Nice, green and tidy

I shot this photo today just after Abel the Deadpan Yardman departed. He lives two doors down, and has been our lawn man for a good many years. I forget how many, but a good many.

The shorter plant in the stone circle is an avocado tree (okay, an aspiring tree) that my child bride started with an avocado seed a few years ago. I forget how many. It almost froze dead last winter, so we’ll see how it survives the winter to come.

Directly behind it, abutting the orange wall, is a bougainvillea that I keep under control with clippers. To the right, just before the patio, is a sour orange, good for dropping old oranges that I must scoop up. A long-gone friend gifted me that orange just after we moved here.

Stupidly, I planted it, but it grows slowly.

At left is the base of a fan palm that soars into the heavens, possibly 40 feet. I planted it when it was less than a foot high, thinking it’ll be cute. Now I worry about it falling onto the house some stormy night. Lots of trees hereabouts have collapsed recently in storms.

The area that’s abundant with greenery on the right is half of the Willy-Nilly Zone. The other half is farther to the right, off-camera.

See the whiter area of the sidewalk? That part was repaired about a year ago because it was coming undone after 18 years.

Starting about where the orange tree/bush sits and all the way up to the red wall at the rear will be filled in December with stone and concrete, my latest effort to de-green the yard.

That area is larger than it appears here.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman has been very reliable, but I detect just a small crack in that reliability this year, and I want to have as little grass as possible if he fails me.

He came Saturday mornings for ages, but this year it’s sometimes Saturday, sometimes Sunday, because he has other duties.

And that is worrisome.

Fine September day

That was yesterday, but we’re hoping today will be equally delightful.

We’re approaching the end of the rainy season, thank the Goddess, which is always the attitude about this time each year as we wade in water, mud and overabundant greenery.

This was a celebratory week due to my child bride’s birthday on Wednesday. We headed to a snazzy restaurant here that normally exceeds our budget wishes, but birthdays warrant exceptions. It was the rooftop restaurant in the Hotel Casa Leal on the main plaza.

It’s a “boutique” hotel, and we are boutique-y people. At least we were on Wednesday.

Here are two photos I shot from the restaurant.

This town has changed so much, mostly for the better, in the two decades I’ve lived here, it’s astounding to me. I landed here by pure happenstance. There was little planning involved.

Since I’m posting photos, here’s one that’s primarily for my amigo Phil up in Arizona who’s taken a particular interest in the construction across the street that’s been plodding along for months, done almost entirely by a single man, the owner.

Last week, the two steel “curtains” and door were installed by an outfit that makes such things, blacksmiths. It took one day. I am impressed that the owner ordered an entry door that sports a little pizazz. Most would have chosen the standard, solid, black door.

Stay tuned, Phil!

The chayote invasion

We have the sex motel on one side and sullen neighbors on the other. There is one good thing about the sullen neighbors, just one. Unlike so many Mexicans, they do not blare music into the heavens at full volume late into the night.

This is very unusual.

Nineteen years in this woebegone barrio, and the neighbors have thrown just one party, and they did it in the afternoon, not the middle of the night. We simply drove downtown till it blew over.

Because our windows were vibrating.

But they are not nice people. As mentioned, they are sullen, the mom, the dad and the two teen boys. It was the boys who broke a huge glass pane above our upstairs terraza some months ago.

We are convinced of that.

The neighbor couple is fond of planting things directly abutting the wall that separates our properties. The wall, by the way, is ours, not theirs. It’s been fruit trees, a nopal tree, etc., and all are trash tossers, much of it falling on our side of the wall for me to pick up.

Now they’ve outdone themselves. For what appears to be a stretch of about 10 miles in length, they’ve planted chayote, which is a form of squash that is versatile and tasty. I love it. But there is a downside. The plant is incredibly invasive. If you’ve traveled in the southeastern United States you’ve likely seen kudzu.

Chayote views kudzu as a role model.

Just yesterday morning, I made my first whack-back — the photo was taken after that cut — whacking the dangling onslaught back to the top of the wall. I then raked up what I’d cut, and heaved it over into their yard. Maybe they’ll get the message. Don’t hold your breath.

At least they don’t host concerts in the middle of the night.

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(Update: The above was written yesterday noonish. As mentioned, I had cut a bunch of the plant that had invaded our side, and I heaved it over the wall into the neighbors’ yard. In the afternoon, I headed downtown for my customary cafe Americano negro on the plaza and a little me time with my friend Kindle.

I returned to the Hacienda after 6 p.m., and this is what I saw. All of the invading plant had been whacked below the ridgeline. My tossing the trash over the wall had its effect. I am surprised but happy.

Clean as a Mexican whistle.

The depths of August

Fifteen minutes earlier, it was impossible to sit there due to the fronds.

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It’s worse every August, two months into the monsoon season. I curse my planting of so many things years ago when I was a horticultural ignoramus. The philodendron in the photo is an example. I’m resting my old bones after removing about a dozen of those huge leaves, which were drooping to the grass.

Speaking of grass, all of what you see and much, much more will be stone and concrete by January. That’s this fall’s reversal plan, turning greenery into lovely, maintenance-free rock.

By mid-August, the constant rain since early June has put muscle into the yard. I really should hire a gardener. But wait! I have one, Abel the Deadpan Yardman, and he does more than mow on occasion, mostly tossing what I cut into the ravine at the tail of the dead-end street out back. I just need to alter his job description.

When I replace this grass with stone, he’ll have even less to mow, but I’ll pay him the same, so I need to provide more chores.

Looking to another part of the yard, we encounter this below, the Willy-Nilly Zone, at least half of it. This is where the monster aloe vera lived until I had it removed last year. It was at the back, to the right. It monopolized at least a quarter of the space, and since its departure, eager beavers took up the slack. Most are weeds.

What is a weed? It’s a plant growing where you don’t want it.

I tried to control them at first, but it was an impossible task. Thankfully, the zone is trapped by stone and concrete! There are some desired plants in there. The datura tree, a stand of red-hot pokers, a bridal bouquet that doesn’t bloom much anymore, some lilies, that cactus in the foreground.

Also, a line of something I planted along the near border 18 years ago. And some ground cover my child bride tossed in there way back. But there are lots of weeds too. It all rather blends together, however. It’s not called the Willy-Nilly Zone for no reason.

Maybe I should yank it all out and lay concrete and stone.

That’s always a superlative option.

The Willy-Nilly Zone, full of Lord knows what.