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Showing posts from October, 2022

Joe Philippines: Beaches and Bottled Water

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Photo of two fishermen at our "private" beach With a quiet word spoken in a foreign language that I didn't understand, I was instantly awake and this time the cobwebs hadn't yet taken hold of my brain. Most likely this was because it wasn't yet two in the morning and I hadn't yet fallen into a deep sleep. We were getting up early to begin a long nighttime journey to our destination and as it turned out, it would be the first of several during my stay in the Philippines. With an enormous population crammed into such a small land area and with only a few roads shared not only by vehicles but by bicycles, pedestrians, chickens, dogs, carabao, waterfalls, mudslides and cavernous potholes, Filipinos often get up before they go to sleep to get to where they were going to avoid everyone else who also have the very same idea.   In our case, we were headed to a beach on the South China Sea for a picnic lunch and to spend the day relaxing. We loaded into the van of our

What the?

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  In reality, this is a small picture measuring maybe 2 inches tall by three inches wide. But when I first saw it, all I could think was how strange all those "roll bars" on the front of the car looked. But upon scanning it at a resolution that allowed me to significantly enlarge it, I see now they are just ribbons adorning a car probably heading or back from a parade in town. The ribbons and the poster are touting the Ladies Auxillary. 

Joe Philippines: Blessed By a Smooth Operator

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I woke up to the sounds of a hundred half starved dogs barking and one thousand roosters trying to do their best to wake me up. They succeeded but after spending 48 hours flying and driving half way around the world with no sleep, it took me a minute to realize where here was. Finally the cobwebs in my brain started to release their grip and I realized that here, was four stories down in a bunker of a room in Baguio City, Philippines.   The partially renovated house where I was staying consisted of five stories tenaciously clinging to the side of an extremely steep ravine wall high up in the mountains of northern Philippines. The main level had just been completed on the roof of the existing structure (to raise it to the same level as the nearby road) along with an attic beneath a steeply pitched roof. Below the main level stood the gutted remains of the old main level, beneath that was yet another level that was rented out to another Filipino family and beneath them was my bunker. Cli

Stocked Up

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  Above is our main storage area for our farm and garden canned produce. Upstairs in our pantry, we have a smaller shelf (see below) that will hold a few dozen jars for convenient access while cooking but the bulk of our storage is in the basement where it is dark and cooler. The three columns to the right are the original shelving I build after moving into this house and the one on the left is the extension I built when we decided to produce more and to use a lot more pints than quarts. As you can see, we have done pretty well in the preservation department this year. It makes me feel wealthy indeed standing back and looking at those proverbial fruits of our labor.  At the top left below the empty jars are the bulk of our dried beans that we raised this year. I say bulk, because as I write this, we are heading down to the farm in a couple hours after it warms up to pick the last of the dried beans that hung in there until they were killed by the hard freeze.  For as many as we planted

Joe Philippines: All About the Rice

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This is a new post created just about all things rice, a subject I hadn't written about before. In all my trips to the Philippines, my best photos to describe rice farming can be found in these two woefully inadequate photographs. It is inexcusable and yet I shall make two excuses. The first excuse is that I spend most of my time up in the mountains of the Philippines and not in the lowlands where the rice is farmed. The second excuse is anytime we are in the lowlands, we are there in the dark hours of the day or in a hurry to get where we are going and so I am limited to quick point and shoot from the hip type photos as we fly by and if we just happened to be in the area of some of the planting or harvesting going on. So I will try to describe it to the best of my ability. From the above picture, you can see the typical paddy layout in the lowlands. The paddies are generally fairly small in size and have built up dikes around the perimeter so that the paddies can be flooded indivi

Waiting List

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  We're at that stage of life that we will soon have a child leaving the nest towards college and for a few years, we've been a two vehicle family after many years of having an extra one that acted as a spare. We don't have a spare to give to a child anymore. Normally, I would have waited for closer to the time our oldest leaves for college, still 22 months away, before figuring out what to do but these are interesting times we live in.  My wife currently drives a RAV4 and loves the compact size combined with the AWD (All Wheel Drive) for those snowy commutes up and down the river bluffs between our house and her office. It is also the oldest vehicle but with fairly low mileage which makes it a prime candidate for becoming our daughter's vehicle and allowing my wife to get a newer one. But used RAV4's are impossible to get and new ones aren't any easier. Plus, we are intrigued with perhaps going with a new platform. By that I mean the RAV4 Prime which is their h

Joe Philippines: Rice Terraces and a Bundle of Bones

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One of my pictures of the rice terraces of Banaue We had traveled to the famous Banaue rice terraces, over some of the worst roads I have been over in my lifetime. The driver who looked all of fourteen, didn't inspire a lot of confidence as he made his way between Baguio City and small village near the rice terraces over some of the most twisting mountain roads that left my stomach in roils. Dust choked the air until you almost needed a spoon to get it inside your lungs and once there, the rough bouncing of the jeepney bounced it right back out, never letting you hang onto even the slightest bit of it. The roaring of the straining engine soon quieted even the most avid chatterbox and I had spent lots of time on the ride, reflecting in my inner quiet and gazing in wonderment at the absolute beauty of northern Luzon. The Filipinos with me had no time for that because they were trying to punch out text messages while bracing on two or three sides of the jeepney at once to get enough s

Straw is cheaper, grass is for free.

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  In an old boy scout tradition, if someone stood up at camp and shouted "Hey!" to get our attention, we would shout back: Straw is cheaper Grass is for free Horses and cows Eat all three. We sold our farm We sold our cow We have no use For your bull now  Ahh those days of my youth! We've been having a bit of difficulty finding straw this year. It is around but finding someone who can deliver it has been a challenge. So when on the Book of Face, a former schoolmate of mine advertised some rye straw in smaller square bale form, I jumped at the chance. Although near enough, they weren't keen on delivering it and in hind sight, I see why. It was bundled into 14 bale bundles and required a tractor with a special tool to load and would need the same to unload off their trailer. So I ended up deferring until I had access to a pickup that could pull the old trailer still on the farm and picked up a load of 112 bales, 8 bundles of 14. I did so earlier this week. We actually s

Joe Philippines: Caving

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Sumaguing Cave Entrance After my butt had been firmly pounded up into the vicinity of my lower neck by the bouncing of the jeepney over the last few hours, we arrived at the famous Sagada caves in northern Philippines. My then fiancĂ©e, her best friend, myself and a local Filipino holding a rusty lantern older than all four of our ages combined, headed down a steep path towards the entrance Samaguing Cave. As we entered into the throat, the warm breath of the cave flowed over us as we stopped and waited for the guide to bring the flame of life into the lantern. A small, feeble flame, debated whether to burn bright and decided to just stay small and feeble, guided us as we entered the bowels.   Our walk down through the cave boulders quickly turned into something that I liken to trying to walk on greased marbles. I slipped but prevented myself from falling by pressing a nearby boulder only to discover that it wasn't algae and moisture making them that way but bat guano. Shit! After a

Running a Surplus

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With nights getting cooler and unsure of our future visits to the farm garden, we opted to harvest what remained in our squash/pumpkin/gourd plot and haul them back home with us. As you can see, we ended up with a load along with some baskets of other produce that is coming in at just a trickle these days. My canned apple pie filling has been such a success with two crisps and one pie under my belt already, literally, and also due to the fact that my wife has already given away a good share to those she values at her work, that I decided I need to reinforce my stash and picket another bushel of apples which can be seen in the farthest recesses of our minivan.  We obviously have more than we care to preserve and so the girls set up a roadside stand at the end of our driveway to sell the excess gourds, squash and pumpkins. I've lost track but I am thinking they are up around $70 in proceeds and think they are flush with cash right now. Fortunately, they are chips off the old block an

Scenes From Braveheart

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  Recently as I stood about a quarter mile from the starting line of my daughter's cross country race, I couldn't help but feel like I was on a battlefield straight out of the movie Braveheart. Using the full extent of my telephoto lens, all I could see was an unending string of warriors standing just over the crest of a distant hill.  Then there is a puff of smoke followed by the crack of a starting pistol a couple seconds later and the charge is underway. Fortunately for me, the only thing I was shooting was a camera so the army of women passed me buy and continued to chase the poor fellow in the green motorized cart.

Hubbard Squash

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It has been a good number of years since the last Hubbard squash harvest because we just never planted anymore. But we also had a good number of canned squash still in our pantry. The last time I canned it, I made it into a cooked puree and canned it in a pressure canner at high pressure for a long length of time. Since that time though, the USDA has since withdrawn their guidelines for canning pureed squash due to inconsistencies in preservation. I can attest, we saw some of those inconsistencies. Some jars looked nice and had plenty of moisture but others over time looked dry and eventually discolored on the top. We ate the nice looking stuff and all that was left was the dry, discolored looking squash which we tossed into the compost bin.  Per new recommendations, I decided to try again but this time cubing the squash up raw and hot packing it into the jars. I cut up the squash above and it made 12 pints of cubed squash. Per recommendation, I canned it at 15 pounds for 55 minutes fo

Joe Philippines: Hey Joe

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Vintage G.I. Joe Before my trip to the Philippines, my soon to be wife briefed me on greeting etiquette so that I wouldn't make a total baboon of myself while there. I was so focused on greeting others properly, I was totally unprepared for how they would greet me. As soon as I stepped out of the airport into Manila, Philippines people started calling me 'Joe.' It's not my name, not even close, and for a while I simply thought they were referring to someone else or were saying something in Tagalog that sounded like 'Joe.' Later I would learn that they were indeed calling me Joe. The American military has been a big presence in the Philippines past and there used to be several military bases there. People grew up seeing these 'G.I. Joe's' walking around hence labeled them as such. I am six foot two inches tall, white skin, short-cropped blond hair and during my vacation there, I tended to wear military looking cargo pants so that I had plenty of pock