Tag Archives: bats

Bats and teeth

THERE ARE TWO items on today’s agenda.

The first is bats. They have returned to the Hacienda in a goodly but uncertain number, something they do every year about this time.

Must have something to do with the rain’s arrival.

There are a couple of ways to know they’ve returned. One is to be on the veranda downstairs at dusk. It’s their takeoff time. The other sure clue is the pile of bat crap every morning on the floor of their corner of the veranda.

It’s a sizable display.

The first method is fun. The second … not so much. The bat crap must be swept with care and tossed into the yard trash.

I assume that it’s Mexican free-tails that we have. I assume this for two reasons. One is their name. Mexican. And the other is that we are firmly in the middle of their range.

Over the years I’ve had some exciting moments with these bats. One morning, we sat on the veranda with coffee and bagels, and I noticed a bat trapped in the nylon strings of a wind chime.

I donned leather gloves and liberated him. Another time, while cleaning on the veranda, I was surprised to find a couple of the little, brown buggers sleeping peacefully inside a sombrero hanging on the wall.

More recently, just about two years ago, we encountered one hanging from a light fixture in our Downtown Casita. I captured and liberated him too.

I’ve become quite the batman.

I couldn’t understand at first how he got into the casita, but finally I noticed the chimney was a direct route.

I have put wire screen over the top of the chimney. We rent the Downtown Casita to vacationers, and I doubt they would want to awake one morning and see a bat hanging from the bedroom light fixture. That’s where the bat was, in the bedroom.

I like bats, and you should too. They’re an essential element of the ecosystem. They gobble lots of mosquitoes.

* * * *

Pirate smile

Let’s move now to the second item on today’s agenda. Teeth. About a month ago I wrote about my first step in getting a tooth implant (A dental case).

After having the problem tooth pulled, the dentist inserted a metal post in my jawbone and covered it with a temporary tooth. It looked quite snazzy.

The next step was a three-month wait till the bone connects with the post. Then the permanent tooth will be applied.

Three weeks later, the temporary tooth fell off. I phoned the dentist down in the capital city, and he said come right over. I did, and he quickly reattached it.

Two weeks more passed. It fell off again. That was yesterday. I still have almost two months more before the permanent tooth can be attached.

A bulb lit over my head.

I phoned the dentist again and asked: Is this thing totally cosmetic, just for looks? Yep, he replied.

See you two months, I countered.

I always wanted to look like a pirate with a snaggletoothed smile. Now I do, and it’s a look I’ll sport till August. The gap is not directly in front, but it’s not hidden way back either. It’s midway, quite apparent when I give a good grin.

One of the joys of retirement is that you can look however the devil you want. I look like a pirate.

Or a Mexican bricklayer.

Energy of autumn

FALL MAKES  me want to do something. It puts a spring into my step.

In just the last few days, the presence of autumn has become more obvious. Leaves fallen from the peach tree litter the Jesus Patio, and the summertime dawn temperature of 60 has plummeted to 58.

So, this morning, with that spring in my step, I cast procrastination aside and decided to do something. First, I did what I do every Saturday morning, and that’s water the potted plants in the veranda.*

Dave Brubeck played Take Five  through the living room window.

fallEnergy up, I cleaned the glass-top table and web chairs on the Jesus Patio. I brushed dust and bat crap from the shelves along the veranda walls. And I swept the floor.

I cleaned the psychedelic ceramic birdbath and changed the water. I swept the Honda carport but not the Nissan’s.

I stuck my head into the bakery workshop and said hi to my child bride, baking in a cloud of flour. It smelled good in there.

I walked upstairs and oiled the squeaky parts of the gym set.

Fall has always been my favorite season. When I lived in Dixie, it was as far as you could get from the next summer swelter. There is also a certain sadness — a tristeza — involved, but a sweet sort.

In spite of that, fall holds optimism for me. It inspires hope, and that’s always a good thing. It’s fall, not spring, that reminds me of love.

* * * *

* I am reading my third excellent book in a row about India by William Dalrymple. There are lots of verandas in India, and I like the word. Plus, it applies to what we have here at the Hacienda. So veranda will replace the old “downstairs terraza.” The upstairs terraza will remain a terraza because it is not a veranda. It’s mostly uncovered.

Bat neighbors

MOST EVERY morning, after café, bagels and Philly cream cheese, lite, I wash the dishes and step out to the downstairs terraza to sweep. This is especially necessary in Springtime because the season creates plenty of dust.

broomIn July or August the terraza may be awash with blown-in rainwater, but that’s not an issue in Springtime, which is a time of dust. And bats.

This morning I arrived out on the terraza, took a look to my right and there on one of the wooden shelves was an ample supply of dry bat shit, guano they call it.

My gaze traveled upward to the red clay roof tiles, which is where the bats hang out during the day in Springtime but summer too.

I know they’re up there, but I’ve never seen them up there, just the proof — there on the shelf — of their presence. And if you’re on the terraza around dusk, you’ll spot them flying out and high on their nightly dining expeditions. However, they do it so quickly you can’t see where they start from, specifically, their hangar. No matter. The guano spills the beans.

Getting a brush, I flipped the little turds to the floor where they were included in the sweep.

We once found a bat hanging from the ceiling fixture in the downtown Casita’s back bedroom, just above the bed. He couldn’t have been there long because the bed was still unsullied by, well, you know. My lovely wife had gone to the Casita alone, and I quickly received a phone call informing me, hysterically, that “something” was hanging from the light fixture.

What is it? I inquired. She did not know, she responded. Some sort of beast.

I hurried to the Casita — about 15 minutes from the Hacienda — and immediately saw what it was. Nothing confusing about it. Women are funny.

I got a shoe box, donned a pair of leather gloves, and “encouraged” the little bugger to move into the box, which he did with little fuss. For lack of any other solution, I tossed him into a grassy area nearby. I hope everything turned out well for him, though I doubt it did.

How did he get into the Casita? I scratched my noodle, figuratively speaking, for the next few hours. It’s a modern construction, well sealed, and I was puzzled. Later, downtown on the plaza, sitting at a sidewalk table with a hot espresso, it hit me. The chimney! Well, duh.

There’s a small, non-functioning fireplace in the living room.

The next morning, I went to the roof and closed the opening with screen.

Problem solved.

Winter cut & sweep

stone

I’VE ALWAYS loved stone, and now I live with it. Loved mountains too, and now I live among them. Don’t forget cool weather, and here I am in eternal cool. It’s a perfect world.*

Normally, the yard doesn’t need a cut in January. Usually, we stop in November, or rather Abel the Deadpan Yardman loses his summer gig in November. I quit mowing years ago.

But we’ve had the occasional unseasonable rain of late, and the lawn gobbled it up, deciding it was summer, and grew a bit, mostly around edges. The lawnmower wouldn’t crank, so I turned to the weed eater.

(Aside:  I saw someone with a grass blower the other day, and it was strange. Though Mexicans are always noisily blowing everything above the Rio Bravo — or did when I  lived there — a blower here is rarely seen.)

Out to the yard I went. The sidewalk is stone, and so is the Alamo Wall. The mountains soared in the near distance, and the sun was shining sweetly through the 70-degree air. I sighed. It was Heaven, honey.

But there was work to do, so I started the edging. The weed eater is electric, so no physical effort is required. Since most of the high grass was around edges, it didn’t take long. Down the sidewalk, around the property wall, under the bougainvilleas and fan palm and other stuff. Then a good sweep with an old broom.

The first winter cut and, with good fortune, the last.

A month ago, I posted First fire, last rose in which I imagined the sole rose out in yard was the last of the season. Boy, was I mistaken. After a couple of near freezes in December, the climate has returned to November’s style, and it’s wonderful. We have a number of new roses and golden datura.

And more fires have been ignited, the last being on Thursday, dead leaves from the loquat and pear trees. Fires provide the aroma of Autumn, and that’s real nice.

* * * *

Once a year I climb the circular stairs to the roof to sweep. But that only puts me atop the second story, which covers most of the house. The kitchen area is just one story, so that requires hauling a ladder to the service patio out back to ascend to that part, which is the part that most needs a sweep.

roofThis is the kitchen roof, swept pretty clean, that you see in the foreground. The tile roof farther on, left side, is the roof of the Garden Patio. Roofs of red clay tile don’t get swept. After some decades, it’s a good idea to remove them for a good shake and brushing, however. God knows what you might find. Bats probably.

* * * *

* Most of my life was spent in South Georgia, North Florida, South Louisiana and East Texas, places notable for lack of stones and mountains and an excess of sweltering heat. I’ve done a 180. Praise be, brother!

A summer day

Saturday actually began in my mind on Friday night.

We stood at the dining room window in the dwindling moments of daylight, watching a bat fly in circles under the downstairs terraza roof.

When the light faded further, she flew out for a bug orgy.

Saturday morning started at 7:45 when we heard knocks at the back door, the steel portal that separates us from the cobblestones.

There’s no doorbell there.

It was the propane guys. Our tank was low, so they topped it off for 2,500 pesos, and we’re gassed for another five months or so.

At 10 a.m., Abel, the neighbor who cuts the grass, rang the bell at the front gate. I let him in. I came back inside. I heard the lawnmower start and, almost immediately, die. I went back outside. Something was amiss.

Abel left, and my child bride and I hoisted the mower into the Chevy-cito. When you remove the back seat, that car becomes a pickup truck.

It is a very sweet vehicle.

I drove to the repair shop down near the docks. The owner, a woman who’s a Jehovah’s Witness and who tried briefly to convert me once (What a waste of her time that was), called one of her guys to the rescue, and 20 minutes later I was headed back to the Hacienda with a fixed mower.

PineappleThe repair cost about five bucks, including a roll of Weedeater line. I tipped the repairman 10 pesos, which is about 85 cents. You can live cheaply here and fix stuff quick.

Abel lives just on the other side of the sex motel, so I braked to tell him he could come back, which he did, and cut the grass.

I had returned in time for Second Breakfast at 11.

My child bride had been busy all morning baking pastries. After showering and dressing, we were ready for lunch at 1:30.

We drove down the highway to a roasted chicken stand and shared half a hen, tortillas and something that is kinda like cole slaw, but Mexicans don’t really know cole slaw. They know tacos.

By 2:30 we were downtown on the main plaza for the weekly pastry sale out of a big wicker basket. My role is to sit with her, provide engaging company. It’s part of the marriage contract, and I do it well.

Around 4:30, her sister arrives to spell me, so I come home.

Which is where I am now. It’s raining out, and I am eating a bowl of pineapple chunks. At 7:30, I will return downtown to pick her up. She’ll have a fanny pack full of cash, and there will be a smile on her face.

A smiling wife is a wonderful thing.

Nightwatch

Night

This is what I was wearing: Light-cotton, green-plaid pyjama pants with a drawstring and pockets, plus a green, long-sleeve T-shirt.

I was standing outside. On the rock sidewalk at near night. The final remnants of birds were heading to their trees. They don’t fly at night because they bump into one another. Or something like that.

Bats replace them in the night sky. I was hoping to see the bats sail out from under the downstairs terraza, but I had arrived too late, it seemed.

Bats are not idlers. At the first hint of darkness, they head out for bugs.

My child bride had not arrived home from the gym where she was pumping iron. I missed her, while standing there. But you’re never alone in this neighborhood. I heard the animals next door. Pigs, horse, goats and so on.

It ain’t Kansas, Toto. And I like that.

Over and past the roof of the sex motel, I saw a massive cloud of black smoke from a burning field not far away. Laced with the fading sunlight, it looked like bombs bursting on Berlin.

The metal gate swings open, and she pulls in. That means it’s time for a salad, and we’ll watch Mad Men on Netflix. I’m glad I don’t live in Texas anymore.