The horrible flower


We’re in the final full month, I hope, of the rainy season, and it’s right about now that weird and fecund things start to happen.

I first wrote about this creepy bloom, asking others for info, a few years back on my previous website. I forget now what it’s named, if I ever knew.

The flower, that is. The website, R.I.P., was called The Zapata Tales.

This dreadful flower comes from the little cactus to the left. You can’t see the stem. The bloom smells like Dracula’s basement, and it draws blue-bottle flies like, well, flies. Those are the flies that are so enamored of corpses and cow patties. This bloom reeks of death, rot and caca.

Mother Nature is quite a woman.

Fortunately, the flower makes just one appearance per year. My child bride first spotted the bud a few days ago. It grew quickly and opened yesterday morning. I took this photo, clipped the bloom off at the stem, and tossed it into the trash barrel on the Garden Patio out back, and sprayed all with Raid.

It’s quite pretty, you may be thinking and, yes, it is. However, you don’t want to stand near it, and if you do, keep upwind.

This is one example of the very strange stuff you encounter in this mad, mad world where people speak Spanish.

* * * *


I‘m getting the swing (no pun intended) of the electric Weedeater. It took a spell, mostly due to the long cord.

Don’t think, as I did, that electric Weedeaters ( I’m using the word generically, which means I should lowercase the W, but I’m not gonna) are only for ladies and girly-men. This baby has grit.

You don’t need the smell of gasoline, smudges of oil, and exhaust smoke to be a man’s tool. A nice touch is that there is nearly no noise, so I can hear the hogs next door and the horse too.

You must go slower than with a gas device due to the cord. Plus, it kept pulling out of the electric outlets (two in the yard) until I drilled holes, sank plastic anchors and screwed in hooks above the outlets to grip the cord.

Slowly, it’s falling into a nice routine.

Of course, I sweep the rock sidewalk when I finish.

I’m a detail man.

* * * *


When I lived in Houston, I had a little aloe vera plant out back. It never amounted to anything. It just sat there, inert but alive, year after year.

AloeThings are different here. When we moved in 2003 from the two-story rental near downtown, where I lived a couple of years, I stole a small piece of aloe vera from the yard there.

And I brought it to the Hacienda. We now have two aloe veras the size of small houses. Another two are heading in the same direction. The four of them are big mamas, and August-September is their time to scream.

Their long-lived flower stalks, about eight inches high and bright orange, are wonderful. I think that, and so do the hummingbirds. At this moment, those four plants are boasting about 100 blooms.

Yes, and each is about double the size of a Cuban cigar.

Though lovely, they have no smell, but the hummingbirds don’t care.

* * * *


I got a haircut yesterday, so I look neater and younger, by at least two weeks. Then I walked the long block to the big plaza for a stroll.

I walked slowly because I had nowhere to go, nothing to do, which is what much of life is like these days. I would sit on the plaza benches like the stereotypical old coot, but they are concrete and uncomfortable.

There are inconspicuous speakers all around the plaza, and music was playing, soft nice music. I recall walking through a much smaller plaza years ago in Zacatecas, a beautiful city, and music was also playing.

It’s a good use of municipal funds.

* * * *


Up early this morning, I was in the yard scavenging dead flowers and related organic trash when I heard:

Housewives! Here comes Gas of the Lake, the company you can trust.

It’s a truck that makes the rounds of the neighborhood every day, with portable cylinders of propane. We have a huge stationary tank, so we don’t need this service. But the housewives do, our neighbors.

North of the Rio Bravo these days, it’s an insult to label someone a housewife. Nobody cares down here. We know a housewife when we see one, and we see them every day all over the place. Slapping tortillas, etc.

It’s cloudy outside, so it will rain again today. I’ll have to pick up dead flowers mañana in the yard. I’ll hear the gas truck and pigs and the horse.

But the horrible flower will be just a stinky memory.

15 thoughts on “The horrible flower

  1. I appreciate those roving gas trucks, each with its own distinctive song, but Gas del Lago is by far the best. The throbbing strings of the music is so romantic.

    The worst gas truck is the one with the CHARGE bugle call and the repeated utterance, in several variations of the word, “GAAAAAS! GAAAAS?”

    It’s a special occasion, though, when the Nervioxin Tonica man comes, with his incessant spiel of the wonders of Nervioxin. It gets on my nerves.

    Don Cuevas


    1. Señor Cuevas: The only one who travels our neighborhood is the Gas of the Lake. I have heard the GAAAAS! GAAAAS! elsewhere, however. Glad we do not get it.

      Don’t know anything about the Nervioxin Tonica man. Never heard him.


  2. About the 4th lawn mower I finally wised up and bought an electric one. Could a, would a, should a, long time ago especially since we have electric outlets all around the house. Got the electric but opted for the battery model since we use it all over the place.

    Walking around the plaza is always enjoyable except when there are the battles of the troubadours who can’t sing in the area. I though you carried a chair pad for your Thursday morning plaza expeditions.


    1. Tancho: I’m talking electric Weedeater here, not lawn mower. If I had an electric mower, I’d be eating the cord on a regular basis. But, no matter, I get Abel the deadpan neighbor to cut my grass with my gas mower, a nice, red Craftsman. I have never noticed an electric battery mower hereabouts. Ones with cords yes, but not with battery. Bet you brought it back from the U.S.

      We haven’t gone down to the plaza in the morning since last year, but you’re right. We carried cushions on those visits. Makes the concrete benches much nicer.


      1. Yes I knew it was an Weedeater, You think you would cut the cord?

        Nope. The way these are designed is they form positive pressure and if you roll over the cord it will not catch the blade. For the hell of it, we tried all kinds of ways to cut it, and finally after about a dozen tries we got it cut. It had to be twisted and not lying flat. Then and only then it ate the cord.

        The battery-powered ones are available at Ace off of Enrique Ramirez.


        1. Tancho: Didn’t know electric mowers were available here, but that Ace Hardware would certainly be the place.

          So you intentionally cut your mower cord? What are you? Nuts? Seven years old? I think you need to find some volunteer work. Or something.

          Jeez, man.


  3. Sigh! I use a sharp scythe because I don’t want to visit the gym. I also pull out weeds the old fashioned way. One obnoxious gas company plays Jingle Bells around here. We also get the bugle call of General Custer.


  4. Your stinky flower is stapelia or Carrion Flower.

    And I’ve had an electric weed whacker for years, and love it. But I have a gas mower, which gets less and less use every year, since I’ve ripped up most of what used to be lawn and replaced it with more interesting stuff.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are a few weeks away from the last grass cutting. Then comes the quiet season before the din of snowblowers.


    1. Gracias, Kim. You are a resource. That’s certainly an appropriate name. If it bloomed more than just once a year, I would just rip the thing out and toss it.

      I would love to eliminate most of my lawn, replacing it with cement and stone. It’s quite doable, and it’s my dream. I’ve already done a good bit of it.

      Snow. I’ve never lived in snow in my entire life, and I don’t miss it. I’ve only actually walked in snow on rare occasion if you don’t count the dreadful winter of 1962-63 in Rantoul, Illinois, when I was in Air Force tech school. Darn near froze to death.


  5. I don’t think anyone calls for housewives in my hood, but the water delivery guy is quite handsome, and his calls are often met by matronly housewives (and me) as we wait for him to deliver his goods. I had an electric lawnmower and weedeater back in the day. Now my yard is anemic and grows slow so I use a machete and clippers as needed.


  6. Félipe,

    Your horrible flower doesn’t hold a candle (or should it be scent) when compared to our corpse flower (

    Electric weedeaters and/or mowers are for all us old farts (“futs”) who can’t get them old gas kind started anymore. They’re more for grass manicures than serious weed “eating.” I don’t know about Mexican gas but U.S.’s new ethanol gas destroys small engines. You have to search far and wide to find a supplier of non ethanol gas. Once successful, I suppose you could equate non-ethanol to viagra induced. Lot easier to get it started and it will do a whole lot more than just manicure the grass.


    1. Larry: My God, that monster puts my little stinky weed to shame.

      What’s this gas business you mention? Is gasoline gone in the U.S.? Did the tree-huggers do something while my back was turned? I’ll have to look into this.


  7. Driving on IH10 between San Antonio and Houston over the other day, I can see that San Antonio is quickly becoming desertified. The storms always quit or skirt the Bexar County line! We’ll be having gravel as a lawn with some cactus for horticultural accent.


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