Days of our lives

YESTERDAY WE ate tuna lasagna in The Lasagna Factory in the nearby capital city. We wanted vegetarian, but none was available. So tuna it was, and it was good.

Then we visited Costco and Chedraui for various staples before heading home to our mountaintop abode where peace reigns.

This morning I stepped out to the service patio and noticed, just past the steel stairway to the kitchen roof, a sizable spray of bird crap and a baby bird, deceased. Crap! I uttered to no one in particular. I glanced up, way up, and saw no nest. Strange.

I swept up the birdie corpse, tossed it in the trash outside in the Garden Patio, returned and looked up again, which is when I saw movement. Here’s the situation: There is a huge wasp nest up there, long abandoned, and so high I had never knocked it down.

Swallows had somehow turned a part of the wasp nest, a part that was drooping, into a home of their own, and there’s a family there, minus the one who plunged to his demise. I’ll keep an eye on the situation, and when the little buggers bugger off, the extension ladder will put me within range to knock the whole shebang down, and I will.

Why can’t swallows mind their own business? Nest under bridges or in the house of the people out back who blare music too loud? Where is the justice?


Tomorrow will be a big day here. More plant murder is planned.

The monster aloe vera which resides at the bedroom corner in what I’ve long called the Willy Nilly Zone will be uprooted and toted to God knows where.

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That aloe vera will go, but the datura will stay.

We once had three of these big babies, but Abel the Deadpan Yardman removed one a few years back. It was somewhat smaller than the one in the photo. I have a crew coming in the morning with machetes and a pickup truck.

It’s the same crew that removed the towering nopal, the monster bougainvillea and the annoying loquat tree.

After that’s done, Abel comes the following day, and I’m going to have him remove most everything in that area. It’s not clear from the photo, but there are tons of weeds. I will plant new stuff, but not plants that grow enormous.

More on this in a few days.


Our mayor has tested positive for the Kung Flu virus. He posted a video announcement on Facebook yesterday while sitting at a desk, which I assume is in his home, in normal clothes, wearing a facemask, to say he’s staying put for two weeks.

He’s a real glad-hander, so his getting Kung Flu is no shock. I wish him a speedy recovery, or maybe he’ll be one of those who never show symptoms, if such a thing exists.

He looked fine in the video.


In closing, here’s a little humor on the state of America. I might make this a recurring feature. Send me stuff.

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Happy bird days

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My own fan palm where lovey-doves live.

I WAS A birdwatcher when I lived in Texas. Not one of the nutty ones who’ll pack a bag of binoculars in a nanosecond to board an airliner to Peru on hearing that a pink-tailed titty-wacker had been spotted there. No, I was more casual about it.

My birdwatching areas were my yard, parks in Houston and at times National Wildlife Refuges, especially the one in Anahuac, which is not too distant from Houston. (An internet search reveals that most refuges are closed due to the Kung Flu, which is absolute nincompoopery. It’s out in the open air, for Pete’s sake!)

Here at the Hacienda I have a ceramic birdbath I bought near San Miguel de Allende, and it’s a popular watering hole that rests on the edge of the lawn patio.

I was sitting on the patio yesterday afternoon late in the day, enjoying the cool breeze, especially since the sun had fallen behind the house. It’s a sweet time. A bird landed on the property wall not 15 feet from me. At first I thought it was a freaking pigeon, formally known as the rock dove, the pest bird that’s a plague in cities everywhere.

But I noticed differences. It had a smaller head, was more attractive, and it sported a black mark on the back of its neck. It wasn’t a pigeon. I walked inside to get my bird book which revealed it to be a Eurasian Collared-Dove whose range, when the book was published almost 20 years ago, did not even include Mexico.

The book says the Eurasian Collared-Dove was a European import to the Bahamas way back when, and it had since spread to Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States. But nowhere in Mexico. The book also said the bird was spreading outside the mapped range. Well, yes, it has. This one has a spouse, and they seem to live in my fan palm. I spotted them high in the palm, lovey-dovey, a few minutes later.

We have birds here that I never saw in Texas, and some birds that are common up there don’t fly down here. A frequent visitor to my yard is the black-vented oriole. But I’ve never seen a cardinal. Curved-Bill Thrashers used to enjoy leaping amid the spikes of my nopal tree before I had that monster plant removed.


Pigeons are becoming a plague on the big plaza downtown, much more than, say, 15 or 20 years ago. They are being encouraged by nincompoops who sit on the plaza benches and toss food at them. We wrote the mayor once to point out the problem and request signs on the plaza saying, Don’t Feed the Damn Pigeons, or something like that. He ignored us. They nest in the attics of the colonial buildings and do damage.


My weirdest birding experience took place in the early 1990s. A friend and coworker at The Houston Chronicle, a fellow named James Colquitt Langdon, and I drove to the Attwater Prairie Chicken Refuge between Houston and San Antonio. The bird in question was endangered at the time, and a reservation was required.

The Prairie Chickens showed up at specific hours, and the way you viewed them was to sit inside a converted Porta-Potty that was placed in the middle of a field. Porta-Potties, of course, are designed for one visitor, but two people can squeeze inside, and it gets very chummy. Small peepholes were cut in the walls for one’s birdwatching pleasure.

Just imagine. Two middle-aged men sitting, calf to calf, shoulder to shoulder, for a couple of hours, inside a Porta-Potty — there was a board over the hole — in the middle of a field in the middle of Texas. What we do for the birds!


My bird book is National Geographic’s Field Guide to Birds of North America, Third Edition, and it’s about 20 years old, as I previously mentioned. You’d think National Geographic would know geography, but North America to this book is the United States and Canada. It does not include Mexico, which is North America too. Racism! I keep meaning to write them about this, but I never have. Where is Brown Lives Matter?


One of the best things about being a birdwatcher is to read bird names in the books. They can be fascinating and wonderful. Here is a little list:

Oldsquaw (Whoops! Better change that quick!)

Whiskered Auklet.

Black-Tailed Godlet.

Black-Backed Wagtail.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

Plumbeous Vireo.

You could spend a whole afternoon just enjoying bird names.

Birds, paint & plague

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Playground of the orioles.

SPRINGTIME, THOUGH we’re not officially in springtime yet, brings birds to the Hacienda, pretty birds and fun ways to watch them.

It began three days ago. In the early mornings, between 7 and 8, I’m generally upstairs checking out the woeful state of the world via the internet. There’s a bank of windows just beyond my desk, and they open to the upstairs terraza.

orioleHanging out there, pure decoration, are two large balls made of straw or something like a thick vine. The larger is about 18 inches across. It’s the big one that’s become a post-dawn playground to black-vented orioles.

They fly under the glass roof and at the top of the ball is an opening through which the orioles, two of them, descend into the ball, flit about inside, and then depart to climb around the outside of the globe. This goes on for a minute or two, and they leave.

Three days in a row now, about 7:30 or so. They have a schedule.

This morning I tried to sneak to the door with my camera, but orioles are cautious, unlike house sparrows and hummingbirds which are fine with human company, and when I merely stood up from my desk, the orioles fled, lickety-split.

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The Downtown Casita’s new look.

We’ve gussied up the Downtown Casita, a fresh coat of light yellow and an artsy circular stairway from the balcony to the roof. The twirly design is the same we have on the stairwell inside the Hacienda. I found that style online years ago.

The ironwork was done by a young, very talented and artistic blacksmith. That would cost a small fortune above the Rio Bravo if you could even find someone who could do it.

It’s available for vacation rentals, plus we house visiting relatives occasionally, which comes in handy because Mexicans have lots of relatives, and they like to visit.

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Moving on to the spreading plague of coronavirus that is leaving millions dead in its wake worldwide. No? Well, okay, but it’s scaring plenty of people.

We have very few cases in Mexico, about eight, last I heard. Just south of us, Guatemala and El Salvador are quarantining themselves. El Salvador will let no foreigners enter for the next month. Guatemala is barring people who’ve been in China.

Here in Mexico, on the other hand, our nincompoop leftist president is doing next to nothing. On the contrary, he’s sticking with his hug approach, the one he extends to narcos. He always favors hugs, he says. Narcos, plague? No matter, he wants to hug.

Leftists love hugs because it distracts you while your pocket is picked.

Don’t fault me. I voted for the other guy. Maybe the other guy was corrupt. Who knows? But at least he wasn’t a nincompoop.

Curse of bougainvillea

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THE ABOVE SHOWS just a small portion of the fallen bougainvillea leaves I must remove on a regular basis. My patience is running short.

More than 15 years back I planted many things in our yard that I have grown mightily to regret. The nopal tree, now gone. Two pear trees, gone. Peach tree, gone. There are only two major nuisances left, the bougainvillea and a very large loquat.

Just this week, I noticed that a freaking, nasty pigeon is nesting deep in the bougainvillea, no doubt producing more of those large pests. I would remove the nest if I could see it or reach it, but the plant is so thick, that’s next to impossible.

I see her dive in there and disappear. Then there are maternal clucking sounds! If  I’m walking along our sidewalk, and she’s gliding toward the hidden nest, she abruptly detours on spotting me. She thinks I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m sharper than a pigeon.

The damnable pigeon occasionally sits and craps atop the steel superstructure where our upstairs terraza dome will be installed. (Glass is en route, by the way.) Pigeons are a relatively new element in my hardscrabble barrio. I only noticed the first one about a year ago, and now they’re making themselves at home.

If I only possessed a shotgun!

The large plaza downtown is overrun with pigeons now, and people feed them! Welcome! They roost in the attics of the old Colonial buildings surrounding the plaza, making a horrible mess. We wrote a letter to the mayor a few years back, suggesting he put signs on the plaza forbidding the feeding of pigeons.

He ignored us, and the pigeon population continues to swell.

On a positive note, the days now consist of blue skies and cool-enough temperatures. Not only are bougainvillea blooming all over town, but spectacular jacaranda trees too.

And the first flower of our golden datura appeared by the Alamo Wall this week.

Other current events: At this moment, just after High Noon, the folks who live in the hovel out back are blaring music to one and all. Luckily, that side of the Hacienda has no windows save a small one in the upstairs bathroom, so the noise is not a problem.

This afternoon we’ll be lunching at a health-food joint by the docks. Haven’t been there in many a month. Should arrive about 2 p.m. Come join us if you like. Dutch Treat, of course. We’re fixed-income pensioners.

Then later we’ll drive downtown for a stroll around the Semana Santa market that covers the plaza. Some interesting things on sale, but the Day of the Dead market is superior.

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Note: The horror story I mentioned about a week ago likely will appear here on Saturday. I’ve emerged from the grim tale intact. Stay tuned, as they say.