Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 8 years. Okay, okay, now it's been 9 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I had a Dream last Night...........

........................about one of the nice little ladies that I worked with at DIF. Before I tell you about the dream, I want to tell you about her.
She is more of a senorita, maybe in her mid twenties and very, very sweet. I found out on about the 3rd day at DIF that her family lost their entire casa over in Las Delicias the night Norbert hit. Clothes, beds, all personal belongings of every family member, gone...........
She and her family spread out, staying with relatives and friends; it was neccesary for her to sleep on a small cot against a wall. One night she was bitten twice by a brown scorpion and she had to have shots and an IV at the hospital emergency room. The following morning she showed us the bites, not only were the bites big, so was her entire arm.
This whole time she was volunteering at DIF, she came every day for 14 days straight...... never complaining, never frowning, she always had a special smile and was very happy. I was always happy to see her there.
After leaving DIF, I have seen a few of the senoras and senoritas I worked with, they are always so friendly. I have great respect for them all, but I had not seen the lady who lost her home and several times she has been on my mind and I have wondered about her.
Then......i had a dream last night and in my dream, she was there, down at the alameda, walking around and shopping with two little boys. She came up to me and hugged me and we smiled and conversed for awhile. She speaks no english, but in my dream she did speak english and we talked about the weather and the mariners baseball team and Violetta, the peruvian spanish teacher Bill and I had back in Seattle. Then the dream ended.
This morning I woke around 5:30, Red was going ballistic over something in the field next door, and it was frio!!!! I put on my warm clothes and headed out to the soccer field track. While I was walking I thought about how funny it was, my dream last night, and I laughed a little to think about talking about the mariners and Violetta. I just thought..................how funny is that.
It was still on the dark side and the street lights along the highway were on and there was a little fog. I could see ahead that someone was standing along the highway, in front of the Pemex station (this is a regular small bus pick-up spot and when I go to the track, I always see people there). I did not think too much about it and as I got closer and closer, the person stepped away from the bus stop and began to rush across the street towards me. Well at first, it alarmed me a little, and then, I could see it was her.......the senorita I am telling you about!
We hugged and we smiled and hugged some more. She spoke her spanish and I conversed in my poco y poco spanish. She was on her way to Navajoa to see a friend. We didn't talk about the Mariners or Violetta and she didn't have two little boys with her. Mostly we just hugged and smiled and hugged and smiled.
Isn't that amazing?
We waved goodbye and while I walked away I had shivers and goosebumps......all good ones. Still, it was just an amazing event, and I wonder how did it happen like that.........a dream and then, seeing her.
But, I can't wonder too much about it. It was just a cool happening. I am getting goosebumps again just writing about it!!
Now, we are waiting for Bill's clothes to dry. He did not get them out of the washer and onto the clothesline until around 7am and if you have read the 2 Senor Sabe le Todo posts from yesterday, you will know all about that. As soon as they are dry, we will hit the road for Tucson and then, fly out to meet up with our kids for a week. Adios! Que tengus buen dia!!! Linda Lou

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Senor Sabe le Todo Part Two

Hopefully you have read the post Senor Sabe le Todo before you read this part two........as I am making two posts today......because I just cannot help myself and besides, Senor has gone to the mercado and doesn't know about either post........

Senor Sabe le Todo has just taken apart the back and top panels of our washing machine because it filled with water but it would not run and wash..........he checked the hoses, he checked the fittings, he cleared all the lines inside the machine and checked all the parts where in english, our mexican washing machine says..........do not open this panel or you may have electricity shakal..........he checked the outside hoses and connectors..............after 2 hours of messing with it and now, it is dark .................he forgot to close the lid to the machine..........

Senor Sabe le Todo

We see beautiful sunrises and sunsets, this one below turned the sky fiery pink, but the photo does not do the sky justice.
take my word for it.......



Look at this..................it is a clever way Bill has of keeping the boards up against the cement to prevent it from falling out onto the floor..................


I am married to a very clever man. If he were not so smart and keen about all this construction stuff we could not be doing this. He was raised in a cement loving family, his father and grandfather built concrete dams and grain facilities and bridges and I think somehow, Bill just knows cement and construction.

In fact, Bill knows alot of stuff. I call him Senor Sabe le Todo, which translates to Mr. Knowitall.
We have been married for 32 years so I am allowed to call him that.......

I am not kidding either, look at this, Senor Sabe le Todo is building a kiva fireplace in our bedroom to be....with rocks we went and gathered from the arroyo and..........lots of cement.
Kiva fireplace photo #1 is below:



In kiva photo #2 below, you can see how the art, as I am now calling it, has progressed. This will indeed be very interesting.
I am not allowed to go the arroyo unless I can find the right rocks.

Trip #1, the rocks had to all be the same size.......about 8 " and as round as possible and flat on one side................

Trip#2, the rocks all had to be square on one end and flat on one side and no more that 2" thick................good grief.

Senor made me put all of my rocks on one side of the truck and he put his on the other. He never said this out loud, but why else would he tell me to keep my rocks seperate...........he was going to inspect my rocks and make sure they were the sizes and shapes they were supposed to be......
Below, Senor and Umberto are setting up the boards and pouring concrete for a wall that will hide the cistern and the propane tanks and water pumps....

They are still shoring up things around here, and Senor Sabe le Todo is checking into a new type of roofing that might prevent me from having to make over a thousand cement placas (these square things that are about 8x4") for the roof.
The plan has been placas.........for which I will have a form and be able to make 8 placas at a time............. cement beams, plastic sheeting, gravel, styrafoam, a layer of dirt and a thin layer of cement (I may have the order wrong), but Senor is checking into a new plan...............I hope it eliminates the placas.
A local architect is supposed to come out today and let Senor know if this new type of roof will work on our casa. Half of our casa is perhaps 70 years old and the other half is 30 or so years old, we aren't really sure about that, but the older section is all adobe and has very, thick walls.
I just have my fingers crossed because do you have any idea at all how long it will take to make one thousand cement placas?
Senor Sabe le Todo says...............ah, no time at all, you will get the hang of it real quick, maybe I can make you 2 forms.......
One of the best things we have done was to buy a cement mixer in Obregon at Home Depot.....
While Senor has been doing rock and cement art, I have done one firing in the jenn kiln.
Here are the before and afters. I also just spent 2 weeks making adjustments to the glasspondstudio website, www.glasspondstudio.com and updating the etsy shop. You can go to etsy.com and click on buy and click on sellers and type in glasspondstudio (you aren't buying anything, you are just navigating your way to my shop).
I finally put my handmade Christmas cards in the shop. So you can see those there or you can forget all that and ignore my art and wait for me to post something new that Senor Sabe le Todo has created with cement and rocks....
Senor just came back with a topochico and some cookies for me! Isn't he nice?!!!!

The kilns and stuff are at home in one of the large shower stalls.....

Tomorrow we go the states to visit our kids for Thanksgiving! Hasta la Vista!!!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our New Best Friend

Here he is:...a few nights ago there was crowing in the empty field next to us.......about one am....then, the crowing came from the backyard......

It took me awhile to actually wake up and go outside to investigate. By now the rooster was in the hilton garden room......he hopped up and down and on each landing, he crowed......back in the bedroom, the cats were sitting up, at full alert, jumping every time he crowed...... it was very dark and overcast outside and there was a light chipichipi (rain) falling....ashes began meowing and cookies began growling.......bill slept through the whole thing......i closed our bedroom screen door and went back to bed, with a pillow over my head.

By daylight, the chipichipi had stopped, but the rooster still crowed......how could you sleep through all that racket last night, i asked bill...what racket, he said.....

Now, cookies began to investigate further, the rooster was in the yard, crowing and pecking, crowing and pecking......bill took a look and said.... good, we won't have to cook tonight...............but, cookies began to creep closer and closer to the rooster, and hunkered down his haunches.......i could see the rooster's legs were tied together and he wouldn't be able to fly away and cookies seemed to be ready for an attack.

Cookies wants to attack that rooster, i said to bill............who said, well, it does look like those are spurs on the backs of its legs, hmmm, maybe not a good idea...............so i grabbed the cat and bill started chasing the rooster toward the back fence and gate.........they ran together in circles, around the yard, bill flapping and waving his arms, the rooster flapping and waving his wings........after i got the cat inside, i tried spraying the rooster with water from the garden hose, which had no affect at all.........finally bill opened the gate to the street and after making a few full circles around the yard, he chased the rooster out into the road and closed the gate...... we watched through the gate windows as he clucked angrily, and hopped on up the road, the twine holding his little legs close together.......

Now, for several nights, he has been two or three yards over to the south, he has a very loud and distinctive crow, ......but he has no sense of time, he crows night and day......he has no manners.......

We certainly don't want him to come back over here......and we do not want cookies to try and catch him, the rooster would probably kill the cat....not good.....he has to be someone's prize hen connection or maybe he is a cock fighter in training.....he is very healthy and very colorful..............

Red, as I now refer to him is crowing up a storm as i write..........
Yet his noise seems to blend in with all the others........the parrot in someone's casa behind us who sings 'Hey, Jude', and the crows in the chayate tree, cawing and fighting constantly over the fruit, and the brown throated magpie blue jays who land in the trees and sway their beautiful dark blue tails while they screech to their babies to hurry, and the doves who coo softly from the top of the stable and the noisy chit chit of the tiny yellow birds that jump up and down on the floating branches of the palm trees....
last night I smelled a skunk very, very close by......
I got up and looked out into the yard. Again, like the night I saw Red, it was very overcast and there was a little tiny chipichipi..............there was alot of rustling noise out there, maybe it was the leaves falling from the plumeria trees......maybe it was just the wind dancing through the branches of the limon tree......or maybe it was a little family of skunks running in circles around the yard...........





















Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What in the world has Bill been doing????

and so you may ask this question after hearing about all my arts and crafts ........

Outside.................Bill has been grilling exciting stuff on the asadero.....Sonora is beef country and there are some very good cuts of meat and pork here. Chicken, which we buy by the kilo at the Sunday Tiangus (yes! the tiangus is still here, just not in the arroya! half of it has been moved to the alameda and the remainder is on the outskirts of town) is excellent. Our favorite, are huge fresh jumbo shrimp which come straight to town from the sea. It is all good, in part, because Bill is an excellent cook......




You can see in the photo below that we still need to get the countertop on and put in the sink. The iron worker down the street finished the grill grates and we have been grilling non-stop.





There are two grill grates; if used at the same time they are probably wide enough to put on a small cow, I guess we will have a huge fiesta one day.
Bill is using only one of the grill grates below. There are three more levels in the back. He designed it so he would be able to raise the grill higher in the back if he needed to.


Here is a photo of the two grates, before Bill added the extra ladrillo height to the sides and back.
Depending upon what he is grilling, he either builds the fire right on the cement slab or on top of a ladrillo. The ladrillos beneath the concrete slab below are now gone and that space is used for wood storage.



Inside.........he is busy shoring up everything. The room below which will become a bathroom has a ceiling that is caving in. This is the room where the washing machine is and if you recall, from earlier photos, the room floods during a rain. Now Bill has cleverly put in a large PVC pipe that collects the rain and runs off the window sill and into the yard.



During the shoring up, he discovered that our whole casa is built upon a pile of rocks.....but no problems, at significant corners of each wall, he and Umberto have dug down and poured concrete to strengthen it all.






Concrete at the edges of the thick adobe walls.







They have used more rocks, mixed in with the cement to make it stronger. This wall will be topped with a long beam that will span the length of two rooms, so the rebar is the structure behind the cement that will be poured here.

More rebar for more strengthening.

You'll have to adjust your head....but this is very cool...Bill built the wood forms, around the rebar form that he made. Then he poured concrete down the form and created a column that will help support the long beam. We are planning to use concrete beams because termites have become a serious problem in the Sonoran Desert.


I am going to show you some more house photos tomorrow. Bill has started building the kiva fireplace that will be in our bedroom.
SO!
Just quickly I am going to tell you how the Dia de las Muertes turned out. The Festival de Calaca is the actual name of the Casa de la Cultura festival I worked on. It is in conjunction with Dias de las Muertes...after all the skulls were completed, we met on Saturday morning to construct the altar and display the offrendas, in front of the church. I was in charge of paper cutting. So I cut about 30 little colored tissue flags........I cut out little birds and stars and hearts and attached them to the flags......aren't my birds cute? While I worked I talked to Freida Kahlo who was sitting next to me on the bench and to Diego Rivera, who was standing beside me.....Then I was asked to guard the percussions and some of the other bones that were just laying around the area. I did all this while other people drove back and forth to the Casa de la Cultura to pick up equipment. Finally, we put the altar together. That's me sitting in a chair below, holding my skull.

This is my skull!!!!!!!!!
Below is another altar that a different group displayed.
The Festival de Calaca (Festival of bones, or skeletons) originated in Guaymus, where there is a very large Casa de la Cultura. The signature skeleton of the festival is the katrina, which is a beautifully adorned skeleton lady that has always been associated with the day of the dead. She is sometimes depicted in very serious art drawings and sometimes, very comical cartoons.
The festival was brought to Alamos three years ago by the group from Guaymus.
Alot of members of that organization came down to help with ours. They brought musicians, dancers, a theatre troupe, and many artists. In the evenings, both Friday and Saturday, there was a lot of dancing and singing on the stage at Plaza de Armas. The artists drew beautiful lime paintings of the katrina on the street in front of the church.
Candles were lit everywhere..........it was very pretty, really colorful, very festive and happy.
There was a huge wedding at the church on friday night which added to the festivities.
A photography workshop was held at the Casa de la Cultura the same weekend, and presentations and slides of the hurricane were given at the Palacio, and a photography showing was held there as well.
These activities are an example of just how back to normal things are beginning to get.....
And Alamos looks beautiful! Streets are clean, businesses are open, it's very filled with people and laughter and music! ...... lots of work is on going, especially in the harder hit barrios, and several of our beautiful old colonial hotels are still digging out the mud and debris, but downtown is gorgeous!
A huge tour bus came to town the day I was working on the altar. The people on board were from British Colombia and Seattle!!!! so, I was able to spend a little time with some folks who were very interested in my lifestyle here and why we chose to come here.
And when I look around at all the hard working people in this town , both mexican and foreign, who lost so much, but have bounced back so quickly, I know exactly why we came here.




































Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dia de los Muertes






I finally made it up to the Casa de la Cultura.
This is a large cultural arts center on top of a hill, overlooking the Plaza de Armas. It originally was the carcel, and off the main building, one can see the old gated jail cells, which are now used for art room classes.


I am not sure of the funding for Casa de la Cultura and I have alot to learn about it, but I do think that it works in conjunction with the Sonoran State Arts and El Seminario de Cultura Mexicana. Each of the little jail rooms offers something different... wood and electrical fired kilns, a print shop, pottery shop, mask making, painting workshops.......the list goes on and on. One of their goals is to help residents of Alamos find a way to use trades and crafts and bring in further income.


They also have a Feida Kahlo gallery...........imagine my surprise when I went there in September to find a Picasso linoleum exhibit. It was amazing!
I was also excited to discover that classes are on going at cultura and not only are they free to the Mexican community, but they are free to foreigners as well. In fact, several foreigners teach classes at the center.


A paper mache' class in preparation for Dia de los Muertes was up coming. Delayed a little by Norbert, it finally got under way and I was happy to be a part of it.



Dia de los Muertes is one of many religious holidays celebrated throughout Mexico.

The people of Mexico believe that on the night of November 1st, the souls of little children (anjelitos) return to earth and the adults arrive the next day. Families spend hours at the cemeteries, or in their homes, preparing altars and thrones and ofrendas (offerings) for the departed to return to during these two days.



Often large tables are erected at the gravesite and they include many ofrendas for the departed to feast upon during their return.

The ofrendas can include pan de muerto (bread of the dead, baked in shapes of bones),
glasses of tequila, or atole and other favorite food of the departed.

Skulls and skeletons are created out of paper mache' and others are concocted of edible sugars and displayed among paper flowers or marigolds, while copal, an incense is burned.

This is an extremely festive time for all of Mexico. In Alamos, there will be much dancing and music, all over town. There will be a competition of altar building, all of which will be displayed in the plaza or around the church. The schools have all made altars, which are available for viewing.
The public is invited to visit the cemetery, and to see the festivities that await the departed.

It is a time when Mexicans reflect on the past and their families, and prepare for the living to reunite with the dead, but it is also a time that is met with great humor because death is unavoidable and to meet it with laughter is greatly respected.




In the photo below, we have paper mache'd the skull heads, painted them and put them out to dry.
no two heads are the same..............

lots of heads......





several of the casa de la cultura artists and students ( see those students sitting quietly in their chairs?) begin to create one of several altars they will display in front of the church.















paper mache' (old students from long ago) skeletons that will go into one of the altars.......






one of my jobs was to repair this guy, who looks like something out of the ET movie....... he's lying on his back after a new white paint job...............



now, I am off to the plaza to help set up the altars. I will try to get some photos as we work.