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.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ring a Ding Girl Today and Next Year

Hola, it is Thursday! That spells B-R-I-D-G-E.

I love hanging out with Senor, but lately by Thursday mid morning, I am counting the minutes................till he leaves, waiting for him to get out of here.

It's because I have a new habit. As soon as he is out the gate, I am tuned into Talk Zone on the Internet.
Then I can access the Twilight Zone.
So I turn the mini split on high, get under a little fleece throw and listen all afternoon.

I was three quarters through 'The Road to Somewhere' last week and he came home early.
................hmmm, what are you listening to...................aren't you home early...............yea, so what are you listening to..................Just about then the break occurred before Act Three and the little jingle came on..........oh, that's cool, he said. So he laid down and read his book, and I finished Act Three.

This afternoon I am going to listen to 'Ring a Ding Girl', one of my favorites. Small town girl makes it to the big screen, has a sort of out of body experience and saves her small home town from total destruction.

Now Senor is pretty computer smart, much more than I am. He gets all the major football games live online, although sometimes the screen will go blank during a commercial, especially if the game is being broadcast through the Netherlands or Germany. When we get commercials many of them are in Dutch. But game coverage is good.

Saturdays are best for him. He can often get four college games at once and can open and shut screens on the computer faster than a restaurant pancake flipper can flip pancakes. He does not miss a throw, a catch, a score, an injury, a punt. I enjoy the games, but I like one game at a time, so I usually set up a bank of projects while he is screen flipping. But he is also very particular. If the game is not good enough to keep his interest, he will not watch it.

He gets live BBC and Al Jezeera news and listens late in the day. This is when I get out the big projects. He can find just about anything online.

In the heat of the afternoons, when we are not reading, it is fun to see what he finds. The other afternoon we watched Julia Child cook eight different egg dishes, in black and white, over an electric GE stove top burner. There is no need for a tv. Although with all these electrical cords and plugs going in around here, I am sure Humberto thinks we will be having a tv in every room.


A big project is in the works here. Do you remember the eight feet I have been talking about? Here it is below, outside the West Wing.



Two feet between each viga. There will be skylights in the open squares. And on the other side of the wall, (which will eventually come down) are the vigas for the other side. Another eight feet.



The two photos below show the eight feet before it was mortared in. Now it has been mortared, and the styrafoam insulation has been laid and tomorrow we are supposed to have a couple of extra guys over here to help pour cement. The last time that was supposed to happen, the guys were no shows for several days, but it eventually got done.





Senor says it will be smooth sailing from here on out. Almost all the structural stuff is in place and that took up a lot of the last two and a half years.

A friend was over the other day and she had not seen the house since last April.
She asked me how much longer, I am sure I looked confused as I certainly try not to ASK THAT question, and then, Senor answered.............a year tops, and it will be easy because all this structural stuff is about done. I am going to hold him to that year.

A year from now, say October, 2012, Senor will be at bridge on Thursday. I will be sitting in the living room that will be all pretty and painted and decorated with all our pretty stuff. I will be sitting in one of the Pier One chairs, over in the corner where the computer will be. The chimes on our German clock will be working and at chime number three I will suddenly glance up from my book and say...............oh, I think 'Ring a Ding Girl' is on Twilight Zone today.

Hey, gotta start act one.

Que le vaya bien. linda lou



Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Alamos Autumn Day





Buen dia. It is just a beautiful day here in Alamos. There is a strong breeze and the air is dry and smells like sweet jasmine. It is definitely an autumn day.

The Sierra de Alamos are filled with color as the tropical deciduous thorn forest begins to change. Some of the more prolific trees are the kapok, with its brilliant red and gold leaves, the yellow leaves of the elephant tree and the orange of the octillo. The hills are also home to oak and pine forests. As we get closer to the dry season, which usually begins mid to late October, most of these trees will lose their leaves, and the Sonoran Desert will take over with its enormous Etcho, a cactus similar to the saguaro, standing like soldiers against the brown hillsides.

Fall has always been my favorite season and it remains true, even in Mexico. We are waking up to sixty degree mornings and the air is cool and fresh, tinged with wood smoke. Days are still warming up into the nineties, but the humidity has dropped and the light has changed.

Clouds continue to billow, especially to the north and east, but we have not had rain in well over a week. With hurricane season lasting through November, it is posssible we will still get more rain, but hopefully all hurricanes will stay at bay.

The birds are out in big numbers today, enjoying the change in the weather. A hawk has been passing back and forth across the field next door. The cardinal family has been at the water dish most of the morning, leaving only to hide in a tecoma tree when the white winged dove swoop in for a visit. All of my wind chimes are tinkling merrily, swaying in the breeze alongside Senor's electrical tubing. Cookies is stretched out on the floor. Senor is stretched out on the bed.
It is just a very nice Alamos autumn day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

To Ask Senor or Not......That is the Question

Buen dia!
Yesterday morning I rode new old bike out to the arches and beyond. I don't think that's more than a round trip of eight miles but when I got home I had to take a long siesta. That route is all about up and down and finally the bike shop has installed two new handle bar shifter thingies that activate the derailers. I just went out and asked Senor what those things are called..........are they called something special, i asked. He was up on the ladder, not happy with my question..............oh, are you thinking........i asked. Not happy again.....well, can I just call them gear shifter thingies...............sure, can i get back to work now, he asked. When Senor is working, especially up on the ladder with a tool in his hand, and I know this, he does not like being distracted.

I try not to bother Senor when he is working, but well, sometimes it is hard not to, even if it a dumb question about new old bike. This does not mean we don't talk to each other during the day, of course we do, I am referring in particular to critical times when it is obvious he is immersed in his work. But sometimes those times are not so obvious to me. Besides, by nature, I am a multi tasker. I can talk any subject Senor wants, answer any question thoroughly while totally concentrating on an entirely different topic. Easy as making an apple pie and thinking about which plates to serve it on, whether or not to serve whipped cream and coffee, and yes, dear, I got your laundry from the cleaners and don't forget we have dinner with Harry and Sarah on Tuesday and teacher's conferences tomorrow at two.

I should have learned my lesson long, long ago when we bought our very first house, a small little craftsman bungalow on the edge of a ravine. He was building a rock wall. I was sitting on the grass, waiting for him to assign me my part of rock wall building. I began talking to him about the other things I thought we should do to the yard as he carried huge gorst rocks by wheelbarrow from the alleyway to the wall. Oh, I thought a fence on top of the wall would be nice, a grape arbor, a few new rhododendrons here and there, oh, and could you make us a bird feeder and when are we going to drive out to the lake and get that old wooden hot tub our friend said we could have..................

If my memory serves me correctly, he stopped working, went inside the house and turned on a football game. He just left me sitting there in the grass.

Later, while we were playing a game of croquet, I mentioned how he left me in the grass there................so, he said, this is my only complaint, when I am working on a project, I am really concentrating on my work, it is hard to talk when I am carrying huge heavy rocks..............

So the shifter thingies work and I was able to get up in that gear............is it high or low that gets you up hills? I would go and ask Senor but, ouch. It must be high.

The bike man went to Tucson for over a week and came back with boxes and boxes of stuff, all new looking. I am pretty certain my shifters were in that box and I was very worried about what it was going to cost me. Forty-five pesos, that's what it cost, not even four dollars. So after my siesta, I rode to town. Then again, later in the day, I went out again. New old bike is working like new. On one of my trips I went to buy bird seed at the feed store over in La Capilla barrio and saw this little calf. There were some men sitting on the wall there and they said they were waiting for a key to the courtyard of this casa so they could graze the calf. They asked me to stay and have coffee, but I told them I was off to town.

I took the long route to town and crossed over the new bridge. It has been completed now for over six months, but we still call it new. The two pictures following this one will show you what happened to the original bridge when Hurricane Norbert hit. That will be three years ago on October 11. If you want to refresh your memory about Norbert, you can see the posts and photos by clicking on the Norbert tags to the right. It's still pretty clear in my mind, so I only pulled up the two bridge photos and did not look at anything else. I find that I cannot look at too many photos of Norbert, it's certainly still very clear in my mind.
So, this morning I left new old bike alone to rest and mowed the lawn. I was able to complete it in one hour and forty three minutes and two tankfuls of gasoline. I swear I will have this whole yard covered someday in concrete. I had to take a siesta when I was done and I would have slept for two hours, I am sure, except Senor started using his saw and that woke me up. See the freshly mowed lawn below.



More vigas and beams are going up on the portal. Every day I think this portal is bigger and bigger and I wonder how I will ever fill it up to make it look lived in. Sixty feet, I think that is correct. I would go and ask, but................
Of course, we are still planning on the dipping pool and that will be under the portal, or would that be called on the portal. Not going to go find out.

Below you can see some of the electrical tubing Senor has up there. He has a map of all that, what is in each tube, where it goes, the location of it in the wall and what it goes to. Yesterday he was studying that and I asked him if he would buy me a topochico mineral water next time he went out and could he also get me some pesos from the bank so I could pay the electricity...............and do you want shrimp or turkey for dinner................... Evil eye.
Senor is using his saw. I am going to go take a picture, be right back.

He is cutting barro blanco for the roof top.



The other day I was reading through one of my house magazines. This particular magazine is one I purchased several years ago at El Nicho, an antique store here in Alamos. I flipped through an article about remodels and how romantic it can be if approached correctly. The author clearly stated it is important to communicate as you work. The wife should consider staying on top of making sure she is doing the job given her correctly. Especially if there is no general contractor and a couple might be doing their project together. Asking questions of the person, husband, in charge is critical to the continuation of the project and the author went so far as to suggest that contrary to what one might think, bedtime is a very good time to bring up thoughts and ideas about your project, for example, try snuggling and then tell him how you think the refrigerator should go on the wall opposite the one where the electrical wiring was installed. Woman's Housekeeping, 1969.

Oh, one of these days I suppose I might discover that I have learned not to talk to Senor when it is obvious he is concentrating on his project. I might stop and think to myself, is this a good time or a bad time to ask that question. Or maybe I will never learn because after all, if that's his only complaint.....................

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On This Day After the Day



Buen dia.
I woke early on Independence Day to check out the parties. The music woke me at five and when I stepped outside I could hear the sounds of fiesta from all directions. Once on foot, I discovered the party goers still going were young, in their mid twenties hanging out at their cars, music blaring, hanging out at the bus stop, hanging out on the portals of various hotels, again, all listening to music and the music, I was delighted to hear, was all Mexicano. Some romantic, some ranchero, ballads, rock, quite a variety and all good. I am a lover of Mexican music, there is no bad music here.
I continued my walk and saw very few people other than all of the young people still hanging on, very unwilling to give up what must have been an eventful night for them.

We were awakened the night before the day by the fireworks and shouting and screaming which seemed to last for hours. Finally, after watching bursts of gigantic flowering red, white and green fireworks for half an hour we were back in bed drifting off to the sounds of Ivan's party back at new old Jesus's casa.

Senor and I made it down town early for the parade. This year instead of standing in the hot sun at the Alameda, we chose to follow the back of the parade for awhile and then hurry around to catch the beginning while standing in the shade near the Paulita school.

Below are a few of the men and horses from the Ganadera, the Cattlemens' Association waiting for their turn to enter the Plaza. I think that the photos which connect me most to Alamos are the faces of the children. Their beautiful expressions make me wonder what they are thinking. The little girl below does that to me. I cannot help but wonder what she wonders.


And what must he be thinking..................
Soon he will grow up and march with one of the schools.

One day he might march with the military.
This was the first time we have seen the military march in a parade.
Most of the young children were on the floats this year.
As always, the boys play the trumpet and the girls play the drums.

The twins below have carried their school flag for four years now. Another set of willowy twins has carried their flag as well. We have watched them grow taller. We see some of our friends' children marching with their schools. We wave, they nod and smile and keep marching in the dreadful heat because it is their duty. By the time they reach Calle Madero, friends and family will be tossing them water bottles and they will have time to rest in the shade.




I recognize the young girl on the right. A quick smile breaks her serious march and just as quickly her head snaps straight ahead and she marches to the sound of her teacher.............uno, dos, uno, dos...one, two, one, two.....and at a pause when it is time to salute the flag as it waves from the Mirador...........izquierda, izquierda, izquierda, left, left, left..............
When the Ganadera brings up the last of the parade, a sea of floating and bobbing white hats capture our attention. They are very handsome men on their huge horses and many of their children ride with them. They are beaming, smiling, all very proud.


Back at the Plaza, the ladies bring out their tres leche cakes, the three milk cakes, bags of snacks and cotton candy and balloons are on every corner.



At the arroya, empty soda bottles have been placed on the exposed rebar of the new stone wall to prevent accidents and the grand stand is up. When evening comes, there will music on the bandstand, dancing, and horse racing, and horse dancing in the arroyo.
It's never too early for a vaquero and his caballo, a cowboy and his horse, to get in line at the Tecate or Pacifico Light tent.

After a carne asada lunch on the Alameda and an new assessment of how hot the day was getting, we marched home and turned on the mini split and did not go back outside until six pm. Senor grilled our favorite chomorro, which is shank, and the evening turned nice and cool and the air was filled with music from the arroyo. We stayed up late listening to the sounds of the fiesta, but not once wanting to join the crowds.

This morning, the day after the day, Senor was downtown early to buy a coca cola. When he came back he said he saw only three people on the streets and they were all under the age of six................it is very quiet this morning.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

On This Day Before the Day


Yesterday's storm came late in the day with these beautiful clouds billowing against the setting sun. I had to pull out the fleece again. It was cozy and warm against the cold wind of the storm.

This is the day before the Day of Independence. I went downtown around noon to see what activity I could find. And there was nothing. You could have heard a pin drop in the Plaza....no people, no cars, no wind, nothing. The big wooden doors to the Palacio were closed tight.

I drove up to the Mirador. There was enough breeze there to keep the flag waving.



The roof tops of all the houses below are gleaming white, all freshly impermeabled, coated with rubber sealant to keep out the summer rains.




You can see the Palacio in the center of the photo, big and brown, silent, taking a siesta before it awakens to welcome its loving people later tonight.

Below I could see the distant clouds churning to the west, but not too threatening and the sun was bright and hot.

Back inside new old car, a quick check on the time told me I had twenty minutes before Senor would need the car so he could get to the ladies for bridge.

I drove west, past the Tecate store, where I finally saw people and activity. Men stood, laughing and talking, waiting their turn to buy. I stopped in the OXXO and stood in line for five minutes to get a frozen coffee drink. The shop keepers were bringing in huge bins filled with ice and Tecate and the Tecate was going out the door as fast as they could get it in. Farther up the street school kids were walking, blowing trumpets and banging drums. Dogs were running in and out between their legs. A few girls watched the boys playing basketball at the sports complex. A girl sat at the bus stop waving her plastic Mexican flag.

A quick turn around, speeding for home, a toss of the keys to Senor and a retreat to the coolness of the bedroom. After relaxing for a few minutes under the mini split, trying to decide how to spend the afternoon, the power went out for over an hour and a half. I moved outdoors to the portal where a cool wind picked up, thunder roared and a heavy rain began to fall.

I went and got my fleece.

Now I hear town coming alive. The delivery trucks are rambling up and down the street. Ivan, new old Jesus' nephew, who inherited the little casa, is trying out some new opera tunes on his stereo, the kid several streets over is playing his pan flute, still only one song, El Condor. The cow bells are tinkling over in Rancho Colorada and it is almost time for Senor to return.

We will be wide awake when the activity begins at midnight, listening from the portal to the excitement from the 'grito' and the fireworks and then, on the streets for the parade in the morning. Until then, on this day before the day, adios.......