The outback

The swept Outback.

AUSTRALIA HAS its Outback, and so do we.

It’s out back of the Hacienda. You get there via the back gate. The principal entrance is a block away on a parallel street. I hardly ever come out this way.

There is an annual exception. I come out in late May to sweep my sidewalk and even a part of the street on my side. Yes, it’s my sidewalk because I paid to have it built two years ago.

Stone and concrete.

For most of our time here, it was a very long strip of extremely high weeds. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and had the sidewalk installed. Now I have pride of ownership.

Late May is the time for the yearly sweep because in early June the rains begin, and if there’s dirt on the street it becomes mud that stays out there till October.

This is only the second annual sweep, and it’s a first for me because last year I hired my nephew, then 13, the lad once known hereabouts as The Young Vaquero.

Watching him “sweep” was amazing. Imagine you handed a broom to a chimpanzee. The Vaquero had no idea what to do with a broom. No one had never taught him.

No clue about dustpans either.

When he was 9 or 10, we were at a carnival, and I paid so he could shoot a toy rifle at targets. However, he had no more idea how to hold a rifle than how to grip a broom.

He’s 14 now and will want a driver’s license in a few more years. I advise you to stay off the highways. He has a bicycle he never uses. He has a skateboard he never uses. He  received a toy drone for Christmas. It sits in a closet.

He has a computer tablet, and he plays games all day.

I thought of him as I swept the Outback, and I imagine I will always think of him when I sweep out there. I sweep well. I don’t recall anyone teaching me. I assumed it was innate.

I wield a mean floor buffer too, but I learned that in the Air Force. It was not a skill I learned willingly.

17 thoughts on “The outback

  1. You’ll be happy to know that military buffing machine technology has not changed. The same machines are still in use. Maybe you should re-up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Steve: You would think that half a century-plus would see much-improved buffers, but no? Amazing. Re-up? I’m sure they wouldn’t want me these days.


  2. Velcro shoes and digital clocks come to mind. A lost skill among many of the young people.


      1. I meant that some kids have no clue as how to tie a shoe with laces and can not read an anolog clock. My hubby recently heard on the news that young people have trouble reading cursive handwriting. However I do have my challenges on computers and remotes etc!
        Enjoy your day, we finally have some great weather after such a long winter and wet spring. Cheers.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Gender stereotypes have a lot to do with a child’s education. Mothers feel negligent if they don’t teach their daughters how to cook and clean and they often fail to teach their sons these skills.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I never got to buff a floor in my tenure. However, cleaning a parade square with a toothbrush was a task and a half. I was once asked if I could drive. The answer got me a 3′ broom to drive around said parade square for an afternoon. My 15-year-old son couldn’t tell time with an analog clock. I found that irritating. I didn’t realize until a few years ago it was called cursive. Being a single parent, I thanked my Mom every day for teaching me how to cook, mend. Army taught me how to clean. I’m a broom monster.


    1. Señor Gill: Actually, the neighborhood is mostly free of graffiti, and so is the majority of our mountaintop town. I think most of the graffiti “artists” took their spray cans and snuck into the U.S. years ago.

      Truth is that Mexicans blame the U.S. for that “art form.” It ain’t our doing.


  5. Graffiti is a curse. It is the bad side of the sword of literacy. It is a sign of financial affluence. Rattle cans cost money. Most stores have these things in a cage now days. That keeps them from being stolen.
    That being said, there seems to be no end of this plague. It wouldn’t be so bad if there was some sense or message, but no, it is just tags, no thought or message.


  6. Felipe,

    I too learned the art of buffing floors while serving my country. My first experience trying to use one came while in boot camp. During service week I was assigned to the janitorial detail at the base dentist’s office. I tried to buff the little receptionist’s office. It was not made for navigating a big buffer. Needless to say, I made a mess of it and the little female sailor, barely out of boot camp herself, made her disappointment in my buffer technique quite clear. Fun times!



    1. Troy: Fun times indeed. I was well out of boot camp before I ever had to wrestle a buffer and wrestling with them, as you know, is required before you get the hang of it.

      I did wash lots of pots and pans in boot camp.

      Liked by 1 person

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