Kitchens and virgins

Tank space

CONSTRUCTION WORK continues at the Hacienda. In the photo above, you see a second-story brick wall going up that will serve to hide the water tank that will sit up there above the lavatory.

As previously announced, the initial plan of building a storefront has been modified. While the new space will have a large opening to the street so it can be rented or used as a storefront, our new plan is to outfit the area as a big, stand-alone kitchen where my wife can bake her stupendous pastries to hawk on the downtown plaza.

The new roof has been installed. Instead of just the traditional clay tiles that were there before, an additional subroof of plywood was added and the tiles now sit atop that. It makes for a tighter environment for the kitchen. The plywood will be painted to match the exposed wood beams that support the roof.

Saturday marks the end of the work’s third week and a photo album of the construction is here. The contractor initially told us the work would take four to six weeks, but that ain’t gonna happen.

The floor still has to be cemented and ceramic tile laid, the plumbing and electrical must be completed, the interior walls finished and painted, the door to the street installed, the propane tank, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, potty, water heater installed, the septic tank excavated. In short, God knows when it will be done.

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But Friday was more than just another construction day. It also was the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day. As you may know, the Virgin of Guadalupe is the personal virgin of us Mexicans. She is special to us because she is brown-skinned as most of us are. She is not just some old white virgin, and we love her for that.

Old white virgins — like old white men — are passé, so yesterday.

There was a parade downtown today, and there will be earth-shaking concerts on our local plaza Friday and Saturday nights. December 12 is when the Virgin was born, or was first spotted, or maybe her resurrection. I really don’t keep up with these things. I can’t keep Jesus’ or Moses’ lives straight, much less a Mexican virgin’s.


I was downtown in mid-afternoon, and I shot this photo. It was tranquil — which is how I prefer it — the calm before the storm. But before I departed two hours later, there was a blaring taxi parade and associated drums, clarinets and tubas. The virgin apparently loves racket.

I got out just in the nick of time via a back street.

The storefront, cont’d

Trench for one of two new walls.
Trench for one of two new walls.

THE LADS started work on the storefront Monday morning, and they’ve arrived here daily at 8 a.m. Much progress has been made. Above is a foundation trench for one of the two additional walls that will box in the area that currently is walled on just two sides. The trench has been half-filled with cement. It’s drying.

Below is the excavation for the foundation of the half-bath that will abut the storefront. The bathroom, a john actually because there will be no bathing there, no shower, will be the only part that will reside outside the already existing tile roof. The john will have a flat roof and the water tank will sit up there.

Excavation for half-bath’s foundation.

There are some unrelated details around the Hacienda that the boys will complete too. One is to remove that brick grill you see in the bottom photo. It was here when we bought the property 13 years ago, and we’ve never used it. Another is to replace the red tile roof above the green gate (top photo). That’s almost completed. Fast work.

That roof over the entrance gate was installed just last spring by a different workman. He did a crappy job, and tiles easily slipped this way and that. The new guys are cementing them in place.

In the top photo, you can see an old-style fuse box high on the wall just under what will be the storefront roof. Two metal conduits are leading to it. There are only two fuses in there, and it’s where the Hacienda electricity comes in from the street pole. That will be replaced with circuit breakers and moved somewhere to the right, which is to say outside the storefront.

An ongoing photo album of the work can be seen here. It will be updated often until the work is finished.

Watching this is great fun for me. If only I didn’t have to pay for it.

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(Note: The previous, original post on this matter is here.)

Weekend wrap-up

IT’S BEEN a long time since the last Odds & Ends post:

1. I’ve abandoned my Facebook page. As so many people ahead of me have noticed, it’s a real time-waster. It’s the second time I have abandoned it, but I think it will stick this go-around. Perhaps now I’ll use my Twitter account more (under my real name), but I need to learn to be pithy.

2. I’ve started an album in my SlickPic website that will be devoted to almost daily photos of the storefront construction here at the Hacienda. When we built the Hacienda’s residence back in 2002-2003, I took scads of digital photos. One day, after it was all done, my hard drive committed suicide. Everything was lost.

odds__endsYes, I should have backed it up somewhere. In some areas, I am an ignoramus.

Mexican construction is very interesting and — in many respects — quite different than how it’s done north of the Rio Bravo. I was fascinated by the process, especially the use of tree trunks to hold up the ceilings until the cement dries. Of course, there are no crawl spaces or even basements, nor empty spaces in the walls where you can blow insulation. It’s solid brick and concrete.

3. You may have heard of the conflict in the state of Guerrero where a bunch of radical students (almost an oxymoron here) met up with a bunch of men with guns, some in police uniforms. There was gunfire, a few deaths on the students’ side, and 43 of the students were hauled off somewhere, presumably dead now.

It’s hard to pick the good guys because there aren’t any. The state of Guerrero has long had a particularly severe corruption problem, and that includes — obviously — part of the police.

But the students have long had a sour reputation too. They are called Normalistas, due to the type of school they attend, which are named Normal Schools, and they turn out uniformly left-wing teachers.

The student teachers are given to blocking highways and streets. (Pick your radical issue.) Generally, they have made an horrendous nuisance of themselves all over the nation for years. To get an idea of the “education” they receive, see this YouTube video. Note Karl Marx, Che Guevara and lots of raised fists.

This is particularly true in my neck of the Mexican woods, so I am not sympathetic. At times, when a gang of these youngsters want to go en masse somewhere to stir up trouble, they simply stop buses on the highways, kick the passengers out, and off they go, free bus ride. Cops usually no nothing.

Since thuggish President Gustavo Diáz Ordaz ordered  the Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968, which severely backfired on his administration, students have been given mostly free rein all over Mexico. They have become as most children become without parental discipline: spoiled brats. Spankings are long overdue.

Think billy clubs and tear gas because these are older children, far past puberty.

Perhaps some judiciously applied billy clubs and tear gas years ago would have prevented what has happened in the state of Guerrero. I think so. In the meantime, God knows where those 43 kids are.

4. It’s Saturday, which means we’ll be downtown this afternoon selling my wife’s pastries out of the wicker basket. There are some new items on the menu, especially quiche with caramelized onions. Two weeks ago, we sold out completely — about 40 items — in 30 minutes. Last week, all was gone in 40 minutes.

So, don’t show up late. That’s my advice.

Hacienda, Ltd.

The "Before" shot.
The “Before” shot.

NEXT WEEK a construction project will begin here at the Hacienda.

We’ve had relatively minor construction projects in the past, but this will be far greater. We’re going to build a locale, which is what we Mexicans call storefronts.

Previous construction projects have included the carport for the Nissan, basically a concrete floor and a clay tile roof, much like what you see here, but smaller and behind the photographer, which was me. Another clay tile roof was built in what is now called the Garden Patio. It’s where most yard gear is kept, not visible here.

And then there was the stone and concrete that replaced the grass and dirt (mud) over a wide area just inside the entrance from the street. It’s called empedrado, and you see it here on the ground in the photo. I would like to remove all grass from the yard and replace it with empedrado. Maybe I will one day.

When we purchased the double lot that now houses the Hacienda, this portal in the photo was already in place. It was about the only thing here. We have used the left side to park the car, and the other side for not much of anything. That is going to change, big-time. That’s where the storefront will be.

The street runs parallel to the wall at the right. From the left brick column, next to the Honda, a wall will be built back to the rear wall. And from that same brick column, another wall will be constructed, going right, until it connects with the wall that runs parallel to the street.

All of which is to say that everything will be enclosed except where the Honda sits. On the far right, extending out from the roofed area, a half-bath will be built over a septic tank that will be dug.

On the roof of the bathroom will sit a large water tank that will be fed from the street.

The inside will be stuccoed. Fluorescent lighting and six wall plugs, plus switches will be installed. The floor will be covered with another level of cement and ceramic tile will be laid. Lovely interior paint will go all around.

According to the builder, this will take four to six weeks total.

The cost — labor and material — for all that I have mentioned (plus some other, piddling details around the Hacienda) will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000. When all is done, another $850, more or less, will be paid to purchase and install what’s called a cortina — a curtain — a wide steel door that slides down and up to provide a spacious entry from the street. Thousands of customers will flood through.

Customers for what? That’s a good question. I have no interest in renting it. Don’t need the money and dealing with tenants likely would be a headache. Maybe my child bride will open a pastry shop one day. The storefront will join the downtown Casita as an income source for her in the distant future after I die.

It’s an investment. We’re on the main drag of our neighborhood.

As the work progresses, I’ll post updates. It’ll be fun.

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(Note: I will be taking periodic photos of the work’s progress, and they will be posted in sequence right here.)