The selfie bandwagon

Taking photos of oneself in bathroom mirrors has been the rage for years now, but I’ve never jumped on that bandwagon. Of course, the photos are normally shot with cell phones, and if you’re a good-looking babe your butt and boobs are center stage.

I’m not a good-looking babe, and I’m not using a cell phone. I used my Canon. That’s our main bathroom downstairs. It has a tub, which is rare in Mexico. The other bathroom, upstairs, just sports a shower stall. Those wall tiles are green and white. I don’t recall why we made the mirror so huge. Our biggest regret is that we installed only one sink when the counter is about a mile long, and a second or third sink would fit nicely.

And here’s another photo. I took it today through the small window in the upstairs bathroom. It’s the only window in the house that faces out back. The wall you see at the bottom is part of our house. There is a parallel street just beyond.

An extended family lived in that lot with two now-crumbling houses for years. One day, they were gone, leaving it like a ghost town.


I had a surprise this morning. I drove downtown to the post office, something I do once every two weeks, to check the contents of my PO box. The reason I go only once every two weeks is because there is rarely anything there, which is the way I like it. Ninety-nine percent of what I find is from the United States.

There was a check from the U.S. Treasury for $600, a Kung Flu payment from “President Donald J. Trump.” There are a number of odd elements to this. One is that I did not receive the first Kung Flu payment because, the IRS informed me, we file taxes jointly and my child bride does not qualify for a Kung Flu payment, so nothing came.

So why did this one come? The second odd element is that it came in a window envelope and was completely obvious that it was a check from the U.S. Treasury. The probability of its being stolen was sky-high, but it wasn’t.

A tip of the sombrero to the Mexican postal system.

I am opposed to this payment that is sent to just about everyone regardless of need. It’s a textbook example of why America is chest-deep in debt. I do not need the money, and many — likely most — of those who received it do not need it either.

And it has delivered a dilemma. What the devil am I going to do with it? I cannot cash it. I cannot deposit it to my Mexican bank account, so …

I have a year to figure it out. That’s what the check says.

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.

Looking to next year

Every second morning, more or less, after biscuits, honey and café Americano negro, I head outside to sweep and view the dawning day, which is most always a pleasant sensation. Today was no exception, cool, clear and blue.

I stood on the yard patio and looked up at the house, parts of which have not been painted in 17 years. The area up there, around the glass-brick windows, has the original paint, and it looks better in the photo than it does in real life.

The main reason that has not been repainted is its relative inaccessibility. You cannot walk up there without removing the clay tiles which, now that I think about it, also need to be taken up, cleaned and replaced. And some are broken, and they need replacing with new ones. This work would disturb the bats and the workmen who find them.

Renovation work here almost invariably takes place in December through May, which is to say when it is not raining every day, so I’m thinking about this now.

Perhaps even more than the paint and tile, I want to remove this section of grass below and replace it with concrete and something or other that has yet to be decided, anything but the grass and weeds currently in residence.

I really want to do this, but I really do not want the hassle and disorder it will require for a couple of weeks, guys coming every morning and hanging around most of the day.

But it will happen. Some things are inevitable.

Might even install a fountain there. That would look snappy.

I would keep the aloe vera and philodendron.

By the way, yesterday’s post about having to put comments into full moderation has been deleted because the problem has been solved. FYI.

November is the best

November is the best month here by far, and this one is no exception. Yesterday, we raised the final of the three canvas curtains that enclose the upstairs terraza during the long months of the rainy season. Raising the curtains lets the loveliness in.

How about that orchid? It was a gift from Steve Cotton when he, his brother and sister-in-law stayed a spell in our Downtown Casita three or four years ago. I forget exactly when. That plant has been in bloom nonstop throughout those years. How is that possible?

The final raising of the curtains has also returned a beautiful view through the window behind my PC of the sunrise over the mountains when I’m sitting at my desk at the proper hour. During the months of the summer rains, I just have a view of brown canvas.

November mornings bring cool air and blue skies.


Return to normal?

Today at noon marks the end to my week of recuperation after my repeated nosebleed episodes. The ENT doctor at Star Medica Hospital who cauterized my schnoz Friday of last week prescribed some blood drug, some nose spray, a week of reduced physical activity and avoidance of nose-blowing. Try that last one sometime, will you? No fun.

Leaving one’s nose totally alone for a week is a challenge, but I hope it paid off.

Pray for me.