Tag Archives: Baja California

Deckman’s? Definitely!

 

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vineyard views                                                                   © erin dunigan 2013

I’ve been meaning to try Deckman’s – one of the seasonal ‘campestre’ pop-up restaurants that are making their mark on the Guadalupe Valley’s culinary scene – for quite some time.  As it happened, last night was the night.

Deckman’s, I must say, did not disappoint.

This entirely outdoor (including the kitchen!) dining experience is the creation of chef Drew Deckman, American by birth, but a resident of Baja California Sur. For the past two summer seasons Deckman has brought his culinary skills north to Baja’s Guadalupe Valley.

Deckman’s is located at the Mogor Badan winery (which many in the region know for it’s Wednesday and Saturday organic produce market – produce which Deckman uses in his culinary creations) under a canopy of pines and with plentiful views of the surrounding vineyards.

The meal? Delicious.

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vino tinto                                                                            © erin dunigan 2013

We chose the ‘three course’ (which was plenty of food though the ‘five course’ is an option as well) with a few additions along the way – and a bottle of the Mogor Badan ‘tinto’ red wine.

The food is ‘Guadalupe Valley gourmet’ – a style that is fresh, local, seasonal, and not your average daily fare – or at least not mine. I’d list the courses, but since I was too busy enjoying them I did not take pictures (or notes) to describe them in all their glorious detail.

So, you just might have to try it for yourself. Though do so soon – Deckman’s is only open until the end of September. It is sure to be open Thursday through Sunday, but check their Facebook page for specifics and further info.

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sunset view                                                                 © erin dunigan 2013

 

ebikes and wine tasting in Baja’s Guadalupe Valley

I turned onto the dirt road from the paved highway, having seen the small ‘ebike’ sign with an arrow pointing left. Billed as something akin to a cross between a pop-up restaurant and an outdoor adventure, I was intrigued and anticipating the day’s journey – while also a bit concerned about the combination of wine tasting and bike riding. I decided a helmet would be a good option, just in case.

That thought was confirmed as I took my first test drive of the ebike, electric bike, and felt the acceleration far beyond my capacity as I began to peddle. This is going to be a blast, I thought to myself, a smile like a child’s plastered across my face, making the u-turn along that dirt road and accelerating my way back to the rest of the group. Seven of us, newbies to the ebike scene, had signed up for this maiden voyage of ebike wine touring, the brainchild of Allen Jones and Agnes Cameleyre.

TI0A6369Part of what drew me to the adventure was the extensive knowledge of the wine valley I knew Agnes to hold – and her generosity in sharing those stories, histories, and fun facts of an area of the world that is rapidly becoming known as a destination not just for wine aficionados, but foodies and students of ‘local and sustainable’ as well.

This anticipation was not disappointed as we made our way, a bit wobbly at first as our very eclectic group acclimated to the ebike and dirt road combination,  across the valley floor to its north side and up a gentle incline to one of the valley’s newer wineries, Las Nubes.  “This is an example of what a new generation is doing in wine-making,” explained Agnes, as we sat down at the long rectangular table in a tasting room whose floor to ceiling windows offer expansive views of the valley below. Las Nubes, from winemaker Victor Segura of Mexico City, is a large scale operation – an example, Agnes suggested, of what the ‘big business’ of wine making looks like as it comes into its own in the Guadalupe Valley.

Thankfully as the dusty and somewhat sweaty group of us sat down for our tasting the first pour was water – to quench a thirst we had already worked up in our short 20 minute ride, and final ascent into ‘the clouds’ in the 80 degree heat of midday. We opted for the 5 wine pour – as opposed to the 7 – knowing that we had another bike ride, wine tasting, and still more riding before we’d encounter anything resembling a meal. The pouring began – with a somewhat rare to the valley savignon blanc chardonnay blend. Up until the past few years, and the blossoming of so many new wineries in the region, it was said that the best white wine in the valley was red.

From Las Nubes we headed down the hill – electric bike power turned off, so as not to unintentionally accelerate while speeding down the curved dirt road – and across the valley floor, first on a bit of the narrow (and shoulder-less) paved road until we came upon another dirt road and our turn into JC Bravo winery – the opposite, in many ways, of Las Nubes.

jcbravoJC Bravo is small, hidden almost. Rather than nestled on a hillside in the clouds, it is smack dab in the middle of the small pueblo of El Porvenir, just across the street from a taco stand, and down the road from Casa de Paz, an orphanage trying to be sustainable by growing some of its own food. At JC Bravo it was a two wine pour – a white, Palomino, and a red, Carignan, both local valley blends, grapes grown by the owner and winemaker, Juan Carlos (JC) Bravo.

Agnes again shared a bit of the history with us.  JC (pronounced in Spanish as ‘hoe-ta say’) is one of the valley’s few wine makers who is, himself, local to the valley. His family had been growing grapes for more than four decades – selling those grapes to other wineries. The family’s grapes were among the finest the valley had to offer, but they had never taken advantage of their own production to make wine. That changed a decade ago, and now JC Bravo, though small, produces not only wine, but also a cold pressed (by hand) olive oil that is rich and with such depth that you practically want to drink it as well. Small cubes of bread provided the ideal vehicle for soaking up as much as possible of the earthy yet sweet aceite – alive with its freshness.

As often happens in Baja, our day began to run a bit behind schedule, which meant that we could not linger long at JC Bravo but got back on the bikes and headed still further south to our final destination, one of the valley’s hidden gems, 3 Mujeres winery.

The thirty minute ride (though for most of us it was less of a ‘ride’ and more of an ‘acceleration’ as we gained confidence with the power of the electric bike, and the ease of simply twisting the throttle, versus exerting oneself unnecessarily by actually pedaling) wound its way down that dirt road, past ranches, olive groves, and grape vines. I found myself longing for a helmet mounted camera, so that I could take it all in photographically as well as experientially. A few times I tried to take video with my iPhone, but realized that, on bumpy dirt roads, riding one handed after two wine tastings might not be the best of ideas.

3mujeresWhen we arrived through the gate onto the property of 3 Mujeres we were greeted by two small round tables set up under the trees. Their table cloths rustled in the breeze that brought some refreshment to the day’s heat. A simple centerpiece added an elegant beauty. The flower arrangement came from a vine growing on the adobe home of Ivette Vaillard, one of the three women, who lives there on the property  This was a pop-up restaurant just for us – the menu put together by Ensenada Chef Ismene Venegas.  To call the spontaneous eatery an oasis would not do it justice.

TI0A64243 Mujeres, meaning 3 Women in Spanish, is one of the valley’s only wineries run entirely by women. Ivette Vaillard, Eva Cotero, and Laura McGregor joined together more than a decade ago to nurture their common passion for wine making. The three had all been students at the local ‘escolita’ (wine school) run by Hugo D’acosta. They began to realize that though none of them could take on the task of wine making on their own, together they could. In the words of our ever knowledgeable guide and storyteller Agnes, destiny put them together – destiny, and the adventure of making wine.

The first of three pours began – each of the 3 mujeres makes her own unique wine – as a tartar of curiel (yellow tail), avocado and cucumber arrived on our plates. The second pour led us into the main course of the meal – three different salads of nopales, couscous, and local greens, followed by a garlic potato puree to die for, and the tri tip that had been on the outdoor grill as we arrived. Bread, flat bread and chimichurri sauce rounded out the meal as we enjoyed the third and final pour.

Already past the time that we supposed we would return to our cars in the field, the conversation was as delightful as the ambiance, and no one seemed to mind. It was then that a new spoon was placed in front of each of us, and we realized that the adventure was not yet over. Valley fresh strawberries in a rosemary-infused heavy cream was to be the final taste on the pallet. It did not disappoint.

As we said our goodbyes to our chef and our gracious hosts the sun had begun to lower in the sky, casting that magical golden light on the vineyards as we wound our way back toward the north side of the valley and our awaiting vehicles. The magic hour, is what that time of day is called – that time of perfect light. More than that, it had been a magical day.

To set up a a winery ebike tour, contact Allen and Agnes at allen@innerreef.com
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all photos © erin dunigan 2013

 

la finca altozano – a delight to the senses

TI0A6167One might think that, having grown up in a place that place would be known in all its intricacies, in all its nooks and crannies. One would be wrong. Though I grew up in Baja California, Mexico, as well as Southern California’s Orange County I am only just beginning to get to know this place that was planted in me at such an early age. And though I grew up traveling back and forth to my grandmother’s home in the small village of La Mision, now that her casa has become mi casa, I’ve decided its time to get to know this place whose accent is on my tongue, whose sights, smells, tastes and sounds instilled themselves within me at such a young age, but have lain dormant these decades since. It’s time to get to know this place I call home.

…..

Not even an hour away from my spot at KM 62.5 along what is called the ‘free road’ or the ‘old road,’ depending on the age of the one you ask and whether or not they have been around long enough to remember the construction of the new (toll) road, is hidden gem that is beginning to gain widespread recognition – Baja’s Guadalupe Wine Valley. Some are comparing it to Napa or even Tuscany – and though it does not yet have the following of either of those two famous destinations, it most definitely has the creds, with over 50 wineries (up tenfold in just the past five years) and a number of boutique  B&B’s, organic farms, and gourmet restaurants where food is often served fresh from the garden surrounding it.

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Yesterday’s adventure took me to the ‘pop-up restaurant’ (though it has since become a permanent, though seasonal fixture in the southeast corner of the valley not far from the newly opened Wine Museum and the well-known Laja Organic restaurant) known as Finca Altozano – one of the growing number of ‘campestre’ (literally means ‘country’ our ‘out in the country’) dining experiences making themselves known in the region.

There is only one way to describe this campestre experience – it was a delight to the senses.

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Finca Altozano is about a mile off Mexico highway 3, down a dirt road, and with no signage off the main highway – a place for those who know what they are looking for, or who happen upon it as they meander down the valley’s many dusty back roads. It sits upon a small knoll (or hillock, as the word ‘altozano’ means), above the fields of grapes and of springtime weeds. As you enter under the archway of what looks like reclaimed urban decay and find a place in the grassy field that serves as parking lot, the expansive vista of the Guadalupe valley unfolds toward the east.

The dining area is open air, looking out on the valley, with a dozen or so sturdy wooden tables – some with long benches, others with chairs in the rustico style and still others – like ours which was clearly overflow for a larger than expected Sunday evening crowd – collapsible topped with a red and white checked tablecloth.

The kitchen is outdoor – thus the campestre – with an ‘asador’ (grill) alongside. Locally brewed beer (we tried the Guerra Coquetona – the flirty blond) is served in mason jars and wine (also, of course, local from the valley) comes by the bottle.

© erin dunigan 2013

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The menu changes based on what is available and what is fresh. Chef Javier Plascencia who also owns Tijuana’s well-known Mission 19 made his way from the grill to the tables to greet guests and share in a bit of conversation.

Our group of 7 decided to order a number of items  and share – morrones asados en lena de olivo (grilled red peppers in olive oil with arugula and garlic), pulpo del pacifico a la brasa (octupus with soy, ginger, peanut and cilantro), tostados de ahi, chorizo y chistorra, and grilled Brussels sprouts that were to die for.

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We shared a bottle of the local tempranillo Norte 32 made within miles of where we enjoyed its smokey notes – which may have been enhanced by the smoke of the asador as it grilled our entrees.

Though it is still early in the season – traditionally (meaning, the past year, as the campestre dining experience in the valley is not much older than that) visitors find their way to the valley in the warmer summer temperatures – the dining patio was at capacity even with the extra tables that had clearly been set up to accommodate these unexpected numbers.

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As the music strolled through a variety of selections including Johnny Cash and more traditional mariachi music the light of the setting sun turned golden and then began to wane. The delicate wine glasses held only the remnants of that valley tempranillo. The subtle intensity of the fresh flavors lingered. The conversation between friends – newly made and long connected – rested gently. After a beautiful evening, it was time to wind back along the dirt road, nigh sky brilliant for lack of ambient light competing with the stars, and head back to La Mision.TI0A6208

all images  © erin dunigan 2013

photo: vaquerito

more shots of the vaquerovaquerito, la mision baja california
© erin dunigan 2011

one day (grapes, harvest, and new wine)

 

Alberto is reported to make some of the best wine in the Guadalupe Valley–what is fast becoming the next ‘up and coming’ wine country in Baja California, Mexico.  I happened to be with friends at Muelle 3 in Ensenada when Alberto came to drop off a case of his wine.

But in addition to the wine, he had a plastic bottle of some dark yellowish looking substance. It was, I came to find out, grape juice. Freshly harvested, freshly pressed.

“Today is the only day that you can drink the juice,” explained Alberto. One day only. The grapes had only just been ‘juiced’ so to speak. The following day they would begin their process of becoming some of the valley’s best wine.

Something about it struck me. This juice that he allowed us to sample–it is not something to be stored on the shelf or in the refrigerator. It is not something to be bought at a later date, enjoyed some other time.

This juice has a ‘shelf life’ of one day. You taste it now, or you miss it.

I enjoyed it thoroughly.

freshly pressed, ensenada, baja california
© 2012 erin dunigan

 

the road to ensenada…via london?

poolside at estero beach restort, storm approaching

Recently I was at a party and was asked if I knew of a particular location in Ensenada, a town about 45 minutes away, and one of only two ‘cities’ within that distance from the small (like 1000 people small) town of La Mision (the other being Rosarito).

I apologized that no, I didn’t know where that particular location was. Or the next one, or the following one.

What struck me, in the course of the conversation, is that I actually know London, and Paris for that matter, and even Rome—all obviously large cities and at least a ten hour plane ride away–better than I know Ensenada, less than an hour’s drive.

There are, of course, many factors for that–such as that when I am actually here in La Mision I am typically coming from traveling somewhere else and like the opportunity to stay put for a bit, not even use my car if possible, take tigger for a walk, and work in the yard. There is also the lack of many local streetlights, which makes night seem, somehow, so much darker, that I rarely venture out after dark.

But regardless of the reasons, I’ve decided that it is just not right that I don’t know more of Ensenada, which is a fairly ‘do-able’ sized city. Well, actually, I decided that back in September, and hadn’t really done much about it until yesterday, when I was, as it were, forced into it, by needing to take my two kittens to the vet. Luna had begun to exhibit some behavior that seemed to match up with the google search of ‘how do I know when my cat is in heat’ so I thought, prior to having any more animals in the house, it would be good to finally take her for a bit of surgery.

Which gave me five hours in Ensenada with no agenda, other than to wait to pick Luna back up. It didn’t seem to make sense to go back to La Mision and then return to Ensenada, so I decided it would be the day to get to know my way around.

First stop, my absolute favorite fish taco stand, which I did already know about, from having been taken there by tour guide extraordinaire, Kathy, and which I had bookmarked on my iphone when I took Buddy (the other kitty) to get fixed a few months back and had some time on my hands. There are a couple of stools, but it is most definitely street food, eaten on the sidewalk, while leaning up against the quinceañera store’s block wall.

After filling myself up with two fish tacos con todo–cabbage, salsa, lime, onion and crema–I headed south, thinking I’d go to la bufadora, a marine geyser, said to be one of the largest blowholes in North America. But on the way I got a bit distracted.

'dutch boy' at home depot, helping me find the proper sealer for the floor

First, I stopped at the Home Depot in Ensenada, just to see what I might need, and wound up with seed packets for two types of basil, cosmos (the flower, not the martini, though that would be quite a feat), marigolds (for encouraging good insects in the garden and discouraging bad ones) and dahlias (because they are pretty and, as it turns out, perennial). The seeds are distributed by a company called Los Molinos. As I typically try to buy open pollinated non-genetically modified seeds, I’d like to know more about Los Molinos, but haven’t been successful yet.

I’m afraid this post is starting to sound like some of my dad’s letters from my parents’ motor home travels–“and then we had a sandwich for lunch, and then we drove 128 miles and stopped for a bathroom break and a snack and one of the cupboard doors on the motorhome was rattling so we had to stop and wiggle it a bit…” I’m not kidding.

Anyway, lest you begin to wonder how far the apple falls from the tree, I left Home Depot and continued heading south, still planning on La Bufadora but again distracted by the Estero Beach Resort, which was empty on a Tuesday in February, but which, with its pools and jacuzzis, seemed to hold a lot of promise for a warm summer afternoon.

Since the wind was picking up, and it looked as though the rain might begin in earnest, I left Estero Beach and headed back north to Ensenada, to the ‘tourist zone’ for a cappuccino at Starbucks (I know, I know…but they have internet, and I had gone without for four hours at this point, a near record) to wait out the rain and the final hour before kitty pick-up.

I never did make it to la Bufadora–that’ll have to be next trip. But I did figure out that the vet and my favorite taco stand are on the same street, just a few miles apart, and I also found easy street parking a block away from Starbucks–both of which are key pieces of information in my goal of getting to know Ensenada. Now if they just had Boris Bikes

so, what do you actually do?

“So, what do you actually do?”

morning coffee: one of my favorite daily rituals

The question–“What do you do?” is a fairly common one, at least in the slice of American society of which I’m familiar. It’s the sort of standard intro question, at parties or in other situations where one meets new people. It’s a normal ‘get to know you’ kind of question.

The thing is, I get it from people who already know me, and it tends to have a slightly different emphasis. Instead of “What do you do?” It is more often, “So, what do you do?” I’ve had various ways of answering it, since a simple answer seems to be outside of my grasp. My favorite was someone’s suggestion to answer “About what?”

The thing is, I often don’t even know how to describe what I ‘do’ so the idea of trying to communicate it to someone else can be a challenge.

In light of that, here is a slice of ‘what I do.’ It happened to occur yesterday, in Baja California, Mexico.

What’s become my morning routine of contemplative prayer/meditation (I’m working on this one–I sit there for 15 minutes, but it’s not always very focused), green juice, coffee, reading, writing, breakfast (oatmeal with mixed nuts, fruit, cinnamon), and taking Tigger for a short walk was cut short because, after a four year hiatus, I had finally made a dentist appointment. For 9AM. In Rosarito. My entire life I’ve only been to one dentist’s office, in Corona del Mar, that of (no joke) Dr. Smiley. Dr. Smiley passed away a few years ago and though I’ve been to his office to see his replacement, it’s not the same. Plus, since I’m in Mexico, and since rates are significantly more reasonable here than in Corona del Mar, I decided it was time to make the switch.

Doctora Ana Pacheco Nuño had been recommended, so I made an appointment to see her at the Hospital Jardon (which, it turns out, also does breast augmentation–good to know that when I return for my ‘fillings’ they don’t just have to be for my teeth). My Spanish is pretty good, but I’ve never had reason to learn words such as ‘gums,’ ‘cavities,’ or ‘fillings.’ So, when she asked me about my ‘rellenos,’ (which literally means ‘fillings’) it took me a minute to move from ‘chile rellenos’ to ‘you need a new filling’ as in, teeth. (By the way, if you think it is tough to carry on a conversation with the dentist while your mouth is propped open and your teeth are being scraped, let’s just say doing so in Spanish adds to the fun.) Doctora Ana also learned a new English word, ‘straw,’ when she was trying to explain to me that she wanted me to treat the suction device to clear my mouth of saliva as a straw–“you know, the thing, when you are drinking a soda, that you use to go like this (sound of sucking on a straw).”

bolillo--yumminess plain or toasted

After leaving Doctora Ana’s office ($40 will take care of your cleaning, then $50/cavity/filling from there) I went in search of the ‘panaderia’ (bakery) that we used to always stop at when I was a kid. Rosarito has changed and grown and spralled much in the intervening decades, but the panaderia is still there, still the same inside, with all of the tempting looking treats, but without the short fat man that used to work there. I got my bolillos and then asked the woman at the counter about the man who used to work there. “Where is the man who used to work here, he was a bit short?” I asked. “Oh, you mean the short little fat man?” she responded. I love the directness of Mexico. “Yes, the gordito,” I replied. Turns out he moved to mainland Mexico to take care of his aging and ailing mother, but he is still in good health. I asked her to pass along greetings (saludos) to him, as I’ve known him since I was a young girl.

From the bakery I went to get water at a great new place that Kathy told me about where it costs only 7 pesos instead of 12 pesos to refill your 5 gallon jug (garafon). That’s approximately 60 cents instead of $1. But still… A quick stop at Smart & Final (for dog food) somehow turned into a great time to stock up on jack cheese, nice looking celery, olive oil, cumin, and chopped garlic. Rosarito errands done, I headed back to La Mision to make it in time to the Monday Market (el mercadito) which is something of a cross between a farmers market and a flea market.

baby boom box (coat hanger attenae was my addition)

You never know what you are going to find at the Monday Market. Last week I got a copy of the complete Chronicles of Narnia, basically new, for $1.50. I gave them $2 and they didn’t have change, so instead of .50 I got a used stuffed penguin, which Tigger quickly tore apart. I’ve been looking for a small FM radio, as there is a local station in Ensenada 92.9 that I’ve been wanting to listen to as a way of practicing my Spanish. Not only was I successful on the ‘baby boom box’ front (though I had to borrow 11 cents from a neighbor as I only had $1.89 left and the absolute bottom price for the baby boom box was $2) but I also made my favorite Monday Market purchase yet–two fruit trees.

There are not normally plants for sale, but a man from Ensenada, Josue, drove up a pickup truckload of plants/trees to sell. “Do you have fruit trees?” I asked. Yes, was his reply. He had limon (what we would call lime), peach, plum, pear and something else for which I did not know the word. “It’s like a peach” he described. “Oh, smaller, and soft like hair?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. I’m pretty sure it was an apricot. Though I guess it may also have been a nectarine.

Anyway, after discussing the trees a bit (they are good trees, tall, he said–I know, I answered, I can see they are good trees) the price came down a bit, and then came the negotiation. “How much for 2?” I asked. He thought a bit (one tree had been 150 pesos) and then said “240 pesos.” Now, I’m pretty sure I could have bargained him down lower–he wanted to make the sale and he saw that he had me on the line–but here’s the thing–240 pesos is about $20, for two healthy tall (about 6ft each) fruit trees, each of which that would probably cost me around $40 in the US. It was a bargain for me to get them for $10 a piece. The average day’s salary for a worker in Mexico is about 200-250 pesos, a bit more for a skilled laborer. So, I’m guessing that 240 pesos was a good deal for him too.

“It’s a deal,” I said, and gave him the 240 pesos, all of my remaining money, save 26 pesos for two tacos. He took my money, I took my trees to the car, and when I returned I saw him leaving the market, with many plants still in the back of his truck.  I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that he made the sale that he needed for the day, so he was done. It’s something I love about Mexico. Sure, he could’ve stayed longer and maybe sold more, but why? He had what he needed for the day, so his work was done.

I got my two birria tacos and then headed home to figure out where to plant my new fruit trees. I found what I decided was the perfect location for the plum tree and began digging. Let’s just say I’ve got some rocky ground to contend with normally, but this was even worse that usual. About a foot down I came across what can only be described as a small boulder. I got the pick-ax and tried to dislodge it, but realized that this time the boulder was going to win. So, I moved the hole slightly to the side, planted the tree, and brushed off the dirt.

some of my 'rocky ground'

Luckily I got done just in time to leave the rocky ground to the garden and head to what has become a monthly ‘spiritual conversation group.’ Last month we talked about grace. This month we were to discuss good and evil. Our group is somewhat eclectic, including three science of the mind types (I’m not sure if that’s how they would describe themselves, but I think so), one former Baptist minister, one former (and excommunicated) Jehovah’s Witness, one Presbyterian pastor’s widow, one atheist Jew, one atheist Catholic, a practicing Catholic, and me, a Presbyterian Designated Tentmaking Evangelist. Needless to say, we’ve had some fascinating conversations. Yesterday’s included whether or not love requires action, if evil is just an illusion, letting go of judgment, the writings of a greek slave named Ἐπίκτητος (Epictetus) and whether or not there is a hell (including a quote from Pope John Paul II that would make it sound doubtful).

What is amazing about this group is that we come from some seriously different worldviews, but we are able to share with one another, listen to each other, push back against things that don’t make sense in our understanding, and explain how we each have come to experience God (who some refer to as Source, Light, Love). I feel thankful that I can be a part of these conversations.

Since I didn’t have time to change out of my gardening clothes (though I did try to clean off the dirt) before our spiritual conversation group, when it was done I headed back to the garden to plant a blueberry bush I got while I was in the US. I’ve been putting off planting it in the ground as I’ve been dealing with ‘topos’ (gophers) in something of my own personal Caddyshack. I thought I had begun to have them under control (apparently dog poop and human urine are both potential deterrents…I’ll leave that one there) so I figured it was time to get the blueberries in the ground. (Unfortunately this morning I have seen some new gopher activity, so we’ll have to see how things go.)We’ll see whether or not any of this planting will bear fruit. I hope so. Some of the local boys that help my friend Jose with the horses have given me the nickname ‘frutas’ (which means fruit). I think it is fairly appropriate.

So, that’s what I did. At least what I did yesterday. Are you sorry you asked? 😉