Saturday, March 31, 2012

More of my neighbors cooking

A few days ago my neighbor asked if she could use my oven (horno) and I assumed theirs didn't work or they didn't have one.   Many people use just a cook-top and don't have a full stove.  I told her sure but I haven't used it so unsure if it works (used stove).

Yesterday they wanted to bake a pastel or a cake .... and by her description it sounded like a sponge cake with a lot of other things thrown in.

They brought over a big metal pot covered with aluminium foil and I didn't really look inside.  I asked if they knew at what temperature and for how long and I assume they guessed at 200 for 45 minutes.   The oven did work and about an hour later they came back to check, decided it was good and time to pour the "agua" over it.  The "agua" consisted of sugar, Jamaica (hibiscus), cinnamon and maybe more.   Then back in the oven for another 20+ minutes.

When it came out and we tasted it I got a better description.   Toasted bread, tortas or maybe even tortillas ... anything bread like.  Fruit, raisins, coconut and nuts.   The "agua" was to give it flavor beyond sweet and keep it moist.   This morning I thought of "bread pudding", looked it up on the Internet and that's exactly what it was.   Recipes call for a preheated oven at 350 ... but my oven only goes to 305.   We must be on the metric system here and maybe 200 was correct.   Anyway it was good, I got a big plate and they enough to feed a large family.   Had to borrow the foto as my camera does not do well in low light.

Friday, March 30, 2012

E-File Taxes

I'm more and more amazed at what you can do over the Internet and I just did my taxes online today.  The IRS website has tons of good info if you know what you are looking for; like: how to get an E-File PIN from them and a list of free or inexpensive websites/software to use.   I checked a few of their recommendations, read reviews and decided to try TaxACT.   Very happy with them so far and the website said my form was accepted by the IRS but don't have the final results.   They did have a bunch of bad reviews but it seemed to work well for me.

TaxAct had all the forms you could possibly need right from the start.   When I tried Turbo Tax last year everything was extra .... like multiple income sources and small business income.  I would have paid Turbo Tax what I pay my tax man in person.   TaxACT has down loadable software and an online version but I downloaded so I wouldn't have to be online for the 3+ hours it took me.

I suggest you have your previous years tax form in front of you to check consistency, know last years adjusted gross income and last years PIN number.   Of course you need your 1099's but most all should be available online.  Not much of a rebate this year due to IRA withdrawals to build the house .... but did get a small one and it was free !!

TaxACT Website

IRS E-File page

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A day with Telcel

I noticed that Telcel was upgrading their site last week even asking how much I liked to new 'interface' but they didn't have my bill ready.  Not sure if it was too early or they just hadn't finished the web site.   I went in today and couldn't even get to the login page but kept getting errors that their VeriSign security was not correct or had expired.

I went to the Online chat help and got a woman that evidently did not know they were working on the site.   We went round and round with her standard help-desk questions until she took me seriously and put me on hold.   While on hold for about 5 minutes I tried the site again and was suddenly redirected to another page that worked.  I won't claim that my call is what make them wake up but it sure was a coincidence.

Telcel has not sent me a bill in the mail even tho they said they would ... and I can't change their email notifications to an address I can access for a .PDF file which I need to pay at the bank.  I wanted to get the bill paying out of the way this week to avoid the Semana Santa rush ... but finally made it.

Now my Nokia phone on the Amigo Plan seems to be running out of minutes prematurely or minutes are expiring too soon.  I put in the minimum amount today and got service back ... but the web site still says my account has been suspended.  Hopefully their databases will merge soon so I can find out what my balance is.   It should be over 100 pesos.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My neighbors cooking

About 5PM when people drift over to my stoop (sidewalk) because of the shade my house gives and setting up tables across the street for the nightly pozole ... another neighbor heads out on her nightly elote sales route. You can get elote (corn) on a stick or in a cup. Extras she offers are salt, limon, crema and a powdered chili. I prefer it in the cup and had to grab one tonight. She makes it very much like they do on the Cuernavaca Plaza where 6 or 8 stands set up every night.

Last night a neighbor brought over two of his wife's tortas de papas. I thought tortas were just the bread rolls but maybe they are anything to be filled? Basically they are a patty of mashed potatoes mixed with cheese, cilantro and whatever you want. Dipped in egg batter and flower and fried in oil. I looked on the Internet and didn't see any in sauce ... but they can be just about any size or shape.

Elote in a cup - con todo

Torta de papa - yes I ate one first

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everything grows like weeds

This is the remains of a Primavera tree in my neighbors yard but almost in two yards. Primaveras are very brittle in a wind storm and a big chunk fell during Hurricane Jova. In fact the town of Melaque replaced most of the Primaveras on Primavera avenue with palm trees because they are so dangerous. There's one in a neighboring lot that I finally cut way back to keep it away from my house

So the hope is that the tree will branch out and make some shade rather than the spindly thing it used to be. And they do grow like weeds. They made a small shade arbor with the first section that fell and the branches stuck in the ground started sprouting leaves

Monday, March 19, 2012

Painted Faces

We went to a birthday party for an 87 year old neighbor yesterday afternoon. Lots of fun with beer and food. White pozole with chicken and red pozole with pork. They get permission to close the street and have the party in front of the house.

Some neighbors were having a kids party with a clown as the master of ceremonies ... a real professional group that kept the kids occupied for hours. Lots of games, food, gifts, decorations and someone painting faces. Four of the girls from our party went over and joined in.



Pintacaritas - painted little faces

Saturday, March 17, 2012

KONY 2012



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Learn More: http://kony2012.com



Friday, March 16, 2012

Melaque Marble Drop

What retired gringos do in Mexico to stay entertained ... a marble drop?? I guess I haven't been to one of these (three so far) because the idea is totally beyond me unless they hope to discover some new molecular structure by chance. Someone in town has a 20+ foot window of double pained glass that colored marbles are dropped into ... thousands guess. Maybe a Pachinko Parlor with noting to win. Now I'm wondering what the noise level is of these as they chatter down. May have to go to the next one.

Many of the folks are friends of mine and the party thrower does offer free booze and maybe food. I guess just a strange reason to have another get together. Maybe I need to spend less time figuring it out. I'm a bit concerned tho that they decided to have a Princess this year ... but she is a Princess in her own mind.

A lot of friends

Marble Drop Princess - oye!

Start of the marbles
I borrowed these fotos from Elke off Facebook

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My first Mexican Drivers Licence

I asked about getting a drivers licence on a local message board and later I got a PM from a friend that had not completed the process some time before. He knew where to go and wanted to do it again so we went together. Mine would have probably taken 30 minutes but he lacked proof of residence so we tried the municipio office for a Constancia. For a Constancia in Cihuatlan they now need birth certificate and fotos and he had no birth certificate.

Anyway the finance office is on the side street a block towards the plaza from Coppel, uphill. $495 pesos. Take that receipt, visa, passport and proof of residence (Constancia or CFE Bill in your name) ... with copies of the last three to the Validad office. You also need to know your blood type and have a name and number of someone to contact in case of emergency. Validad is about a block towards the plaza from Farmacia Guadalajara.

First a simple eye test on the computer and then a 20 question quiz. The terminology was a little strange but with a little help from the overseeing officer I got 95%. No driving test was required. I suggest knowing quite a bit of Spanish or take an interpreter. I think they are more receptive to people who can hold a conversation but not necessarily get the test terminology. I now have a very professional credit card style licence. Bike licences are different

Finance department where you pay

Validad where you get the licence

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Another fiesta

This was a dual baptism and birthday to make it easier for the families to afford it. They rented the local party hall, provided food, tequila punch, party toys and then managed all the activities. They served the food and punch and managed all the kids games like musical chairs and the Pinata. Lots of energy spent on the kids !!!

Hugo didn't even want to go after working six days a week. He'd prefer spacing out in front of the Tele and having a beer or two. But no, kids wanted to go and mom insisted. Not that many people showed up probably feeling like Hugo on a Sunday afternoon

All parties are different and I'm usually willing to give them a try. This one was just a little too long. No problem, we have another next Sunday for the Grandma who will be 87 years old ... but this one only a few blocks away

Large party palapa rental for Melaque

Musical chairs

Pinata

The diablita that mom can't wait to put in Kinder

Monday, March 05, 2012

Langostino on the beach in Cuastecomate

I'll trade a ride to the beach any day for a fresh lobster dinner. Nine of us total including four kids and two sets of parents piled into my van and headed to Cuastecomate. We went to the restaurant on the far end where Hugo has been working building a deck. They asked me earlier if I liked langostino but I had no idea what was coming. Friends had given them about 10 of these caught the day before. So much better than the frozen ones you get in local restaurants.

We brought everything needed and only had to buy caguamas (quarts of beer) from the restaurant. I bought a bag of those beach toys and the kids made sand castles and figures. Even went swimming even tho the water is a little chilly. Had a beautiful sunset just before we left.

Langostinos a la diabla

My plate

The girls and sunset

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Treme

Neighbors loaned me this 4 disk set and I'm only thru the first 2 episodes of the series on disk one. It seems to be mostly about music but is also what people do after a city is devastated. If you are in the US I believe you can watch the whole series but it's blocked in Mexico (we don't count). Great insight on what to do when the world ends from people who lived on the street - day to day.

From Wikipedia Treme is an American television drama series created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer that premiered on April 11, 2010 on HBO. It takes its name from Tremé, a neighborhood of New Orleans. The series begins three months after Hurricane Katrina where the residents of New Orleans, including musicians, chefs, Mardi Gras Indians, and other New Orleanians try to rebuild their lives, their homes and their unique culture in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.

This is the best video I could find ... but do check around on YouTube for some of the music cuts. Great stuff

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Call me a Gardener

Well I'm trying. Been collecting dry material from the yard and around the neighborhood, finally found a place I can buy cheap cow manure and am building a compost. Four bags of manure (like below) for 20 pesos ... I gave him 40.  Mainly I'm just short of plain soil to add to the mix. I gained a bit of soil today digging for new plantings and using compost for fill.    I can enrich the soil for plants that are already in but eventually want a few raised beds for vegitables and need decent composed fill.

I planted one banana a few weeks ago but it suddenly turned brown so I got about 5 more from neighbors. Left the old one in to see if it would recover. This time all with compost fill and fertilizer. Should be the very small sweet and the Chiquita style

The other trees are from a florist up the coast. Very glad my Avocado is coming back after a sloppy transplant. There was nothing but the "trunk" a week ago.

There are too many kinds of Sapodilla/Zapote/Sapote to figure out what kind of fruit this tree will produce ... but supposedly it will reach 20-30 feet some day. just have to keep it away from my dog who likes to excavate everywhere I water.

The Almond tree in front on the street survived hurricane Jova (had to plant deeper) but I'm not sure it will survive the neighbor kids. Two branches are missing on the lower level. Almonds (almendras) are an odd tree and not really a favorite but so many people use them on the street for shade I thought I'd give it a try.

Start of compost

Two lime trees in the back of the garden

New bananas along with 3 more

Almond on street that kids keep breaking branches

Chico Zapote caged from dog

Star Fruit

Coastal Avocado

The construction of the house finished in April 2011 and I'm pretty much settled in. As of March 2014 I'm in preparation for rain mode for this coming summer. That includes sealing and painting things and dealing with drainage issues from last year.

Sparks Mexico Web
Manzanillo Information
House building in Pinal Villa

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