Age at times brings clarity. Things that never occur to you in youth or middle age become crystal clear with your increasing decrepitude.
Take stairs or even single steps, for instance.
When we built the Hacienda in 2002-03, my child bride suggested we do a “sunken” living room. I was neither here nor there about it, so we told the builder to do it without specifying how “sunken” it would be. He took the easy route, thank the Goddess, and sank it just one step, which you see in the above photo.
And then there was the notion of a second floor even though the property is large enough to have expanded a one-story villa all over the place with lots of yard left. A smaller lawn would have been nice because the yard is a constant wedgie in my butt.
I was a nimble 58 when this place was constructed, and now I’m 77. Things change, and my advice to you is that if you’re building a home in which you expect to live out your life, don’t do steps.
They are not a significant problem yet, but they likely will be with time. Let’s look at the one-step up to the dining room, the one you see in the photo above. My catching one foot on it as I step up is fairly common, but I have yet to take a dive.
My child bride, however, due to a damp rubber sandal a few years ago, sailed off that step and ended up in an arm cast for six weeks. When will it be my turn?
And there’s the stairwell to the second floor, a floor that could easily have been avoided, as I mentioned earlier. Climbing it many times a day is good exercise, so there is that. Neither of us has fallen on the stairwell yet, but will we and when?
I read recently that stairwells are a major cause of accidents. And if one or both of us live long enough, it could be an almost unpassable barrier to half of the house. You never think about this stuff when you’re relatively young.
I HAVEN’T issued a recent update on my child bride’s broken arm.
On Sept. 28, two days before a month had passed (the doctor initially said it would require four to six weeks), the cast came off. Since neither of us had ever suffered a broken bone before, we were clueless about the process.
While an X-ray indicates the arm is healing nicely, we did not anticipate the effects of one month of having an arm immobilized. Things happen to muscles and tendons, painful things. Well, mostly after the cast comes off.
But she’s doing exercises and soaks in warm water, and all is improving, but it’s not back to normal. Patience.
Worst of all for her is not being able to return to the gym. This has been the longest spell of no-gym in her 30 years of gym fanaticism. Again, patience.
But she’s driving her car again, and dealing with her own hair.
* * * *
We’re approaching the middle of October, which means we’re nearing the end of the yearly, five-month-long, daily deluges. The Day of the Dead arrives Nov. 2, and sometimes we get a rain on that candlelit night, messing things up in the cemeteries, but then the rain is gone till the following June.
With luck, the Day of the Dead will be dry. I’m told the corpses prefer it that way.
WHOEVER SAID life in retirement is easygoing was only sometimes correct.
We have too much on our plates right now. First, my child bride broke her arm a month ago. The cast came off last Friday. She still has swelling in her wrist, however, so we phoned the traumatologist yesterday. We got an X-ray of her wrist in the afternoon, and this morning we go back to the doctor.
* * * *
Five guys arrived yesterday morning and lugged the old LP tank from the service patio through the dining room, through the living room, and outside, leaving it in what I call the garden patio. It’s out back.
I said it was free for the taking, so one of them will return Thursday morning and haul it away. It is 15 years old, our first LP tank.
We were going to have this tank removed in January when other work is scheduled, but this weekend a blacksmith is coming to install circular stairs from the service patio to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, something we should have done ages ago because it’s necessary to go up there at times.
Now I creak up there on a ladder.
The circular stairs will partially obstruct the door from the kitchen to the service patio and likely would have made removing the LP tank next to impossible. I say “next to impossible” because Mexicans can do anything.
So we got the LP tank out of there while we still could.
* * * *
There is another circular stairway on the upstairs terraza that climbs to the roof of the second floor. That stairway will be moved next January to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, so we still have access to the highest roof.
One circular stairway from the ground to the roof of the dining room/kitchen, and then another from there all the way to the roof!
And why are we doing that? Because we’re going to remove the small, tile roof from the upstairs terraza and install another that will cover the entire terraza. This is how that terraza looked on a fine day many years ago.
But nowadays, it’s never used at all. It was never used much in the first place because it’s under blazing sun in the dry season, and it’s got an almost perpetual lake in the five-month rainy season.
In the above shot, you can see the current tile roof, a small one, at the very top. It was installed almost exclusively to cover the hammock that was there for years, but the hammock is long gone. I just stopped using it.
The new roof will cover all of the upstairs terraza. It will be either more red-clay tile, or something more modern — glass and steel, which will not blend with the architectural style, but it will be more convenient.
For the entire space to be covered, the circular stairwell has to go.
That work will be done early next year.
* * * *
At the same time, we’ll tear up the Jesus Patio you see in the first photo, replacing it with a larger patio with a nicer ceramic floor. We’ll also remove the cursed peach tree, not shown, and the damnable pear. They both toss hundreds of fruits on the grass every summer, and I’m sick and tired of picking it all up.
Also to be removed is the cursed nopal tree. It tosses its little “tuna” fruit onto the new rock-and-concrete yard surface below, more crap I have to pick up. It sheds hundreds, perhaps thousands, of those “tunas.”
This nopal tree is at least 30 feet tall, and it’s covered with spikes. I stupidly planted it years ago when it was knee-high to a petunia. If I had only known.
Originally, I had planned on removing the nopal along with the other work in January, but I asked the crew who moved the LP tank if they knew of someone who would remove it for a “good price.”
Someone’s coming Thursday morning to remove the nopal! They will charge me $1,500 pesos, about $80 U.S. today.
* * * *
Our washing machine has committed suicide, so we bought another yesterday afternoon. The original washer, like the LP tank, was new when we moved into the Hacienda 15 years. I found a repossessed washer at a store marked down from 12,000 pesos to 6,500, which is a steal. It looks like new. Whirlpool.
We’ll repair the old washer if it doesn’t cost a bunch, and we’ll take it to the Downtown Casita for the convenience of vacationers.
* * * *
So, lots going on. I hope it settles down soon, and I can return to my previous life of croissantitos, orange marmalade, bagels, cream cheese, cafés Americano negro, and Kindle books on the sprawling plaza downtown in the afternoons, a child bride and no more broken bones.
SINCE MY CHILD bride broke her arm recently, life has taken some significant detours here at the Hacienda.
Some affect her more than me, and some affect me more than her, but everyone is affected. Perhaps the worst part is that she cannot go to the gym, something she’s done regularly for about 30 years.
This is driving her nuts.
Since her car has an automatic transmission, and her broken arm is the left one, and she’s right-handed, she can still drive, but she’s nervous about it, so she’s not driving. I am now the full-time chauffeur.
She cannot easily put cream cheese on her bagels in the morning or orange marmalade on her croissants. I do that for her.
Neither can she iron clothes, which she’s done since we got married. I am fully capable of ironing clothes, and I ironed clothes all the time during my previous marriage. Now I’m back to ironing clothes.
But I don’t do it as well as she does because the occasional wrinkle does not bother me. I’m more laid back about creases’ locations.
She still sweeps and mops, but not very well. Oh, well.
When she showers, I have to tape a plastic bag around her cast. She does remove it, however. We’re using lots of bags.
Which brings us to her hair, which is curly and very long. There’s not much she can do with it wielding one hand so I have been drafted. I am not good at it. Sometimes she looks goofy.
Her weekend pastry sales on the downtown plaza have been suspended, so she’s unemployed. I continue her benefits, however.
Today ends the first week of this new life. According to the doctor, it will continue for another three to five weeks. We’re praying for just three.
Neither of us had broken a bone before, and neither of us had lived with someone who’d broken a bone, so we’d never given it much thought.