Golden touch

A few days back. Lots of dangling flower pods.
Golden Datura! Shot on Saturday in a light rain, which you might see.

SCANT GRINGOS live in my hardscrabble neighborhood on the outskirts of town. Plenty — too many — live in other barrios, but few within shouting distance of the Hacienda.

Almost since we built our home in 2002-03, there have been three Gringo residences in our ´hood. There were three back then, and there remain three today.

The other two have seen turnover. Even before we built the Hacienda, there was an old American woman living about four blocks away. She was Judith Deim, an artist of some renown and reportedly an ex-lover of John Steinbeck.

During a recent stop in the Gringo-infested town of San Miguel de Allende, we spotted Deim’s work in a fancy gallery there.

Not really to my taste.

She was 92 when we moved into the Hacienda, and she died three years later, old as the proverbial hills.

Her home became the property of relatives who sometimes were there, sometimes not, I think, but last year a Gringa who’s lived hereabouts a number of years bought Deim’s home and is remodeling it. She gave us a tour a couple of weeks ago.

It was the first time I’d been in the place. Though Deim and I occasionally sat near one another at my sister-in-law’s downtown coffee house on the main plaza, we never exchanged a word. I doubt she knew I was her neighbor.

She was ancient, eccentric and wore no eyeglasses. I, on the other hand, was far less ancient, eccentric and I did sport specs.

The other Gringo house in the neighborhood was constructed not long after we moved into the Hacienda. It is about three blocks away, and the owner was a gay book-seller who came from somewhere in New England.

He was in his 50s, quite friendly and dissipated-looking. I liked him. Unlike most who move here, he lacked independent income, so he tried to scrounge a living by selling books he bought down from above the Rio Bravo. It did not work.

He sold his place to a Gringo family, and moved back to the United States. He died a couple of years later, a heart attack.

The new Gringos were a family who published children’s books, something you can do long-distance. They significantly remodeled their place, and now it’s spectacular.

The couple came with an adopted son in his early 20s. The young man was colossally ill-behaved, and would ride a small bike around the local plaza ogling teen girls. His behavior, it appears, eventually got him into serious trouble.

So the family hightailed it to Uruguay.

Soon after, the now elegant home was purchased by more Gringos, an elderly retired couple. They’ve been here a number of years, and everything seems to be going well for them.

What has this to do with Golden Datura in the photos?

The first Gringo, the bookseller, gave me a cutting from his lawn, and my two datura trees are the result. Every winter, I whack the plants back to the trunk nubs, and every summer they resurrect with a vengeance of green and gold.

The one shown is outside our bedroom window. In summer the aroma of datura sails into the bedroom, and we can hear bumblebees buzzing the blooms.

The top photos were taken this week. The video below was shot way back in 2011.

Afternoon relax

yard

EARLIER THIS week, I was on the Jesus Patio relaxing, a talent I have possessed in spades for most of my life.

That’s my foot you see there in a Crocs shoe, the footwear designed for semi-professional relaxers.

My child bride and I are polar opposites in this regard. Although she is very fond of her own Crocs, she does not use them to relax because she’s mostly incapable of relaxing.

She’s always full throttle.

I don’t understand those people.

It was about noon, and the neighborhood was uncommonly quiet, possibly because it was Christmas Eve.

I was reading a book on my Kindle, Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis. It’s an excellent followup to Ernie Pyle’s Brave Men, which I finished about a month ago.

Both were correspondents during the Second World War, a profession that baffles me because you stand a good chance of getting killed unnecessarily.

Tregaskis was not killed in the war, but he came very close. Pyle was less fortunate, shot dead in the war’s final months.

Both books are excellent though Pyle’s is the better of the two. They provide a good idea of what war is like, or rather what World War II was like.

It was one of America’s greatest moments.

Occasionally, I would quit the Kindle to look at the scene above. That’s aloe vera on the left and the other is philodendron. They were quite little when I planted them.

One of the many good things about reading is that it can transport you to another world.

I was jumping from chilling on the Jesus Patio to dodging grenades and machine-gun fire in the Pacific.

You don’t get to do that every day.

I hope Santa was kind to you. This has been an exceptionally fine year.* If you read books like Tregaskis’ and Pyle’s you know that better than most. History matters.

* * *  *

* Trump!

Good and green

summerSUMMER STARTS on June 21, so we’re still in Springtime or, as my Mexican paisanos call it, Primavera.

We step outside each morning with long pants and a light jacket. It will be about 60 degrees. It’ll soar to the mid-70s at midday. Invariably I think of folks I left behind in the sweat pits of Houston and New Orleans.

We sleep at night with only half of one window open to avoid having to pile blankets atop us. We have no air-conditioning, of course, because that would be downright silly. Not much heating either.

Most of the greenery in the photo was planted by me a decade back, and they were just little tykes. When I planted little tykes in Houston, they usually stayed that way or died. I’ve yet to figure that out.

There is some horticultural magic in the Mexican air. You expect that on the tropical coasts, but it seems less likely here on the cool mountaintop 7,000 feet above sea level.

Most spring and summer mornings are similar. I eat a bagel and Philly cheese. I sweep the terraza and pick up the cursed peaches that have fallen overnight from their tree. I wipe dew or rain off the glass table and web chairs that sit on the yard patio, and I hoist the umbrella like a flag.

I take a deep breath, smile and walk back inside to wash the Philly cheese off the ceramic plates we purchased years ago in Dolores Hidalgo. Maybe do a little laundry. Take a shower, get dressed.

Life doesn’t change much. Nor do I want it to.

* * * *

While the above is a typical morning, I detoured a bit today.

At 8 a.m., I was parked outside the little lab downtown as the young nurse opened for business. It was time for the twice-yearly peek into my blood vessels and veins, to see how the old coot is getting along.

I check my cholesterol, blood sugar and triglycerides.

No appointment is necessary, no doctor’s permission. Just show up, fork over 18 bucks (would have been 10 if I’d waited for the sale next week), step into the adjoining room, roll up my sleeve and wince.

The results will be available this afternoon. I’m feeling fine, but you can put in a positive word with the Goddess on my behalf. It won’t hurt.

Maguey boner

tall

IT’S AUGUST, and an old man’s fancy turns to stuff of the earth.

Sometimes that stuff gets directly in our faces. When we came back from Mexico City last week, gone just four days, this tequila maguey had quite the stiffie.

That entire stalk appeared over those four days. For perspective, know that the regular spiked fronds circling below are over six feet from the ground.

This baby means business. The pole in the middle must rise about 14 feet or so.

Alas, it spells death for the plant, which I stuck into the dirt years ago when it was about eight inches tall. After poling up, so to speak, the plant has done its work, whatever that is, here on Earth. It dies.

This is the second time we’ve had a tequila maguey do this, so I have experience. I had heard that the plant dies after sporting its woodie, but I did not know it took so long to die. Mostly, it just sits there, looking woebegone. Finally, after a year or two, I had the first one uprooted, which is amazingly easy, and toted away. Before uprooting, it’s best to saw off the boner. Ouch!

That will be this plant’s fate too. There is one more in the yard, younger, and it will do the same one day, and that will be the end of it. I will plant no more. They are a hassle anyway, with those constantly sprouting swords.

August heads toward its finale. When September arrives, the end of the rainy season will be in sight. Normally, it dribbles a bit into October and then stops. November is our most beautiful month. It’s when you should visit.