Another day at home

hat
My neighborhood hat. My downtown hats are nicer, sexier.

ANOTHER DAY* in the Plague Year, hanging loose at home, chilling out or performing some necessary and overdue chores.

Watering potted plants in the downstairs veranda, shoving yard cuttings into a giant plastic bag to take to the dumpster, sweeping the terraza, thinking about what to make for lunch,** that sort of thing. Looking around, being grateful I’m not in sweat-drenched Houston or New Orleans in June though I do miss hot crawfish and cold Dixie Beer.

shelves
The crappy hat in the middle belonged to Al Kinnison, R.I.P.

On Friday I actually got down on the ground on my butt to cut, with hand clippers, a section of overgrown grass around the orange tree. For a person on the cusp of 76, getting down on your butt in the grass is no quick chore. Getting up is even less quick. Though we’ve had some rain to encourage the lawn, it’s still not high enough to warrant calling Abel the Deadpan Yardman for a complete mow.

I did get the mower serviced last week. It’s ready to mow! It’s a multicultural machine, Sears Craftsman down below, the body, and Briggs & Stratton above, the motor. Actually, more Frankenstein than multicultural.

tejas
Roof of downstairs veranda, home of bats.

I broke up my chores by sitting now and then on one of the rockers in the downstairs veranda. From there I took these photos. I think the roof tiles in that veranda will need to be renovated soon, maybe next year. They are 17 years old, some are broken or cracked, and raindrops fall through during a heavy downpour.

Not many but enough.

Here’s what will happen. My guys will remove each one, brush it off and replace it. If it’s broken, a new one will take its place. There are bats up there in some corners, so that will give my guys some interesting moments. Should I warn them in advance, or just let them discover the homesteaders on their own? Fun times.

In closing, here’s a bit of color to offset the dreary but emotive black and white.

potscolor
Veranda pots purchased long ago in San Miguel where we visit no longer.

* This was all yesterday, Saturday, not today.

** Lunch ended up being a plate of spaghetti covered with bottled tomato sauce mixed with canned tuna (packed in water, never oil). Atop that we sprinkled Parmesan cheese that comes in the green plastic bottle. All was served with jalapeño strips to provide razzmatazz.

My humming amigos

THE FIRST TIME I recall seeing a hummingbird was one morning as I was sitting on the porch of a cabin at a Unitarian retreat center in the mountains of North Carolina. A hummer paused briefly at a bloom not far off. It was exciting.

Years later, after I purchased a ranch house in Houston, Texas, I discovered that hummers migrated through the area every Spring — or was it Autumn? I hung a red, plastic feeder in the backyard, and they were frequent visitors. I liked that a lot.

Hummers don’t much like one another. They are fond of brawling, but there are exceptions. Once I visited Ramsey Canyon in southeastern Arizona. Good Lord! There were hummers all over the place, scores, maybe hundreds, sitting side by side on tree branches just as peaceful as you please. Maybe they were nectar-drunk.

Even more years later, I found myself atop another mountain, here where the Hacienda sits, and there are hummers in residence. No feeders required. Hummingbirds are in the yard all year. Maybe they take a break in the winter. My attention can wander.

hummerOur huge aloe vera plants put out big, orange blooms. The red-hot pokers are hummer favorites too, plus other flowers of spring and summer. All I have to do is sit atop a rocker on the downstairs veranda or on a web chair out on the yard patio, and there they are, foraging hummingbirds.

Back at the Houston ranch house, high on a backyard tree, I installed a bat house I’d purchased from Bat Conservation International. I knew there were bats in the neighborhood because summertime night walks down the street would show their presence as they flitted in and out of the lights atop the street poles.

But not one ever moved into my bat house, which I’d bought with good money.

Here at the Hacienda, however, we have bats. They live in the clay roof tiles of the downstairs veranda, leaving their bat poop on the ceramic floor in certain corners and flying out, sometimes quite near my head, at dusk. Whoosh!

I don’t know which I like better, bats or hummers. Maybe it’s a draw.

A sunny Sunday

New Image
Photo by Paul Whalen.

DAWN DEBUTED sunny today, and it is cool and nice.

Cool being the weather, not the overused adjective.

Hauling my body from the king bed at 7, I looked out the window and saw a black-vented oriole in the bottle-brush tree. Approaching spring brings new birds hereabouts.

After getting a glass of water and a piece of toast from the kitchen, I came upstairs, where I now sit, fired up the H-P All-in-One at my desk to begin the news day. There is a bank of windows in the wall where I face, one being directly behind the H-P All-in-One.

The view has been cleaned up since a technician came a few days ago and removed an unsightly WiFi antenna that disrupted my sight of the mountains.

So Sunday, vista-wise and other wises too, is getting off to a great start, certainly better than what happened yesterday with the dead bat in a pot.

Death in a clay pot

shelves
These shelves are now clean and oiled.

WHILE WE PLOD through mud from June till November, we’re covered with dust from March through May. There’s no perfect world.

Well, maybe November. Neither rain nor dust. It’s a beauty.

The shelves in the veranda had a significant layer of dust this morning when I headed out the door with an old cloth and a spray bottle of 3-in-1 furniture oil.

I started on the far end of what you see in the above photo. First, I removed most of the dust with a stiff brush. Then I returned with the rag and furniture oil. It was looking good as I progressed in this direction.

Finally, I reached the final shelf, the only one to the left of the door, the shelf in the corner directly below the occasional bat roost in the clay roof tiles above.

The bowls were full of cobwebs and other detritus, which I shook over the grass outside. Then I got to the very last bowl. I looked inside and, amid the other crap, noticed a suspicious-looking glob at the bottom. Hmmm, I thought, could it be a bat?

I was not born yesterday.

I walked around back to the Garden Patio to shake the bowl upside down into a trash bin. As I did so, stuff fell out, but nothing substantial, so I looked inside again.

No mistaking it now. There rested a dead bat, stuck to the bowl bottom. This is not the first time I’ve had bat experiences hereabouts in which action was required.

Once a bat became entangled in nylon string of a dangling wind chime. I liberated him. Once I found a bat snoozing in the hanging sombrero of the bottom photo. I tossed him into the grass, leveraged him into a shoe box and freed him that evening from the upstairs terraza. I decided not to look behind that hat anymore, and I haven’t.

On another occasion, I found a bat dangling from a bedroom ceiling-light fixture in the Downtown Casita. I liberated him too and sealed off the chimney where the little bugger had snuck in like an illegal alien from Honduras or Guatemala.

But back to the dead bat stuck in the bowl. I inserted a stick, moved it about a bit, and upended the bowl over the trash bin again. Ker-plop! The bat remains fell out.

I washed the bowl, placed it on the shelf again, and snapped the photo.

Rarely a dull moment.

bowl
This is the very pot where I found the body. The hat is where I once found a sleeping bat.