Thursday, April 29, 2010


"He who considers things in their first growth and origin.......will obtain the clearest view of them." Aristotle, Politics

When I tell people I am building my own house one of the most common responses I hear is, " I could never build a house, I can't even put together this table I got from IKEA."

If you are building a house, the single most important thing you can do before disturbing anything on site is to spend every second you can on location. It is a wonderful feeling getting to know a piece of land. I have spent countless hours at our site and have a much different kind of love for this particular piece of the Earth now, than when we first started the buying process 3+ years ago. I know where the sun rises and sets during each month. Almost every morning I hear and see a crow as he heads down from the mountain tops calling along the way. Later in the day I will see what I believe is the same crow flying by with another crow. If the wind is out of the East it is almost always chilly. I know where the water runs when we have downpours. After my time at the land yesterday, I now know why the water in our barrels is disappearing.

Yesterday out at the land I was shoveling more dirt when I heard the noise of metal scraping on metal. A sound you don't hear much out in the middle of nowhere. I walk around the front of the house to see a couple of the local horses drinking out of my water barrels (see foto). I was wondering how the water level was going down so fast. Now I know.

I got the Aristotle quote from "The Owner Built Home" by Ken Kern. A wonderful resource for many diferent types of building. The quote is at the beginning of chapter 32 Floors. The words of Aristotle were at first hard for me to grasp, but after spending many hours digging out the first "room" it started to make more and more sense. The more time you have on your site, the more organic your home will be. The more time you have to become part of the land, be quiet and listen. The land will instruct you on how and what to build.

When you are assembling something from IKEA. This is a man made item made for a man made setting. When you are building a home. It is man making a structure that should work with the ever changing natural world. When you take the time, building a house is easier than most people think.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The mostly finished roof and my Karate Monkey awaiting departure.


Here's a foto of me and the lovely Ann Riley after our trumpet and organ concert at St Paul's in San Miguel de Allende. We played music of the baroque and romantic periods (mas o menos). We had a nice crowd. After the concert, I got to meet some wonderful people and received many positive comments. St. Paul's is a wonderful location for concerts. Beautiful inside and out. Also, very good acoustics for the trumpet. What can I say about Ann Riley. She is such a pleasure to work with. Always professional and musical. San Miguel is lucky to have her. We always have such fun playing music together.

Now that I'm unemployed, look for me playing more around Guanajuato. I will do my best to update my "gigs" schedule whenever I can. Have trumpet, will gig.

Monday, April 26, 2010


My cousin Matt was one of the first to notice the development of a 5 year pattern in my life. I got married in 1995 and returned from Chicago to Texas. In 2000 I joined the Air Force and moved to Colorado Springs. In the fall of 2004 I auditioned for the OSUG here in Guanajuato, won the job and the whole family moved to Mexico by Jan 2005.

That brings us to 2010(Mexico's Bi-centennial). So far the changes are self inflicted and are directed towards giving me a much healthier, happier life.

A week before Easter I was on a 4 concert tour of GTO(the state of Guanajuato) with the orchestra and during the second concert I had decided it was time to resign my position of Co-Principal trumpet. There are many reasons for my resignation. "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Of course this will greatly slow down our construction project but the feelings of joy that I have felt about making this decision let me know that it was the right decision.

At the same time that I had decided to resign I also decided to stop drinking. I had been drinking way way way too much beer. Not only is this practice not healthy, it's very expensive. I'm not really a hard liquor drinker, not saying I haven't had my share of those as well, but I am a beer kinda' guy. I don't think I'm an alcoholic but I'm no doctor. While I may not be an alcoholic I do have the sort of background you would look for if you wanted to hire an alcoholic. "Family history"... Check. "Started drinking at an early age"...Check. Etc.. However, even having said that, I do have the ability to stop whenever I decide. So I have stopped drinking. Not saying that I'll never drink again or that I would refuse a beer if you're buying. I'm just no longer going to buy any beer for myself. I'm putting all of my returnable bottles, big and small, out for anyone to pickup. I do feel better and maybe even maybe a little faster when I'm riding my Karate Monkey (29' single speed mountain bike).

So, it's early in the year. You will have to check back in to see what other unforeseen changes I'm in for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Poem

If you have been reading many of my blog posts, then you will know that Jason in Mexico is pretty much just about me. I didn't start this blog to brag about my girls (that would be a full time job). It is not by accident that I don't very often mention them. Today I would like to make a small exception.

This morning I was warming up in the girls room and looked down and saw a piece of paper clipped in a clipboard with a picture on the front and typing on the back. When we lived in Colorado Springs I use to attend a few auctions. One of the wonderful things I found was an old Olympia manual type writer. The girls love it.

Anyways, typed (by Pearl my 9 year old) on the back of the paper was this;

My Poem

bright blue sky,
bright yellow sun.

people walking, thick black shadows show on the grass, trees, and dirt.
people drinking sweet yellow lemonade,
people eating bars made of sweet brown sugar,
slimy green lizard climbing up the trees,
plump purple plums growing off the tree tops.

Ok, now when I showed this to Michelle, she said, "Oh, yeah. Pearl got the adjectives from the names on some colored pencils." Still, we are both very impressed.

That's my Pearl girl.

Since I'm bragging. I think it is important for you to know that Pearl has not attended an English speaking school since Kindergarten in the Springs, the fall semester 2005. All of the credit for the girls reading and writing in English goes to my wife, Michelle. She has done a wonderful job making our girls truly bi-lingual.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Teja Tile

Since returning from Texas I have been preparing for a trumpet and organ recital that I gave yesterday in San Miguel de Allende. I haven't had a lot of time to work out at the land, but I was able to get the roof up. I bought 400 teja tiles for the first round. Then 220 or so more to finish off the job. Putting up a teja tile roof is very simple. Once your big support beams are up, you put smaller boards across the big ones making a lattice. Then all you do is lay the teja on top. Beautiful and simple.


Looking through the fotos that I just downloaded on to my computer, I am reminded that it has been a while since my last post. I'll try to bring you up to speed with the latest developments, as best as I can remember.

For the last 3 years during our Easter vacations I have been returning to where I grew up, Arlington Texas and playing for Easter Sunday services at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. I always take the bus because that is the cheapest way to travel. Like the previous years, I leave from Leon GTO on a first class ETN bus headed for Nuevo Laredo. The bus leaves at 9pm and arrives in Nuevo Laredo the next morning around 11am'ish. Not the fastest, but comfy. The ETN buses have such large seats that there are only 3 in each row. I am 6'1 and there is almost enough room for me to completely stretch out. Pretty good for sleeping. Took a few fotos of another form of transportation just a minute or so before crossing into another world.

Each time I return to Estados Unidos (the U.S.) it takes some time for me to adjust. So different from my very simple Mexican life. After spending so much time out at the land my life seems to have slowed to a much slower pace than everyone in the U.S. and probably even many people in Mexico.

Most of my family lives in the Dallas, Fort Worth area. Although the DFW area is not one of my favorite places in the States, it does have the majority of people that I care about. My family is super cool. It was great to see as many of them as I could. Also super fun hangin' out with my old friends.

On Easter I played 4 services (8,9,10,11) as solo trumpet with organist Chris Blunt in the Cox Chapel (see foto from where I play in the organ loft) at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas. I have played with Chris for the last 3 years and we always have a blast. When I'm in town for Christmas I send him up a few pieces to choose from and this year we played the first movement from a Purcell Sonata for prelude and Te Deum by Charpentier for postlude. At the beginning of the 8 o'clock service there is always what they call a Hymn Sing. Basically anyone can call out any hymn that they would like to sing and away we go. When I am playing for church services one of the things I love to do is play along with the hymn as everyone sings along. On the last verse I will usually improvise a descant line that works over the hymn. This sort of thing is old school trumpet playing. It is always a wonderful time playing great music with my good friend Chris.

The night before Easter the guy who contracts me in Texas, Sterling Proctor called and asked if I could help out a few trumpeters playing in a brass quintet ending up a long morning at St Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic church a few blocks from where I was playing. I have played at this church every Christmas Eve for the last 4 years. When I arrived and talked to the guys there had been a few changes and they only had 2 pieces for me to play on. The first one was the Easter standard "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today". The second piece had a Spanish title that I can't remember, anyways since I would be performing this piece the first time I had ever seen it I asked Tim a question about tempo and after he told me the tempo he said that we were supposed to play in a Spanish or Mariachi style (lot's of vibrato and very percussive beginnings to each note). I thought he was joking. He was not. One thing I am pretty good at on the trumpet is imitating many different styles. So I laid into the style pretty good and all of the guys got excited. Always nice to be able to bring out or change peoples emotions with your playing. It was a super fun ending to a great day of playing.