Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The two BLM interns who have been working at the museum left at the end of December, but before they left they wanted to come over to the house and make a traditional Korean dinner. Staff cooking dinner at our house was one of the traditions started on Grand Turk everytime an intern left.
Natalie cooked a dinner of spring rolls, BBQ pork, and stir fried rice. It was delicious, and we had a house full.
Having someone over to the house to cook became a good impetuous to get pots and pans. We still have been cooking with the one 5-quart chili pot that I bought in June. Right before Christmas turned out to be a good time, we found an opened box of Martha Stewart cookware that was missing pieces. It was 50% off and we got another 25% off because of a Friday late night sale. Cooking went off without a hitch, literally.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Holidays have been interesting for the last couple of years. We have lost all of the family traditions that we once had in Ohio. We are now searching for new ones. Every house along the street where we are renting sets up luminaries along the sidewalk. It is the only street in El Centro to do this, and evidently it is a long-standing tradition.
The luminaries burned Friday night and Christmas Eave. On Friday night we went across the street to a block party. This, evidently is also a long-standing tradition. We have met several people on the street and have been invited to quite a few parties. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of parties on our street.
On Saturday we had a large Christams dinner with roast turkey and baked sweet potatoes. Then Saturday night we walked down the street, through the luminaries, to Willie's Donuts and bought a dozen choclate covered donuts. Everyone thought this would be a good new tradition.
On Christmas Day we celebrated with our new tradition, Monte Christo sandwiches and opened a conservative amoutn of presents. Martin got "toe shoes" for hiking (pictured), Davis got a new knife for hiking (pictured), Lucas got a ping pong table.
One of the benefits of not having furniture is that we now have plenty of room for a ping pong table. Most of our actual Christmas day was spent setting up a ping pong table and playing ping pong.
We received an invitation to eat Christmas Dinner at Pastor Ron's house. Around 3:30 we walked a couple houses down the street and had a wonderful evening of food, stories, and song. After-dinner conversation focused on a theological discussion of the portrayal of Mary Magdelyn in art and popular literature. After that, we played guitar and sang carols. It was quite the party. We walked home around 10:0o.
We are going to spend next week in Ocotillo hiking and working.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
This past Monday I went to the dentist...
I have been talking about it for weeks, ever since I discovered that Algodones is the number one place where older US citizens go to have inexpensive dental work done. When we were there a few weeks ago I told Deneen that I was going to go.
Well, on Monday I built up extra courage and went. Now I have been to a doctor in two foreign countries. On Grand Turk we were covered by the National Insurance plan.
Deneen did not think I would follow through. I did get really nervous. Almost sick to my stomach, standing in the back alley where the dental office was located. But this probably had more to do with going to the dentist than going to the dentist in Mexico.
I was only in for a cleaning, which was advertised on the door for $15.00. While in the waiting room I could hear other patients talking about upcoming work. One was having impressions done and was trying to work out when he could get back across the border to have the rest of his work completed.
My fifteen minute wait turned into a 30 minute wait. But that was not so bad for a walk-in cleaning. The doctor was very nice and she made the experience comfortable. The office was clean and was a lot like going to the dentist 25 years ago. The dental chair had one of those spittoons.
The cleaning went quickly. The dentist wanted to sell me on lasering by gums. But I passed. I think the whole thing lasted 20 minutes. And then it was off to the cafe.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Rico's Tacos is a taco stand, or really a taco cart, sitting along Avenue A, right around the corner from Calle Segunda, within the first blocks after you cross the border into Algodones, Mexico.
Look closley at the picture. He is a fixture at this location. There is always a line, which includes both day visitors and locals. Now, I will admit, his tacos look good.
“Are they really the best?” I inquired.
A lady standing near the cart turned. “Yes!” she said. “We have eaten tacos all over town, these are the best.”
“I never turn my nose down at authentic Mexican food,” said my traveling companion. I guess we will try them and see.
“How many,” Rico asks.
“Tres,” I said, trying to remember my best Spanish from high school, even though it was not really necessary.
In a few seconds, I was holding a small styrofoam tray of tacos. Along the front of the cart there is a wide array of toppings including grilled hot peppers, guacamole, cucumbers, and salsa lined up from hot to mild. I topped each taco a little differently.
Rico has been selling tacos off of his taco cart in Algodones for 20 years. He grills carne asada over coals right on his cart from 11:00am until the border closes at 10:00pm.
There is another guy who is the “money man.” You pay him. “I never take the money,” says Rico.
I asked the “money man” how much I owed. I don't know what I expected, but I did not expect it to be $3.00. The tacos were big, well worth the value.
A third guy came over and asked if we wanted something to drink, well specifically if we wanted a bottled Coca Cola. In Mexico, Coke is made with real sugar. It tastes like coke used to taste in the US twenty years ago. For another dollar we bought a Coke.
We just stood in front of the stand and ate. Now, I have eaten a lot of tacos. I happen to really like tacos from taco stands. But my experience is with taco stands in Ohio. Rico's tacos were good. Really good.
We finished them quickly, and started to leave. “Excuse me,” said the drink guy. “My bottle.”
I did not understand.
“My bottle,” he said again, handing me a plastic “top go” cup.
“Oh, you keep the deposit,” I said. We guzzled the rest of the Coke and gave him the bottle.
We continued our walk around looking at the stalls and venders each saying, “It's almost free!”
“Those tacos were almost free,” I joked to my companion. “They were really good, too”
We made a circle around the block and found ourselves back at Rico's Tacos.
“How Many?” Rico asked.
“Three more,” I said.
Are Rico's Tacos the best in town. Well, I did not try every taco in town, but I will tell you a secret. The next day, went back across the border just to go to Rico's taco cart for lunch.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
So, I will write this blog in two parts.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
This week we completed the gift shop installation and had our first logo products arrive. I have been talking about the importance of getting a gift shop open since I first arrived.
In a planning document dated April 7 I proposed: "The gift shop is a key component of the visitor information center. The FY 2011 budget includes $6000 in gift shop receipts. Slat wall shelving will need to be purchased and installed. The museum has a supply of desert related books, but museum specific items logo items such as hats, cups, and prints will need to be produced and purchased."
A couple weeks later, I went to Yosemite National park with Bryan and saw the gift shop I envisioned. I began planning and completing construction drawings.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Yesterday, was the first day of the coiled clay art program at Southwest High School. This is the second half of the coiled clay art project grant that we received from the Imperial Valley Community Foundation. For the next eight weeks, the SAVAPA Art Club will be working with clay and investigating the shapes and styles of ollas in the museum's collection.
I took examples of the ollas in our collection to show to the art students. This was the first time in about twenty years that collections were taken out of storage and into into the classroom.
After the eight weeks, we will be mounting a traveling exhibit of the work: developing viability as a cultural institution. This is modeled after a project I developed in the Turks and Caicos where were trying to get a foothold on a larger island where the museum did not have a presence. Here, it is nearly the same issue. The larger town of El Centro is 26 miles from the Imperial Valley Desert Museum, which is in fact in the middle of the desert. Hopefully, the high school art project will result in a dozen or so quality pieces of work that will make stops at three or four places over the next year.
I think that everyone should just remember that post, but that was two years ago now, crazy.
Today, the Imperial Valley Press covered our program as the front page lead article. You can see the article "Students learn Kumeyaay Way" here. There is also a very good photo gallery where you can see a great picture of Lucas looking at the ollas.
But I have to warn you, if film ads twenty pounds, then pictures must add twenty years. The photo gallery looks an awful lot like my dad teaching a high school class.
Monday, October 3, 2011
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
De Anza Rescue Unit
The rider was found one hour and fifteen minutes later. He was not near his bike and not in the location he gave when he called the Sheriff. Delirious with severe dehydration, he could no longer walk on his own. The rescuers brought him to the De Anza Rescue Unit mobile command center, gave him first aid, and immediately called for transportation to the hospital.
“If the victim had spent another two hours in the desert, he would have died,” was the report of the attending physician.
The De Anza Rescue Unit, Inc. was formed on May 26, 1969. “The unit serves as an auxiliary service organization prepared 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to assist the Sheriff's Department in organized search and rescue,” stated Paul Koon, the organization's current president.
Today, there are 28 members from all around the county, with a variety of occupations. “All members participate in field training exercises once a month,” stated Koon. “We run real-life scenarios, someone gets lost and we go find them.
“Each month our training focuses on different skills, sometimes it is foot tracking, sometimes it is vehicle tracking. Every member is required to maintain First Aid and CPR certificates. We are all disaster service qualified and part of the State Mutual Aid system. The De Anza Rescue Unit can be called to assist in both San Diego and Riverside Counties if needed.”
The organization is all volunteer, and members provide their own equipment and expenses for the 22 to 24 rescues that they are called to assist with annually. Jeff Green, who has been with the organization for ten years, field manages search and rescue operations for the unit. “When we receive a call-out from the Sheriff's Office, we can typically deploy half of our members within 45 minutes,” Green said, “but we can go out with five people and set up an effective search to find someone.”
In the 42 years since the Rescue Unit was founded, not all of the rescue stories have had such happy outcomes. “Even in the worst case scenario, what we do is important,”said Green. “To find someone and relieve the unknown factor for the family is a big part of what we do.”
In October 2010, The Rescue Unit began a fund-raising campaign to raise money to replace their mobile command unit, a 30-year-old school bus that has been very visible at community events, fairs, and festivals in the Valley. Soon the rescue unit will have a new state of the art mobile facility. “We are just waiting on the radios to be installed,”stated Koon. “Most of our operations are either at night in the middle of winter, or in the middle of the day in 120 degree weather. The new 5th-wheel trailer will have heat and AC and will allow people to get in out of the heat or cold. We have been putting in lots of work to get the trailer finished.”
Why put in so much work? Koon has the answer, “A couple years ago we were called out to the desert. A seven-year-old boy had run out of gas and was lost overnight. About 3:00am we found him asleep on top of his quad. When we returned that young man to his mother I knew that every volunteer hour that I had spent with the De Anza Rescue Unit was worth it.”
Friday, September 16, 2011
Dave just sent me an article entitled 10 Housing Markets that Will Collapse This Year.
Guess what number seven was...
El Centro, California, is located five miles from the Mexican border, and is one of the poorest cities in the country. Median income is just $43,300 per family, the tenth-lowest in the U.S. Unemployment is at a staggering 28.6 percent. Between 2006 and 2011, home prices decreased by more than 50 percent. According to a report in the Imperial Valley Press, one home was sold in the El Centro area before the recession for $390,000. In 2009, that home was listed at $200,000. Prices are expected to drop an additional 12.1 percent by the first quarter of 2012. Five miles from the Mexican border? Think about it and forgetaboutit.
Well, uh, too late...
Now, I can't believe the housing market has not already collapsed here. It's going to get worse? Ouch.On the flip side, we are looking at a house today to rent in El Centro. We could never have afforded this house a couple years ago. But we were at a party last month at Pastor Ron's house. He said the house down the street was going to be empty because the renter had bought the house across the street. We went to look at it. It would be nice, but no way. A couple weeks ago I gave the owner a letter and told him what I thought we could pay. He called me yesterday and told me to come pick up the keys.
With school starting four weeks ago and Deneen starting work this past Monday we are already crunched with the drive from Ocotillo to El Centro. We spend an hour every morning in the car. Last weekend we had to drive into town for a church youth group party and a school club party. Yesterday we had to go out to eat after school then sit at Starbucks while the boys were at an evening practice until 7:30 for the Mock Trial Club. Tonight, if Davis has to cover the football game for the school newspaper, we will be in El Centro from 7:00am-10:00pm, and most of that time I will be sitting at Starbucks.
Not that I don't love Starbucks...but I think they are getting tired of me. Lucas came in after school a few days ago and the barista said, "I know your Dad, he's the guy who gets a lot of free refills."
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Thursday, July 28, 2011
12:34 a.m. PDT, July 28, 2011
After winding together a coil for a base, he began building up the sides, one string of reddish-brown clay at a time. When finished, the hour glass-shaped pot was left to dry and be fired. It was Dillon’s first project for a pilot program art class at the Desert Museum.
“I want to come back next week,” he said.
The 12-year-old was one of about a dozen children from here who wound together pieces of clay into pots at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum. Though it was Dillon’s
The class is one portion of the pilot program the museum is putting together, said
The program allows children and students to see what it takes to make some of the pots that are at the museum, Hitch said. Having the experience of creating a bad pot — and everyone’s first pot is bad — makes the ones that were made long ago by the Kumeyaay Indian Tribe in the area a lot more impressive.
The students could see how hard it is to make some of the two-feet-wide clay pieces when those students are constructing ones that are only a few inches wide, he said.
The pilot project began after the museum received a $2,000 grant from the Imperial Valley Community Foundation, he said. The Howard P. Meyer Foundation in El Centro also contributed and ASM Affiliates archeology company gave money for the clay.
The program has been a big success so far as the museum has seen more than double the expected number of kids each day, he said. The real test of how popular it is is the number of kids who return and recommend that others come out, Hitch said.
“This is just something that it’s fun to be here,” he said.
Children at the event agreed that it was worth coming back to.
Brittany Rausa, 12, has been coming for weeks, and said that she really enjoys making the pots. Her first one didn’t turn out well, but they’ve been improving.
Her favorite part is getting to mold clay while talking with friends, she said.
For 16-year-old Lucas Hitch, it’s about a little more competition than that. He wants to make pots that are better than his teacher’s, and his are getting there.
While he would like to make a pot as good as those by the Kumeyaay on display, he doesn’t think that’s going to happen with only a few classes left.
However, he said, he can hope.