Tuesday, December 27, 2011


My dad was a farmer/rancher his whole life. He could grow anything, anywhere. He started his ranching career on little ranches near a small town in Arizona named Eloy. My first memory of my dad is his leaving or coming back from work in a white company truck, wearing his cowboy boots and straw cowboy hat. That was his work uniform.

Whenever he got together with my uncles I remember the conversation always revolved around what they were farming and how good the crops were this year, or how bad, just depending on the weather, plague, wind, freeze...all those variables that farmers had to deal with for each season.

When we were in Eloy, Arizona, my dad grew cotton. Beautiful, white, fluffy cotton. We moved around alot and my dad was always learning and growing in his knowledge of products to plant and grow. I remember him planting tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and lettuce  They called him "King of the Row Crop". Anything that grew in rows my dad became an expert at growing.

When I was a junior in high school, my dad decided that he wanted my sister and me to work in the fields so we would get a taste for hard work, hoping that we would decide it didn't taste that good and we would instead study hard, get a good education and not work as hard as he and my mother had always done. He and my mother met while both picking cotton in Eloy, Arizona.

I remember the day before our first day of work, my dad sat us down and told us that once we were out there, we were representing him, we were reflections of the type of worker he was and that he expected us to work harder, longer and more diligently than anyone else out there. Out there in the fields we were expected to make him proud.

That next morning, we arose before the sun, we put on the clothes my mom had set aside for us as work clothes. Jeans, a t-shirt, a long sleeved cotton shirt to protect us from the sun, a bandanna around our neck and a big straw hat. My mom also went to work with us and she got up earlier than all of us and made burritos that we would eat in the field for breakfast, breaks and lunch. My dad fit us all into his truck and off we went into the fields to pick tomatoes.

In the field, the sun was just barely starting to rise and we went to the crew pusher and got two buckets each and a card that looked like a standard time card but instead had little numbered circles. We wrote our names at the top then headed out into the fields. Our job was to fill each of our two buckets with green tomatoes, we picked them before they ripened on the vine. Once our two buckets were filled we lifted them up, one bucket in each hand and walked out of the row we were in towards a waiting tractor where a man would grab our buckets, empty them into bins on a trailer being pulled by a tractor and then he would pull a little hole punch out of his pocket and punch out two of the holes...and back into the fields we went. This wasn't as easy as it sounds, the rows with the tomatoes were uneven and filled with dirt clods and the vines would trip you, plus it was hot and humid and dirt and flies were everywhere!

We found out right away that I was not good at picking tomatoes. I was too slow. My  mom and sister on the other hand were super fast. Luckily what I was good at was lifting those buckets and hauling them out of the fields to the guy on the tractor and coming back and hauling more buckets to the guy on the tractor, and c'mon...I was in high school, I was cute, I had a beautiful smile so the guys on the tractors would more often than not jump off the tractors and meet me halfway down the rows and carry the buckets for me...it didn't hurt that I was the bosses daughter either.

But in my mind I kept hearing my dads words, I was a reflection on him and I worked my buns off! My mom and my sister worked their buns off! We did this for most of the summer. It was hot, dirty, sweaty work. Sometimes I liked it, sometimes I didn't, but I made my dad proud!

When tomato picking season was over my dad asked me if I wanted to try working on the tomato harvesting machines. These machines ran at night and they harvested the ripened tomatoes. I would have to go to work without my mom and my sister, but my dad would be there all night supervising the whole operation. Of course I said yes, I wanted my dad to be proud of me and I found out early on that I really liked getting a paycheck!

Here's an excellent video showing the process, it even shows a lady on the machine which would have been me.

Now that doesn't look so bad in the daytime, but remember, I was working at night with big flood lights so I could see what I was doing. It was hot and humid, at times cold and wet. The machines felt like you were on a huge boat, they rocked back and forth in the uneven rows, some of the tomatoes were over ripe and squishy and rotten and smelly!

I can remember working until my stomach couldn't take anymore and then I would turn around and vomit into the field. Then I would go back to working and continue until I had to turn around and vomit again. I did this for two nights. On the third night someone told my dad that I shouldn't be there, that I was sick too much and I wasn't eating and that even though I was doing a good job he felt sorry for me. My dad came and rode on the machine with me for a while. I tried to suck it up and not get sick but finally I couldn't take it and I had to turn around and puke over the side of the rail. That was it, my dad said I had to quit, he couldn't allow me to continue. I begged and begged him, telling him I was ok, I could do it. He finally took me in his arms and said, "You proved that you're my daughter and that you work as hard as anyone, I don't want you to do this anymore, you can try again next year, go to my truck and go to sleep." So I did, but I made my dad proud and even better I was a good reflection of the hard-working man he was.

So to make a long story even longer, my purpose for this post is because throughout the years I have worked with people that have hired their kids to work for them. A few I have admired, they had the same work ethic as my dad and their kids were outside washing cars and cleaning gum off the sidewalks, just like everyone else.

But I've worked with the opposite as well. Those bosses that hire their kids and let them get away with murder but turn a blind eye to it. At times it seems to me that they can't even see that their kids are slacking and making their parent look bad. I wonder at times if that isn't part of what's wrong with kids today, their parents want to make everything easy for them, they don't want their kids to struggle or suffer. I wonder at times if those parents don't worry about what will happen if tomorrow they are hit by a bus and their child has to go out into the real world and work for a real boss who will expect real productivity and isn't just going to pat them on the back for doing nothing.

I'm glad that I had the parents that I had. I know that I was truly blessed in life to have them. They have made me who I am today. Anything that is bad in me cannot be blamed on them because they were excellent leaders. I always say "lead by example" and my favorite quote is "integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking". Am I always perfect? Oh gosh no...far, far, far from it! But all that is good in me is due to my parents who didn't worry about being my friends.

BOBBY MESSAGED ME THIS ON FACEBOOK "Perfect description of those early mornings....I still can smell the fragrance of tomatoes lol.....I drove one of those tractors....liked the article.."


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twas the Night Before Christmas - Mexican Style

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa,
Not a creature ws stirring -- Caramba! Que pasa?
Los ninos were tucked away in their camas,
Some in long underwear, some in pyjamas,

While hanging the stockings with mucho cuidado
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado
To bring all children, both buenos and malos,
A nice batch of dulces and other regalos.

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito.
I ran to the window and looked out afuera,
And who in the world do you think that it era?

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero.
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados
Were eight little burros approaching volados.

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre:
"Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Berto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!"

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho
He flew to the top of our very own techo.
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea,
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea,

Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala,
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala,
He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos --
For none of the ninos had been very malos.

Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento,
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento.
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad,
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Iwanna Wednesday - Just a few Items Iwanna!

Last week for Iwanna Wednesday I shared a video showing you 25 ways to wear a scarf in 4.5 minutes. So this week I'm going to show you some cool things that Iwanna ask Santa for this year.

First off, I'm wondering if this little gadget would be acceptable here in California while you are driving since we are a "hands-free" state and we can't hold the cell phone itself up to our ear.  If I were to place it on my shoulder and tilt my head to hold it in place would that constitute "hands-free"? I think it's so cool and it's a bit cheaper than a blue-tooth. Iwanna one of these, they are so cute! You can find this little toy in blue as shown and also available in yellow at http://www.modcloth.com/.

While you're over there at http://www.modcloth.com/, take a look at these adorable tea cups. Now I'm not a tea fan, but I think you could drink coffee out of these. Maybe warm milk? Even some hot chocolate? And how cute would they look on my kitchen counter? Iwanna these, they are just too adorable!

And speaking of tea, earlier this week one of my facebook buddies posted this Christmas Tree made out of books. It's just amazing! Iwanna collect enough books in this coming year to be able to make a Christmas Tree of Books for myself next year. The original site for this photo is HERE.

What does this photo have to do with Tea? Do you see the teapot lamp on the dresser? Iwanna one of those and I found quite a few beautiful ones online. This one is my favorite! It's from mumsaid.co.uk and they have several other ones, but I'm pretty sure I love this one best because for one thing green is my favorite color and I love butterflies!

One thing that I know Santa is bringing me this year is a brand, spanking new LAPTOP!!! How do I know Santa is bringing me one? Well cause I'm my own Santa and I think I've been a very good girl this year so I bought myself one! Yay!

And since I'm getting one Iwanna one of these so I can blog in bed! I love that it has a built-in mouse pad! And it seems to be adjustable.

And so I don't strain my back while blogging Iwanna one of these as well! I just love this color. It looks so comfortable that I may NEVER get out of bed again! I found this one on Amazon.com.

But I'm thinking...if I'm never getting out of bed, then maybe Iwanna this one. This one comes with all the bells and whistles, the only thing missing is Keanu Reeves, but it does have massage so maybe I don't need Keanu? You can find this one HERE.

So that's my Christmas Wish List or my Christmas Iwanna List. What's on your list this year? Here's hoping that all your Iwanna wishes come true!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Biscochos...a family tradition. Done for 2011!

Every year in our family we get together and bake Biscochos, a small, crispy cookie flavored with Anise, Cinnamon and Cloves. It's almost like a Mexican version of the Snickerdoodle. And it's very popular. One of my blogging buddies, Paula from Sweet Pea also made some recently. She calls them biscochitos. Her recipe calls for brandy! I never thought about adding Brandy.

We grew up eating these as children. Our Tia Nico would make batches and batches of these and everyone always went home with a big Folgers coffee can full of them. It wouldn't be Christmas to us without this cookie and without Tamales, which we are making next weekend.

Here's my mom, the Head Chef and Baker and her two lovely assistants, me and my sister. My sister had hurt her back a couple of days ago so she was barely able to move. She was mainly there for moral support and entertainment value!

Last year we had the whole family, including my brothers, their spouses and kids in an out throughout the day baking. It was a real family affair and you can see last years pictures HERE if you so desire. But this year because my sister had hurt her back and my mom has been suffering with pneumonia and bronchitis we figured we wouldn't make them this year, but at the last minute we said "What the heck!"

My sister's two boys, Sean and Isaac were there helping for a bit early on. Isaac brought his Ipod and played some wonderful music for us. The boy has great taste in music. Here's a few pictures of the boys with me, with my mom and with their mom.

Sean and me

Me with Isaac, he's my nephew and my Godson.

My mom and her grandson, Sean.

My Mom and her grandson Isaac.

My sister and her boys.

And here's the boys, helping? Brotherly love!

Ok, now we're ready to get busy. I like to get it started with some energy drink...in the form of Agavero Tequila! This is a delicious sipping tequila that my cousin Stella introduced me to. Unfortunately...right after this picture was taken my nephew/godson spilled it :-(

Oh well, no crying over spilt tequila when there's Biscochos to be made! Several years ago my daughter gave me this Pink KitchenAid mixer and I love it! It makes creaming the sugar, shortening and eggs a breeze. You just set it and forget it. Well except for having to scrape the sides now and again.

While this stuff is getting creamed, we sift all the dry ingredients together. Then we mix the dry into the wet slowly and you knead, knead, knead the whole thing. Then we roll softball size balls out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut with a little pizza cutter that has a curly edge, like a crimping edge. That's the little gizmo in the picture.

My daughter April had to work and didn't get to come and help and hang out with us. She always likes to use cookie cutters instead of the little crimpy pizza roller, so I made a special tray of Christmas Cookies just for her.

Then you bake and here's what you end up with!

These little guys are so good right out of the oven but they actually get better as they get cold and age. They get crispy and sweeter. We doubled the recipe and look how many it made! If you would like the recipe, please click HERE.

My mom was kinda dreading making them as they are a lot of work and she wasn't feeling up to Par and my own sis's back is broken. But between the three of us we accomplished another annual Biscochos bakeoff! Doesn't my mom look happy here? All the work was worth it just for this picture!

And so ends another lovely day in my life. Now I just have to get through a week of work and then we get to start all over in the kitchen and make Tamales next week. Tune in for that!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Take a letter Maria, Address it to My Wife. . .

Hey…remember that song, Take a Letter Maria, Address it to my Wife?

Earlier today, I asked my assistant Mary if she had added a trailer to a policy and she said, "What" and came into my office so she could hear me better and I sang, "Add a trailer Maria".  Then she gave me the look I get 100 times a day, the look that says, "Why oh why did I have to be assigned to Alicia?" So I said, haven’t you ever heard that song and I sang,

"Take a letter Maria,
Address it to my wife,
Tell her I won’t be coming home
I’m gonna start a new life."

After hearing me sing in it my beautiful, melodious voice...well then she thought it was a cool song. Which made me wonder why the man singing it was so cold blooded. Telling his secretary Maria to take a letter and tell his wife he’s done with her. So I pulled up the lyrics…

Last night as I got home about a half past ten
There was the woman I thought I knew
In the arms of another man

I kept my cool, I ain't no fool
Let me tell you what happened then
I packed some clothes and I walked out
And I ain't going back again

So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Say I won't be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life

You've been many things but most of all a good secretary to me
And it's times like this I feel you've always been close to me
Was I wrong to work nights to try to build a good life
All work and no play has just cost me a wife

So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife

Say I won't be coming home, gonna start a new life
So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life

When a man loves a woman it's hard to understand
That she would find more pleasure in the arms of another man
I never really noticed how sweet you are to me
It just so happens I'm free tonight
Would you like to have dinner with me

So take a letter Maria, address it to my wife
Send a copy to my lawyer, gotta start a new life
This song was written by Ronald Betram Aloysius "R.B." Greaves III in 1969 and was a #2 top hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
1969...hmmmm, that means that I was only around 11 years old when this song came out and I was singing it at the top of my lungs everywhere I went. A song about infidelity, being sung by an 11 year old? What do you think I was thinking when I was singing this? I don't remember anymore. I just remember I loved the song, the words were easy to remember.
It really was a lovely song, if you just don't take into account the infidelity and the sexual harrassment there at the end when the boss hits on poor defenseless Maria. Give it a listen.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pet Peeves

We all have pet peeves right? Things that we can't stand? Some people have a pet peeve about those who snap their chewing gum or crack their knuckles.

There are actually a few website devoted to lists of pet peeves, there's pppeeves.com, you can even check your annoyance level on that one and then there's getannoyed.com. My favorite pet peeve on that site being when famous people give their kids strange names, that bugs the heck out of me too!

One of MY biggest pet peeves is people that stay in the far left lane even when they know that lane is going to end up ahead and then expect everyone to stop and let them merge right into the lane that is now going to become the far left lane. Does that make sense? No? Ok, let me show you a drawing of what I mean.

Ok, so above you see 3 lanes of traffic. Don't you love my cars? Purple, Red and Blue. The long ones are truck-tractors cause they are my 'bread and butta! The cars in purple in the far left lane...I call those people the A-Holes as the label clearly shows. (Pardon my french, but they are A-Holes!) I usually am in the red lane (the middle lane) and it peeves me greatly when those A-Holes in purple in the far left know they have to merge ahead but they gotta get one more car ahead until they can just STOP all traffic in my red lane so they can get in!

As they are passing me, I yell out at them (in my head of course cause I am a proper lady and everyone knows that proper ladies can curse in their heads as long as that filth doesn't come out of our mouths!), "That's right A-Hole! Pass me! I'm sure wherever you are going is a much, much more important and special a place than where I am going, so by all means...............pass me! A-Hole!"  Then I end up having to slam on my brakes cause everyone ahead of me is slamming on their brakes cause all the A-Holes in the far left lane are now merging!!!

So this morning, I'm driving along having my morning chat with my sister and I am telling her how I heard on the news that there will be some construction on the "99" this morning and to avoid the area if possible and I forgot and got on the "99" anyway. She's telling me that she saw that too and meant to remind me but she forgot too! (I think it's all the nachos and tequila that makes us so forgetful. It's definitely not our age!)

So I'm driving for once in the purple lane, the far left because when I get on the freeway I have about 18 miles to go before I get to my destination so I go in the fast lane cause that's how I roll people! I got places I gotta be and I don't want to be held up! Alrighty then, I'm in the fast lane and the traffic starts backing up and I chat with my sis about that and then all of a sudden on the left side of the road, right in front of me, is a BIG sign saying "LEFT 2 LANES CLOSED AHEAD".

It's then that I realize that I am in the far left lane! That lane is going to close ahead and when I move into the right lane that lane is going to close ahead as well and I'm going to have to merge right TWICE! So all of a sudden I realize that I now am the A-Hole!! And I tell my sister, "OMG sis, guess what? My lane is gonna end and I'm going to be that A-Hole I hate that slows up traffic further by having to merge!"

My sis busts up laughing at me! I'm mortified! Not to mention I hate merging in tons of traffic. Luckily truck drivers are the Angels of the Highway because two of them let me in and I merged safely and was only 20 minutes late to work!

And that's my story of how I started this day by being an A-Hole. Unintentionally of course, but I'm sure all those people that had to slam on their brakes so I could merge didn't think it was unintentional...they just thought, "There goes another A-Hole with places to be that are more important than mine!"

Oh, by the way...in the very detailed drawing above...you see the first purple car?...you see that yellow in the bottom right corner of the car? That's the blinker! The blinker I have to stare at! It's like a little blinking light taunting me and saying, "Hahaha, you have to wait for me to merge, Nani nani nani!" Grrr!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Face that is Pleasant and a Face that Apparently is Not!

The other day my sister Lisa and I went to Denny's for pancakes after a difficult day. Actually we had pancakes and Nachos. Actually Lisa had pancakes and Nachos, I had french toast and Nachos...and decaf coffee. That's right, it's Friday night and the "sistas" are living the dream! Out on the town in the Big City (Bakersfield).

We walked in and decided to go to the bathroom and wash up first before being seated. When we came back the Host/Greeter, the guy at the front behind the register told my sister, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" My sis says, "Well I don't know, have you ever had insurance, buried a loved one, bought a casket or a John Deere tractor or been to Shafter?" (Actually she named all the places she's ever worked and then the tiny little city we live in.)

Mr. Greeter said, "No, I haven't ever been to any of those places or that small town, but I swear you look familiar, maybe it's just cause you have a pleasant face?"

A pleasant face. Hmmm, well yes, my sister does have a very pleasant face, she is always smiling and she does have a lovely smile. She's a good-hearted, caring person that will give you the shirt off her back (as long as she's wearing a t-shirt or camisole underneath) so yeah...I guess you would say she has a pleasant face.

But if I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that my sister and I look the same, or are we twins, I could buy...well I could buy French Toast and Nachos at Dennys! Anyway...it happens a lot.

So I tell Mr. Greeter, "Well what about me? Don't I have a pleasant face?" (In reality...Mr. Greeter hadn't even noticed I existed.) So he turns to me and stares and then mumbles something that sounded like, "Umm...yeah, I guess your face is pleasant too?"

What the heck! My face is pleasant too??? With a question mark at the end? Hesistantly like he didn't know what else to say? Dude! My sister and I are basically the same person! How can her face be pleasant and mine not? And to make matters worse, she fell in love with my glasses and recently she ordered a pair EXACTLY like mine! We have the same glasses!

It was all I could do to suck down my french toast, nachos, eggs, hash browns and bacon (included with the french toast thank you...I didn't order extra!). Then Mr. Greeter has the nerve to come over to our table to make sure all is ok and he starts quizzing my sister again on where he knows her from cause she just has this very pleasant face! Too bad he wasn't our waiter because then at least I could have had my vengeance by not leaving him a tip!


My sister................................

Almost twins right? Ok, well when you put our photos side by side like this I guess we're not exactly the same person, but I think we both have pleasant faces. Don't we?