Concrete mesas

banana

MESA MEANS table in Spanish. I now have two mesas in the yard where damnable bananas long held sway.

The photo above was taken on a nice summer day. You see two stands of banana. One is just this side of the black-rock Alamo Wall, and the other one, higher, is beyond. A third, which abuts the house itself, is not visible.

More on it below.

As recently noted in the post dubbed The winter scalp, banana trees, which I stupidly planted years back when they were cute little babies, had become the curse of my life.

I have taken concrete action against two of the three. The ground in which they grew has been covered with concrete and stone, which is raised to form two mesas.

I could have simply covered them with concrete and stone at ground level, but the two mesas give me places to set things, maybe artsy-fartsy stuff to give drama to the yard.

Below are photos of the work:

No. 1
Removing banana remnants with machete and pickax.
No. 2
Early stages of mesa No. 1.
head
Work done. No more freaking banana trees here! It’s 60 centimeters tall.

Now I need to find a stone or metal sculpture to dress it up.

DSCF0399

Long, long ago, I planted a little banana tree in this corner against the house. It grew high and multiplied. I snapped this photo one dark night many years back.

It grew and grew and grew until it was impossible to walk into this corner or even see the corner, so it had to be eliminated.

To wit:

shot 1
Workman with pickax uprooting banana bases and roots.

That big aloe vera bush, left side of photo just above, was not even planted when I took the night photo.

two
Second mesa just lacking fill at this point.
rubble
Interior is filled with rubble from God knows where.
casa
All done. This one is larger than the other. Also needs a sculpture.

And that concludes another construction caper. The toil spanned four six-hour days, and the total price for material and labor was 2,450 pesos, about 135 bucks. I tossed in a 200-peso tip because that’s the kind of guy I am.

I’ve loved stone and mountains all my life, and now — at last — I’m surrounded by both. Life is good.

Mexican ingenuity

truck
How the van left the Hacienda.
gone
How the area was left, nice and clean.
New Image
How the area looked a few days ago.

HOW ABEL the dour yardman (and neighbor) got that mountain of green garbage into the back of his decrepit minivan is a mystery. He used a machete.

He lumbered off just as you see in the first photo, sweeping the street in his wake. He did not have to go far, about three blocks to a ravine where all was dumped.

He left the area clean, as you see in the second photo. Next week a couple of workmen will cut those banana tree stumps down even farther, and a rock-and-concrete “table,” 60 centimeters high, will be built there.

A second area where another stand of banana trees once lived, up against the house itself, will get the same treatment, and that will leave us with just one banana forest.

And its survival is in doubt too.

If you’re arriving late to the show, here’s the original post on this gardening epic, from earlier this week.

Early blackbirds

DSCF1770
Upstairs terraza photographed in some distant springtime.

I CALL THEM blackbirds, but they’re really just soot.

Every springtime the rural folks in these parts burn dry fields, and this produces soot like you wouldn’t believe. Some days it’s like black rain, but with “drops” the size of feathers. And these fall into the yard, drift into the downstairs terraza and, of course, the upstairs terraza.

But it’s not springtime, so I don’t know what the Devil’s going on, plus it’s not falling anywhere near the quantity that drifts down in true springtime. No matter. Here it is. Like shedding blackbirds.

This morning, before 8 a.m., I decided to sweep the upstairs terraza before going downstairs for bagels and Philly cream cheese light. The feathers were plentiful, and I disposed of them.

Speaking of blackbirds, we have real ones, lots. There are ravens and black vultures and grackles. The ravens and black vultures — that sometimes circle high above in scores — I enjoy. The grackles, no. Those big, black blokes land in the birdbath and splash all the water out. It’s not neighborly.

If only I owned a shotgun.

* * *  *

The Angry Corner

Ouch

THIS IS THE angry corner, and I have no one to blame but myself.

Every springtime the yard gets a good going-over. This entails removing lots of stuff. If it’s frozen over the winter — and it often does at night, but not so far this year — the amount of dead stuff to be cut is considerable. I do much of it myself, and then hire someone to haul it off — to somewhere.

But even during this (so far) mild winter, plants must be cut. The lower, drooping, limbs of the fan palm, nopal, lots of banana leaves, maguey fronds, which grow endlessly and cussedly.

I have taken care of most of that this season. The only place that I keep procrastinating about is the Angry Corner. Years back, I planted a sole, small banana tree, about 18 inches high. And then I planted a cute little maguey, the yellow-green one, that we bought in a nearby village. And I clipped a piece of aloe vera and stuck it into the ground one day. And let’s not forget the sole pad of nopal cactus, four or so inches high.

Flash forward a decade. The stand of banana trees simply takes up lots of space, but those other things are armed, huge, and dangerous. It’s a risk even going near. I’m trying to work up the nerve.

* * * *

Mexico City

WE’LL BE HEADING to our nation’s chaotic capitol soon for a few days. It’s a necessity. Pay some bills for our condo. Dust and mop. Air it out. See what’s changed in the neighborhood. Eat some caldo de gallina in a new restaurant just three blocks away.

And we’ll try to make some headway with getting the condo’s deed into our hands, yet again. We paid it off years ago, but it was purchased from a government agency. Many arms of Mexico City’s government have improved immensely over the years, but the agency handling our deed is mired in the inefficient past.

Don’t try any funny stuff here while we’re gone. The two rottweilers, Rolf and Rachel, will be on duty. We don’t leave food, so that keeps them hungry and on edge. It might get ugly.

Changing faces

First

WHEN WE bought the double lot where the Hacienda now stands, this was the face we turned to the outside world. It was the face the property came with. It was humble, and we liked it that way.

The neighborhood is blue-collar, to state it politely, and we did not want to stand out. We kept this face to the world for about five or so years, but we wearied of it.  So we painted it like this:

Second

The white wall at the right is the entrance to our neighbor, the sex motel. A sharp observer will note there is no sidewalk outside our property and the stand of banana trees that I planted after a couple of years. It gives us a nice tropical look even though we’re nowhere near a beach or jungle.

While the recently completed storefront construction was under way, I decided to have the workmen repaint the entire façade, and this is how it looks now:

Today

There is a sidewalk the local government installed a few years ago. And we have a second entrance on the right, which is the storefront or, as it currently stands, my lovely wife’s pastry workshop. Since the ground level on the inside is significantly higher than street level, the workmen built stone steps.

Those stone steps, to my mind, are too narrow, so the workmen will return today, their last bit of labor, to make them wider. That brick tower between the two metal gates houses the water tank for the new storefront. I climbed up there a few weeks ago and took this really great photo of the street.

Last year we added a little red tile roof over the main entrance because it looks snazzy and Mexican. And we have lost all hope of blending into the neighborhood.

* * * *

The pastry shop is completed! And here are photos. Completed is not totally accurate because the space still lacks the counters and shelves that we’ll install, plus a big work table in the middle of the floor.

A photo gallery of the entire construction process is here. It too is completed.

outside

kitchen

inside

lavatory

For comparison, this is how it all started in November. That brick barbecue pit at the far right has been swept away. It was there when we purchased the property, and we never used it.

before