Evening on the veranda

veranda

THIS EVENING I sat atop a rocker just after sunset, alone, inhaling the night air, something I did more often years ago before they invented Netflix and the internet.

This photo was shot 14 years ago, but it hasn’t changed to any appreciable degree.

It was fairly quiet, and there was a slight breeze which excited a couple of the wind chimes, so I had musical accompaniment, a fine thing especially when it’s soft.

It was the hour of bats, but I saw none. Maybe I had sat too late, or maybe it’s just not that time of year. I lose track, as I lose track of lots of things.

It’s a good place to sit at all hours, but especially evenings or nights. If there are bats heading out for their nocturnal meal, that’s just gravy for me or a dessert of sorts.

I should do this more often. That’s what I said to myself.

I hope I remember.

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.