The morning windmill

Having three wives under my belt provides me with a diversity of memories. About all the three have in common is that they self-identify as women, which is a good thing because that’s what their plumbing firmly indicates.

Well, there is another characteristic they share, something all women share. They are fond of talking. Women love to talk. Some do it rather calmly, and some less so.

Every morning we sit at the dining room table about 8:30 with coffee and biscuits. She talks. I listen. More often than not, she’s agitated about something, which usually falls into one of two categories. One is the Mexican president who goes by his initials AMLO and who holds a press conference every weekday at 7 a.m. It’s live on YouTube, which is where my child bride watches in bed, and gets herself steamed.

Her second, common source of breakfast uproar will have something to do with one of her many, many relatives, a motley crew if ever there was one.

Okay, now that we’ve established she often comes to the morning table in a state of agitation, let’s move on to the topic at hand, how she manifests that agitation, and it’s something that provides me with endless chuckles, usually kept to myself.

She waves her arms around wildly. I watch as a hand passes the coffee cup at 100 m.p.h. and then the plant vase, and then whatever other fragile item sits nearby. Surprisingly, her windmilling has clobbered very few table items over the years. It must be like the radar that bats possess with which they instinctively dodge obstructions ahead.

The morning windmill is as entertaining as her rants about AMLO or her thinking she can, with sufficient sage advice, change the chaotic course of the lives of her kinfolk.

Summer cleaning

MY CHILD BRIDE  encountered a nasty allergy in March — first ever — shortly after we started staying home due to the Kung Flu. That staying at home lasted till May 10 when we wearied of it. Now we are out and about since it’s become patently obvious that it’s just another pandemic like the world sees now and then. You die, or you don’t.

Most don’t.

She’s been to two doctors, and various solutions have been offered. The allergy has calmed down about 90%, but she still has occasional flareups, but nothing like what was happening in March, which coincidentally was when she stopped going to the gym religiously, again due to the Kung Flu. She returned to the gym about two months ago.

She imagines a new cause of her problem — sneezing and runny nose — on a daily basis. One, of course, is dust, so she’s been on a cleaning campaign that comes and goes. Today was one of those days, and she tackled the downstairs terraza.

cleaning
Wall stripped of hats. Shelves stripped of clay pots.

bowls
Pots get a good wash.

Inside one of those clay pots, she encountered — much to her dismay — a mummified bat that had gotten himself trapped. That whole pot went into the trash barrel. She also tossed most of the sombreros that had been hanging on the wall for about 15 years, including the cowboy chapeau of my old buddy Al Kinnison.

But I was no slacker this morning. Swallows had built one of their nasty mud nests high on a second-floor overhang in the service patio. A family was there before I noticed it, so I left them in peace to raise the kiddies who tossed plenty of poop to the patio floor. They finally grew up and flew away. Good freaking riddance!

An extension ladder and a broom put me within range, so I knocked the nest down this morning. I’ll be more vigilant next year. I also climbed to the roof of the kitchen-dining room to sweep accumulated dirt that gives algae and weeds a happy home.

I was surprised to find the roof completely dry. Usually, there’s a pool up there throughout the rainy season, but it’s been raining less this summer. Must be that climate-change thing. If so, I favor it. We’re getting plenty of rain, as you can see in the video, but not so much that it causes problems. I shot that video about three days ago.

We’ll be having green pozole for lunch today. Come join us.

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.