Monthly Archives: July 2016

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.

My Little Sister and the Bin of Corn

Papa Eileen Poca048

The kids in our family had a haven of beauty and delight in the central valley of California. It was at our grandparents’ house, a place we called “the ranch”. Perhaps it would not be Everychild’s idea of heaven, but it was mine. It seemed that whatever childhood or teenage worries and stresses we might face during the week, the ranch was a place where we only thought about playing and having fun – with our parents, grandparents, cousins, aunt and uncle. There was Space there, and eucalyptus trees, a creek with fish and wild blackberries, a row boat, animals, games we played with cousins indoors and out, all in a relaxed and happy place. That’s the way it was for me.

I have a wonderful sister, Eileen, and this is a written snapshot of Eileen the child and a corn bin.

Gate At The RanchOur grandparents, Mary and Papa, created a homestead-like place, with chickens, cows and calves, a donkey, cats, dogs, and horses. Papa liked to buy and sell horses and cattle, as he had off and on since his boyhood in South Dakota.

All of us kids knew the rudiments of caring for the livestock, including watering and feeding them. We knew which barrels in the small dairy barn held which kind of feed. We also knew which of the feeds were the most delicious. To us!

My sister Eileen was the baby of our family, and in my eyes was ever the adorable child who could do no wrong. One time there was a wooden bin full of flattened and dried  flaky corn at the ranch, probably especially for feeding calves and to add to the other animals’ feed.

The bin was about four feet square, made of heavy plywood, as Eileen recalls. It was quite likely a re-used bin for peaches as they were picked in the peach orchards, by Mexican braceros, and it was filled with the processed corn, and made a lovely place to just sit. Eileen liked sitting there, to the probable dismay of our parents and grandparents. But nobody complained or punished the small, big-eyed child. Who would even think of it?

Our mother Marilyn, college educated, and well schooled in nutrition, must have been concerned about Eileen’s well, well-known “selective” eating habits which lasted well into her teen years, when she still chose to eat items like tortillas without toppings, and pasta, too, plain. I mean with nothing on it. Nothing! That’s just the way she was, the small, pale big-eyed little thing. Don’t worry. It didn’t last. In fact, Eileen may have caused some of the major worry herself, by going out to the barn early in the mornings, and filling up on – dried corn (!) from the corn bin, and then not wanting breakfast. And why would it occur to her to tell anyone? Perhaps it would have been a small comfort to our mother to know that Eileen was eating cattle feed in the early mornings!

And it was actually a family thing! Our grandpa was a good cook, and often prepared meals for himself and Mary. She said he was a better cook than she was. One thing he was famous for was a recipe for bran muffins, made from scratch, and featuring, what else, bran from the cow feed barrel. We counted ourselves very lucky to have a breakfast with the heavy, delicious, raisin-studded muffins, often served with local honey. 

And maybe this is a good place to end this little story. Eileen grew up bright and healthy, her tastes eventually widened, and perhaps it was all supported by farm feed for ruminants! Who knows?

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.


Chabela’s Birthday Party

We received a command performance invitation to come to my sister-in-law’s birthday party. We took the guitar, or course, and showed up a bit late to Miguel and Juanita’s beautiful house in quiet Huinduri. The food was wonderful, featuring meats from a client of the cheese company. Everything was grilled – thin steaks, chorizo, accompanied by grilled onions, cheese-stuffed wax peppers, and roasted potatoes. Tortillas, salsa and guacamole completed the meal. I didn’t want to stop eating!

Chabela and Lucio’s children and grand-children were all there, and us.

Later Catalina was walking by, and stopped to sing a couple of beautiful old songs with Chon.



There was a beautiful, delicious cake, and gelatina in cups with cream, a popular and tasty dessert.


Happy birthday, Chabela!