Neighborhood rhythm

ONE ASPECT of being mostly homebound is that I’m learning a bit more about my ramshackle barrio.

My child bride mentioned this morning that the birds start singing at 6 a.m. and the roosters at 7. Of course, this has nothing to do with being homebound because we’ve always been here at dawn, but I’d never noticed the fowls’ different singing schedules.

Yesterday I mentioned to her that there seem to be a plethora of garbage pickups. She replied that it’s more noticeable because we’re here all day, unlike before. We don’t put our garbage out on the street because that’s not how it works.

Garbage trucks, some municipal and some private, pass by randomly, it appears. They all clang a cow bell to announce their presence. You grab your garbage and rush outside to hand it over and leave a tip. But I rarely use that system. Too much hurry.

It does not suit a lazy man.

When trash accumulates, I toss the bags into the Honda and drive to a spot behind a municipal market on the ring road. A dumptruck waits there from 4 till 6 p.m. It’s primarily to collect trash from the municipal market, but anyone can leave garbage.

The driver/trash collector is a fine fellow, always smiling, who doesn’t seem to mind being a garbage man. It’s an honorable profession, I think. Underappreciated.

I always tip him 20 pesos, and last Christmas I gave him 100 pesos. It occurred to me later that a bigger bonus would have been better, and if I’m alive in December, I’ll give him 200 at least, just for his smile. I detoured from that routine a few days ago, and lugged trash out to a passing truck behind the Hacienda. Another 20 pesos.

This morning was interrupted by a haircut, mine, the second homemade trim in the past few weeks. We have clippers, and I sat on the upstairs terraza while my child bride refreshed my buzzcut. Meanwhile, the full beard continues to grow.

48114538163_8630d6065d_oI’ve not sported a full beard in 30 years, just a large goatee, which a late friend told me looked pansy-ass, or something like that. I don’t care. Here’s how full coverage looked 30 years ago, a passport photo.

In my mid-40s and already turning gray.

My father had the same issue, so I inherited it.

I did some nasty business this morning. While my child bride was inside knitting, not paying mind to anything else, I was out in the yard delivering discipline to the loquat tree that has the audacity to start growing again.

It was a major trash tosser before I had it drastically wacked back last year, but like the monster bougainvillea, it’s feeling its oats again. Many of those oats now rest out back in the wheelbarrow. I’m the boss around here.

The neighborhood rhythm today will include green pozole for lunch. My child bride makes superlative pozole. Were we not in quarantine, I would offer you some.

See you down the road somewhere.

The file man

I’VE MAINTAINED a file cabinet for decades. I find filing satisfying. When I left Houston, I culled wildly, keeping just the bare bones, which I packed over the Rio Bravo.

new-imageI bought a new file cabinet, resuming the habit.

I have insurance files (one for homes, one for cars), bank files (two banks), investment files, three house files (two here, one in Mexico City), receipt file, tourism file, health file, and many more.

But my favorite is the Miscellaneous File where I keep stuff that doesn’t belong elsewhere. Yesterday, killing time at home due to having a cold, I opened Miscellaneous.

It’s a trip down Memory Lane.

  1. Press passes with mug shots. One from my first job, New Orleans. I’m clean-shaven, 24 years old, in a dress shirt and tie. Another for the San Juan Star. I’m 30, My collar is open, and I have Fu Manchu mustache. The third, Houston Chronicle, age 39, shows me in a dress shirt and tie but with the full black beard of a Hells Angel.
  2. Expired passports. Two U.S. and one Mexican. The older U.S. passport shows me in eyeglasses. That’s a no-no now. Both Mexican and U.S. passports were renewed this year, likely for the last time. I’m not immortal.
  3. Air Force shoulder patch. It’s a large circle that says F-106 Dart. The Delta Dart was an interceptor aircraft, and I maintained survival-equipment pods in the ejection seats. Had I not screwed up so much of my youth, I would have been flying the F-106 instead.
  4. A bookmark. On textured blue paper and inscribed with a haiku of my father’s: cajun cabin/the aroma of hot gumbo/floats on the bayou. His name, dates, and the phrase American Haiku Master, which he was.
  5. Air Force discharge. Two versions. One suitable for framing, and the other with dates and mumbo-jumbo.
  6. new-imageA watercolor sketch. Of me, done by local artist Arturo Solis. He just walked over and handed it to me one day years ago while I was on the plaza enjoying a cafecito. We have a number of his works hanging on our walls.
  7. Drug formula. For committing suicide. You never know when it may come in handy. The Hemingway method is messy. Anyway, I don’t own a shotgun.
  8. Texas driver’s license. I arrived with it. It expired six years later, and I never renewed. My DL now is Mexican.
  9. Solo certificate. On the 28th day of June, 1976, I took off alone and returned to the New Orleans Lakefront Airport in a Cessna 152. Suitable for framing. I don’t fly anymore.
  10. A love note. From my wife on my birthday in 2003. We had been married almost 18 months.
  11. Final electric bill. Houston, dated Jan. 8-12, 2000. Amount: $86.02 for just four days 16 years ago. That’s approximately what I pay now in a year at the Hacienda.
  12. Certification card. International Bartending Institute. Dated May 7, 1982. I am a certified bartender. Whoopee!
  13. Flying license. I became a pilot of small planes on Oct. 26, 1976. The license never expires. You do have to renew your medical certificate, however. The last medical expired June 1, 1978. There’s also a radio permit in the envelope.
  14. Cremation certificate. My mother was cremated on Jan. 8, 2009, at Atlanta Crematory Inc. in Stone Mountain, Georgia. She had made it to age 90.
  15. Divorce papers. I had them in this file until fairly recently, but I tossed them into the trash. Two divorces. Two utterly miserable experiences that I’ll never repeat. I would prefer the Hemingway solution.

If you got all the way down here, you deserve a Gold Medal. I also have a Letters file.

Maybe I’ll spill that here some day. That’s where the love notes are stored. I love love letters.