Sunday, March 27, 2011

March 27, 2011

On Tuesday, we made a very unpleasant discovery.
A squirrel had been feasting on grapevines.
He ate all the buds off two vines and
damaged a third.
What a nusiance!
Wednesday and Thursday passed uneventfully.
Just the usual watering, weeding, and raking.
Friday afternoon, Nacho appeared.
He almost always has something exciting going on
and this time it was an invitation to tour
the ancient winery here in Parras. 

Abandoned over twenty years ago, it is in a very sad
state of repair.  The roof is almost entirely missing; many of the
adobe walls are melting from the top down; almost all the equipment
has been removed or vandalized; even the newer buildings on
the property have broken windowns and walls covered with graffiti.
All that being said, it is still the oldest winery in the Americas,
besting Casa Madero by several years. 
If it could be restored, it would make an international tourist
attraction, but the work involved is mind-boggling.
We look forward to seeing what progress is made in the
next few years with the reconstruction of this jewel.

On Friday evening, Estela appeared in time for sunset.
She brought us an olive tree to replace the one that froze in our
garden last winter.
According to the salesman, it is supposed to withstand
cold temperatures.  Stanley planted it immediately
and it seems happy to be part of our family.
Time will tell.

Estela and Claudia came for dinner Saturday evening.

Sunday's lunch was a salad of lettuce and radishes
from the garden.
First Fruits!
The roses are putting on quite a show, but a couple of the
cactus plants are trying to upstage them.

Week-end of March 19-21

All of Mexico celebrates the birthday of Benito Juarez
on March 21st.
Getting a grip on Mexican history isn't always easy,
but Juarez has a great place
in the heart of Mexico.
Thought of as the Lincoln of Mexico, the Great Emancipator,
he has a street, school, hospital, park, government building,or
perhaps all of the above named for him in virtually every town.
Few towns in Mexico are without at least one statue of
Benito Juarez.
When the great reverence Mexicans have for this man is combined with the
equinox and great weather and a three day week-end,
it's really hard to keep folks at home.

Of course, not everyone celebrates the same way.
A friend visiting Perote with his children is a great example.
His wife stayed in Monterrey for a much needed respite and
while he watched the little one, her older sisters were
enjoying a mud bath.

The equinox is always important and to make all things better,
the moon was making its closest orbit to the earth in ten years.
We took a bottle of sparkling wine and a bag of
strawberries up the hill to watch the moon rise.
The view was spectacular, but I got my best photo
through the trees from the patio after
we walked home.

On Sunday, we met Estela and her three granddaughters
at Hostel Farol for lunch.
As usual, the food was only so-so, but we had a great time
and the kids were wonderful.
They picked at their lunch, but devoured the flan.
Later they told me it was ok, but too sweet.
Yeah, right!
I am sad to report that the beautiful garden at Hostel Farol
was almost completely destroyed by the winter
All the trees are gone.  Only a few rose bushes and the grape vine
around the periphery of the garden stand against total loss.
Que lastima!

After lunch, Stanley and I headed back to Perote for a
quick nap, and then on to the Madero Rancho for
a lamb feast with Ferdi and Luci and a group
of friends - some from Torreon and some from here in Parras.
We had a grand time visiting with old friends and meeting
new people.
Incidentally, the lamb was delicious!

On Monday, we caught up with some computer work; I washed bottles -
a never-ending chore; and we watched the hacienda revert back
to the calm, peaceful place we know and love.
All week-end, it was packed with revelers, but with
every car that drove away, the silence deepened.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

March 19, 2011

This has been the week of our friend Antonio's vineyard project.
Last year, he planted his vines and installed his irrigation system.
The project for this spring was to put in posts and wire.
Last Sunday, Stanley and I made a field trip to the big
vineyard down the road to check out how they were doings things.
Antonio wanted to use steel posts as Casa Madero does instead of the all-wood
system we chose.  He would also be using the same bracing
system Casa Madero uses.
There is nothing like learning new tricks.

Our second reason for making the trip was to see if their
vines were doing anything better than ours were.
They weren't!

On Tuesday morning, bright and early, Stanley and I met the workers
at Antonio's vineyard.
We helped them plan the use of their materials and stayed with
them until the first two rows were finished.
By Friday afternoon, half the vineyard was done.
Fast work!

Meanwhile, spring was coming on at Perote!
The collage below tells the story better than words.
The photo on the left was taken on 2/25;
the photo on the right was taken 3/17.
What a difference a few days can make.

In the our vineyard, the changes were happening just as rapidly.
The small picture to the right shows tiny grapes.
Look carefully.  At this point they are easy to miss.
That little thing will become a grape bunch -
just perfect for squeezing and fermenting.

What else did we do?
Well, let's see.

First, Antonio's project required extensive
consultation including the consumption of food and wine.
Don't you just love projects like that?

The house isn't nearly as clean as it was two weeks ago so I definitely
haven't been cleaning house.

We have done an incredible amount of raking and weeding and watering.

Absolutely everything is planted that we intend to plant this spring -
except the apple tree.
I think it is coming on Mexican time.
Maybe tomorrow.

Stanley has done the first application of systemic insecticide on the grapes.
This product is worth its weight in gold for protecting against
the vector for Pierce's disease.

The garden is coming along nicely except for the corn.
Most of the seed has still not germinated.
I know it was late coming up last year, but this is ridiculous!
Estela brought some replacement seed from Monterrey.
If I don't see a miracle tomorrow, I'll replant.

Siesta time has become a must.
There is just no working outside after lunch.

Our world is alive with bird song.
They twitter, tweet, warble, chirp, buzz, shriek, and click.
What a joy!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March 12, 2011

This week has been a little slower and more relaxed than the first two, but we have continued to make progress.

We have cleaned out and dramatically improved three of the four herb beds that we created last spring. Planting is still in progress.

We dug up and discarded all of the trees in our little citrus orchard except one badly damaged tangerine. The others were completely dead. They have been replaced with a peach tree, two goji berry bushes, with the hole ready for an apple tree.

We also replaced the beautiful, but very frozen, lantana with a rose bush and added two more roses to the collection.

The birds are back! We have seen all our old favorites and added new ones to the list.

The hummingbirds have made a dramatic come-back. We were afraid that the cold winter had put the hurt on our tiny friends, but they seem to be tougher than they look. We have a large group - at least four males - I'm thinking there may be five or six, but they won't sit still for a good count. That means there are a bunch of females sitting on nests. With good weather, there should be a fine crop of little ones soon.

Stanley decided we didn't have enough corn planted, so he enlarged our vegetable garden to allow for three more rows. I'll be sending out invitations to the corn feed as we get closer to harvest.

We also planted out the okra and watermelon and tomatoes. Keep your fingers crossed.

Some things are still in the seed trays. They are just too little to put in the garden, but they seem to be growing fast and tolerating the wind and sun with no problem.

We are making preliminary plans for our trip out in April. First to Katie's wedding, and then on to Chicago, back to Flagstaff, San Diego, Sacramento, Seattle and on to Alaska. Lots of reservations to be made.

What are we reading? Rick Steves' Spain 2011, The Paris Wife, Majorca: Paradise Not Lost.

We had a couple of remarkable sunsets last week; still no rain; quite a bit of wind. Temperatures climbed to 85 one afternoon; they dropped to 45 one night. Most afternoons aren't nearly that warm and most nights are quite a bit warmer.

Solo Vino continues to be admired by all.

We went to a birthday party on Saturday night. Rudolfo, the man who worked as construction boss here at the hacienda for several years, has moved on to bigger and better construction jobs. His music career is also taking off. What a nice surprise it was when we realized he was the lead singer and guitar player for the party's live music. We affectionately call him "Don Coyote" because when he worked here, he was known to break out in song - loud and long - at the drop of a hat, nail, whatever. It's hard to imagine a man more pleased with his life.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 5, 2011

The last week has flown by.  Here are some of our doings:
The house is a little cleaner today than it was last Saturday.

The cactus garden has been completely cleaned. It is quite lovely!

The pump in the fountain has been replaced.

The dead plants on the berm around the pecan tree out front have been replaced and that whole area has been raked.

After multiple trips to town, the computer which lost its power source in the big electricity surge last Saturday is back up and running.

Stanley has removed several more mesquite trees and agave plants
The cedar tree has been moved to a new location where it can be watered all it wants and grow to its heart's content.

ALL the cholla has been removed from the garden and tossed. It was waaaaaay too much for me to work with.

We now have a berm on the lower side of the fountain to prevent fountain spillage from running into the cactus garden. It changed the pathway through the garden a bit, but it actually looks ok and works like a charm. This should help with weed control in the cactus garden.

We've enjoyed several visits from our grape-growing buddy down the road, Antonio.

Estela and her sister Gloria came to dinner last night.

The vineyard has had a complete watering. Several of the Sauvignon Blanc plants are leafing out.

The vegetable garden is coming alive. Radishes, beets, beans, and two kinds of greens have all sprouted. About half the seeds in the germination trays have sprouted. Many of them have already been moved up to small pots.

We have had our first cactus bloom of the season. A small white blossom that would have been overlooked had I not been pulling a weed two inches from the plant.

Solo Vino is still Solo Vino. No better. No worse.

We have three hummingbirds and a plethora of other birds. The wrens have pretty much taken over the place.

We've had some good meals and taken time to watch the sun set with a glass of wine every evening.

Life is good.