A couple of pictures

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THIS ATTRACTIVE woman was sitting nearby the other day as I was enjoying my usual afternoon café Americano negro on the downtown plaza. She has a familiar look, but I can’t quite place her.

And the kid? Got no idea.

And later the same day, at night, I was descending the stairwell at the Hacienda on my way to the king bed when I paused at the scene below and said to myself, “That’s interesting. I’ll take a photo.”

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Winter windows

1
Bedroom view which is full of golden datura much of the year. But not now.
2
Living room. We made the stained glass years ago.
3
Dining room. That’s the new yard patio out there.

IT’S COLD outside, but the view from inside is nice nonetheless.

The skies are blue, the air is chill, and all is right with the world, if you don’t think about the lack of gasoline. But I filled up yesterday, so I’m happy.

The cold I caught over two weeks ago is finally winding down, and it taught me a hard lesson. Don’t remove my long johns in winter.

I donned them in December, and later removed them for just one day, 24 freaking hours, and that’s when I caught the cold.

We’ll be heading downtown before noon today to make yearly payments. Property taxes on two houses and water bill on one, the Downtown Casita. These are done in person at City Hall.

I paid the property tax on the Mexico City condo online last week. Water bills for the Hacienda are paid monthly, same for Mexico City.

The only other annual fee is that for two cars. I do that online too. Oh, yes, the post office box. I paid that at the post office two weeks ago. About 15 bucks. All these things are quite reasonable, a pittance compared to what you Gringos and Canucks pay where you live, poor babies.

Inexpensive living with wonderful window views.

And all the tacos you can eat.

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(Update! When we got to City Hall to pay our stuff, the entrance was blocked by POPs (Pissed-Off People) demanding to get paid for something or other. This is not a rare occurrence in this country. We’ll have to return to pay some other day.)

A passing scene

New Image

THIS MYSTERY plant has been hanging for at least 15 years from a wooden beam that’s part of the roof of red-clay tile atop the upstairs terraza.

I rarely do anything to it. I don’t fertilize it. I often go long spells without watering it. Yet it soldiers on, as they say, sometimes sprouting these lovely flowers. I see this plant daily through the window just above the computer screen that sits on my desk.

Alas, the scene isn’t long for this world. Next month, or possibly February, the roof will come down, and so will that brick column you see in the photo. It’s one of two that help support the red-clay roof.

The two support columns originally were carved wood, but the bases rotted over time, and were replaced by brick columns.

We’ll be installing a huge steel and tempered-glass roof that will cover the entire upstairs terraza. Currently, the tile roof covers 20 percent at best. It was one of the last parts of the Hacienda construction in 2003, and I was weary of spending money.

I shortchanged the roof.

Five months of daily rain and then seven months of direct sun every year have not been kind to the terraza’s ceramic floor. We’ve had it repaired a number of times and just last summer a leak somehow made it through the inches of solid concrete and dripped into the bedroom below.

That was the straw on the camel’s sagging back.

So a new, far larger roof is on the way. The scene I’ve been admiring through the window above my computer screen for years is going to change drastically, and the fate of this faithful plant has yet to be determined.

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The oddball, leaning roof is visible over the upstairs terraza in this photo from 2003, just after we had moved into our abode. Putting it there and in that way was entirely my idea. I should not try to be an architect.

Whole lotta shakin’ going on

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The Jesus Patio. The tallest “bush” behind it is the cursed pear. It’s coming down!

WHOEVER SAID life in retirement is easygoing was only sometimes correct.

We have too much on our plates right now. First, my child bride broke her arm a month ago. The cast came off last Friday. She still has swelling in her wrist, however, so we phoned the traumatologist yesterday. We got an X-ray of her wrist in the afternoon, and this morning we go back to the doctor.

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Five guys arrived yesterday morning and lugged the old LP tank from the service patio through the dining room, through the living room, and outside, leaving it in what I call the garden patio. It’s out back.

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This tank is extremely heavy and six feet long.

I said it was free for the taking, so one of them will return Thursday morning and haul it away. It is 15 years old, our first LP tank.

We were going to have this tank removed in January when other work is scheduled, but this weekend a blacksmith is coming to install circular stairs from the service patio to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, something we should have done ages ago because it’s necessary to go up there at times.

Now I creak up there on a ladder.

The circular stairs will partially obstruct the door from the kitchen to the service patio and likely would have made removing the LP tank next to impossible. I say “next to impossible” because Mexicans can do anything.

So we got the LP tank out of there while we still could.

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There is another circular stairway on the upstairs terraza that climbs to the roof of the second floor. That stairway will be moved next January to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, so we still have access to the highest roof.

One circular stairway from the ground to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, and then another from there all the way to the roof!

And why are we doing that? Because we’re going to remove the small, tile roof from the upstairs terraza and install another that will cover the entire terraza. This is how that terraza looked on a fine day many years ago.

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This is going to have an entire roof overhead.

But nowadays, it’s never used at all. It was never used much in the first place because it’s under blazing sun in the dry season, and it’s got an almost perpetual lake in the five-month rainy season.

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In the above shot, you can see the current tile roof, a small one, at the very top. It was installed almost exclusively to cover the hammock that was there for years, but the hammock is long gone. I just stopped using it.

The new roof will cover all of the upstairs terraza. It will be either more red-clay tile, or something more modern — glass and steel, which will not blend with the architectural style, but it will be more convenient.

For the entire space to be covered, the circular stairwell has to go.

That work will be done early next year.

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At the same time, we’ll tear up the Jesus Patio you see in the first photo, replacing it with a larger patio with a nicer ceramic floor. We’ll also remove the cursed peach tree, not shown, and the damnable pear. They both toss hundreds of fruits on the grass every summer, and I’m sick and tired of picking it all up.

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Nopal: Thirty-plus feet high.

Also to be removed is the cursed nopal tree. It tosses its little “tuna” fruit onto the new rock-and-concrete yard surface below, more crap I have to pick up. It sheds hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those “tunas.”

This nopal tree is at least 30 feet tall, and it’s covered with spikes. I stupidly planted it years ago when it was knee-high to a petunia. If I had only known.

Originally, I had planned on removing the nopal along with the other work in January, but I asked the crew who moved the LP tank if they knew of someone who would remove it for a “good price.”

Someone’s coming Thursday morning to remove the nopal! They will charge me $1,500 pesos, about $80 U.S. today.

* * * *

Our washing machine has committed suicide, so we bought another yesterday afternoon. The original washer, like the LP tank, was new when we moved into the Hacienda 15 years. I found a repossessed washer at a store marked down from 12,000 pesos to 6,500, which is a steal. It looks like new. Whirlpool.

We’ll repair the old washer if it doesn’t cost a bunch, and we’ll take it to the Downtown Casita for the convenience of vacationers.

* * * *

So, lots going on. I hope it settles down soon, and I can return to my previous life of croissantitos, orange marmalade, bagels, cream cheese, cafés Americano negro, and Kindle books on the sprawling plaza downtown in the afternoons, a child bride and no more broken bones.

Let us pray so.