The woodsman


NOW AND THEN, a banana tree has to come down. They make the decision themselves by choosing to be parents, sprouting a banana bunch.

The bananas they sprout, due no doubt to their being out of their natural tropical element hereabouts, are pathetic little things. Parenthood on the mountaintop must be such a bitter disappointment for them.

When a banana tree enters parenthood, it’s the death of her, literally, and she doesn’t die nicely. Her offspring, dangling there on an outstretched limb, start sloughing off crap which litters the ground, making a mess.

I detest them for it.

I have often planted things in the yard that sounded like a great idea at the time. Trumpet vines, magueys, ground cover, banana trees, other stuff I cannot name. I now curse them all.

And I’ve removed them all, sometimes at great effort. The only exception are the three stands of bananas that started with three little trees that were knee-high to a grasshopper back then. A Gringo who lived here years ago, Roy Reynolds, told me when I planted them:

You’re gonna regret that.  Alas, I ignored him.

This morning I headed out to the stand inside the property wall against the front street. There were two, towering mamas there with their nasty little kiddies tossing crap all over the cement-and-rock ground. I had a wheelbarrow, hedge trimmers and a pruning saw.

paulLuckily, neither tree fell on me as they thundered to the ground. Neither did they drop on nearby planters or the Olmec head. Banana trees can be very heavy, but they are easy to cut.

I ended up with two wheelbarrow loads, which I toted to the Garden Patio out back and dumped on the cement floor. I always feel winded after these tasks. Perhaps I should hire someone, but I keep thinking I can do anything — and so far I can.

I will, however, employ Abel the deadpan neighbor who mows the grass weekly to come over and haul them to a ravine just past his house. He likes to earn pesos, and I like to pay him. Easier that way.

* * * *

(Note: Due to cancer, I have been bald since last Sunday. Details here.

Tip of April


WE’RE APPROACHING the edge of April, which — along with its friend called May — are customarily the warmest and dustiest months of our year here on the mountaintop.

Today’s item is primarily the photo, a view I noticed while sitting in the rocking chair with fruit juice after returning this morning from our 20-minute exercise walk around the nearby plaza.

A sharp eye will notice the Birds of Paradise and behind that is a teenaged bottle-brush tree with its red brushes, and beyond that are banana trees abutting the rock wall. I tossed in the parked car for a touch of modernity and high-tech. And then there’s that pole cactus and something I believe is a begonia, potted, on the right side. My father used to plant lots of begonias, so I’m not a fan.

Family conflict.

But there’s no conflict here today. There is color, cool air, happy thoughts and a sense of gratitude.

The dilemma


IF YOU GET into the Honda, stick it in reverse, back up till the car’s butt-side is sitting midway inside the opposite carport (The Nissan must be gone), look out the driver’s window, this is what you’ll see. It’s long been one of my favorite Hacienda shots, and this is not the first time I have photographed it.

I remain surprised at the greenery hereabouts since this is not the coastal tropics of Mexico. We sit high in the mountains in the middle of the country. Fruit off those banana trees are not edible, but the trees thrive and lend a romantic, sultry air. The house is just over 11 years old. We designed and built it.


We have no children. Who will get this place after we are Promoted to Glory? This dilemma ultimately, of course, will be my child bride’s. Being 16 years her senior, the probability of my exiting first are overwhelming.

She has lots of Mexican relatives, of course — they all have lots of relatives — but many are, in my opinion, of highly questionable character. I have no will. Don’t need one because I own nothing. This house, the casita downtown and the condo in Mexico City are all in my child bride’s name. Same for the two cars. And financial resources in my name automatically go to her. So — got no Last Will & Testament.

She does have one, however, and we made it out years ago. Everything goes to her sister here in town. But that sister needs this place like she needs another cigarette in her mouth or another Coca-Cola in her hand. Plus, that sister is not a giving, loving soul. In short, I want this changed. But to who?

A top contender is a niece, about 30, who recently married a very good guy. Said niece already has two sons from previous “relationships,” and the idea that she’s the top contender tells you quite a bit about the other relatives. The marriage is only about 18 months old, and the jury is out on whether she will pull it off with this great guy that fell into her lap. I try to stay optimistic, though in truth I am not.

Another contender, who’s only 11 now, the adopted son of the above-mentioned sister, likely will be well set due to his mother’s many properties, places she inherited by pure luck. We favor this young fellow, but all the others could use a windfall far more than he could.

There are others too. Nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers. What likely will happen is that a number will be thrown into the pot, and the properties will have to be sold to split the spoils. I won’t care because I’ll be playing a harp or, even better, enjoying my 72 virgins. That will require converting to Mohammedanism at the very last moment.

It could get tricky.

Mexico has a Last Will and Testament Sale every September when the lawyers do them for half-price. We’ll be taking advantage of that in six weeks. To include yourself, send your name and vitals.

Peaches and the slow life

These are the actual peaches on the Hacienda tree.

THIS DAY dawned perfectly — cool, almost completely blue above, and stunning sunshine. This being the rainy season, we often do not dawn sunny, but today we did.

You’ve heard of slow cooking. Well, one of us (not the other) lives a slow life here at the Hacienda. This means nothing much gets done most days, and life tastes better for it. Some people thrive on activity. I am married to one of those people. Others thrive on the slow life. That’s the one she is married to.

But let’s move on to peaches. The peach tree in the yard is loaded. They are starting to drop on the grass, which I do not appreciate because it requires action, the antithesis of the slow life. If anyone in the area wants to pass by the Hacienda, you may have as many peaches as you can tote. Free.

I have a ladder. No charge for its use.

Have to contact me first because we do not answer the bell if we’re not expecting someone. Since the front gate is almost a block from the house, you can see how knee-jerk responding to a doorbell is also the antithesis of the slow life. Be warned, however, that these are not nice Georgia peaches.

To me, they are crappy peaches. They are to nice Georgia peaches what my bananas are to a fine crop from a banana republic. Poor excuses. But they are free. My child bride eats them and declares them passable. She has also eaten grasshopper tacos. Just so you know. Maybe you could make a peach pie.

There is also a pear tree, which is full, and the pears are pretty good. Take a few. The sour orange bush is loaded, and sour oranges serve some purpose, I am told. Take a few of them too.

Now pardon me. It’s time for a nap.