I, the architect

The ground-floor layout, drawn on graph paper by me.*

This springtime will mark the 18th anniversary of the Hacienda. I’ve only owned two homes. The first, in Texas, was mine for just nine years, and I purchased it ready-made, a vintage from back in the 1950s. The second is the Hacienda, which I designed myself with some assist from my child bride.

The downstairs terraza from two directions, drawn by my wife.

Who needs actual blueprints when graph paper is available at the stationery store? The construction began in August of 2002 and ended in May of 2003, which is when we moved in from a two-story rental near downtown. I confess to being something of an architectural copycat. The Hacienda is a much larger version of that two-story rental, a design that I liked and stuck with to a great degree, but not entirely.

Electrical diagram, also done by me.

Among my many talents is that of electrician. Among my portfolio of four-year and two-year degrees and certificates is an Associate Degree in Electrical Construction Technology. I worked as a professional electrician for a spell in New Orleans. So I knew where plugs and lights were needed.

Three talented men and the occasional helper built the house. During the nine-month construction I took a ton of photos, and they all disappeared shortly after we moved in due to their being stored on a hard drive that committed suicide. I stupidly had not backed up any of them anywhere.

A real estate writer on the Houston newspaper where I once toiled wrote a column back then listing the pros and cons of homeownership as opposed to renting. One of his pros was simply that owning a home is fun, and it is most of the time. Renting is not fun.

Though I lost all photos of the construction process, I do have this one I took shortly after we moved in, and at the bottom is a shot from two years ago. It’s been lots of fun.

2003: Fresh paint and disheveled yard. The upstairs terraza is very different now.
That’s the second patio, built in 2019, replacing a grubby stone version.

* The stairwell goes straight up in the drawing. But it would not fit that way, so it actually goes straight up and then hangs a right to complete the turn to the second floor. The revised version is seen in the electrical diagram.

Cuckoo approach to energy

Being a former Texan, the recent power outage in the Great State is of more than passing interest to me, especially since I know people in Texas still, and I wish them well. I want them to be warm, and their refrigerators to hum.

America is on the wrong track in so many ways now. One is the fixation on “green” energy, a great idea if only it were totally reliable, which it’s still not. Here is a very informative and interesting video on Texas’ energy grid, which is mostly independent from the rest of the nation, something I did not know. The video also addresses the U.S. energy approach in general, and the vulnerable, misguided way it works.

It appears to be second in a series. I posted the first one low in the comments of a previous post. It’s the second of only two videos in that comment section.

If you want to comment, and comments are normally appreciated, please watch the video first if you are a wacky leftist, so you won’t say something silly.


On a lighter note, here’s the talented Texan George Strait. Actually, only one of my ex’s lives in Texas. The other’s in Louisiana.

Around the barrio …

New street light that looks to be solar. But maybe not.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which means yesterday was Mardi Gras or, as we call it hereabouts, Carnaval. Normally, it’s one of the worst periods in our hardscrabble barrio because the locals go loco with up to four nights of blaring concerts on the neighborhood plaza just a block and a half away.

In recent years, we’ve made it a habit to skedaddle to somewhere that’s not here. Last year we went to Guanajuato. This year we went nowhere because it was nice and quiet even though a Gringa who lives not far away in our hardscrabble barrio was complaining about freelance festivities on her street. I heard nothing.

No official Carnaval this year thanks to the Kung Flu.

Yes, I am not the only norteamericano who lives in the neighborhood, but I have been here the longest. Actually, I have been on the mountaintop longer than almost all Gringos and Canucks who now reside here, too many for my taste, actually.

Most belong in San Miguel de Allende.

Just here in the barrio, there is a Gringa in one home and a Gringo couple in another, all of whom arrived here long after we built the Hacienda. The Gringa lived downtown before moving nearby, and the couple, who are in their 90s, bought a big, fancy home from another Gringo couple who had bought it from another sole Gringo even earlier. I watched all these goings and comings from right here.

The initial owner of that property was a gay bookseller who returned to the United States and shortly died at a fairly young age. The second owners fled to Uruguay due to some police problems, according to gossip. The current owners seem to be really fine folks.


We had been warned yesterday that our state and quite a few others likely would suffer rolling blackouts as Mexico tried to cope with an energy crisis in the north of the nation, which was a result of the problems above the Rio Bravo, the Texans and their hippie fans. But nothing happened here. The lights stayed lit. More importantly, Netflix stayed lit.

Speaking of lights, over the past few days, a crew has traveled around our barrio changing street lights. Before, we had the large bulbous variety — the one outside the Hacienda had been burned out for over a year — and now we have the sleek version you see in the photo. I’m thinking that little circular, blue thing on the top means it’s solar-powered. I hope so. It’s a good use of solar power.

We have a solar water heater on our roof that does next to nothing. I have disconnected and given up on it. If you want it, it’s yours for the taking. No joke. It’s our second solar heater. The first did not work at all. The current one simply works badly, at times sending scalding water to the shower via the cold tap. Yes, the cold faucet.

This morning dawned cold, but it did not freeze last night as it did the previous three nights. How do I know? I check the birdbath at 8 a.m. Solid or not? Low-tech information.


Storefront update

Photo taken just this morning.
The middle of last year to provide perspective. That’s the lone builder and his wife.

Here’s a photo update on the storefront construction that lumbers on across the street. As previously mentioned, it’s being built by one man with the occasional assist of his wife who totes things. He works most days, but he wasn’t at work this morning. I suspect that’s because it’s Ash Wednesday.


It’s a lovely day, and we’ll be dining on beans, rice and sausage (from San Antonio) this afternoon. Later I’ll drive to a carwash, and after that I’ll head downtown for a nice café Americano negro on the plaza with a chocolate-chip cookie.

Hippie heating in Texas

Fifteen years ago there were virtually no wind turbines dotting the Texas landscape, but now a quarter of the state’s electricity is generated by those big fans … which have frozen solid in the current cold snap.

What were they thinking?

Texas is chockablock with energy sources from oil to natural gas. As some wag wrote this week, going without energy in Texas is akin to starving to death in a grocery store. You can only do it on purpose.

I heard from my second ex-wife yesterday. She lives in Houston, and there is no power in her house. She is hunkering down with a ski parka and cap. She put the contents of her fridge in her sun room, which is essentially putting it outdoors but where the possums and squirrels cannot get to it.

Meanwhile, Sleepy Joe has canceled the Keystone Pipeline.

What is the moral of all this? Stick to what works and avoid fads.

Copter running on fossil fuel tries to get the hippie fan to function.