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, April 26, 2010

It's a Flanperfect day

buen dia!
Ah, it is so beautiful here this morning. Wish you could be here!
The temperature is already rising, but we still have very little humidity, so a ninety degree day like we had yesterday only seems like it is eighty. The sky is slightly overcast and it is just very pleasant.

I just came back from my trip to the track, where there were quite a few folks walking or jogging. I always enjoy my track conversations with the Mexican women and men and their dogs.

When I returned home, I found this little fellow, dead on the table top. Cookies spends most of the night out now, and I imagine he threw this up in the air, thought he could catch it, and it landed on the table top and Cookies lost interest.

So we asked Umberto about it. It is a little thing, only about eight inches long, and skinny. Umberto called it a name and pointed to his arm and pantomined that a bite from that means a trip to the hospital and a shot in the rear end. Umberto solves alot of problems, I think, with a trip to the hospital for a shot in the rear end.

Grippe? shot. Nail in foot? shot. Scorpion bite? shot. Fall off ladder? shot.

So I hope this guy's mother or father is not around nearby. I would imagine they would be a bit larger.
I rode to the Panteon the other day. Here is Jesus' grave and some plastic flowers I left for him. The marker says he died April 9, but the weekend I returned from Texas, the seventeenth, someone old with white hair was back in the casa watching a boxing match on tv. I even commented to, Jesus really has the volume on his tv turned up.
Senor says he drove by the sister's house just yesterday and there was a new old man sitting out front in the chair that I had photographed. So we are confused, well I am confused. Senor says he is not the confusable type. But so far, the little casa remains empty and we do not even see any signs of Jesus' cat, the white one.

I went next door to learn to make flan. I have always had a recipe for it, but it's one of those things that is better done with a person who has done it before. So, I had the opportunity to do that.
I don't blog recipes or food too much, mainly because I have difficulty even following recipes.
But this one was worth it. i think you can make it easily.

You need:
8 eggs
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 cans water (use the milk cans for measurement)
1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water
2 T kahlua
1 t vanilla
and you need a flan pan, a round baking dish with a hole in the middle
Over low heat, toss the sugar in a pan, add 1/3 cup water. Stir this Forever! It will get dry. It will get lumpy. It will get clumpy. You will think you need to add more water. Don't. You are just carmelizing the sugar and it will take forever. Eventually it will get dark dark brown and bubbly. When it does this, pour it into the flan pan and coat the pan and sides.Tony, our flan instructor, asks me if I washed my 8 eggs. Wash the eggs....... i said...........i never wash my eggs. He tells me I have to always wash my eggs, so I wash my 8 eggs. We crack them into a bowl and add the milk and the 2 cans of water. He says his favorite dessert is condensed milk on crackers. I tell him that when I worked at DIF some of the women there drank the condensed milk right from the can.........yum, he says.

We add kahlua and vanilla and beat all of this with the mixer. It gets too foamy so Tony holds the mixer just under the surface of the liquid and it gets creamy again. After a few minutes we pour the mixture into the coated flan pan.
The flan pan then is put into a larger pan, filled halfway with water and put into the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees. More water is added during the cooking time to keep this water bath halfway up the flan pan.
The flan comes out of the oven and sits on the counter for several hours while Tony shops and my friends and I go off to buy art supplies at an art sale in someone's home.

At the art sale, I hear that La Victoria, which is Carroll O'Connor's Alamos home, has been sold, along with eight other proerties in town. Baby boomers are coming, says someone.
Indeed, on the way home, the front door of La Victoria is open and I snap a few photos. La Victoria needs a lot of love and care, so I am glad someone has bought it. I want to ask if I can go inside, but there are workers milling around and the flan is waiting on the countertop.
The flan is ready to come out of the pan. A knife is run around the edges and then, the pan sits in another water bath, this one warm with tap water. Tony jiggles the flan until it starts to move around in the pan.
Then in a very swift move, the pan is turned upside down.

And, we have flan. Isn't that pretty?

Gotta run, need to be over on Loma Gudalupe by ten o'clock. I am doing some custom glass tiles for someone there and we need to discuss the plan.
Que le vaya bien!......which when translated, means roughly, may you have an interesting life or may all things turn out well for you. Linda Lou

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Too Much Whiskey and Bad Knees

Buenos tardes!
Yesterday's evening sky was almost completely without color, just a huge bright sun obscured momentarily by the clouds. Then during the night the sky turned a dark luminous red and it has been overcast and very windy all day. Senor got the pump back. The bearings had gone out and the man who drives the little red train fixed the pump for less than five dollars. While we were without the pump I had to fill buckets with cistern water and hand water all of the plants. So naturally I was very excited when Senor returned with the pump and reinstalled it. It meant the hoses would work.

However Senor was also excited to get the pump back and he decided he would water. He spent around two hours doing this, after dinner, well into the dark. As we went to bed a thought occured to me.

I said, as he was dozing watered all the planter pots, too, right? you know, roses, petunias, geraniums, palms............? No................i forgot about those...........he said, as he fell asleep.

I had to get up and go outside and water all of those in the dark. Only a little problemo. The next morning I did tell him he is no longer allowed to be the water person.

If you recall, the original Jesus seemed to think I was his water person. He had some moments of great thirst, I guess.

Something big was going on back at his place several days ago.

His sister and her son came into his little casa and removed many things. My guess is these were Jesus' things that became new old Jesus' things. Then her husband came and removed many more things.

Soon it looked like everything that had been in new old Jesus' casa was out in the yard.
I was a little worried.

Then the husband and son came and pulled down his tv antennae and put it and all the other stuff into the back of a pick up and drove off.
I was very worried then because Jesus loves his television. He listens to his telenovas and boxing every afternoon and well into the night.

Yesterday our friend, Ramon, confirmed what we suspected. New old Jesus has died.

I was compelled to photograph what I can see that still remains at this little casa, which was originally inhabited by the first Jesus.

Below, the tv antennae is gone.

Through the coyote fence the door is slightly ajar.

His favorite chair is still on the porch.

This is his old toilet, surrounded by plastic flapping in the wind.

I feel sadness about it.
Of course, I felt that way when I first realized a new old Jesus was living in old Jesus' casa. I wondered what happened to the first Jesus. I still don't know. But Ramon says that new old Jesus went into the Panteon very quickly.

When I turned away from the coyote fence I thought about how dark and quiet it will be back there now. No sounds of men boxing, no women crying over lost lovers, no six pm national anthem.

So looking back to our casa and our ongoing projects, there is much racket. The tile saw is grinding away at adobe bricks, Senor is screwing something into the wall and Umberto is slapping mortar on the new wall. So much activity. In two months the rains will come and the yard will be emerald green and lush with unwanted plants and vines. We will not need to water.

Manana I am going with friends to the Panteon. They are going to adopt a grave and I have the list of names that are available.
I also plan to take a bouquet of plastic flowers and a candle and look for a fresh dirt covered grave.
Ramon says his nickname was Charro and he died of too much whiskey and bad knees.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Good to be Back Home

Buen dia!
I returned home early Friday morning after an twelve hour surreal black and white bus trip down from Tucson. The only color I can recall was the Nogales city border crossing which was colorfully lit with storefront signs. We arrived at the border around ten, Thursday night, and US border guards, who spoke perfect spanish, came on board first to ask to see all of our papers. They walked right by me and did not even look at my passport which I so dutifully opened for them. Off the bus, aduana took over and requested we put our bags on the conveyor belt, which did not run, so we had to push our bags along. We each had our turn to press the pass through button and from what I could see, everyone got a green light.

The trip home was very short compared to the trip north. On Monday, the fifth, I boarded a nice and roomy TBC bus in Alamos around nine pm.

We stopped at the large bus stations in Navajoa, Obregon, and Hermosillo and as many small bus stops in between that the driver found neccessary. Sometimes we would pick up passengers at these out of the way stops, but our bus was always full.

Things seemed to be progressing smoothly. I had seat number four, which is right up front behind the plexi glass barrier. I recommend this seat because you can see what the driver sees as you are barreling down the highway, straddling two lanes. You can also see what the driver does not see, which can be a bit worrisome. I know he saw the goats begin a short sprint across our lane because he swerved to miss them. But I am not sure he saw the large pile of rocks in the right lane until he looked in his large rearview mirror after he ran over two of them.

Several hours south of the border, near the town of Santa Anna, is a military checkpoint. I have told you about it before. It is the checkpoint that we believe the US government paid for and constructed and is only a bother if one is heading north. Because of the heavy Semana Santa traffic, it took three hours to get through the checkpoint. I do not recommend bus travel during the Easter week, unless you do not mind crying babies, loud talking hard of hearing grandmas, chirping chickens and old snoring men for a long extended period of time.

Getting off at the Nogales, Mexico bus station, taking the cab to the border and walking across the border worked like a charm. However, US customs did not mess with my bag or my passport. They did ask me if anyone had asked me to carry anything across the border for them. I had refused to take those chirping chickens, thank goodness.

The seven passenger shuttle concerned me a little after passenger number fifteen was loaded and all the bags were removed from the shuttle and thrown in a trailer that got attached at last minute to the van. I put on my seat belt but noticed no one else bothered. Arizona has that click it or ticket thing, but I did not know if that applied to fifiteen people in a seven people van or not.

Sure enough, at the new US border checkpoint at Tubac, Arizona, we were told to pull over so customs could see all of our papers. They ignored me once again, but checked thoroughly the papers of all the Mexicans onboard and asked our driver to open the trailer. The agents did not seem to mind that we were obviously overloaded in the people department and after waving us on, our driver proceeded to drive over the curb twice before we continued our journey.

At the airport in Tucson, I caught my breath and settled in for a four hour wait for my plane to leave and when my family picked me up in Dallas, we continued a northern drive for around an hour, and I calculated that I had been on the run for almost twenty four hours.

Although I moved away from the state in the early seventies and went to Santa Fe, there are just certain times of the year that make the Lone Star state a real gem. I believe April, and then September, are the best months to visit. The air is still cool in the mornings in April and then, cool in the September evenings. Days are lazy and warm, but there is usually a good breeze.

We had several adventurous country drives, down near Corsicana and Ennis, where we searched for Bluebonnet flowers. We were not disappointed as we saw fields of blue mixed in with the delicate reds and pinks of Indian Paintbrush. We baked bread, we baked praline cookies, we ate barbeque, we watered the lawn, we went to an art showing of one of my mother's paintings, we went to garage sales, we spent time out at my sister's farmhouse, we went and watched airplanes land at the small local airport, we watched tv!

This was a wonderful April trip. I may just have to go back in September and do it all again.
I would just probably travel differently...................

Senor picked me up at the small downtown bus station on Friday morning. I was already off the bus, sitting on an iron park bench beneath the cottonwoods. Several people I knew walked by as I waited................ a mother taking her daughter to school, one of the Alameda sweepers, the store owner from across the street and a man on his bike. We either waved to one another or chatted. It felt good to be off the bus, good to be sitting on something not moving.
At home, it all looked the same. I asked Senor what he had been working on and he showed me...........all little detail stuff that is important to making the bigger stuff work.
Then suddenly the water pump broke and Senor started hauling it out of the little locked storage area and laying it in the back of the truck so he could take it to the water pump fixer man and Umberto wanted to know if I had a good time in California and Cookies tried to bite me and I noticed that the dishes had not been done for awhile and that there was dust everywhere and two of my petunia plants looked dead. I sighed, it was good to be back home.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Amazing Adventure

Buen Dia!

We have just celebrated Semana Santa, the holy (Easter in the US) week. Schools here have a two week vacation and some businesses have been open half days or closed on Good Friday and Santa Semana day.

For many Alamos Mexicanos the scene is at the beach and they leave town for Huatabampito, which is about an hour away. But, Alamos then becomes the destination for hundreds of Mexicano tourists. So, town has certainly been very crowded. But even with many tourists, it has been somewhat quiet. This is a religious holiday and it is taken very seriously. Fiestas are low key and done mostly with family.

The Mexican tourist is easily spotted. The men may be walking around in shorts with a tecate, girls or women may be wearing short shorts and exposing their midriffs, women may be openly smoking in public, there is alot of cell phone, video and camera use.

With the exception of the Tecate, these things don't typically happen on a regular day in Alamos. This is a very, very conservative town. Women rarely wear shorts, even men do not wear shorts and women do not smoke.

Yesterday Senor and I sat at the Plaza and ate fruit and watched the tourists. There were many children dressed for communion and a local friend said it is quite popular to drive to Alamos and have your child take communion at the church here. On this morning, there were no shorts or tecates............... everyone was dressed in their very best conservative churchwear, young girls were wearing hats with ribbons and bows, young boys were in white and gold.

We were busy here at the casa during the Semana Santa week.

Senor and Umberto made placas. These placas will become the portal roof. They will lay diagonally over the vigas. Senor says we need about eighty. Looks to me more like eight hundred, but he says I am wrong and my math is not good.
I was very surprised I did not get asked to make them. But that is okay with me. I have my own projects right now.

Trying to make glass tiles for the sconces that will go in the bathroom has been my project. I have been making a few in the small hot box kiln, but have yet to get a good technique down.

I think it will take me awhile. The tiles look great until the light is behind them and then the colors fade together and the different colors can't be seen. So, I am working on adjustments for this.

Yesterday the cowboys moved the bulls down from the mountains. They came down our street and continued onto town for their adventure.

Tonight I am going on my own adventure.

I will be taking a 9pm bus from Alamos to Nogales, Mexico, where I hope to arrive at the Nogales bus station around 7am. I will take a taxi from the Nogales bus station to the downtown Nogales border crossing. I will then proceed to walk through customs and across the border and find the shuttle that will transport me to the Tucson airport. I will next take an afternoon flight to the Dallas Fort Worth airport where I will be picked up by my sister. We will then drive north for an hour, where I will spend a week visiting with my father and mother and sister. I feel like I am on The Amazing Race.

This is the way many Alamenses travel to the US and is recommended because if one takes the bus straight up to Tucson, there is often a very long delay at the border crossing due to the folks on the bus who do not have their papers in order or do not even have papers and will be told they cannot even cross the border, but find that it is worth it to pay money to go to the border and be told exactly that by US customs...............

So, this will be an amazing adventure for me, I am sure.

I suggested to Senor.............when I return maybe the casa be done.............