I shot this photo today just after Abel the Deadpan Yardman departed. He lives two doors down, and has been our lawn man for a good many years. I forget how many, but a good many.
The shorter plant in the stone circle is an avocado tree (okay, an aspiring tree) that my child bride started with an avocado seed a few years ago. I forget how many. It almost froze dead last winter, so we’ll see how it survives the winter to come.
Directly behind it, abutting the orange wall, is a bougainvillea that I keep under control with clippers. To the right, just before the patio, is a sour orange, good for dropping old oranges that I must scoop up. A long-gone friend gifted me that orange just after we moved here.
Stupidly, I planted it, but it grows slowly.
At left is the base of a fan palm that soars into the heavens, possibly 40 feet. I planted it when it was less than a foot high, thinking it’ll be cute. Now I worry about it falling onto the house some stormy night. Lots of trees hereabouts have collapsed recently in storms.
The area that’s abundant with greenery on the right is half of the Willy-Nilly Zone. The other half is farther to the right, off-camera.
See the whiter area of the sidewalk? That part was repaired about a year ago because it was coming undone after 18 years.
Starting about where the orange tree/bush sits and all the way up to the red wall at the rear will be filled in December with stone and concrete, my latest effort to de-green the yard.
That area is larger than it appears here.
Abel the Deadpan Yardman has been very reliable, but I detect just a small crack in that reliability this year, and I want to have as little grass as possible if he fails me.
He came Saturday mornings for ages, but this year it’s sometimes Saturday, sometimes Sunday, because he has other duties.
We’ve just endured three days of misery, a combination of cold and wet. Rain that just would not stop, but it’s gone now. It shouldn’t be raining in February in the first place.
The Goddess was distracted. Perhaps she found a good-looking god.
A few years ago, it rained for 10 days straight one winter, so three days is a step in the right direction. Cold outside is one thing for a home with no heating system, but adding nonstop rain ratchets up the misery immeasurably.
But this morning dawned clear, blue and chilly. There is hope, reason to go on breathing. After biscuits, honey and hot café, I swept the downstairs terraza, opened the big umbrella on the yard patio and noticed that the birdbath was overflowing with rainwater.
Birds are singing. The Thursday market on the neighborhood plaza will be open, so I need to walk down there for avocados and celery. ¡Hasta luego!
AUTUMN ARRIVES on Saturday, but we’ve already started Fall.
In our hearts, if not in celestial reality.
The leaves are dropping from the peach tree, littering the Jesus Patio, making more work for me, not appreciated.
I like the photo above, so I’ve added it to the header.
Unrelated to fall is that we’ve now entered the third week of my child bride’s broken arm, caused by a fall. The doctor said the cast would stay in place from four to six weeks. We are praying, of course, for four.
The biggest challenge, certainly for me, but for her too, it seems, is her mop of hair. She cannot arrange it to her satisfaction with one hand.
So that leaves me.
We’ve come to verbal blows over this matter.
Here she is sitting in our Mexico City condo three years ago. Her hair has not been cut since, so you can imagine. It’s not only long, much longer now than in this photo, but it is quite curly. You might even call it kinky.
We’ve had quite a few emotionally challenging moments due to this mop.
Her getting both her arms back in action cannot come too soon.
Matrimonial bliss hangs on it.
* * * *
And furthermore …
As I’ve written on various occasions, our town is renovating streets, especially around the spectacular plaza.
This has been going on for y-e-a-r-s. Three at least. Nonstop.
Laying the cobblestones, and sidewalk renovation too, has been completed on two sides of the plaza. Above, you see the third side, and they’ve dug up all the old stones on the fourth, the side that abuts my family coffee shop. We’re in the rainy season, so we have an abundance of mud.
The Goddess willing, this will end before I die.
* * * *
Moving on to cheese
One of the many great things about living south of the Rio Bravo is the abundance of great avocados or, as we call them, aguacates. Another is cheese or, as we call it, queso. We Mexicans love our queso.
Visitors are cautioned to avoid cheese. Sometimes it’s not pasteurized, maybe most of the time. I pay that warning not a lick of attention.
The cheese in the photo is called queso seco or dry cheese. We bought it here on the mountaintop, but recently we found a very small store that sells only cheese on a street corner in the capital city.
The cheese is unrefrigerated, and on our first visit we found wheels of various cheeses sitting on the floor. This would appall a persnickety person, but we bought a quarter kilo, which was exceptionally tasty.
WE WENT TO the dentist yesterday, both of us. Actually, it was two dentists. One for her, and another for me.
My child bride was to get, after three months of waiting for the posts to set in her jaw, her four new implants. She ended up getting three. There was some detail with the fourth, and she’ll be returning in about 10 days to get that last one.
While she was doing that for over three hours, I drove about 10 blocks away to a specialist who does root canals. That went well, if longer than usual, two hours in the chair, and then I returned to the other dentist to pick up my better half.
A friend in Arizona told me yesterday that he needs a root canal, and his dentist’s fee will be $2,500. That’s U.S. dollars. My root canal cost $3,200 pesos, which is about $172 in U.S. dollars. This cost difference is astounding.
We have no dental insurance, but we don’t need it. Unfortunately, my friend in Arizona does not have dental insurance either, and he does need it. Just one more example of how life in Mexico is superior to life above the Rio Bravo.
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THE SEASON OF DUST
This morning, like most mornings, I swept the downstairs veranda and wiped off the shelves. All the shelves were dusty, and some harbored bat turds that had dropped from the roof tiles where bats doze during the day.
We’re heading into full-tilt dry season, which means lots of dust, inside and out. The dust inside drives my child bride nuts. We really should hire a maid, but we never do. The minor reason is that we don’t want another ongoing household expense. The major reason is that we don’t want anyone underfoot here.
In the years we’ve lived here, we’ve had two maids. I forget why we fired the first, but we fired the second because she was unreliable. For months after she departed, we noticed things had been stolen, mostly clothing and music CDs. If we ever hire another maid, we will not leave her here by herself, which is another reason not to hire a maid.
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CARS, CARS, CARS
Unlike so many Gringos who make the wise decision to move over the Rio Bravo, I did not bring a car with me. Delta Airlines provided my transportation.
I bought my first car in September 2000. It was a little Chevy Pop, something that was not sold in the United States. It was almost a clone of the Geo Metro, a very nice little ride. Four years later, we bought a 2004 Chevrolet Meriva, another car that’s not sold in the United States. It was made in Brazil and sold in other nations around the world as a Vauxhall, sometimes an Opel. It too was a very nice car.
A bit over four years later, we bought our 2009 Honda CR-V. Aside from some design flaws that only the driver notices, this is a very nice car, and it’s still serving us well.
About four years later, again, we bought my wife’s 2014 Nissan March, and yet again, it’s a car that is not sold in the United States. It is small and sweet.
The Honda is almost a decade old now. It’s been great. However, a large plastic part where the front bumper should be — why do cars no longer have bumpers? — fell off recently in the state capital. No huge issue, and a mechanic reattached it for free.
Is this a harbinger of things to come? Will we be tooling down the autopista through avocado groves and narco hangouts toward the sands of the Pacific when something else falls off or simply stops functioning? It’s a concern.
I don’t know when I’ll buy it, but I have decided on its replacement: the Kia Soul.
It’s smaller than the Honda CR-V, but it’s far roomier than it looks. We went by the dealership in the capital city recently to see if my tall, lanky, aging self could get into the Soul with no problem. It was a piece of cake.
The front seat is incredibly spacious. The back seat not so much, but we never sit in the back seat. The safety ratings are good, and so are customer reviews.
Inexplicably, when I tried to sit in the significantly larger Kia Sportage, I cracked my skull on the top of the door opening. Kia, a South Korean firm, has been making a big splash in Mexico the last couple of years.
When this change will take place is unknown. Currently, the Honda is working fine. I recently bought new floor mats and had it waxed for the first time. Soon, I’ll need four new tires, no small expense. But when a new car is purchased, I’ll become a Soul Man.
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BEEF AND WALKING
I wrote the above this morning before heading out on my daily exercise march around the neighborhood plaza. The butcher shop in the next block, run by another Felipe, was closed due to its being Friday during Lent.
Semana Santa is just a couple of weeks away, so he’ll soon be able to sell again on Fridays. That won’t affect me, however, because I rarely eat beef, being more of a chicken and salad man. It always amuses me that Catholics think God worries about what they eat.
And Jews think God wants guys to cut off the tip of their dingus.
I’m sure he has more important things on his mind, like how to get the Mohammedans to see the light and put down the scimitars.