Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Diego's Graduation Dinner

The guest of honor, Diego!
And his mother with two of her closest friends and her younger son, David.
The father, Antonio, our associate in all things grapes, discussing things with Stanley
Maggie and Clara, hosts for the party at Jardin Botanico
Four beautiful girls and their beautiful mother
I'm sure everyone did something in the kitchen to make this a fabulous dinner, and I thank them all, but a special thanks to Maggie and Cruz for their efforts at the grill. Tan ricos!
Congratulations, Diego.  May you have great success!

Back to Mexico

News from the vineyard:  Grapes are ripening much faster than anticipated.  Take a look at these beauties.  Although the sugar count still has a way to go, the color is fabulous!
With the smell of ripening grapes, the birds are impatiently awaiting the official dinner invitation.  Thanks to Antonio, David, and Cruz we got the bird net up just in time. See how tightly it's stretched!  Just try and get in, you nasty grape-eating birds!  Thanks, guys!
OK . . . so the next morning, what did we have?  One bird and one cotton-tailed rabbit.  You know what they say about pride going before the fall?  It's all true.
On to other things.  The back garden isn't quite a spiffy as it usually is.  A gas line has been laid in a trench, but is still uncovered.  The ice plant is taking over some of the path ways and everything either needs pruning or dead-heading, or both. However, there are some things worth noticing like this study in purple.  Purple sage, lavender, the one plum on our baby tree, and the last of the artichoke blooms.
And this lovely tiny cactus blossom.
Last, but not least, we seemed to have left a single radish in the garden while we were gone.  It went just a step past maturity.
Around the hacienda, all the news revolves around water.  First, a new well is going in right inside the entrance
and a new irrigation system is being installed.  This involves hours and hours of tractor work and huge piles of pipe.
The hill sides are crispy brown.  There has been no rain since late last summer, and very little then.  However, we have enjoyed some remarkable sunsets.  One evening was full of monsters.
Then there was Solstice Sunset

Solo Vino always like to kick back with us at the end of the day.  
Hoping you're all kicked back and enjoying a lazy summer evening.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Waiting for a Train

As soon as we realized how serious the delay might be, we scurried across the street to Holland Hotel.  What a surprise!  The hotel had been completely remodeled.  I have a long ago history with this place and it was delightful to see it in such great shape.

Once we were settled into the hotel, we walked up the street to the Old Granada Theatre.  By chance, we had seen an advertisement for a ballroom dance at the theatre on Saturday night.  Thinking we would be on the train by the time the dance started, we didn't give it much thought, but when plans changed, we took advantage.  It was actually more jazz than ballroom, but since it was a benefit for the municipal library and we were dancing, it didn't matter much.

We spent most of Sunday in the hotel, sandwiching some pleasure reading and computer work between efforts to find out exactly what was going on and how soon we might expect to leave Alpine.

Late Sunday evening, our efforts were rewarded with new reservations on the regularly scheduled train Monday night.  With no more need to stay glued to the computer/phone, we rented a car and went exploring.

First stop:  Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens.  

Second stop:  Fort Davis
Third stop:  Marfa

We drove through Alpine and down the highway toward Big Bend National Park to the Cathedral Mountain Road.  Although the trip through Ft. Davis and Marfa had taken us through some very dry country, the grass was much greener toward the park.  Obviously the rain hadn't been evenly distributed.

As we drove back toward Alpine, clouds hid the sun and mist threatened to turn to rain.  I love those cloud-shrouded mountain views.
As soon as we had the security of new reservations on Monday evening, I knew I had to have a apron to add to my collection to remind of this adventure.

Depending on how you hold your mouth when you read the words, it could mean, "How could you leave me stuck in this wretched place for 48 hours?"  or it could mean, "Thanks, Amtrak!  For the joy of 48 hours I hadn't known I needed to soak up some west Texas glory."  At different times during the two days, it meant both things.

But, as with most trials, when it was over, it was just another adventure to tell.
And for that, as always, we have to say, "Thanks, Amtrak!"

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Allyson's Graduation

So . . . after a day of exploring all the new shops and galleries in Alpine, it was graduation time.  Our girl graduated with honors.  She's smart!
She's musical!
And she's beautiful!
Saturday was family day and I thoroughly enjoyed the day with all the kids even though Panchi was so tired after chaperoning the all-night party following graduations.  In spite of that, all the ingredients for a great family gathering.
Lots of family . . . grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, mom and dad.
A table laden with food and a great cake
And the guest of honor . . . a very happy, but sleepy Allyson!
Family, food, a reason for celebration, great weather . . . And yet there's more.  For entertainment, we had a curve-billed thrasher building a nest in a cholla in the back yard.
All good things come to an end and it was time to put this party to bed and put us on the train.  Panchi and Russell took us to the station and with only a few minutes to wait, I sent them home to get some much needed rest.

What we didn't know was that while Amtrak agents were telling us the train was only minutes away, a major derailment had occurred just east of El Paso.  Our train wasn't coming at all.  Not that night!