No-show from Santa

firespot

THIS IS OUR upstairs fireplace, a photo I shot just this morning.

There were no footprints in the ashes, so it appears Santa did not come in through this route. There is also a fireplace downstairs, a larger one that would be more appropriate for fat Santa but again, no footprints in the ashes.

I woke up this morning, leaped out of bed and ran into the living room to see what I had scored, but there was nothing waiting in spite of my having been a good boy all year.

I spent last night alone after transporting my child bride to the nearby state capital yesterday afternoon where she hoopla’ed late into the night with a gang of her relatives, a Mexican family requirement on Christmas Eve.

This after she had just returned the previous day from Guanajuato, again with a gang of her relatives. They were there three days while I cooled my heels at the Hacienda overseeing the painter who will return tomorrow, by the way.

Well, anyway, I rushed into the living room this morning and found squat in the way of gifts. I had asked for an AR-15, a bazooka and a Trump T-shirt.

Perhaps the fact there is neither Christmas tree nor stockings hung on the chimney with care had something to do with Santa’s ill-spirited no-show.

Maybe I should have put out cookies and milk. Or whiskey and steak.

Could it be that Santa does not like Mexicans?

I’ve learned my lesson. Next year I’m not going to be a good boy.

The arch at night

arch

HEADING TO bed the other night, I turned around and saw this, and it occurred to me that I’d never taken a straight-on shot of the arch.

The camera was sitting on a table by the front door just off to the left, so I grabbed it, set it on flash, and shot this picture. I almost never use the flash, but it was necessary.

I was standing in near-total darkness.

Those two large plates hanging on either side of the arch were purchased years apart. The one on the left we bought about a decade ago during a trip to Taxco. The one on the right we bought more recently in Ajijic, Jalisco.

Ajijic, like San Miguel de Allende, is one of the most beloved spots for Gringos who want to live down here, do “art,” and not have to be bothered with learning pesky Spanish.

See those two carved-wood columns at the bases of the arch? That was my child bride’s idea. She came up with some doozies during the Hacienda construction.

About a week after moving into the house in 2003, we had a party to show it off to people we knew here. It was back before I turned into an almost complete hermit.

One of our invitees brought someone visiting from above the Rio Bravo. He was an architect, and he told me that finding someone in the United States who could build that arch would be almost impossible these days.

The old guy who built ours, Don Felipe Gonzalez, did it by hand, and it was interesting to watch the work. He was the boss of the three-man construction crew. Don Felipe turned 70 during the construction, and he’s since died.

He also chipped stone blocks out of rock piles to build the two fireplaces and, later, the Alamo Wall out in the yard. He did them by himself. Don Felipe was an artist.

When we hired him to build the Hacienda, he was 69 and just recovering from a lengthy illness of some sort. He was having trouble finding work due to his age.

Ageism, sexism, almost all the isms, thrive in Mexico.

People thought he was not up to it. He was recommended by a relative, and Don Felipe gave us an exceptionally low price for the labor. We jumped at it.

He’s long gone, but I think of his talent almost daily as I wander around here, even late at night before beddy-bye.

Bat neighbors

MOST EVERY morning, after café, bagels and Philly cream cheese, lite, I wash the dishes and step out to the downstairs terraza to sweep. This is especially necessary in Springtime because the season creates plenty of dust.

broomIn July or August the terraza may be awash with blown-in rainwater, but that’s not an issue in Springtime, which is a time of dust. And bats.

This morning I arrived out on the terraza, took a look to my right and there on one of the wooden shelves was an ample supply of dry bat shit, guano they call it.

My gaze traveled upward to the red clay roof tiles, which is where the bats hang out during the day in Springtime but summer too.

I know they’re up there, but I’ve never seen them up there, just the proof — there on the shelf — of their presence. And if you’re on the terraza around dusk, you’ll spot them flying out and high on their nightly dining expeditions. However, they do it so quickly you can’t see where they start from, specifically, their hangar. No matter. The guano spills the beans.

Getting a brush, I flipped the little turds to the floor where they were included in the sweep.

We once found a bat hanging from the ceiling fixture in the downtown Casita’s back bedroom, just above the bed. He couldn’t have been there long because the bed was still unsullied by, well, you know. My lovely wife had gone to the Casita alone, and I quickly received a phone call informing me, hysterically, that “something” was hanging from the light fixture.

What is it? I inquired. She did not know, she responded. Some sort of beast.

I hurried to the Casita — about 15 minutes from the Hacienda — and immediately saw what it was. Nothing confusing about it. Women are funny.

I got a shoe box, donned a pair of leather gloves, and “encouraged” the little bugger to move into the box, which he did with little fuss. For lack of any other solution, I tossed him into a grassy area nearby. I hope everything turned out well for him, though I doubt it did.

How did he get into the Casita? I scratched my noodle, figuratively speaking, for the next few hours. It’s a modern construction, well sealed, and I was puzzled. Later, downtown on the plaza, sitting at a sidewalk table with a hot espresso, it hit me. The chimney! Well, duh.

There’s a small, non-functioning fireplace in the living room.

The next morning, I went to the roof and closed the opening with screen.

Problem solved.

Man and fire

fire

THERE’S AN ART to building a good fire.

And I have no idea what that is, so my approach is to bludgeon the matter. I pile a mountain of firewood, and I torch a handful of ocote, which is a resin-full wood that ignites gleefully when introduced to flame.

Stick the burning ocote under the stacked wood and wait. That’s all there is to it. Perhaps I do grasp the art.

I lit a fire downstairs yesterday, the first of the season. Before that, I climbed the circular stairway on the upstairs terraza to the roof and removed plastic sheeting from the chimney top. Most of the year it’s wrapped in plastic to keep mosquitoes out. It took me about three years to learn that.

On about two occasions, I forgot to uncover the chimney first, and you can imagine what happened.

I paused while on the roof and took a look around at the green mountains. I inhaled the clear winter air, and I thanked the Goddess, hardly for the first time, for landing me here in my declining years. It’s good to end one’s many days in such a spectacular fashion.

There were two blazes yesterday. The first was in the morning because it was dang cold. The second was late afternoon. It was less cold, but I desired a cozy atmosphere. After I got the fire burning, I sat on the nearby scarlet sofa and read a good book about Stanley and Dr. Livingstone.

And felt good about myself. A fine fire will do that.