began to play, but I think it was around 9. It took a long time to begin after we LOOKED like we were ready to start. The amplifiers and the head still were not communicating. Un-technical music comments follow: when the sounds began to come, I could hear my keyboards, and I could hear the guitar, coming from different speakers. There was little volume from the drums, a dangerous thing – you can get completely lost if you can’t hear in particular the bass drum. But Chon couldn’t hear the drums at all on his side of the stage,  and he turned the volume way up. On my side of the stage I could hear sound from the drum machine that I had never heard before – offbeats with treble-ish high sounds. Extremely confusing and excruciating. Chon’s exquisitely-tuned ears weren’t hearing the same things my exquisitely-tuned ears were hearing. In several instances we weren’t playing the same chords, or even in the same key. It was horrible.

It did get better, but we only played about a tenth of our set list. It simply was too cold. My fingers felt stiff and clumsy. About half of the invited guests had gone, and a few die-hards were asking for special songs that they loved, so we were reluctant to stop.

At one point I did get off the stage quickly because one small boy was throwing rocks at the dove nest in our big pine tree. I was unpleasant, and so was he and his two friends (all uninvited).

The cake Sarita brought was very, very good. A favorite cake in Mexico is “trés leches”, made with a basic white cake, soaked with “three milks”, all canned, I think. It’s served at nearly all celebrations – something you have to get used to, and for me, still not a favorite. The cake Sarita brought was also the “trés leches” style, I but it wasn’t overly wet – a very moist white cake (I think it may have had some whole wheat flour in the mix) completely covered with roughly grated coconut – delicious! and with cajeta, a caramelized milk syrup, between the layers. It was wonderful.

Nena’s family stayed around afterwards in the cold, to chat about plans for the next harvest (her husband drives a tractor for us).

It was a day that was unsatisfactory in some ways, and pleasurable in small ways.

Here’s what we used for the party – recipe for a party of forty:

two big bags of tacos (there were lots left over)

two kilos of beans, cooked, mashed, fried, with garlic cloves

two salsas:

green: a kilo of tomatillos, about 20 fat jalapenos, 5 fat cloves of garlic, onions, salt

recipe: “salsa for 100”

red: a kilo of red tomatoes, jalapeños, onion, cilantro

two heads of lettuce shredded, mixed with one heavy head of cabbage shredded

two pints of crema Aguas Calientes

one big cake

one container of Nestle’s chocolate powder, 20 liters of water – mix into milk two bags of maizena, a type of corn starch, used for champurrado and atole.

Racing The Weather


It’s planting time in Central Mexico. For regular farmers like us, (“regular”, hah! Joke) it’s time to plant corn. If a farmer came out financially ahead on the wheat crop, there are funds available to invest in corn-planting expenses, and early June is the time. This year we began on the 6th. When we got out to the fields we were noticeably alone. There were no other tractors or planting teams with pickups loaded with fertilizer and seed. We’re in charge of seven fields, and they’re not all located adjacent to each other; we have a good view of the neighbors’ fields. Nada. There was no movement – only us. And we heard the talk (and jeers) about town. “Too early!”

Our team was headed by Chon The Guitar Player (boss), Me (driver), a tractor operator, and two loaders. Loaders load (duh) the pickup with the seed and fertilizer sacks, and then move that heavy stuff to the canisters on the planter behind the tractor. Each sack of granulated fertilizer weighs about 100 pounds. The seed sacks weigh less. It’s a heavy job but there are long resting times between the carrying and loading, and to me that balances it out – long hours, but a reasonably pleasant day.

That was the first day. It took us a week and a day (and then another two weeks) to finish the planting, and I won’t write a boring blow-by-blow chronicle for something that should have taken 5 days. Damp fields, hot weather, nightly rains, not-dry-enough leftover wheat stalks that got stuck in the planter wheels, lack of fertilizer (the supplier ran out!), but workers who wanted to Get Things Done by working at odd hours; all these contributed to a final acceptable outcome.

And then, like farmers do, we had to hope that the rain would arrive to keep the corn sprouts alive.  They were already poking up out of the ground in some areas. The most costly thing that could happen is for all the millions of sprouts to die of thirst. And if it happens to us, it will happen for most of  the farmers in our area.

If you were paying attention, the “Too early!” comment turned out to be true for nearly everyone. And by the end of the month (including on my birthday) many of us were re-planting. For three long weeks we waited for the rain we expected at the beginning of June, and with the exception of small sprinkles of rain in certain micro areas, they didn’t come.

A comment about my birthday – it was pleasant! We had casually planned a short-distance trip to somewhere new, thinking we’d just drive somewhere. Instead, since it was Tuesday, we decided – why not? – we decided to go to our go-to Tuesday place, where two-for-one is the magical word. For big plates of breaded fish filets served with rolls, salad, rice, and tostadas with chíle oil, and just about any kind of salsa you could ask for.

A dash to the ag supply place with money freshly withdrawn from the bank account preceded a stop at our tractor driver’s house. Yes, he said, he’d come to reseed a field.

And that’s what we did, until rain began to splatter the field, thunder sounded, lightning flashed, and – we finished the section of the field that had sprouted but not lived!

It was a day like many others, but somehow – just right.

Music Sunday!

OK, yes, it’s loud. We use our big speakers, and I’ve heard that it can be noticed in a town less than a mile away.

Right now we’re hearing The Eagles. People are on their way to mass. They just can’t miss it.

Time for breakfast of tamales at 5 pesos apiece. With beans, and café de la olla – check it out! Delicious!

Accidente Musicál, Dos Histórietas Y Una Receta

We had a music accident the other day. We were practicing for a Valentine’s Day party, and we were excited, because, well, it’ll be musica romántica. And what could be more fun than learning or re-learning beautiful music for a three-hour gig? We were deep into a rehearsal when The Guitar Player’s pick was mistakenly but enthusiastically thrown across the room. In an effort to protect the drum machines (we use drum machines), they were bumped off their stand, and hit the tile floor. 

These were no ordinary drum machines. They’ve been programmed to hold the rhythms and tempi (speeds) of hundreds (really!) of songs we play. And they’re (ahem!) vintage. If you’re interested, I can name models and ages. The older one broke. Some outside parts (little feet, sliding adjuster knobs) broke, and something inside broke, too. The rehearsal was, well, over, and The Guitar Player began to look for whatever was causing the machine to not work. We were making plans to visit La Plaza De La Tecnología in León, or to call a friendly repair guy we know in León, or ? There was a teensy little copper coil inside (OK, it had been inside, but wasn’t any more). We swept the floor. We looked underhand on top of furniture. Finally The Guitar Player took the rest of the guts of the machine apart, and – gasp – he found it! But that didn’t solve the problem. After all, it was broken. 

We have a back-up drum machine, wisely purchased from eBay a couple of years ago. We studied the manual (yay! we had a manual, and we found it!) and remembered that there was a way to dump all the sounds and all the patterns/songs into another device or into the other drum machine. It’s two days later, now, having had to take a day off of practicing to play for a church service in a nearby town.  End of first little story.

Two drum machines “talking to each other” via midi.

So what are we doing today? The Guitarist/drum machine programmer/composer/singer extraordinaire is getting together a few (a few hundred!) seed and fertilizer bags that a neighbor wants to buy (one peso apiece). And I got a chance to get into the kitchen and make something good. I felt liking creating a memory of meals out of my past – something comforting to help us get past our musical accident and some disturbing personal financial news from California.

Beginning of second little story. A couple of years ago we were invited to play a few hours of music in a big fiesta nearby. The woman who had contracted us is a friend. We finished the night, marred as it was by a gang group of young guys who have a history of (sometimes violent) differences of opinion with the town we were in, and who had been making comments and throwing bottles. We didn’t have to hide behind our speakers as we have on various occasions, (don’t ask!) but we were tired that night anyway. It had been stressful, and the sound we got from our system wasn’t as we had hoped – things like that can really tire you out. 

We were invited to our hostess’ house for a late night supper following the gig. She said, “I made a nice cream of squash.” I wasn’t exactly sure what that might be, but running through my mind was,”Cream of squash? Pumpkin? Yellow squash? Zucchini?” but we couldn’t politely refuse. And besides, we like her, and her very, very pleasant old style mother. We sat at their comfortably large table in the comfortable kitchen (probably not like anything you might be imagining) and she served us bowls of pale green soup. I hesitantly tasted it, and goodness! it was absolutely delicious! After awhile (another bowl, please), I asked how she had made it. It sounded extremely simple, and I imagined that she must have left out some steps. 

But here’s a very, very similar recipe I recently received from Mely Martinez by way of her blog called Mexico In My Kitchen. Don’t worry – I’m not trying to make this a food blog (I save that for my sister)!

Soapbox: (hah! I wrote soupbox first!) I’m a native Californian (a small minority), and proud of it. Californians are familiar with Mexican food. And here comes the opinion: most Mexican food you may eat at a restaurant or at a potluck (all of which I’m inordinately fond of), just isn’t what you might find in a Mexican town. As much as I enjoyed my mother’s homemade enchiladas, with tomato sauce, canned green peppers and Jack cheese, they just weren’t like enchiladas I’ve eaten in Mexico. Too much cheese! (used in Mexico more as a flavoring)! Too much tomato sauce! And when I search for authentic recipes, they’re not readily available, in my opinion, unless they’re in Spanish (and then, not always). End of soapbox – returning to the topic.

I’ve jealously attempted to create salsas and foods like the ones you can find in any little Mexican hole-in-the-wall restaurant, with some successes and many not-so-successful attempts. 

So I was pleased to see this recipe. In English. It looked so similar to the way my friend described making Crema de Calabaza. It’s so simple that you may not be attracted to it (just like I wasn’t), but I recommend making this for you and your family when you’re tired after a long gig, or a disappointment. It’s perfect for a medium-sized party. It can stand alone, with toast, bread, or cheese, or maybe a rice dish. It can be a first course. It’s smooth. It’s delicious. It’s creamy. I really, really like it. The ingredients and instructions are simple, and there are clear photos to help you if you have any doubts.

This blog photo is so much prettier than mine, but the flavor of mine was just as good! Swear! Hope you can tell.

What Beautiful Chayotes!


On the left are two chilacayotas. We can discuss those later. On the right – a “different” type of chayote. Larger, and a darker green color than the ones I’ve seen in markets.

It took me several distinct steps to get to the point of saying that, over a period of a few years.

Step 1: What’s this in my soup? Bleh. What’s a chayote?

Step 2: Chayotes are OK, I guess.

Step 3: What else can you do with chayote besides put it in soup? What’s “agua fresca?” OK, I’m just kidding about not knowing what agua fresca is. I liked that right away. Who wouldn’t? Fresh fruits blended into gorgeously colorful drinks are wonderful in the summer alongside a meal, or just by themselves. Some of them may sound a bit unusual – agua de pepino, for example, is a cucumber drink. I was skeptical, but it was just  as delicious as lemon, or strawberry.

Chayote (chai-OH-teh) – it’s a pear-shaped squash with (usually) thin, pale green skin. It can be eaten raw or cooked. It has little flavor of its own, and picks up the good flavors in soups. Some people make agua fresca with it, and some people put it in salads.

Today I prepared albondigas (Mexican meatball soup) for Thanksgiving, not having had much opportunity to purchase a turkey, and not having an oven to roast it in. I do have a 6-quart slow cooker, but….

A friend, hoping for a favor from us (thank goodness it didn’t involve money), gave us these chayotes the other day. I put one in the albondigas, and blended one with some guayabas for a fruity, vegetable-ish drink.

Ready for Thanksgiving!


Knitting, Not Writing – Confessions

I’m dedicating this blog entry to my friend Michael, who just may be about to pick up his knitting, and to my friend Chris, who scored some yarn this week! if I can do it, YOU can do it.

An aunt knit me a sweater when I was a skinny preteen. (I still have it, Auntie Phyllis! And if I could lift a 150-pound reel-to-reel recording machine off my cedar chest, I’d post a photo of it!) It’s beautiful, and it made quite an impression on me. Other family members had impressive needle and hook skills, and there have always been displays of their handiwork in my life.

When I was eighteen I “got a scholarship” from Chapman College for a ship trip around the world. I use the quotes because the scholarship itself was not even close to covering the costs of the semester at sea. But I went, most likely because of my thoughtful parents and generous grandparents.

In Australia I bought myself some beautiful wool yarn, white thick-and-thin stuff wrapped with thin blue threads. I just loved it, and planned to make myself a sweater. And why wouldn’t I be able to? Our family was good at that kind of thing! And I did commence to knit a sweater. It was a pullover, and amazingly enough, I finished it, it fit in spite of my lack of experience with creating knit swatches to choose the correct needle size and, well, lack of any kind of experience at all with knitting. It was a bit difficult to pull over my head, I recall, and a bit baggy under the arms. And I couldn’t really wear it often because it was an extremely warm piece of clothing. It was beautiful, though.

Years later I began to knit again, and enjoyed it. I did mostly small projects that I could take with me to all types of music rehearsals. I love planning and dreaming about colors, and the act of knitting. I bought and devoured books about knitting, bought yarn and needles and made things.

It wasn’t until recently that I decided to make another sweater. I’d been re-practicing (re-learning?) my knitting techniques with scarves, stoles, neck warmers and such. And I have a rather (ahem) impressive stash of a variety of yarns, pretty much purchased at random.

I subscribe to several blogs about knitting, and discovered to my chagrin that most of them are aimed at selling things – yarn, knitting supplies, books, patterns. The ones I enjoy the most are about the details of knitting – tutorials, lessons, and problem solving. And this summer one site,,  caught my imagination, by suggesting a knit-along in which the participants would design (gulp) and knit a top-down sweater. This is a type of garment commonly knit on circular needles, starting at the top and going down. It sounded both scary and exciting, but possible.

There was a sweater pattern I like very much that is knit from one side to the other, if you can picture that, and it seemed like it could be great fun to see if that particular sweater could become more personalized, starting from the top with a sort of yoke of one color, and working down to the bottom of the sweater with a different color. And changing the pattern from a side -to-side thing to a top-down thing sounded like fun mainly because the blogger with the idea, Karen Templer, is skilled at explaining and teaching. I thought I would give it a try starting on August 1st. Lots of knitters must have been as enthusiastic as I, because a large group of them joined up, and began blogging and photographing and sharing ideas. I didn’t join, but I read and pored over the photos with great interest, and chose some yarn.

I had purchased some recycled cotton yarn on eBay a couple of years ago with the thought of making pot holders and dish cloths and towels as a way to practice different stitches. I jumped in. It was fun, and I ended up with quite a few finished objects. And I could take the small projects with me when we went to our corn fields. Here are some of them.


I was pleasantly surprised at how lovely the recycled cotton yarns were, and I decided to design my sweater with a grey-and-white yarn as the yoke, and use a cream-colored one for the rest. I planned to use a stitch that I like for the body of the sweater. It’s called Roman stitch and it’s rather elegant, and a simple stitch at the same time. It’s visible above on that cream-colored washcloth.

I began by making swatches to check my gauge, and making a practice yoke in ribbing. Here’s the winning swatch.



First experiment: I decided to use 1×1 ribbing (take a look at nearly any sweater – you’ll see ribbing in the stretchy bits at the cuffs, and usually around the bottom. edge.) The marled gray yarn looked so pretty next to the cream. I had knit the yoke and about six inches more of the sweater in the cream yarn before I decided that the 1×1 ribbing wasn’t what I wanted. Then followed an entertaining period of reading about the qualities of 1×1 ribbing versus 2×2 on line. I wish I had photographed the knitted result at this point, with the Roman stitch, because there was a lengthy time lapse before more fabric was made, and the stitch looked so nice, but the size of the sweater seemed a little small, although carefully planned. I tore the stitches up and started again.

Second experiment: This time I went with a 2×2 ribbing. It seemed more practical, nicely stretchy but springing back to its shape, and the color of the yarn even seemed even prettier in that stitch. I knit about half of the yoke, and was about to move on to joining the new color and using a larger needle when I saw it – a spot where I had put six purl stitches in a row instead of knit, 2, purl 2, knit 2, etc. And it was right close to an edge, quite visible. I tore out the stitches and started over. After all, I had only knit a couple of inches!

Third and fourth experiments: I’ll cut right to the chase here and admit that when I cast on, I only cast on 90 stitches instead of 94. That’s what comes from trusting your memory, instead of reading your notes. MUST R-E-A-D THE PATTERN, GAIL! So when I got to the part where I was increasing, four stitches evenly spaced across the neckline, I didn’t end up with the right number of stitches at the edge of the fabric. You’d think that I would have checked my notes at the end of the third yoke failure, or better yet, before that, but – no. So I made the same mistake again on the fourth one.

Somewhere along here, the knitting Olympics came along, called Ravellenic Games, planned by Ravelry, an enormous online knitting community. The general idea was to cast on a knitting project during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (in Rio this year – cool!) and knit along, trying in your personal way to complete your project by the closing ceremonies. Fun! Although the opening ceremonies had been a couple of days earlier, I madly and irresponsibly decided to combine the two ideas: design a sweater, and knit it during the Olympics.

Fifth experiment: I had a heck of a time getting the correct number of stitches cast on, involving non-silent cursing on my part, but accompanied by dogged determination. I decided to change the size as well, for more negative ease, for a more comfortable sweater that I could wear over a tee shirt or sweater. I made new plans in my notes for the number of cast-on stitches to begin with, and the places to increase, and the spots to place stitch markers. By this time I’d decided to skip the Roman stitch although the blogger has published new helpful information about planning combined stitches. I still have time to decide whether or not to change to the cream color, or just to continue with the gray marled look. (Simplify! Simplify! Or not.)

Sixth experiment: I got the yarn cast on (correctly this time) and I’d knit 3 rows on August 20th. But who was counting?

I stuck with it. The Olympics came and went. I could no longer go for the gold. Umm, what comes waaaay after bronze?


I made a big, big mistake in one of those connecting open-work lines between each section. I got confused and couldn’t fix my error, and decided to leave the obviously crooked increase there. i was just so tired of ripping out and starting over, I chose to leave it there, to remind me of what happens when you don’t stop to think when you know something it wrong. It can be a design element! I kept going.

And then this happened.


See that tangled mess? It doesn’t look so daunting in the photo, but it was! It was! I’ve been knitting two ends of a yarn cake at the same time, and at one point I just kept knitting when there was a small blob of yarn that had come out of the center, pushing the yarn away from where I was working. That was a big, big mistake, and it cost me a long break from knitting anything at all. I did try to untangle it, to no avail. I appealed to Chon’s genius in untangling knots in electrical cords. He looks at the tangle, makes a few magical moves, and voila! But he didn’t seem to be interested in exercising his mechanical genius. I waited. Then one day, he wanted a button replaced on a favorite shirt. I did that and waited. Another request came for another replacement, and it made him so happy! That was when I reminded him about The Tangle. I placed the mess in his lap, and he began. It took a long time. It would have taken me until never. I would have had to cut the yarn. But he did untangle it, and I gratefully picked up where I had stopped. I would have thrown my hands up and grabbed the scissors, but with his help I got to continue knitting, this time much more carefully tugging the yarn from the big cake. I’m approaching the spot where I’ll divide the back from the sleeves and front, and work on each part separately, and I’m looking forward to that. I’m not a fast knitter, and it sounds much more accessible to work on small sections instead of rows of more than 300 stitches.

Having tossed out the idea of using the Roman stitch, I forged on. I was really looking forward to reaching the point where the stitched get divided into back, fronts, and sleeves.

I’ve reached that spot now, and I’ve passed it! I have a few inches of the body to work, (it’s a short cardigan) and the bottom ribbing. Then, on to the sleeves. And the button bands. When I pick up stitches for the bands I may use a cream cotton instead of this hedgehog color. Maybe.


See the big zig (or zag) in the right increase? I could try to hide it. A true knitter would have ripped back to that spot and fix, but I was afraid I couldn’t. I made the same mistake an inch or two below that, and it wasn’t difficult to fix at all.

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We practiced! Yes, we did! For the first time in – no, I can’t say it. Just know that there were many, many reasons that other activities took precedence. It took several hours to locate all the equipment we needed, and to set up. We’re trying out a new spot in the portál. In this photo you can see our Audubon bird clock (very popular with the denizons of the rancho), some framed needlepoint work, our ancient electrical switch box and the place we hook up our musical electrical equipment, and a very old cement tile floor that I have grown to like.

In the afternoon when we took a break, we went to survey the lot behind the house.


On the other side of the stone fence is our neighbors’ corn field. For the first time in 6 years, the two middle-aged sisters have a respectable crop. Since the parcel slants down, and is dry land, the season was perfect – some rain every night.img_4558They also have some squash plants, tomatillos, and beans. I cooked a big handful of beans with lentils, and I must say that they were excellent. I had small hopes for them because the bean pods were beginning to dry. I shelled the driest ones to find tender, pale beans inside, and as for the greener ones, they soften right up, and the combination of legumes was delicious, cooked with onion, garlic and tomatoes. We had an excellent supper, served with bolillos.

Our friends Michael and Richard headed home to the Los Angeles area today without us being able to spend time with them. Their Mexico vacation didn’t turn out quite as planned.

In the afternoon I found some time to try to make up for lost time knitting. It’s beginning to look like a sweater! That’s the back of a short top-down cardigan knitted with recycled cotton yarn.

img_4543And in the evening, more practicing!

Just Another Day – Rancho Life

Just as we finished the afternoon fertilizer work it started to rain, which couldn’t have been better timing to dissolve the fertilizer granules so the plants can use it.

This is the sort of thing that makes people say jokingly, with a little bit of caution in their eyes, that we have a pact with the devil. How else could we have started off so well 5 seasons ago, and continue to do well when we’re only musicians?


Manotas, Beto’s male dog, seems to think he belongs here. He’s out sitting next to our pickup (which we left in the street because I don’t want to get wet in the rain moving it) and Chon says “We have to give him something. He’s cold”.

And I say “Do you want a dog or something?”


“He’s just fine. If he really gets cold he’ll go to his real home.”

I’m trying not to love the two black and white litter mates.

El Correo – The Post Office


I believe this photo shows a modification of a delivery truck using colors and logo of the Mexican postal service. Found on Google Images. Great colors, aren’t they?

We’ve used private mail box services in California to get our mail held or forwarded to us in Mexico. The services were efficient, but to us seemed expensive in the long run. The charges can add up quickly.

We needed to maintain an address in the US, and in December, 2014, we decided to switch to the United States Postal Service. Yes, the good ole’ USPS, in California, close to where we stay for our two-week-plus Christmas holiday gig.

Our annual PO box rental fee was due in January of this year. We figured it would be simple to make the payment online. But it wasn’t. It may be my fault, but I can’t find out. We received an email message that the rent was due. Included was the amount due, and an address for mailing. We made the payment in a timely manner. But then we received a second email, couched in sterner terms, that our payment had not been received, and if we didn’t make the payment within ten days, the box would be closed, and any mail in it would be returned to senders. We couldn’t make the payment online through the handy USPS service, because we repeatedly got the message that the name on the account had to match exactly the name of the person who had signed the contract. Hmmm. Now, where could that pesky contract be? And how many ways are there to spell the name Anderson?

What to do? We called the post office on many different days, at different hours. No answer. Finally we called a relative, who went to the post office. Yes, he discovered, he could make the payment for us, but they could not give him the contract information. Now, I’m a mature person, and I do understand about rules and regulations, but it was quite frustrating. At last we got the mailbox rent paid for another year by sending money to our long-suffering and long-standing-in-line relative. Whew! Covered for another year.

Now when I relate the next part of the story you’ll think, if you’re not already thinking it, that we’re thoughtless and irresponsible people. We’re not, but we do occasionally forget things, and we do get busy. This year, when we returned to Mexico after the longish stay in California, we jumped right into wheat farming. It took the best part of nearly every day, and well, we just didn’t drive the 15 or so miles to visit our post office in San Francisco del Rincon. We didn’t expect any mail, anyway, although we knew our rent had been due in January. Truly, we just didn’t think about it much. A few times we even drove past the post office, but we didn’t feel like we had time to stop. We had to go to the bank to get the money for the farming investment, or there was some other obligation. But it did begin to weigh on us a bit. We hadn’t paid our box rent.

Then, a birthday present was on the way. We seriously discussed the problem. Nearly six months had passed. What would the Mexican postal service do? We already knew what the US postal service would have done.


image from

Maybe you thought I was going to say something accusatory about the Mexican postal service?

Finally, with a bit of dread, we went to the post office. As we entered, a woman we didn’t remember greeted us warmly, saying that we hadn’t received anything. It had been a long time since she’d seen us! How were we? Where had we been?

When we told her we wanted to pay for our post office box she said – get this! “It’s already been six months. Why not wait until next January to pay for your box?  We’ll hold anything that comes for you, and you can pick it up here at the desk”.

We glanced at each other and grinned.

Only in Mexico.