Plants, birds & plugs

This morning.

After assaulting three arrogant bougainvillea bushes and two of their allies with sharp clippers early today, I rested on the downstairs terraza, atop a rocker, and enjoyed what remained of the morning. As I sat there with a juice my child bride had made, a black-vented oriole landed on the edge of the birdbath for a sip. I did not have my camera.

He flew away.

I remained on the rocking chair. A few minutes later he returned for more water. I still did not have my camera. I cursed my luck. He flew away. I remained on the rocker. A few minutes later he returned and sat on a bougainvillea near the birdbath. Still, no camera. I cursed. He flew away. I stood up and grabbed the Canon which was on a table just inside the front door. I sat on the rocker again. The bird never came back.

Also this morning.

Spring has been strange. After about a week of warmer, stuffier weather, which is normal for spring, it changed its tune and got cool again, so my wife caught a nasty cold three days ago because she was dressed at night for a normal spring. She’s feeling better today.


And now, a plug

Few passersby notice, I think, but there is quite a list of links nearby to other fascinating elements of The Moon. It’s to your right on a PC, but I suspect fewer people use PCs these days, favoring phones and tablets where those links are less obvious.

One in particular that ran as a series here years ago but now has its own website is The Old Marbol, which is the name of a hotel in Dark City. Many strange people work at The Old Marbol, people like Billy Lancing who’s a red-headed negro; Lenny Slick, a dim-witted desk clerk addicted to phrenology; Maxence, a retired mercenary who loved Chloë Jomo-Gbomo; and Beauregard Lee Johnston, a gay guy from the Old South.

Most importantly is Kristanbel Wasoo who was born bad, beautiful and heartless. She loves dark ale and bloody roast beef sandwiches. She murders people. Here is a full cast of characters. I used to write short fiction, but I have stopped because my well ran dry.

But the Old Marbol Hotel lives on in Dark City.

Great white hunter

As Papa Hemingway once posed with his lion prey on the plains of Africa, I am posing with my prey in the Garden Patio on Easter Sunday.

Sure, those lions were tough customers, but so are my huge philodendron fronds. Papa could have left the lions in peace — they weren’t bugging him — but the same cannot be said about the philodendron I foolishly planted in the yard years ago.

Today they felt some sharp discipline, something that must be done every couple of months or so. Now I must chop them into smaller pieces and toss them into a huge plastic bag that will be delivered to a dumpster downtown.

I wonder what Papa did with his lions. No clue.

Other things bother me: illegal aliens in the form of Eurasian collared doves who only arrived in Mexico in recent years sans visa. They’re not as bad as regular pigeons, but it’s a close call. They’ve taken up residence in the dead fronds hanging up high on my towering fan palm, something else I stupidly planted years back. Will I never learn?

Actually, I have learned and learned well. I don’t plant anything anymore that may turn into a bothersome behemoth. I just plant nice things, and darn little of that too.

Before I removed the monster bougainvillea that once towered over the property wall, tossing dead flowers not only on my yard but onto the driveway of the sex motel next door, Eurasian collared doves lived in that plant too, hidden from view.

Now they’ve moved into the fan palm, and I make their lives swell because they use my ceramic birdbath for drinking and recreation. They’re like illegal aliens in California, treated nicely. They have found a bird sanctuary, but what I need is a shotgun.

Life is full of challenges, and Easter Sunday doesn’t change that.

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.

willy1
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.

Screenshot

Happy bird days

palm
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.