Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spring is in the Air

cactus in bloom


Chickens in our yard


Well plants are blooming and there are green grasses around which is so lovely to see. The hills are all turned green….my artist soul is happy to have more of nature being colorful. I can’t believe it is already spring and it is only the start of February… glad to miss the Georgia winter. We have had a few days of rain and even some pretty heavy rain for a short time which has really helped plants to bloom. But it has also caused us problems with our dirt roads around here. We have a few flooded places and some pretty deep mud. Alma got to meet a couple of really nice and helpful neighbors when her car sinks in the mad at the end of our street when she was trying to come home after the rains had stopped. They had to use a shovel to dig her wheels out. We still have some impassible places but did go off to do art with the children yesterday. They are so creative!

Today was just this picture postcard kind of day, so I went out and took a few photos on the hillside in front of the house. There are such different plants around here, Patch and I enjoyed the walk. Then went to lunch and saw dolphins jumping in the waves, while we enjoyed a yummy lunch on the patio of one of our favorite restaurants.  The other week it was gray whales while eating lunch on this same patio, a wonderful place to hang out and so nice to have a very relaxed lunch out in the sun.  On our return drive home we so the man who owns the goats, which we haven’t seen in a while and wondered if they had become dinner. So, we ask about them and found out he sold them to a farm nearby for breeding stock. So, “our” billy goat is now enjoying his days with the lady goats….we are so happy that he didn’t become dinner! Still we do miss him, he was really fun and Pipi, the dog, seems to miss him, he has been coming to visit more and checks the yard like he is looking for his goats. Billy goat and Pipi were raised together.  We have heard about how cute they were when they were little. Speaking of pets, Tyler the big cat, has finally come out of the closet during the day! He has always slept with me, but during the day he has been hiding in a box ever since we came to this house. I have worried that he isn't getting any glad to see him around the house during the day. In fact he has decided to even hang out with Lucylu the black cat who is the younger one and been in the household a couple of years now, but Tyler would have nothing to do with her.  At night they each sleep on a different side of the bed keeping the Patches between them and pretending the other isn't there. They both like the dog, which is a good thing. Though my bed gets a little crowded.

Enjoy the photos I posted on FB. Wishing you all sunny days.
Tyler and Lucylu during the day

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Internet Research

Closeup of tuna cages
Cliffs with cages below

Driving to Ensenada I have notices these big rings, like fishing nets with boats nearby them in the water, far below the cliffs that we are driving along. There are many of these big rings. At first we thought they were just fishing there.but they are always in the same spot when we pass by so I decided to find out about them. In asking friends about them I was told that they are cages where tuna are being held.  Wanting to know a little more about this curios sight I did an internet search and came up with some interesting info on them…I so love internet you can find answers to most of your questions in just a couple of minutes when you figure out the right question for your search.  First that these rings are steel cages the size of a football fields and basically they function much like a beef cattle stockyards. The tuna unlike salmon have not been successfully farmed, that is raised in captivity from egg to maturity, but must be caught in the wild. What is being done here is a kind of farming to create high quality prime tuna for the Japanese sushi market where they can get big bucks for the tuna. In the fall the fishing boats drag nets and collect tons of tuna and them drag the nets with the tuna to this area of steel mesh pens and fat them up on sardines for 6-8 months. 
When they have orders for the tuna they haul them out onto the boats and take them to market in Japan. They can harvest as much as 900 tuna a day when market demand is high. There are some 60 cages along the Ensenada coast line, with a capacity of 4,800 metric tons being farmed/held full of tuna. There is a concern that over fishing may result from this practice, but  for now it is creating a economic boom to this area with more than 360 employees involved in the process.  For me it was fun to take the photos, but I do have a concern that these Pacific bluefin tuna will go the way of the Atlantic bluefin which are now on the endangered  list.
Here are the cages and fishing boat

Okay, I started this blog to be about art years ago, so now I am going to talk about my latest artistic creation.  I’m feeling the influence of the Mexico love of vibrant colors. I have been enjoying  creating my own painting after a Mexican pottery style called Talavera.  We bought some dishes from a local shop and I kept looking at the complicated design patterns and thought what fun it would be to paint a photo frame in the same design to put photos in from our adventures.  I found wooden frames that you can paint, on one of our trips to San Diego art store. Then I started sketching designs to imitate the pottery style. I worked out the color palette as I painted, which is the really fun part. After I did the first frame I was hooked on creating a few more, making each one unique in design and colors, but with the basic design elements of the Talavera pottery.  Like the dishes they are vibrant and bold. They have a Mexican flair to them. I also, had to do research on the internet and learn about the Talavera pottery. It has a very interesting history. Here is a little of the info I found about the pottery style. It has a very long complicated history, but briefly it started in Spain in the Thirteenth Century and was heavily influenced by the centuries of Moorish domination. Next came the Arab and Muslim influence on the designs. Then it was brought to Mexico in the 1600 and was taught to the indigenous people who had a long history of working in pottery.  Today the city of Puebla is the home of “authentic “  Mexican Talavera. There are many, many artisans working in this style and selling their wares. You can buy signed, numbered, “authentic” pieces or like we did less expensive unsigned piece. There is the traditional style which has an “old fashion” formal quality to it and the modern style, which is far more causal. I like the modern style and that is what is being sold in the shops around here. The Talavera style pottery are produced in many different regions of the country, resulting in a variety of different modern styles and designs. Anyone need a frame? I wonder where this is going to lead me in my artist journey...I don't know but it sure is fun for now.
Here are the dishes we bought

Here are the frames

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Happenings after the Holiday Season

Mtns. on the way to San Felipe

Last  week, Alma and I had our first big road trip in Baja. We crossed the mtns. to the other side of the Baja peninsula to see the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).  Driving the 200 miles on Mex Hwy 3 from Ensenada to San Felipe is a challenging road of twists and turns through mtns. and across desert landscapes. The sky was partly cloudy adding to the dramatic views of the high mtn. pecks. There are a couple of little towns far off the road, but if you stick to the road there is nothing much in the way of services. We did find one restroom stop, but no food a long the way, we wished we had packed a few snacks. The boulder covered mountains are awesome with cacti and other vegetation growing all around. Then there was an inspiring view  as we came around this one curve looking out to a valley of farm lands just being planted and some of the fields were dusted with green shoots. I wished I could take a photo, but no place to stop. On down the mtn and across the valley we went and soon we came to a military checkpoint near where Hwy 3 meets the gulf shore Hwy 5. We had already been through 2 other checkpoints so I guess they are still in abundance around here. San Felipe is a sleepy little town at the top edge of the gulf. We stayed at a beach hotel in a clean but, very modest room. We enjoyed a great view from our little balcony, checking out the local shops and have a yummy fresh seafood meal. There was a bus load of retires from Arizona filling the hotel and enjoying the town. We enjoyed our cats with some of them. The drive home we found that it had snowed in the night so got to see a little snow on cacti and rocks. That is enough winter wonderland for me. 

Then saturday it was off for a little food shopping and lunch in Rosarito beach. There is a pretty good Chinese Restaurant that we enjoy eating at…they serve really large portions so we get an extra meal or two out of it. Sunday we went to “Not Church”, Church. This is the monthly gathering of ex-pats at a lovely home with a view of the waves crashing just beyond their cliff side patio, there was a nice warm fire in the fire place and many greetings from new friends. There was about 50 people, a few children,  delightful music and thoughtful stories. We always come away feeling inspired by the event , then about 20 of us invaded the local hotel restaurant near by….it was s true Mexican dining experience with very slow service giving us plenty of time to chat with old friends and make new some new ones. We meet a few more of our neighbors on “the hill”. Monday it was off to the monthly women’s creative arts group. We talked about what we wanted in the new year and made a little wall hanging to remind us.  What fun!
Tuesday Dad and I went to the states, which is always a delight to be in San Diego, now that I know my way around it is much more fun to do the shopping. Okay, just have to say something about the border crossing. We drove over to Tecate which adds about 20 mins. to the drive to the border and is always a much shorter wait time than Tijuana. So, you drive down this road to the eastern edge of town and then turn and there is a one way street along the border fence bring you back into town, this has the Mexican Army doing traffic control. Well I turn on the street and no cars lined up…I continue over the crest of the hill and see down to the border crossing and there are no cars! I drive on down and the soldier who is busy text messaging on his cell doesn’t even look up, but waves me on ( would have love a pic of that!)....I enter the control lane and there is just one car pulling out of the booth and I drive up to the booth show our passports and we are on our way!!!!  We still have the extra 30 mins. to drive in the Calif. mtns to get back to the main highway and San Diego…..but oh, so worth it! It felt like a kind of victory to just get across the border.

Yesterday, it was sharing some silliness, hugs and art with the local children. I love seeing their creativity and even though we can’t have much conversation we still connect with each other. They children are such a gift to me. They are so willing to just jump in there and try. They were very excited with gifts of new hand knitted caps and slippers. Plus we all enjoyed the home made chocolate chip cookies that the ladies bought along with the knitted gifts. After the morning of art we went off to enjoy a long, long lunch at our favorite local hotel and restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the Pacific. The sunshine was warm so we could eat on the patio where we were treated to some gray whale sightings. Road trips, art, friends, yummy food, sunshine, whales, beach walks, Ah I love being retired.
Drive to San Felipe

Lighthouse in San Felipe

Me at the beach front in San felipe

Across the street from the beach in San Felipe

Art Project
All smiles with new hand knitted hat a blanket

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We have chickens!

Chicken in our yard

We have the started off the new year with a few rain storms and very cold nights, in the 40’s. At least it does warm up once the sun comes up. So we are kind of having a winter here, too. After a night of heavy rains and winds, yesterday we woke to find 14 chickens now living in our backyard and the goats were missing. Raphael, the local handyman mentioned that he wanted to bring his chickens back to our yard. They had been living in our yard before we rented the house, but he moved them over to his daughter’s house just before we moved in. He said the chickens were not doing well at his daughter’s, they had stopped laying eggs.  So, we knew at some point we would be having chickens in our yard. Still it was kind of a fun surprise. Patch was very interested in the chickens and kept jumping around the fence, but the chickens paid him no mind. When Raphael came by to feed the chickens we ask about the goats and he was very upset telling us the goats were gone. He feared that they were stolen in the night. We thought maybe they just run off because of the storm. He had moved them to an area by the house he is currently house sitting in, which is just behind our house and had them tied up on a long rope.  He said he was going to walk to town and look for them. (He doesn’t drive.) A few hours later we saw him and he said he found the goats on the narrow edge of the highway against the hill into town. It is luck they didn’t get run over. The one still dragging the cut rope, so he thinks someone tried to steal them but they run off. We have watched them run from him and they can be fast! We are so, happy the goats are found even if one day they are going to be dinner.  We hope not while we are around. Raphael says oh, but goat tastes great! Just saw a program on TV were they were fixing goat and said how wonderful the meat is and very healthy for you. I guess I am just too much of a city girl and don’t want to met my dinner while it is still living.

Other news, we guess, l we are seeing some effects of the new Mexican president. The military check point we had to go through every time we went shopping in Rosarito or back to the states has been removed. They still have one we have to go through when we go south to Ensenada. The other day dad and I went out to lunch in Ensenada and I decided to take the back road coming home to see the mountain views. I had never driven this way. It was a fun drive until I came to the military check point. This very young man was very rude to me…he didn’t like that I didn’t speak Spanish and made me get out of the car and he thoroughly check the trunk then looked in the back seat, and just made me stand outside the car for awhile without saying anything while he looked over at the other solder on the other side of the car. He did speak perfect English, when I looked blankly at him when he spoke Spanish. He never said a word to my dad and just seem like he was enjoying hassling me. Most times at the military check points we have been waved through and always the young men have been very serious in their expressions they are  polite. In any case this was kind of unnerving…they carry very large automatic rifles. Don’t plan to take anymore rides in the mountains for awhile, which is too bad, because it was a pretty drive with awesome views of the Pacific ocean at times. We are so glad that the check point north is gone for now. They haven’t made us feel any safer, but rather remind us that maybe it isn’t a safe place here. Hopefully this is a sign of peacefulness around here; in any case that has been our experienced. 
Looking at us for feed

Visiting us this morning outside our yard

Sunrise and chickens