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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

End of the Clay Tale

Buen dia!

Below is a lovely photo Senor shot from the roof top last evening. You can just see the thunderheads building to the north on the horizon. It took those clouds almost a day to get here as it is now pouring rain this afternoon. Maybe we will go beyond the four inches we got here on Durango Sunday night. The air is fresh and very fragrant, the smell of rain and flowers.


The end of the clay tale is near. We did not see anything come out of the kiln, Senor had a bridge day that lasted until six. Then I missed two more firings out in Uvalama. They just had to fire when they had to fire and there was really not any way for us to know about it.

Today there was a presentation at Casa de la Cultura, for the children to show off their prized pieces and receive certificates, so I went up this morning to join in and take photographs.

Outside Cultura, I snapped a few photos and you can really see the montanas are greening up. A few more rains and they will be very brilliant and tropical and lush.

Inside, the fired clay was presented for viewing and the children and their families were excited to see their work.

Sadly a few pieces were broken, but Jorge kindly explained to the families that glue will fix anything. In the plaque below you can see the clay pretty much remained adobe, but has some discoloration with a smoky fired look. Jorge says these could be glazed and fired again, but the purpose of his class would be for the children to paint them with acrylics.

Here is my candle holder ..................maybe it will look better painted.

and the pieces for my wind chime, with some type of creature on top of the right one.

and my wall plaque...............................looks like it did before firing.

Some of the kids who participated are in the photo below with the teachers, upper left.

So, now I will need to paint these things and see if I can even turn the wind chime into a wind chime and I don't know about that candle holder. jorge said maybe I shoud turn it upside down and it will look like some hrapes....hanging. I will think about that..............

For about two weeks now I have been hearing a large band practicing.
Just like the 'Elusive Bongo' post, I have been out on new old bike to find the source. I finally found it today at Casa de la Cultura. It is remarkably large, about twenty five members, drums, tubas, clarinets, flutes, trumpets, trombones, saxophones and snare drums. The players are all young kids in their teens and early twenties, and are being conducted by Ramon Alcantar, a local music teacher who is also a very talented musician.

The band has been organized and supported by the Casa de la Cultura and Century Art, an independent music and art organization from the states that is owned by an Alamos American resident.
Each day I have been listening to the band practice and I would say, they should keep up the practice, they have amazing potential. How great to see people this young interested in learning and playing instruments. I hope you enjoy their performance! adios! linda lou

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The First Kiln Fire in Uvalama


We are home after a long hot morning of helping transport the clay pieces to the small town of Uvalama and the firing.
Senor has a good book going, the air conditioning is going and I want to show you how the morning went.

Below are some of the fishies that were sculpted. Here is Jorge, the comex paint bass man and teacher.

And this is Tiffany. She is on loan from her college in Atlanta. She is working on her internship and chose to come to Alamos to teach sculpting, so she and Jorge are working together and they make a great team.

WHOA!!!!!! Senor just got a phone call. The bridge group is waiting for him and he did not know there is a game. Book is tossed on the floor, shoes are on and he is outta here.

Wow, I don't know how to feel, that happened so fast.

HOME ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But before I get wild and crazy and swing from the chandeliers, back to the post.

About twelve folks were out to help transport and watch the firing. Here is the kiln, at the Museum curator's Uvalama property, near where we dug the dirt the other day.

The kiln is made of ladrillos and mortar.

The inside, with slats for air circulation.

Below, Jorge loads the kiln. Everything goes in a tight fit, in many layers. If something is even still slightly damp it will not get fired today. Yesterday I made a round plaque with our street name and number but it is still damp and won't go in. Anything damp might explode and then break everything else.

After all the pieces are in, a thin layer of tin and scrap metal and broken pot shards are put in.

Pine is broken to fit the fire hole. As soon as the fire begins to smoke, a few tecates are opened and passed around.
More wood gets added.
This sheet of tin will cover the top of the kiln.

But first, as long as there is already a fire going, let's heat up some soup.

We asked how hot they will let the fire get. They don't know...........until it is hot enough, said Jorge, in SpanishEnglish. We asked how long will they fire..................until everything is done, said Jorge in SpanishEnglish. We asked if we should stay or when we should come back......................when it is done, said Jorge in SpanishEnglish.............. come at four or five.

Someone asked if he had his comex bass there, no it is at the other house, he said.........but I have a bucket, I can make another. Our friend Squier, who, with his wife, hosted the wonderful barbeque the other night and builds and plays mandolins said he might bring out the mandolin tonight as well.

Now Senor generally plays bridge until six, so I mentioned this to him as he flew out the door and he said he would try and get out early. Well, I do not play bridge, but I know, if you are partnered up in a card just don't get out early, there is no such thing. It is not like going to a party, being ready to leave and telling the hostess it is time to go.

So, I am not sure we will make it out to Uvalama later. We may miss a very cool impromptu jam session and the removal of the first pieces.

If we miss it today, I think the damp pieces will be fired manana and perhaps we will go then...........................stay tuned ..........

Friday, July 23, 2010

What's Goin' On

Buen dia. That possible storm became a nothing. We went to the barbeque and except for a few raindrops, everyone stayed relatively dry.

There was a wonderful mix of the summer foreign population, the Alamos Mexicano community and some very talented young musicians from the states of Michoacan and Sinaloa and Sonora. These young men are here in Alamos to sell their art in a new shop on the main street of town and they just happen to all be excellent musicians as well. So a full blown jam session lasted well into the early morning hours and we all had a great time. The mayor and his wife attended and we were even surprised with some outstanding Mexican opera which was performed by two members of the mayor's party.

I love to sing and got in my Donovan, Marshall Tucker and Arlo Guthrie jam time along with everyone else. There were beautiful Mexican love songs, current Mexican hits, great old American folk songs, moving mandolin and violin performances, solos from many, and even our good friend, Steve, let loose with a moving rendition of House of the Rising Sun and played his harp as well.

We went home at two am.....................

These brothers are from Michoacan, they all play instruments, they all sing and they are all talented woodworkers, maskmakers, oil painters and sculptors.

Below is Jorge, a talented scupture and musician. He plays a type of bass instrument constructed from a five gallon comex paint bucket, a broom handle and a thick string. It is amazing how he knows what note will be played on every part of that broom handle and it is right on pitch. There was a young man there with his large bass as well and you could not tell the sound of the two instruments apart.

Yesterday we did have a good storm in the afternoon. Although brief, it gave us a good idea of how the four completed roofs are holding up, and we are pleased to say...............great!
In the photo below the impermeable has been spread just in time to dry and then the rain came. It is a rubbery white paint mix that coats the roof top and is the last thing to go on a completed roof. It is what Senor covered the current bedroom and kitchen tool room with in November 2008 before Norbert hit us.

I am thrilled the four rooms got coated before yesterday's rain and everything went as planned. It is just putting us that much closer to getting walls plastered and floor in and being able to have more covered space.

The portal roof below is not completed and you can see the mortar between the placas. The rain comes through here.

We still do not have the doors up, but the iron gates for the windows have been made. It has been difficult to varnish the doors, the humidity makes the varnish goop up like glue almost as soon as it goes on.

So I am being patient and we are spending a lot of time locking and unlocking doors, just being smart about we leave out in the open. A new timer light outside the kitchen tool room door brightens the outdoors at night and we feel more secure. I guess we are really on Mexican time and when the doors go up, well, they go up.

The museum has been offering a few classes that I am attending. The first is a clay sculpture class. There have been five gringas and about thirty five ninos and it has been very interesting.

The gringas hopped in a car yesterday and drove to the museum curator's home in Uvalama, a small village west of here, well known for its red clay and native artists who sculpt and fire it in adobe ovens. We dug more clay, sifted it, added water and prepared it for the morning class.

Below is Jorge, one of several clay sculptors and one of the teachers of our class. He is also the musician who played the comex bass at the barbeque.

Back at the museum we have each sculpted something different every day, a fish or a frog, a mask or a round lamp, an elephant or a plaque. On Saturday, everything will be transported to Uvalama where it will be fired. Drying below are some of the things made by the ninos and gringas.

Here is my contribution to the 'make what you want day', a candle holder and pieces for a wind chime. It took me over an hour to decide what to make, so the teacher told me to take it home and finish it. Today I made a wall plaque with our street name and number.

Then in the afternoons I have been going to a fabric painting class. This class is a little different. There are about thirty Mexicano senoras in the class and I don't quite feel comfortable yet. Only two of them have spoken to me. But yesterday a little girl about eight came and sat next to me and she was very chatty. Mostly she enjoyed telling me how to paint, but I felt better. So at the end of class, the instructor ripped off about three meters of muslin and told me to go home and wash it.

I am not sure if that means I have been accepted or not. Here is my painted fabric. I guess I could make a pillow out of it or a napkin.

So that's my week. Later this afternoon, after class, we are going out to a corral to see some quarterhorses being trained and manana I will go out to Uvalama to see all the clay get fired.

It is cloudy out, but very little breeze, so I am not planning on getting excited about any possibilities of rain. But I will let you know if it happens.

adios, linda lou

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Possible Storm

Buen dia!
We are in the middle of rolling thunder and flashing lightning, so I will not post much. Just want you to see the dramatic clouds that are coming in from the west. In the last week other storms have gotten close only to back off at the last moment and pass right by.
But this has potential.
In an hour we are due at a huge outdoor barbeque and of course, that is probably why it will rain. But we don't think anyone will care. Everyone is hoping for rain and we know how to barbeque in the rain.

Last night we went out and I forgot to shut off the hose. Our lime and amapa trees got a good three hours of water and the cistern went dry and Senor hosed down the pump for about an hour because we were afraid it might just burn up.

So, please I am begging here for rain. I am tired of watering.........................

Now the wind is picking up. But Senor just came in and said it is passing us by..............again.
I will go do a rain dance.
adios, linda lou

Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Road Again to Quiriego

Hola! It is now mid afternoon and I am going to be real quick with this bit of news because Senor is patiently reading on the bed behind me while the water boils away in the kitchen tool room for his cup of soup and I know he would like to read about the great golf upset today while he gets that sodium intake.

Around nine we took off in search, once again, of the back road to Quiriego. We traveled slowly on a very bumpy, corrugated or as we call it, cordouroy road and pretty much all I have to say is we did not find it. We did, however, see some pretty sights and so we had a great time. Around one we agreed that we should turn around as we have an event to attend around six.

We also decided that the road may be farther away to the north and into the mountains than we realize, so one early morning soon we will be up and on the search again.

We are certain, as others tell us, the road turns west off the dirt road to San Bernardo. San Bernardo's reputation is a little less than desirable, so as much as we would like to go there and see the old church, we would rather find the right back road to turn on and head to Quiriego than make a mistake and end up at the San Bernardo town plaza.

So, this is what we saw.

We followed a road to the left when we thought we were getting too close to San Bernardo and then, we could go no further.

Okay, Senor is a very patient person, but soup and golf are calling. Adios! Linda Lou