Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 10 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.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Here are a few photos of the FAOT. The International 2009 Festival Dr. Alfonso Ortiz Tirado.

I never imagined I would be sitting in Mexico, in an old colonial building, listening to opera.

The salsa, tango and cuban music has been plentiful and very energetic.

Classical music in the church has been very moving. I have been twice to the church for the classical music only to find that I missread the program times. So, I have been to mass twice now. The music they sing here during mass is very moving also, very folkloric, very melodic, it should be part of the festival.

Again, you can learn more at
It truly is amazing that this small town has room for so many people.
There are a number of large stages. Below are only a few of them..... a stage at the plaza de armas
a stage at the alameda

a stage at the palacio

performers outside the church

inside the church

rows and rows of vendors and food

AND LAST BUT NOT the casa, the continuation of the kiva................


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Christmas Cards

Buen Dia everyone!
Just want to show you how the fireplace is coming along. This is the little kiva Bill is building in the room that will be the main bedroom. Looking pretty good, huh?
As I write Bill and Umberto are ripping the roof off of that room.
I also want to say that every day I go to the Palacio and our mailbox, and there have been 2 or 3 Christmas cards in the box every day!
Then I walk over to the Plaza and sit on one of the green iron benches and open them. Thanks to everyone who has sent a card!

But, now, on a sad note, I broke my favorite coffee cup...a Seattle Best Coffee cup.......plain white with the SBC logo on it. Back when Starbucks bought SBC a lady from corporate came out to our little store and brought us some SBC souvenirs. I had it sitting on the table, Cookies jumped up and the cup fell off.......did I say it was my favorite?

On an even sadder and more serious note, (and I am really upset about this), I accidentally threw away my steam wand cover for my Starbucks Venezia espresso machine. So I am unable to steam milk and make a hot latte. I can't believe I threw it out in the trash. I know I was using a paper towel to clean the portafilter and I had the steam wand cover in my left hand and then, I threw away the paper towel. Did I say how upset I am over this?

So, if you happen to be walking down the street and you look down just as you are about to cross the street at the corner to go to your favorite cafe and wow! there on the ground is a Starbucks Venezia steam wand cover, please! Pick it up and send it to me!

Or if you are doing some weekend shopping at Value Village, hoping to get some fun knick knacks for Valentine's Day and you wander over to the cup area and there it is! A white SBC mug with the SBC logo in red, please! Pick it up and send it to me!
Or you can just send me a christmas card instead......................
Linda Lou (you can add senor's name, too, if you like)
apartado postal #71
Alamos, 85760,
Sonora, Mexico


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Nice Pile of Pesos

So, we had a very interesting day in Navajoa.

A couple down the street needed to renew their IMSS. She speaks very nice spanish, and they no longer have a car, so very simple solution: they go with us in the truck and she interprets for us so we can get our mexican medical insurance.
On the drive there, we laugh and joke and tell our favorite policia mordida stories. All the stories were very entertaining, and we laughed, but insisted we will not ever pay mordida.

Getting to the IMSS building was easy.
Getting mexican medical insurance?

It actually was easy also....... we had copies of our passports, FM3's, marriage certificate (32 years!), utility bills and birth certificates. I keep all of this in a binder, originals and copies........ well, okay, you know how I am so well organized with the lists? I am organized with all the important papers as well.............. someone wants to see something, I whip out the binder and voila! No, estupendo! There it is!

So, at the first counter we pick a number (309) from the turnstyle. The tv screen says the workers are helping # 6500. That is slightly worrisome, but soon the numbers flip to the upper 2oo's and before we can blink, we are at a 2nd counter. I whip out the binder and we spend a little time finding the papers she requests. We get paperwork from her, we go to a 3rd counter and the man gives us a long receipt to take to the bank. We leave the building, walk 2 blocks to the bank, pay the money to cover the insurance for one year.
We take the papers and receipt back to the 2nd counter. You did not pay enough...... she says, in Spanish and our friend who is translating looks very concerned. We get sent back to the 3rd counter where the man shows us the bank only charged us for one person's insurance, not 2. So, we think we will have to return to the bank, but the man says............ oh, no, I will go to the bank for you, just give me your money. Bill reluctantly gives the man $1000 more pesos and he tells us to sit down and wait for him to return. So, we do.

After about 20 minutes, he returns and gives us a 2nd receipt and tells us to take it back to the lady at the 2nd counter. We do.

She checks the receipt and gives a hard, heavy stamp to all of our papers, looks up at us and smiles and says........Bueno, adios. She says we are done and we can leave. So, we do.

Other than the hesitation to give the man at the 3rd counter more money, we all agree that went fairly smoothly. As we drive away, our friend notices that their names are all misspelled on their insurance papers and the birthdates are wrong. I look at our papers and see that no where does it give my married name. My last name is now my mother's maiden name.

Well, our photos are on the paperwork, our addresses are correct and we all think that none of it is worth returning to the building to get anything changed...................and besides, where else can you go and get full medical coverage for a year for 2 people for $2,000 pesos, which is about $275 US......who cares if the information is incorrect?

We decide to go to the main plaza and eat in the square because we have all brought sandwiches, thinking we would be at the IMSS building for the whole day.

We get a nifty parking space right by the entrance to the stairs, and outside of 2 signs that read, no parking in front of the stairs. It's a nice day, a light breeze, not too warm and the plaza is filled with people. We sit in the shade, around a large fountain where there is no water, and enjoy the breeze and our sandwiches.

We still need to go to the fabric store and the market and decide to move on.

But, we don't get too far.............

A motorcycle policia is parked behind the truck and he appears to be writing out a ticket for us.

So, of couse, we say................... what is going on, man? (but more nicely than that).

He takes us around to the front of the truck and points out that we have parked in front of a red stripe that goes a few inches to the right and left sides of the stairs. That is bad.........he says.

He asks us to get into the truck. We can understand most of what he says and our friend doesn't have to translate much for us. It is very obvious that we are in trouble. Then he asks for the truck registration. Thinking we have it all under control, I whip out the binder! But, I only seem to have the truck title and he is not interested in that. Eventually, we think the registration might be in the glove compartment where it is supposed to be and we all sigh in relief when we look in the glove compartment, and there it is.

So, he takes the paper and then walks around the truck several times and outside Bill's window, he starts to talk about Washington and how do we like living in the US capital, and we stupidly try to explain that we are from the state of Washington and not the capital, but first Bill explains that Seattle is the capital of Washington and then, tries to re explain, no, sorry, it's Olympia.
I am thinking this is getting out of control.
Policia asks about the weather in the capital and we try to talk some light talk about the rain and snow. He informs us that he was a tourist in the US and went skiing there. He shows us with a swish swish of his body, from side to side, how he skiied.
Bill goes on to tell him how our hijos live in Colorado and like to ski.

Now, I am starting to think, cool, he is very chummy and we are gonna drive off any minute.

Then, he took Bill's license and said we must go to the policia station and pay the $400 peso fine. He said we could do that right now. He said if we did that it would go on our record.

By now, our friend is in the thick of the translation and my head is spinning and I am trying not to get cranky or say anything too stupid, so I just look out the window at the people walking along the sidewalk. There is a little nino chasing a grasshopper.

Now, policia is talking about infractions as opposed to having a ticket on our record. Suddenly our friend says something very understandable, in Spanish................ahhhh, so we can pay you $200 pesos here?, si, says policia.

Our friend says...........policia says you can pay him $200 now and have an infraction or go to the station and pay $400 and have a record.................

We quickly got together a nice pile of pesos, which we handed to him through the window. He smiled, got on his motorcycle and drove away...........all in all, we found it to be a rather inexpensive day.........

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Columns

Good Morning from Alamos!

I am so excited about these columns. It means we are just THAT much closer to getting a roof on the first third of the casa and the portal, and a trip to SOMEWHERE LAND! In fact I'm so excited I have more photos of them. Above is a photo of one half of the wood form Bill made.

And, below, now we have four columns.
Don't worry, my camera makes the one on the right appear to be leaning; it's all perfectly straight here if you are standing in the yard. Besides if it WERE leaning, do you think Senor would not have destroyed it by now with a huge jackhammer???? No matter.....Senor does not make mistakes like that anyway....

Just in case you are wondering what I have been doing...... I patched a fence to keep a pack of dogs out of the yard. I looked out several nights ago and 4 dogs were sleeping under the portal. I chased them off, saw the hole they went through and repaired it the next morning with chicken wire. I have also mowed the dry grass in the lawn, turned the compost pile, picked up all the limes that are falling from our two trees, and planted cucumbers.
Yesterday I went to a meeting of Amigos de Education, a group of foreigners and mexicans in Alamos, who help raise money for education costs for secondary and high school students (students of those grades, in mexico, pay to attend school). Currently, secondary students (in Alamos) pay $200 pesos per year..............less than $20 USD. I don't know the high school costs. They also have to cover costs of uniforms, books, and calculators. Primary education is free.
This morning, as soon as Bill and Umberto pour the cement for the 5th column, we are going to Navajoa to apply for the IMSS. IMSS is the medical social security program. There is alot of paper work involved and we hope it is something that can be done in one day. After the paperwork, there is a short waiting period to be accepted. Once, we are in the program, general health care costs will be free. If one were to have surgery, a small cost is involved, but typical visits that might be made to a clinic (nail in foot, bad sore throat that just will not go away, broken foot because you were looking into someone's garden when you should have been watching the cobblestone street, horse steps on foot and foot swells three times its size, chasing son down Alameda and falling and breaking nose)....those sorts of things which have happened to other people we know are free of cost. Insurance enrollment is roughly $150 USD for the year.
The last few nights have been a little less chilly....................days are perfectly beautiful......the town is sprucing up for the International Festival Alfonso Ortiz Tirado. Almost everyone seems to have rented out their casitas and rooms and hotels and inns are booking up. Thousands of people flock here for this famous music festival. You can find out more about it by going to
Wow! Fifth column is done!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Build These Columns!

Buenos Dias!
Below you can see the boys are filling the octagonal wood form with cement.
Note the red straps we use to tie down our border crossing Ikea loads now being used to hold the form together..................
Senor spent days making this wood form by himself, designing, measuring, cutting and it is amazing how it has worked. I've said this before and will say it again and again........we could not be doing this if Senor were not so smart at fixing things, creating things, building things, repairing things...............most columns in sonora are created by using adobe bricks or ladrillo bricks, stacking and mortaring them as you go to the heighth you want, then cutting the angles desired by using a hatchet, and later covering the column with plaster. Sadly, we have seen some crumbling columns and we have also seen newer columns made completely out of stone, with the use of saws.
But Senor is fond of cement and also fond of making things that will not crumble and fall apart in his or his childrens' lifetime.

Below, voila! (how does one say voila in spanish?) Estupendo!

Wood form has been removed and Estupendo! there is now a column!

See how strong it is....Senor can push on it and it does not fall over..................
Below, Senor can touch it with his finger and hooray! It is still strong and tall.......

Oooh, senor can put his elbow against it and it will not fall................

And doesn't Senor look proud!A few more photos show how strong and well designed the column is, note the fine lines and corners and the creative little swirls....

A very beautiful surface has resulted from senor's incredible handiwork........................
Below, see the strong rebar which is all inside the new column and the exposed rebar will help hold the portal he goes down the row, each column will be poured 1/2 inch lower than the previous one. This will be done to help the rain water run off the roof and into the cistern at the how smart is that........

Look at the nice horizontal lines on the right side and the perfect angles....................

And notice in the photos that the wood form is already set up again and filled with cement. Tomorrow the second column will be unveiled. There are six columns (eventually there will be ten) and I have been informed by Senor Sabe Le Todo that he will fill one each day!
What stamina Senor has to work daily on these columns!
What great sacrifice to other worldly needs he is making!

Hot water? es no importante!
Fire to keep warm? es no importante!
Shave? es no importante!
Shower? es no importante!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Logs on the Fire

Monday night's brilliant sky...................

we are so lucky...............we see beautiful sunrises in the morning and amazing sunsets in the evening. I think we are living on one of the prettiest spots in Alamos. Of course, I also think everyone living here feels the same way about their own property and that is exactly part of why we are all here........

We didn't move to Mexico because it is cheaper to live here than in the states, although in alot of respects it is less expensive. We moved here to experience a different culture, a different people, different language, different cuisine, different topography, different climate, different architectural styles.........
.................and different sunrises and sunsets......

this sunset followed a day of dark clouds and possible thunderstorms, and the following morning
it was freezing cold here. My neighbor said 42 degrees at 7am, so I know it was alot colder than that at 2am when Cookies opened the bedroom door with his paws and an ice cold blast of wind swept over us like a cold blanket.
One day in 2008, January, my mother emailed me and mentioned the weatherground station reported a temperature of 31 in Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. Nope, I emailed back, not so, it's never, ever that cold there.............
I obviously did not do my research on temperature here, or I simply did.........and then promptly ignored and dismissed it.
So this is interesting, we seem to run the temperature scale; a high humidity and heat in the summer and for a brief time in the winter, dry, but extremely cold nights.
The days now are wonderful. I understand why people come here this time of the year.
Gentle breezes, cloudier skies, a milder enough for a light sweater.
In the evening, we smell mesquite fires burning, and I envision some people sitting around their fireplaces, and others sitting, or even living outside, around their fire. The fires smell cozy and warm.
One thing I loved about living in the northwest was the winter fire in the evenings and at times, I didn't know if I could give that up. Now, that I am here and experiencing the cold, I realize that I won't have to give up that fire.
Maybe not this year, but next year we will definitely get to put the logs on the fire here in Mexico.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Feliz Ano Nuevo!

Buen dia!
Feliz Ano Nuevo!
Between Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, we attended 7 events: dinners, parties, open houses, gatherings that included just gringos and gatherings that included gringos and mexican families.
On New Year's Eve, we attended two parties, one during the day and then, one in the evening. While each event was unique and fun, that is way too busy a social calendar for us..............we are done for awhile, I hope.
Knowing it would be a busy week we asked Umberto to take several days off and we have been trying to sleep in at least until 7:45 (Umberto always arrives at 7am), but it is not working out. The tortilla truck comes by at 6:35am. I can hear his music from the other side of town, then his loud speaker announcements. Then, the music gets closer and closer and the announcement is louder and louder and suddenly.................he is outside our casa.....and then, well, we have to get up. I bought tortillas from him once, but for 10 pesos, I got a kilo of tortillas. It would take us a month to eat a kilo of tortillas. So, I get them in the mercado instead, where I can buy less.

On New Year's Day, the tortilla truck did not go by, so we slept in and around 8am we decided to go to Obregon, where WalMart and Home Depot and Sam's Club are located. As we drove down our street and through part of the Alameda, we commented on how quiet things were....we were the only car on the streets. The drive to Obregon was quiet, very little traffic; we were the only vehicle at the toll plaza between Navajoa and Obregon and the usual folks were not selling their wares.

In Obregon, there was no traffic, and all the American franchises were closed.......Subway....KFC.... McDonald's....Domino's Pizza.......Baskin and Robbins.............Panda Express.........all closed (and yes, I am not kidding, those businesses are all down here). We finally found a Carl Junior open and then, went to Home Depot where we had planned to get a hot water heater.............and it was closed.
We then drove through quiet streets to Wal Mart which happened to be open, but did not have any customers. At Walmart we discovered that we can have rib eye steaks cut to whatever thickness we want and so for 56 pesos we got two of the best cuts of meat we have ever had. We have decided to take our cooler with us when we return to Obregon for the water heater and stock up on rib eye steaks. I just hope it was not a New Year's Day special....

I have been really busy with the glasspondstudio website and my etsy shop, trying to figure out how to keep my business going from Mexico. Gringos don't exactly get a booth at the local market..........
Big kiln full of glass pendants......................
Afghanistan belly dancing pendants ready to be listed on the website........................
stuff everywhere.....................
at least I get to work outside....if you recall, our wi-fi does not work.......because senor sabe le todo cannot remember the password..............
we just bought a very long cable.............40 feet from the bedroom plugin to the hilton garden room...............................

nail biting work here...............
4 hours later.........................

The exciting news is that we are closer to getting a new roof on the first section of this casa. In the photos you can see what Bill has been working on.....
The photo above shows what will be the laundry room, which presently has a tin roof and sounds great in the rain. But, look at the cement column in the corner that attaches to the new cement beam up top. The column holds the beam and the beam will support the new roof of cement, dirt and styrofoam.

Below, is one of the many wood forms Bill has made. This one was coated with oil, cement was poured, the rebar form was inserted and it was all allowed to set............and below, is how it looks after the form is taken apart. The rebar and conctrete in the ground will support the columns and the floor........ below, you can get a better idea of where the new portal will be. It is about twelve feet wide and goes the length of the casa. Most of the rebars are in place and Bill is making the octagonal shaped wood form that will make the actual columns. The form will surround the rebar and the cement will be poured down into it.........then, voila, we will have columns to support the roof of the portal.

Hopefully, we will have the roof for this section of the casa and the portal done by sometime in February because I want to go to Mazatlan...........................