I, the architect

The ground-floor layout, drawn on graph paper by me.*

This springtime will mark the 18th anniversary of the Hacienda. I’ve only owned two homes. The first, in Texas, was mine for just nine years, and I purchased it ready-made, a vintage from back in the 1950s. The second is the Hacienda, which I designed myself with some assist from my child bride.

The downstairs terraza from two directions, drawn by my wife.

Who needs actual blueprints when graph paper is available at the stationery store? The construction began in August of 2002 and ended in May of 2003, which is when we moved in from a two-story rental near downtown. I confess to being something of an architectural copycat. The Hacienda is a much larger version of that two-story rental, a design that I liked and stuck with to a great degree, but not entirely.

Electrical diagram, also done by me.

Among my many talents is that of electrician. Among my portfolio of four-year and two-year degrees and certificates is an Associate Degree in Electrical Construction Technology. I worked as a professional electrician for a spell in New Orleans. So I knew where plugs and lights were needed.

Three talented men and the occasional helper built the house. During the nine-month construction I took a ton of photos, and they all disappeared shortly after we moved in due to their being stored on a hard drive that committed suicide. I stupidly had not backed up any of them anywhere.

A real estate writer on the Houston newspaper where I once toiled wrote a column back then listing the pros and cons of homeownership as opposed to renting. One of his pros was simply that owning a home is fun, and it is most of the time. Renting is not fun.

Though I lost all photos of the construction process, I do have this one I took shortly after we moved in, and at the bottom is a shot from two years ago. It’s been lots of fun.

2003: Fresh paint and disheveled yard. The upstairs terraza is very different now.
That’s the second patio, built in 2019, replacing a grubby stone version.

* The stairwell goes straight up in the drawing. But it would not fit that way, so it actually goes straight up and then hangs a right to complete the turn to the second floor. The revised version is seen in the electrical diagram.

The tail of October

Here’s my little pumpkin for Autumn 2020.

Back in my newspaper days in Texas, I always marked October’s arrival with a small pumpkin that I sat atop my office computer terminal. In time, even a few of my coworkers started doing the same. Well, one at least, that I recall.

Now I don’t have the fat computer console we used in the 1990s, so I sit my little October fruit atop the Epson printer just a tad to the left of my H-P screen.

Autumn brings changes, and one happened this morning as I told Abel the Deadpan Yardman that mowing is done for this year. The rain has ended, and some yellow spots are appearing in the grass. In time, the whole lawn will be brown, dead and crunchy.

I know Abel wasn’t happy with the news since it’s a good little chunk of change for less than two hours of relatively easy toil once a week. No matter. It had to be done.

He still has his day job, tooting a trumpet.

Speaking of toil, I enjoy witnessing the ongoing house construction across the street. You may recall that one guy alone is doing the work. Well, mostly. His wife shows up to tote some stuff for him, and a couple of times a month, a younger fellow chips in, but it’s primarily a one-man operation.

He was working this morning, but he took off for a spell. Noon shot.

A sharp eye will notice that he’s building his own wall to the left directly abutting the property wall of his neighbor, as he should. It would be cheaper and faster to just utilize the neighbor’s property wall. When the sex motel was built next to our house, the owner should have done the same, but he opted to take advantage of our property wall.

Our town is one of Mexico’s primary Day of the Dead destinations for tourists. Due to the Kung Flu, festivities were cancelled a month or two ago. Then, due to complaints from business owners because it’s a YUGE income generator, it was back on again. And now it’s off again.

The graveyards will be closed to tourists and, if I understand correctly, to the locals also. Sad situation, both spiritually and financially.

We’ve been told to build our altars in our homes. We usually do that anyway. Well, my child bride does while I sit, watch and offer moral support from the sofa.

It’s a lovely day here on the mountaintop. The sky is blue. The air is cool and breezy, and we’ll be dining this afternoon on ravioli from Costco. Yum!

High in the barrio

Photo from on high, kinda like a drone shot.

I climbed to the water-tank perch atop my child bride’s pastry kitchen yesterday, and my Fujifilm Finepix F850EXR tagged along. My wife and I had just returned from our morning exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza.

The guy building the home across the street, virtually single-handedly, was hard at work. His wife was assisting too. The foundation outline is complete, and some of the floor has been filled with dirt. Rebar columns soar upward. They may be hard to spot. They’ll be filled with cement. Obviously, the home will be brick. My wife and I complimented his work. I asked if they will be living there, and the answer was yes.

Coming back from the plaza, I took the following photo, not a very good one, but you get the idea. It’s our neighborhood general store, the door on the right. Mostly, we buy veggies there. It’s owned by a woman who’s the mother of the woman who lives next door to the Hacienda, the female half of the sourpuss couple. But mama’s just fine. She has one more daughter who has a severe case of Down Syndrome.

Store has no name, but everyone knows the place.

While atop the pastry kitchen, I turned 180 degrees to get a recent, aerial shot of the Hacienda. That’s how it looks in October of 2020 on a lovely autumnal day.

It ain’t Houston, Toto.

Fan palm ever higher, and monster aloe vera by bedroom is gone.

Adding a new hole

vista
Just after dawn today. Sweet. Cool too.

GUYS WILL ring the gate bell tomorrow about 8:30 a.m. — they wanted to come even earlier, but I said no — to add a drain hole to the upstairs terraza.

When the floor on the upstairs terraza was built in 2003, the then-guys were not aware that it would be an open space, so the floor is completely level. And then it was left open to the elements. When it rained, a sizable lake formed on the floor and stayed for months, which was one reason we decided to cover it entirely last year.

There have long been two drain holes, but they don’t work for two reasons. One is that they are tiny. The other is that the floor is level, not even slightly tilted to the drain holes. The glass roof has eliminated most of the flooding problem but not entirely, especially when the rain blows from the sole direction where there is no canvas curtain.

The direction you see in the top photo.

The guys will cut a low, 18-inch-wide space in the terraza’s brick wall at floor level, and that will let me sweep the rainwater to the other side where it will fall to the ground.

There is nothing a Mexican brick mason cannot make right.

hole
One of the two useless holes we now have.