Home improvement

WE JUST ended a month of nonstop renovations here at the Hacienda. It all started with the driveway.

View from street before work started.
Stones removed and piled on sides.
Stones removed and piled on sides.
Rebar this way and that.
Samuel, the sole workman, cuts space for the art circle.
Work all done. Note circle on the incline and paint on sides.
Close-up of that circle. It’s a Big Cat, ceramic.

The incline from the street, when we bought the double lot 13 years ago, was already in place.

Mostly, it was big stones buried in dirt which allowed weeds to flourish wildly in the spaces between.

The area at the top between the work zone and the Alamo Wall was dirt and grass when we bought the property, and it was mud during the five months of the rainy season.

Seven or eight years ago, we had that section covered with stone and cement — empedrado in Spanish — a treatment that’s quite common in these parts.

But that incline from the street remained an eyesore which I was hesitant to improve because it would block the cars from coming and going during the work.

And it surely did.

While this renovation was happening, we parked the Honda in a parking lot downtown. Every morning, I took a minibus there and picked the car up. Did the same in the evening to leave it. The Nissan was simply left trapped at the Hacienda.

That situation continued for nine days.

* * * *



We also replaced the john in the downstairs bathroom.

The original, which my wife describes as “folkloric,” and which we purchased in the talavera capital of Dolores Hidalgo, was a bit smaller than standard in size.

It was a conversation piece but not the best place to sit, so it was out with the old, and in with the new.


Now here’s a regal place to squat. The old throne was given to a  nephew who’s son recently busted their toilet.

Gifting the “folkloric” johnny means we won’t be using it as a yard planter, the initial idea. Just as well because I was told by a high-born woman that it would have been very cheesy.

This is the first time in my life I’ve changed a toilet, especially just for the heck of it. This new baby is Mexican-made, and cost the peso equivalent of about 120 bucks.

It was installed for about 10 dollars. I could change my ride every couple of years just for the ever-living thrill of it. Different colors. Oval versus round, whatever.

The initial plan was to replace only the john in the downstairs bathroom, mostly my wife’s environment. But I began to seethe with envy, so I bought an identical one, and had it installed in “my” bathroom upstairs.

Here’s the old throne upstairs:


The new toilet is exactly like the new one downstairs, so no need to duplicate a photo. Your time is valuable.

* * * *


Now let’s turn our attention to the rear of the Hacienda.

High weeds everywhere. Butt ugly.
New Image
Weeds gone. Work under way.
Progress made. Looking the other direction. Yes, it’s long.
Feathered overseer of the project.
Feathered overseer of the project. Chickens run wild.
Work completed. Far better than the sea of weeds.

What you see here are the first-ever photos published of the backside of the Hacienda, which fronts — if that’s the proper term — on what I used to call Mud Street.

So these photos are collector’s items. That’s the tail of the sex motel in the distance of the second and last photos.

The work done out there was a civic gift. It is not on our property, but it was an eyesore. It was a dirt strip between our property wall and the street.

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There are two arched entryways to the downstairs veranda. One serves a dual role. During the five-month rainy season,  it doubles as a conduit for rainwater which creates lakes inside the covered veranda, a colossal nuisance.

After 12 years of cursing this phenomena, we decided to do something about it, a redesign that directs the water outside instead of inside the veranda.

Next Spring we’ll also have metal gutters installed along the tile roof of the veranda, long overdue.

First, the problem area is dug up.
Then it’s rebuilt with a slight down-and-out incline.

As mentioned at the get-go, this work took a month, exactly. It was done entirely by one guy, a very talented workman who lives in the neighborhood. Unlike all work we’ve had done in the past, we paid him by the day, as he requested.

This can be a mistake because it can lead to slow work, dragging it out to earn more. We prefer a set price. Then work can be done at whatever speed the workers prefer.

I watched his toil closely. He did not foot-drag, but he was very detailed, which took longer than necessary. However, the results were spectacular.

And he did some painting to boot.

He arrived on the dot at 9 every morning on his bicycle. He took an hour off for lunch at 2 p.m., and he went home at 5, working steadily in between. We’ll hire him again.

The entire project cost about $420 for labor and $555 for materials, excluding the two toilets, which were about $120 each. Those are dollar equivalents at today’s exchange rate.

Month’s grand total: $1,215 or about what a U.S. plumber would charge for a one-hour house call.

* * * *

(For your architectural pleasure, here is a photo collection of the Hacienda over the years. Come visit, but phone first.)

Photo promo

camPEOPLE WHO’VE not visited my sister sites on Tumblr lately will be shocked and amazed at their recent entries.

The Eyes of the Moon collects black-and-white photos of, mostly, my town. You’ll find shots of hippies, nuns, indigenous folks, ancient churches and buildings, Colonial rooftops, beautiful women, cute kids, and so on.

In colorful contrast is Satellite Moon where you’ll find stuff like Hacienda videos and Jerry Lee Lewis and even Phobe Buffay singing Smelly Cat. And short yarns and revelations.

And no politics!

War against men

I’M MAD AS Hell, and I’m not taking it anymore!

To what am I referring? The corporate war against men. Corporations are the root of all evil, as any clueless Smith College coed will assure you.

And what is the specific battlefield on which I wage war today? To wit: There are two sizes of nail clippers, right? A small version for fingers, and a large version for feet.

But those sizes are for women exclusively. The foot version doesn’t work for men’s feet unless the man is a midget.

I use the foot version for my fingers because the finger version fits my fingernails about as well as the foot version fits my footnails, which is to say not at all.

This is a clear corporate attack on men’s rights, men’s Constitutional and God-given rights to have neat feet.

And I’m sick unto death of it.

footLet’s be clear: The “big” clipper is about half as wide as my big toenail. And the smaller clipper for fingers likewise goes about halfway across my nails.

What are we to use? Hatchets? Cutlasses?

This is a feminist-lesbian plot* to diminish men, to put us in our place. I encourage all men to withhold sex from their women until something is done about this outrage.

Man up for nail clipper equality!

* * * *

*Yes, feminist-lesbians are in bed with corporations. Who knew?

Voter card

New Image

I RENEWED my Mexican voter ID card. It’s laminated and has my color mugshot. My child bride did the same.

This is my first renewal. It was almost a decade back when I got the initial one. It was a simple process. We went today to a nicely appointed, modern office right off the main plaza.

There were few people waiting, two or three.

I had to show a proof of residence, so I took my latest light bill. And, yet again, I had to show paperwork proving I’m a made Mexican, if not a born one.

My wife just showed a birth certificate and light bill.

After displaying the required paperwork, I was told to step into the next room and have a seat. I waited less than five minutes till I was called to a window where I had to sign a few forms, leave fingerprints and have my photo taken.

All was done with high-tech gear.

Come back in two weeks and pick up the new card. Now, that wasn’t so bad, and it makes perfect sense, proving who you are, that you’re a citizen before getting to vote.

One can’t help but snicker at how the Democrat Party above the Rio Bravo screams discrimination at such a process. It’s an imposition on poor people, they yell. Yet somehow the poor people of Mexico do it just fine. And no gnashing of teeth.

Nobody feels put upon.

It’s a convenient card, used not just to vote, but it serves as a national ID, and you’re asked for it fairly often for this, that and the other. I flash it proudly.

It’s understandable that the Democrat Party up north wants to make voting as easy as possible because if it required much effort, the ignorant wouldn’t bother, and Democrat politicians rely on the ignorant to stay in power.

So I’m set to vote for another decade, assuming I last that long, and in a few months I’ll renew my Mexican passport, which will go smoothly too. And no gnashing of teeth.

* * * *

(The photo is not from my town. I forgot to take my camera. It’s an election office elsewhere in Mexico.)

Chicken neighbors

himherDUE TO WORK out back on what I once dubbed Mud Street, work I’m underwriting personally — a sidewalk — I’ve been out there watching the labor and meeting neighbors.

Here are two of those neighbors, a Mexican rooster and his woman. Actually, he has a number of women because he’s Mexican — and an amoral chicken.

Mud Street reverted to its actual name a few years back due to its being cobblestoned. Before it was dirt, becoming mud in the five-month rainy season. About the only time I go out there is to take garbage bags to the trash truck on the corner.

Maybe with the new sidewalk I’m installing, it will be prettier. Perhaps I’ll step out the back more often. Maybe I’ll meet more neighbors in that direction, both human, canine and fowl.

You never know.

Sheer convenience

THERE ARE MANY happy reasons to  live in Mexico. One is sheer convenience. It’s usually easy to live here.

Here is a typical example: I had to leave the Honda today at the repair shop, which is about halfway between our hardscrabble neighborhood and downtown.

I drove to the repair shop, explained the problem, and the mechanic got to work immediately. I stepped outside to the street and waved down a minibus, which costs seven pesos, about 40 cents in American money.

New ImageFifteen minutes later, I was deposited directly outside the Hacienda’s front gate. The car will be ready in the afternoon, one imagines.

Another example: The water heater in our downtown casita must be changed. The current heater is too small. We drove to Home Depot in the capital city and purchased a hefty heater, which just fit into the back of the Honda.

On returning home, I called my plumber-electrician, an independent operator. That was Saturday. He said he’ll do it tomorrow. He’ll come on time, and he won’t charge much.

A third example: We’re doing renovations here at the Hacienda. When I decided to do that, I phoned “a guy” in the neighborhood. He came over immediately on his bicycle.

He started the work two days later. His work is incredible. He’s an artist with stone and cement, plus he installed a new toilet. The work is over half done. More on that later.

And the price is quite right.

Example No. 4: Need a doctor appointment? Call and make it for the next day. And the waiting room will not be full of folks. It will be full of just you. You won’t wait long.

Mexico, in most respects, is a far easier place to live than in the United States. And when the problem with the Honda is resolved, I’ll get a call. Then I’ll step out the front gate, hail a minibus and retrace my route of this morning.

Another 40 cents, and I’ll be at the garage’s door.

You can breathe easy down here.

O sweet diversity!

FOLLOWING yesterday’s satiric, but true, video about the effects of political correctness on American education, here is another video about its effects on Europe.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 25 times, a successful nation is like a family. Citizens speak the same language, look the same, share a common religion and belief system.

There can be exceptions, of course — Gringos and Canucks in Mexico is one — but the exceptions must be few in number or the nation will cease to exist, and violence will result.

Lords of the flies

The flies at the University of Missouri.

HERE YOU SEE the inevitable outcome of the worship of multiculturalism, affirmative action, diversity, political correctness and the victim mentality.

Elite American universities are going under.

No more classical study or even readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmetic. It’s all about rape culture, sexual identity, oppression, gender bias, selective free speech — yada, yada, yada.

Just kids, you say. So was Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

* * * *

* For Obama fans among us, Lord of the Flies is William Golding’s classic book first published in 1959. It’s about young people and what happens when they are undisciplined.

(Note: Vanderbilt law professor, both black and female but, alas, conservative, faces Lords of the Flies at her school.)

(Note 2: Want to make things even worse? Import tens of thousands of male Mohammedan “refugees.”)

Fact, Fiction and Opinion Stirred in an Odd Pot


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