Monday, June 25, 2018


We received this mysterious communique in the mail last month. Inside the envelope, this document was sealed in wax! We knew it was from our friends, Charlene and Chris Nichols because of the return address. Every year Chris celebrates his birthday with an unusual celebration in various locations. 
Sealed in Wax
We opened the letter to find that it was hand-written in a flowery script in SPANISH! I do have a basic knowledge of Spanish, having taken it from 3 grade through high school. Also, living in Los Angeles, es necesario hablar Español!
The Invitation. Click on image to embiggen
With the help of a few of my Spanish-speaking co-workers, here's what we were able to decipher:

"We have the pleasure of inviting you to participate in a grand celebration of the abundant gifts from God of Upper California. The celebration will be in the home of Ignacio Palomares at 491 East Arrow Highway, Los Angeles at 7 in the evening on Saturday the 23rd of June, 1845.

Come to the Rancho to partake of a grand barbecue, drinks, dancing (fandango) and more. Everyone will come from Russia, Spain, the United States and all over the world to partake of the indigenous gifts from the earth.

Soldiers and cowboys, cayadores, braceros, Doñas and Doñes.  Please wear traditional clothing that you have. We are all compadres, we are all Californios, we are all Mexicanos!"

.....or something like that. One of my co-workers who is completely fluent in Spanish said, "We don't talk like that! This is so formal and Victorian!"  Exactly. It's 1845 after all.
So, Larry and I concocted costumes for ourselves out of what we had in our closets. Larry did purchase a wonderful summer Vaquero hat. We are Señora y Señor Bajo de Loma. (Under the Hill, get it?). You can also call me Elena Flores, my professional name. We are just Mexicano neighbors of the Mr. Palomares.
Señora y Señor Bajo de Loma.
Gracias Dios por el internet! I looked up Ygnacio Palomares and the address on Arrow Highway. Turns out this is the Palomares Adobe and it serves as a historic example of ranchos from this era. There is a museum inside the adobe and the grounds are set up for parties. Oh that Chris! He really makes his guests work for a party! Besides creating our ensembles, we had to drive to POMONA!
It turned out to be a FABULOUS party! Charlene and Chris hired caterers who prepared food of the Rancho era. Food historian, Charles Perry was there to tell us about the history of the food and the wine that was served. There was a group of dancers, musicians and historians from Santa Barbara who performed for us and explained many of the customs of the Californios in 1845. There were horses, goats and chickens roaming around. It was a glorious evening!
Musicians, photo by John Eng
Santa Barbara dancers, photo by John Eng

Best of all was seeing how all of our friends outfitted themselves in clothing from the era. Many people were very authentic. Some, not so much, but very spirited! Here are a few examples:
Our host, Junipero Serra Nichols
Farm-hand Vince, Compañeros Adriene and John
Listening to the food description. Photo by Brooke Keesling
Carving of the Beef. The beef was buried in the ground and cooked all day!

Nicole, Ben and Nathan
Vaquero Daniel and farm-hands Chris and Vince
My personal favorites, Prospectors Deyo, Taylor and Brooke
Vaquero Sunil, Cowboy Steve, Sr. Larry and Basque Farmer Greg
I must say, Marsha and Nicole were enchanting!
Later in the evening Zorro  crashed the party and had a fencing match with one of the nefarious gentleman farmers. I didn't manage to get a good photo of all happened so fast!
It really was a wonderful party. We learned about California history, ate food of the era and imbibed on traditional Calfornia wine. Best of all was seeing all of our Mod-Com friends dressed for the event! Thank you Charlene and Chris. Happy birthday Friar Chris!
Follow me on Facebook! I should have Larry's photos of the evening uploaded soon.

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