“Fall in Love”

Ruby and the Gypsy Carpenters
Ruby and the Gypsy Carpenters

There’s Ruby up above. She’s looking forward to her 97th birthday in a few weeks. Ruby has been in the US some 95 years. Born in 1921 she recalls crossing the Rio Bravo or Rio Grande (depends on where you’re standing which name is used) on her grandfather’s back.  But she was so young nobody really knows. It was a very long time ago and the details are lost in the mist. Warren G. Harding was president. Here’s what else was happening in 1921:

1. The Emergency Quota Act set immigration limits on eastern European Jews. This ban on Jews being allowed in the US resulted in a Jewish migration towards Palestinian lands. The ramifications are still seen today.

2. The first victim in the Osage Indian murders was discovered. This was a series of killings of Indians to get mineral rights. Estimates of sixty wealthy full-blood Osage Indians were killed during a several year reign of terror.

3. The Tulsa race riot, which should be called the Tulsa massacre or Tulsa pogrom, took place between May 31 and June 1, 1921, when a white mob attacked the wealthiest black community in the United States. The attack was carried out on the ground and by air and destroyed more than 35 blocks of the district. No accurate figure exists for the number of dead.

4. Sacco and Vanzetti found guilty. Italian and immigrant with unpopular political beliefs they were railroaded for a crime they did not commit and eventually met their ends in the electric chair.

This is one year of our racist US history and only the most notable racist events of that year. I read this and thought, wow, have the underlying causes changed? Has the fear of other in our society dissipated? Has the avarice and resentment gone? The answer is a resounding no. I also wonder why I only learned about Sacco and Vanzetti. Revisionist history harms all of us. It allows some of us to believe there’s a level playing field. It makes us think we’re all playing by the same rules. It is the root of entitlement and privilege. This is white supremacy and it runs deep. We must face it and resist it wherever we can. We must make restitution, too.

At the tender age of two Ruby entered the United States. Mexico was just finishing its revolution. Her father was working on the railroad in the southwestern United States, an area that was once Indian, Spanish, and Mexican.  Ruby’s father met a tragic end after becoming sick and dying in the railroad hospital only a few years late. Within a couple of years the family moved to Montana. Can you imagine Montana in the twenties? In 1920 half of Montana’s population was foreign born. That’s not including Native Americans, I presume. Less than 100 years ago this state was full of immigrants looking for opportunity. The Indians were all penned on their reservations by then. How quickly we forget our own history and our sins. The complications are important to hold in mind as we sit and try and decide what is fair and who is welcome.

Ninety-five years later Guadalupe (Ruby’s birth name) is still here. She became a citizen in the 1940s. She spent her career as a nurse. She marched for civil rights all over the United States. She raised a family. There are more Rubys out there hoping for a chance in this deeply flawed country because it is better than the situation they have where they were born.

A word on railroad hospitals. I remember when Ruby first shared the story of her father dying in a railroad hospital I was shaken. Her father had fallen ill with some kind of stomach ailment. He was shipped off to a hospital hundreds of miles away from his family. The hospital was owned by his employer. The family received no word until he was dead. These hospital were set up in the frontier areas of railroad expansion to purportedly aid workers. It was difficult finding workers willing to work in harsh and remote areas of the country. Most were, surprise, immigrants. The railroads hired doctors and built ‘hospitals’ to attract workers. Or did they hire doctors to control the workers? Here’s one take:

The very first medical subspecialty organization in the U.S. was the Railway Surgeons.  Unlike physicians of today who at least in theory are supposed to put the interests of the patient before the interests of anyone or any institution or company, the Railway Physicians gave their primary allegiance to the company, and viewed their major challenges as the identification of malingerers, defending the company against lawsuits, competition from unaffiliated physicians, and maintaining their access to the free pass. – RWM (aka Railwayman, I don’t know his real name so I cannot attribute correctly)

It’s safe to presume Ruby’s father didn’t have much of a chance at a railway hospital hundreds of miles from home. Perhaps,even, Ruby’s mother was forced to return to Mexico to give birth because the hospital wouldn’t help her.

Last night we sat with Ruby and visited. She lives in an assisted living facility. Her family is nearby. Ruby told us that someone had recently someone asked her advice on living life. Here’s what Ruby said, “Fall in love!” Ruby had a many decades marriage to Ed who died a few years ago but she wasn’t talking about that kind of thing.  She was talking about big love. She said first fall in love with YOURSELF. Then walk out the door and look around and fall in love with everything. Words to live by. The trees, the birds, each other.

Here's a map I used to explain to a ten year old friend in Mexico where we all are.
Here’s a map I used to explain to a ten year old friend in Mexico where we all are. It’s all connected.
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Families Belong Together

Todd and Burt
Todd and Burt

The time for staying out of the political fray is gone. I’ve never hid my views but I’ve also tried to limit my discussions here to things that effect us personally. I’ve tried to respect that reasonable people can disagree. I never wanted to hurt feelings. I’m done with that. The things being done in our name by our government make me sick. If you think it’s all fake news you are an idiot. Okay, maybe you’re brainwashed by FOX and company or your preacher. If that’s the case you’ve surrendered critical thinking to a machine that makes money from selling propaganda. It’s too late for me to reach you. I won’t be rude but I will be forceful. The direction this country is headed is dangerous. I will stand up and protect the people.

Yesterday Burt and I played music for the Keeping Families Together Rally in Helena, Montana. This was our friend Todd’s idea. Todd said, “Let’s do this.” We said, “Great idea.” So I called the organizers and offered our services. They did not say no. We showed up and they used us to hold the crowd while the normal event technical snafus were worked out. We sang Spanish language tunes and played Latin melodies. We sang “Mary Don’t You Weep” with the line “Pharaoh’s army got dorwnded” for inspiration. We must persevere.  Fear of the other cannot be how we govern. It is the worst way to live. Fear is a large part of my life. I suffer from anxiety. I face it every day. And I know that all good things are beyond the mists of fear. In my experience decisions made in fear are never the best. Strength, love, diversity of life, wonder…Push past your inner monologue of  fear of scarcity, immigrants, drug traffickers, black people, muslims, Mexicans, women and see the range of humanity out there. If I listened to my fears there would be no Burt and Susan, no Gypsy Carpenters, no Portal Irish Music Week, no life in Mexico, no music.

On the other side, the intellectual side, these actions of our government make no sense to me. Alienating allies, embracing oppressive regimes, making health care unaffordable again, building a wall that has been proven not to work? I could go on.

In summary, if you think separating families asking for asylum and sending those children only-god-knows-where is a reasonable approach to our border’s human rights crisis, then get the fuck out of here. There. I’ve said it.

George McCauley original

Good crowd
Good crowd
Singing for the crowd
Singing for the crowd
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Sickly

Out for Lunch
Out for Lunch

I contracted Burt’s tenacious virus a few days before our departure and this traveling while congested has been very tiring. We broke another trailer leaf spring and I could not muster any enthusiasm for the repair. I just sat around. Here are a couple of pictures I took only because Burt begged me. Walks of more than 20 yards induce wracking dry coughs. Yesterday I asked Burt if I had pneumonia. He reminded me that a week ago when he was in its grip he asked me if he had mono. Today I wondered if it would ever end but Burt’s looking pretty good so I’m going to count on surviving.

Today we landed in Burt’s dad’s front yard. Jack is looking more stooped and frail than he was a year ago. He used to stand as tall as Burt and now he’s a full 4″ lower. He’s 89 and almost a half now so we guess he’s entitled to some slouching.  Jack says he’s done with chopping wood and uses a space heater instead of his fire place. The deafness is deeper and even But is yelling to be heard. I just smile. The smoke detector is beeping for a new battery but I can ignore it. Burt will change it soon. The teeth situation is another pile of annoyances. Other than all that aging BS Jack seems pretty darn good. His memory and cognitive faculties are in order.

While Burt and jack went grocery shopping I whipped out a batch of jalapeño cheese rolls. My one burst of movement for the day. We’re going to have some soup for dinner. Pardon me while I go lie down. I just shouted JALAPEÑO CHEESE three times to Jack and induced a coughing jag.

Trailer lift
Trailer lift
Tarantula Hawk
Tarantula Hawk
Old Miss Mimi
Old Miss Mimi
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Trying to migrate

Wefie with Lorna Logan, Bridge director.
Wefie with Lorna Logan, Bridge director.

Burt and I mean to leave this place pretty quickly. Too bad we’re both so sick that we haven’t packed. End of season social obligations have sucked all the energy out of us. Here’s what we’ve done instead of secured our property and stowed our gear.

Thursday we took my dad and SaraGay and 11 other kids and five more adults to the San Jacinto waterfall. It was a mob scene. Nobody died. Everyone is home. If you weren’t sick before the waterfall you probably are now or will be soon. Three people slipped and fell. One dead fox was found. A lot of fruit and veggies were eaten.

The next day I accompanied my fried Lorna to the cardiologist in La Paz. La Paz is an easy hour drive from here but 79 year old Lorna had a stress test scheduled and the Bridge ladies decided she shouldn’t go alone. I went. I needed to meet the cardiologist anyway and there’s good birding in La Paz and I adore Lorna, but everybody does so that’s not special. I have also had two stress tests and I knew exactly how it would go. She’d be fine and get pushed to the point of puking or she wouldn’t be fine and would have bad news for the ride home. Neither situation a good one to be alone. It turned out to be the later. That’s Lorna’s story so I’ll end it here. Lorna and I moved on and got her new meds and went to lunch and visited the wastewater treatment plant. I spotted two new birds. One was the black bellied whistling duck, a very funny looking creature. The other was an avocet. I’d seen the avocet many times but never in Mexico.

By that evening it’s obvious I’ve finally caught Burt’s cold. I don’t have time for this. I woke up at 4 AM and puzzled out how to get everything done until it was time to get up.  After breakfast I ran chairs and blankets over to Mayra’s yoga studio. Our first birding class was scheduled for Saturday evening. We needed blankets to cover the windows and chairs for all our (hopefully) guests. Then we went to Bridge. Lorna and I played together and we kicked butt. It was a 66% game for us. Hence the we-fie above.

After Bridge Burt headed to round up the kids and I finished setting up the room and projector for Joaquin’s presentation. We’d planned an introduction to birding for children. Joaquin hit a homerun. He was personable and made quick and entertaining work of the subject for our audience. Everyone seemed enthused. Afterwards we went to dinner with dad, SaraGay, Joaquin, and Selene. We were home by 8:30. Joaquin and Selene stayed in the rumpus room.

This morning we were up and birding by 7:30. Burt and I wanted to go to bed but we aso wanted to share our bird spots with our guests. So we hit three places and walked several miles by 11:30. My recent spottings of the endangered Belding’s Yellowthroat at odd locations around town were confirmed by Joaquin. Yay, me. This means these birds are desperately clinging to life in tiny patches of water wherever they can find it. Hopefully we can use the information to build a network of small wetlands that will bridge the larger habitats.

Now I am in bed. While Burt and I were running around a neighbor was in the yard repairing our trailer’s suspension. We’d hoped to be closing things today and pulling out Tuesday. It looks like we might be a day later.

Pescadero's water source.
Pescadero’s water source.
Cardon I walk by nearly every day. He's my friend.
Cardon I walk by nearly every day. He’s my friend.
Brid class
Brid class
Joaquin and Selene birding at Las Palmas.
Joaquin and Selene birding at Las Palmas.
Sandy flower.
Sandy flower.
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It’s Friday the 13th, Y’all.

eBird track
eBird track

I recently have been exploring a tract of brushy land just below our pueblo’s rudimentary sewage treatment facility. Birds love flies and this overgrown thicket that receives the treated wastewater is full of them every morning after yoga. I haven’t yet remembered my binoculars so these expeditions are naked eye sightings. Even in my expired prescription lenses I routinely spot more than 15 species of birds in just a few minutes.

Today I wandered deeper into the thicket than usual. Burt’s out of town for the morning so my time was my own. I followed some trails and tried to figure out if there was any standing water. Last week there was a massive leak of raw sewage and I was also looking to see how far that toxic muck had reached. As I drew deeper into the thorny shrubbery I thought, ‘if I hurt myself I hope somebody knows to contact ebird and find out where I am.’ My eBird app tracks where I walk (if I ask it) and allows scientist to see more clearly where observers are finding birds.

The blue line in this photo is my ebird track from this morning. Today is Friday the 13th. The red star is where I turned around and found a man with a machete and pit bull following me. I’m not sure who was most frightened, the man or the dog. No, it was me. I had no idea they were there. Jason was in the Baja and eBird was not going to help. But then I saw the man had a strong family resemblance to a friend and decided I wasn’t going to be dismembered and left in the dried up sewage discharge lagoon after all. Jason wears a mask and this guy was clearly German’s brother. I bid him a good morning and got out of his way. He was there harvesting sticks of some sort. He probably made the trail I was following.

 

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More exploring

Wefi
Wefi

With Semana Santa still going strong the kids are out of school and bored just like when we were young. Semana Santa is a two week long school holiday that spans the week before and the week after Easter. Burt and I decided to take advantage of our roaming hooligans freedom and show then the area. We crammed 11 of the kids into the Exploder and took them to a secret pocket beach. Cramming 11 kids in a car without seat belts is also reminiscent of when we were young. It’s troubling. I lost a lot of sleep the night before this adventure thinking about the five minutes of highway driving, the 100′ cliffs we would walk along, and the rough Pacific ocean they would play in. I put that all out of my mind and we headed out.

Our outing was to an exposed cliff side hike up and over the rocky coast and down into a small sandy cove with milder than normal currents. Bobby Mc from down the beach drove down in her quad and met us with boogie boards and life jackets. This hidden spot is not widely known and requires either the mile long walk we chose or a two mile sand walk. Beach walking is hard. If you have a quad you can take it. Sometimes there’s a sea cave at this cove and sometimes there isn’t. It just depends on where Mother Nature has put the sand.

As usual, the kids were well behaved. Before we left I gave them some ground rules. No running on top, no pushing, follow Burt, etc. They complied. I was in the rear when the bulk of them reached to first view point. I could feel the collective shock and awe from 50 yards back. The kids were stunned by the cliff top views. I’m pretty sure none of them had been at such an exposed spot over the ocean.

Down in the sand I found the entrance to the cave. Frixicia crawled in and after about a body length of worming her way under she could stand up. She sent out the bat call and it was a melee. Five kids piled into the nearly buried cave. They took turns crawling in and out. The claustrophobes and I stayed outside. Burt watched the other kids playing at the water’s edge. Eventually my curiosity beat down my anxiety and I crawled in alone. I was fine until the kids tried to join me and blocked the entrance. I ordered them away and made as hasty an exit as I could on my belly. I’m still finding sand in my crevices.

Tomorrow is our annual singing event at the Festival del Chile y La Fresa. The kids are not singing beautifully but they are enthusiastic.

Get down!
Get down!
How many will fit?
How many will fit? The sea cave belly crawl.
Buena vista
Buena vista. Ooooooooooooo.
Boogie
Boogie with Bobby.
Kids in water
Kids in water
Hut on beach
Hut on beach
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Tennis Tournament and Walking

Dave, Burt, Larry, and Mike. Burt and Dave won.
Dave, Burt, Larry, and Mike. Burt and Dave won.

 

 

I baked two loaves of jalapeño cheese bread this week. One lasted long enough to make it to Ladies Bridge yesterday. That’s two weeks in a row where I made food instead of purchasing something. It’s a record for me. Despite this admirable streak of DIY cookery I maintain a healthy disdain for all things domestic. Burt’s role as chief feeder is no threatened.

Despite the domestic exhaustion I managed a spontaneous outing with five of the kids. We took a hike to the arroyo called Agua Para Los Cochis. The water for the pigs arroyo is up and over a ridge just south of Pescadero. Several notable things happened on the hike. The kids were quite alarmed we were driving on rough roads and hiking without Burt. They seemed to be under the impression that this was a man’s job. That gave me a giggle. Burt was resting from his first match in the three day Aprils Fools Tennis Tournament. I played good wife and spectated. The match was enjoyable but not much exercise so I scheduled the walk with the kids. Let’s have a huzzah for an inadvertent blow to gender roles.

Elvis and Olive accompanied us on the walk, too. Now for you or me dogs on a hike is normal. In Mexico most dogs never leave the yard. Many spend their lives chained to a tree and act as biological security alarms. The kids were stunned into silence when the dogs came with us. They know our dogs but were quite alarmed to find them in the car. Despite months of exposure they remain unconvinced that Elvis doesn’t plan to eat them. Of course, I never even considered this a cultural exchange moment until it was underway. By the end of our two hour hike the kids were keeping their eyes on the pooches and calling to them. They all wanted to whistle like me. I have a good sharp dog calling whistle. I tried to teach them how to do it but it was a failure. On the car ride back the kids were willing to share their seat with Elvis. Elvis, though silent, clearly adores the children. Olive hates them.

Then there was the hiking itself which was exactly like hiking with seven year-olds anywhere. Feet hurt, teeth came loose, someone fell, there was water and mud to complain about…There was: how far is it? Have we reached the top? and I ran out of waters. And then there were the rocks. I mean to tell you I never knew rocks could be so interesting. Before the hike started I handed out ball caps to protect the kids from the sun. The ball caps became rock bags as soon as we arrived. Half an hour in I was being begged to take the rocks. What luck that I did not have a bag or a pocket to spare. I suggested placing the rocks in a pile for later. The kids slavishly carried 10 pounds of rocks around until their arms gave out. Then they would drop the pile and start over again. Every arm load ended with them begging me to help carry the rocks. I held firm. There are rocks near the car, I said. There are rocks in the road, I said. There are rocks at home, I said.

When we were on our last march uphill and headed to the car, Janexi yelled from far behind, “I can’t do it. It’s too hard.” She was carrying 8 rocks. I yelled, “Drop the rocks, kid.” She dropped the rocks and caught up. Happily no tears were shed. I held her hand the last stretch. After 4 miles and two hours of walking we landed safely back at the car. The kids demanded the promised rocks at the car. I found out I was a liar. The rocks sucked where we parked the car. I did what I could to dig up a few to salve the betrayed rock hounds but I felt like a bad girl for promising rocks where there were none.

We’re planning another walk this week. I will not have a bag. If I had had a bag I would have had 60 pounds of rocks to carry and then the commotion of sorting out who’s rock was who’s.

Burt proceeded to win all his tennis matches. Today, after his last match, we headed north into the countryside. The desert is full of birds in the uninhabited areas. Migration is in full force. Large flocks of sparrows would get up and fly away whenever we stopped. Burt and I reached a new wetland called Boca Carrizal. There we found some snowy plovers, a willet, and a great blue heron. On the way we saw thirty more species of birds. It was a good day.

Now we rest.

Danna, Kayla, Paola, Janexi, and Luis.
Danna, Kayla, Paola, Janexi, and Luis.
Wefi.
Wefi.
Kids at Agua Para Los Cochis
Kids at Agua Para Los Cochis. Note rock in hat.
Janexi picking up rocks.
Janexi picking up rocks.
Walking path. Boca Carrizal.
Walking path. Boca Carrizal. Imagine this full of water. It leads to the sea. There’s a substantial pond at the end of this image.
Loggerhead Shrike aka Butcher bird
Loggerhead Shrike aka Butcher bird. We saw two.
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New Bird Friends

It was a hot day.
It was a hot day. Emer, Burt, Juan.

People are down on Facebook these days. I get it. They used our data and let people manipulate us. It’s bad. It’s also pretty easy to control things and limit who sees what. I have everything public but I also restrict who and what posts in my feed. No meme generators. No extreme partisan groups. I block or delete racists, sexists, hateful people. I use Facebook to find my people. It works pretty well. Last week I met a group of young birders just learning the feathers of our winged friends in Cabo San Lucas. College kids studying eco-tourism or ornithology were just a few clicks away and Facebook hooked us up. This week we went out twice together. I hope for many more trips.

Our first gathering was an urban park in downtown Cabo. I found the announcement of the trip on my Facebook feed. It was just an easy 40 minute drive from our house. Burt and I arrived and we met the students and tehir professor. We split up and practiced a scientific census of birds in a restricted area during a limited time. Everyone seemed pleased that a pair of gringos showed up to help. Afterwards we went out for beers and ceviche. Over beer we made plans for a more intensive trip. We pay for gas and food and the profe would take us out.

This Sunday, the professor, Emer Garcia, took us to one of his favorite Baja California Sur bird spots. Over the course of a few miles and a few hours we found forty species of birds, three of them lifers for us and several more were new for Baja. It was a big day. But more importantly we made like-minded friends that care about this place. Emer’s student Joaquin was great fun and will be a wonderful guide for anyone interested in the area. Juan, a local land owner was also easy to pass the time with and curious to learn about what we were doing. I’m optimistic we can help bring more people here and protect our environment. Stay tuned.

Manly bird men
Manly Bird Men: Joaquin, Juan, Burt, Emer
Rat snake
Rat snake
Student birders
Student birders
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Panaderas

Jalapeño cheddar rolls (r) and plain rolls (l).
Jalapeño cheddar rolls (r) and plain rolls (l).

Food is at the foundation of our needs triangle. Water, shelter, are impossible to live without, too. Other stuff like love, kindness, or fulfillment, that’s all up higher. We can survive a lot if we have sustenance. I guess that’s how food wound up in all of my photos this week. Food follows us all the way up to self-actualization. Here’s a version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for your consideration. Image result

Our group of kids are mostly making it to the bottom three. They have some serious belonging and safety issues in their day to day lives. If the only place you belong is the same place that beats you, where does that leave you? I think there’s more convolutions in life than this triangle allows but it’s good for the basic idea. Burt and I are trying to build them up towards esteem but we do a lot of feeding and providing safety, too.

A few weeks a go my friend Donna had the Bridge ladies over to her house to make bread. We all had our own mini-loaf pan and a bag of dough. Everyone was free to add ingredients to her bread to make the bread her own. I went for pure rosemary. I like rosemary bread. Other people used lemon peel or sage or garlic. There were many things to chose from. The bread was a kind of symbol for this needs hierarchy. We all had to have wheat, water, oil, and yeast. We had to have the right amount, too. Too much yeast and your bread will be full of hot air and lack structure. Water not warm enough? Your yeast wont rise and you’ll have a loaf too tough to eat. Donna guided us through the process from beginning to end. There were some corny angel readings that some of us rolled our eyes about but it helped pass the time and got me thinking about who are our real angels.

I posted the bread pictures on Facebook and Mayra saw them and decided she wanted to make bread, too. I sent her the recipe and we made plans to get together and bake. Today Mayra and Priscilla and I made the bread. Each person’s bread was as different as we are but all were perfect. First we changed the recipe to half whole wheat and half white flour. Then we decided to make rolls because they are easier to share and store. We stood at the table and made three batches of dough. To mine I added cheddar cheese and jalapeños. Mayra added parmesan and Priscilla went with nothing. We formed our rolls and loaded the trays. I sprinkled the tops with Trader Joe’s everything but the bagel spice. While the rolls rose we chatted, played with our phones, and sat quietly. The language barrier was a little high today. We could have used an angel card reading.

After the 20 minute rest we backed the rolls for twenty minutes. They came out overstounding. Really. This recipe is so simple and quick and you can do whatever you want. My jalapeño cheese bread was as close to the defunct Sweetgrass Bakery’s bread as anything I have ever tasted. Mayra’s was a lovely parmesan roll and Priscilla’s were perfectly dignified and ready for as much butter as you had on hand. Like a well developed person this dough can handle whatever you have in mind. It’s flexible but well formed. Uncomplicated but interesting. I wish life was this easy.

Here’s the recipe for plain rolls. Use your imagination to make it your own:

TOTAL TIME: 1:20
PREP: 0:20
LEVEL: EASY
YIELD: 2 MINI LOAVES
INGREDIENTS
• Cooking spray, for mini loaf pans
• 3 c. all-purpose flour, divided
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 1 .25-package active dry yeast
• 1 c. warm water
• 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tsp. kosher salt
DIRECTIONS
• Preheat oven to 375º and spray mini loaf pans with cooking spray. In a resealable plastic bag, place 1 cup flour, sugar, and yeast and add warm water.
• Seal bag and squish together with your hands to mix. Let rest 10 minutes at room temperature. (Yeast should activate.) Add 1 cup flour, oil, and salt to the bag, then seal and squish together.
• Add remaining cup of flour and mix until combined. Remove from bag and knead 5 minutes until smooth. Halve dough and place in two loaf pans. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.
• Brush top of bread with olive oil or melted butter and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.
You can make one loaf instead of mini-loaves or you can hand form rolls. I omit the bag and use a bowl. I use half whole wheat and half white flour.

Rolls
Rolls en el horno.
Our kids eating beans.
Our kids eating beans Burt cooked in our solar cooker.
Here's Ivonne digging out some ant salt for our enjoyment.
Here’s Ivonne digging out some ant salt for our enjoyment. The question was had we eaten insects? Ivonne had some on hand. Ant salt would be good on top of your rolls.
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Heaven or Hell?

Sewage treatment lagoon.
Sewage treatment lagoon.

Yesterday Burt and I saw a new dentist and a new dermatologist. We needed regular checkups. Even though we are insured in the US it is cheaper and easier to schedule these things here in Mexico. On the downside teeth cleaning is not as rigorous or vigorous. If you read teeth cleaning research you might conclude it’s all overblown anyway. There are some scientists that say teeth cleaning (at least the frequency) is unproven as a preventative to gum disease. After poking around and spending about 15 minutes polishing my teeth the new dentist announce two of my crowns needed to be replaced. No x-rays, no inquiry about the history of these two crowns. I politely asked if I could wait until next season. We’re running low on time and cash and I wanted time to ask my dentist in the US if he thought it was time to replace them, too. At first the dentist was willing to wait. These crowns are 25 years old and have been a literal and figurative sore spot for most of those years. I work very diligently to keep the area free of food. My dentist (and several I’ve seen along the way) always took a wait and see approach. Many of the dentists and hygienists have commented that it’s the finest crown they’ve ever seen. Great crown in a bad situation. We got a quarter of a century with the wait and see attitude. I wanted time to consult and see if there were changes that dictated removal. I tried to make it clear that I didn’t doubt the dentist. We were speaking easily in English and Spanish. Sadly the dentist took umbrage. She became more rigid and tried to scare me when I reiterated that I would come back next season for her to take another look. I smiled, shrugged, and left.

Now I have to see another dentist. I’m going to make an appointment in the US with the clinic that installed this masterpiece of dentition. Maybe it is time. Maybe the dentist saw some scary changes. Too bad she felt the need to try and coerce me with fear rather than explain and listen. This could have happened anywhere.

Burt and I both loved the dermatologist. She took a lit magnifying glass to every dark spot on my skin. It was a long process. She declared them all fine for now. Then she suggested a minor tune up of my face. For $5 a piece she removed three funny skin changes on my face (clogged glands).  Afterwards she declared Burt has perfect skin despite his utter failure to apply sunscreen. This could only happen in Mexico. We’ll be seeing her next year.

In between the dentist and the dermatologist we visited Baja California Sur’s second most prolific bird spot: The La Paz sewage treatment lagoons. Burt and I have a running joke about all the shit holes he takes me to visit.  Usually they are fun places but ugly. I finally beat him at his own game. I took him to an actual shit hole. We saw many amazing birds including four new species. If we’d had time to sit we’d have seen even more. There were scads little birds flitting in the green bushes that we couldn’t quite get an eyeball on. We’ll be back here, too.

White-faced Ibis
White-faced Ibis, stilts, and a coot.
Black-necked stilts
Black-necked stilts
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