Tag Archives: Kindle

Watch your step

THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.

This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.

Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.

Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.

If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.

The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.

Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.

I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.

There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.

About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.

This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.

Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.

The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.

We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.

Bugs were just squashed.

Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.

Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)

You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.

You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.

A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.

And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.

Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.

Eating cheese

plaza
All the Christmas tourists have gone, thank the Goddess.

WALKING ACROSS the plaza Friday heading to the coffee shop, I was unaware that soon I’d be hauling cheese.

No sooner had I sat down with my café Americano negro and opened my Kindle to Charlemagne than my child bride walked up and deposited a bag with a container of cream and a half-kilo of cheese on my table.

Please take this home, she said.

She was heading to the gym.

One of the many things you’re warned about on visiting Mexico is not to eat the cheese. Isn’t pasteurized, they say, or something like that. I pay it no mind.

If someone puts a tasty cheese in front of me, I eat it, no questions asked, and it has not killed me yet.

This is named queso fresco — fresh cheese — and it’s my favorite. We  recently found a butcher shop in a bad neighborhood that sells great queso fresco.

When I got home, I took a photo for you. Half a kilo is a big hunk of cheese, and it will last us a while.

cheeze

Till I got it home it wasn’t even refrigerated.

I am fearless.

Music men

band

OUR MOUNTAINTOP is a magnet for tourists, especially during the Christmas holidays, Easter Week and the Day of the Dead. Most of the tourists are Mexicans.

But in all the years I’ve lived here, I don’t recall our having the hordes that we have right now.

We live on the outskirts of town, and every day we face a long line of creeping traffic heading downtown. Luckily, there is an alternative route, but I’m not going to advertise it.

A twist to this year’s Christmas season is a gasoline crisis. Lots of gas stations are out of fuel, and those that have some often have long lines of cars. A number of Mexican states are affected, and nobody seems to know why.

Rumors abound.

Our “Energy Reform” starts Sunday, the first day of 2017. Gradually, the Pemex monopoly will fall as foreign gas stations are phased in around the nation.

In theory this will lower prices, but on Sunday prices will increase from 15 to 20 percent, so people are angry.

But Mexicans are usually angry about something or other. Along with the Energy Reform, we’re getting a reform of the legal system, and reform of the educational system.

That latter has the teachers, a gang of union leftists, foaming at the mouth, which tickles me no end.

Mexico is changing.

The last gas crisis, earlier this year, only lasted about a week. The current one has gone on more than two weeks. Nobody seems to know how long it will last. I fill the Honda tank every time I pass an open station with no line.

Mexico is ever entertaining and challenging. If it’s not severed heads rolling down cantina floors or teachers apoplectic at having to take competency tests, it’s something else.

One way to stay mellow is to sit at a sidewalk table on the main plaza with a hot café americano negro, reading my Kindle and sometimes seeing street musicians.

I tipped those old boys in the photo.

And life goes on.

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!

Afternoon man

afternoon
Thursday afternoon. Not a Gringo in sight.

WHEN I MOVED from the state capitol to this pueblo on the mountaintop over 16 years ago you could count the number of Gringos here on the hands of four people.

There were oddballs and misfits among them, a lunatic or two, probably even some crooks on the lam. My arrival brought normality and intelligence into the mix.

Flash forward to today, and the Gringo population — I’m including Canucks —  has increased 10-fold.

And they’re becoming more humdrum people. I haven’t heard of anybody being extradited in years.

Alas, they seem mostly to be a left-wing lot, which appears to be the norm for northerners who move over the Rio Bravo. Conservatives stay above the border, mostly.

There are two Yahoo forums that service our area. One is called Michoacán Net and the other is Morelia Connect. The latter is the older, but the former is the more populated.

Michoacán Net is full of left-wingers, and Morelia Connect is more convivial for conservatives. Michoacán Net says “no politics,” but if you phrase a left-wing issue just right, it’s fine and dandy. Not so for conservative issues.

About 10 days before the U.S. presidential election, someone announced on Michoacán Net an election night celebration. There was no mention of the candidates, but you knew who they thought they would be celebrating.

Whoops-a-daisy!

Election night came and went, and there’s been no more mention of that fiesta. Maybe they threw a wake.

One odd thing about the Gringos here is that they circulate downtown almost entirely in the mornings. My schedule is just the opposite. I’m rarely downtown in the mornings, but I’m there most every afternoon.

tequilaSo I rarely see them. I think in the afternoons they are back at their adobe homes, soused on tequila and ready for their nappies.

I, on the other hand, am sitting at a sidewalk table with a café Americano negro, reading my Kindle and watching beautiful Latinas walk by.

I am an afternoon man.

The library

New Image

I’M A READER, and I always have been. This lifestyle amplified in 1996 when I went on the wagon. When you’ve got a snoot-full, you’re not much inclined to open a book.

Most of my life I’ve preferred histories and biographies, factual stuff, over novels. That preference remains in place, but I’m a bit more open to novels than I once was.

Since moving to Mexico, I’ve read War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but I still lean more to histories and bios.

When we constructed the Hacienda in 2002-03, we had these shelves and cabinets specially made. The cabinets extend a good bit farther to the right. It all cost just $500.

It used to be a library, but now it’s a museum, a focus of interest. The books are dead. We buy them no more.

There’s a warm feeling to a library, no matter its size, so this will stay put. The shelves are good spots to place pictures too.

If you click on the photo, and then enlarge it, you’ll get fuzzy views of the two of us, my child bride’s father, her brothers, my daughter and mother, and so on.

Against the right-side wall is a wooden holder with smaller shelves where music CDs sit. The same carpenter — a guy named Angel — built that too, all to my specifications.

As with paper books, we no longer buy music CDs. Our music comes to us digitalized, and so do books, which fly through space and land inside our Kindles. We both have one.

I know people who continue purchasing paper books. I find this cute and amusing, and I attribute it to their not really having tried the Kindle option, which is so much more convenient. You can even bookmark pages!

They will, of course, get on board in time.

Hanging on the wall there to the right is an artwork that I purchased my first month here on the mountaintop 16 years ago. It’s titled Vendor of Hearts, but in Spanish, of course. It was part of an exhibit on a hotel restaurant wall.

It’s painted on butcher paper. And standing atop the old record player in front of that art is a witch doll. Lordy!

One great day

view
This morning’s scene from my rocker.

HERE I SIT on a rocker. It’s around 10 a.m., and I’ve already watered the veranda potted plants and the hanging ones too. I’ve cleaned the glass-top table on the Jesus Patio, and I’ve changed the yucky birdbath water.

At 11 we’ll be having second breakfast — either oatmeal or cereal — and then I’ll don old pants, take off my socks, slip my tootsies into ancient Crocs and circle the yard perimeter with my new Stihl weedeater.

When that’s done, I’ll shower and dress myself up. Later, I’ll make lunch, which will be fish burgers, wild rice, sauteed veggies and lentil soup from a can. I’m no elitist.

After lunch, we usually watch a show on Netflix before heading downtown. My child bride to her sister to gossip and me to a sidewalk table with café and my Kindle. I’m currently reading a bio of Ronald Reagan by H.W. Brands.

Tonight will find us in our soft chairs watching two more shows on Netflix while supping on big salads that I create myself. We don’t have real jobs, of course.

This routine is so grueling that we felt we deserved a vacation, so next week we’ll be heading to Colima and Comala for a few days. I’ve never been there. I want to see the volcano.

Now, on to politics: The California Democrat primary takes place Tuesday, and Bernie might beat Hillary, which would be an hilarity. And then the Brexit vote comes on the 23rd, and I’m rooting for a British departure.

It’s a lovely day, but it will rain later.

Thanks for stopping by.

Busy, busy boy

table
Clean table, devoid of bird do-do on Friday.

FRIDAY MORNINGS are standard, and they are busy.

While my child bride is up to her neck in dough, sugar and strawberries out in her own kitchen by the big gate, preparing for the weekly pastry sale on the main plaza downtown, I have my own responsibilities.

I start with wiping off the glass-top table on the Jesus Patio. I swipe the web chairs while I’m at it. This is done most every morning, not just Fridays.

birdbath
Fresh water for our feathered friends on Friday.

The birdbath can be quite yucky because birds have no sense of personal hygiene, so I have to change the water and wipe clean that ceramic, which I purchased in Dolores Hidalgo.

veranda
Friday morning photo, not recycled.

The plants in the big pots in the veranda must be watered. I do that at least once a week, Friday, but sometimes twice. Some plants have been changed since last I posted this scene.

I sweep daily too. Well, nearly.

Surely, you’re wondering where I get the water to irrigate these plants, and that provides me the opportunity to do something I recall showing just once before.

* * * *

The Garden Patio

gardenpatio
Garden Patio at noon on Friday.

This is the Garden Patio, such a lovely name for the most butt-ugly part of the Hacienda. If you visit the Hacienda, you will not see it unless I lead you there.

Look at the top photo. The Garden Patio is behind that red wall on the left, and the only way to get there, aside from a gate to the back street, is through that narrow, arched opening.

This was a grassy area, more of the yard, after the Hacienda construction ended in 2003. I have since had everything added. The clay-tile roof, the concrete floor, the shelves.

Those two big, black trash bags await the garbage truck. One is yard garbage. The other is non-biodegradable kitchen trash. The white barrel on the left is for kitchen stuff. The big, black can to the right stores yard garbage.

I am too shiftless to compost. Sorry.

* * * *

Garbage truck

trash
Garbage truck back of the Hacienda on Friday.

Those two big, black bags ended up atop the garbage truck which arrived around 2 p.m. while we were eating fish burgers, sauteed vegetables and rice prepared by me.

* * * *

Weedeaters and me

I‘ve long had a love/hate relationship with weedeaters, and now I have a new one in the Garden Patio. Even though Weedeater is a brand name, I’ll be lowercasing it because Mexicans use the word to refer to all trimmers regardless of make.

eater
My Nazi trimmer.

Weedeaters, in my experience, are colossally temperamental. They are cranky to start and prone to stop running for no good reason whatsoever. They can be infuriating.

I’ve had a Truper weedeater and a Weedeater weedeater here at the Hacienda. I loathed them both. Two years ago, I switched to an electric, Sears weedeater, which runs fine but there’s that mile-long cord to contend with.

Last year I learned that Abel the Deadpan Neighbor who mows my lawn with my lawnmower has his own weedeater. He started doing the trimming too, but his weedeater is prone to frequent siestas, undesired timeouts.

In a moment of madness last week, I purchased a gas weedeater, a German Stihl. I then remembered I couldn’t let Abel use it because Mexicans abuse tools that aren’t theirs, so I hope Abel’s weedeater keeps siestas to a minimum.

Meanwhile, my Nazi Stihl will rest in the Garden Patio.

* * * *

Out thataway

All the yard gear in the Garden Patio was stored for years on the opposite end of the property, out by the front street wall and under a red-clay-tile roof there.

My child bride’s pastry kitchen now occupies that space. You can see her walking out there Friday morning in the following photo. She was unaware of the photographer.

willy
Friday was a fine, blue, cool day.

Speaking of plants, one of my favorites is multiplying madly as everything does here. They are the spikey ones you see below. I don’t know what they’re called, but they multiply like, well, like us Mexicans. Catholic plants. Good breeders.

plants
Mighty spike plants

So there you have it, Friday, a busy day, at least until 3 p.m. when all is done, lunch is eaten, dishes are washed because I don’t procrastinate with dishes.

And then it was off to downtown to sit on a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

Thanks for passing by.

Train of thoughts

rail

CARNIVAL JUST ended. Bring out the ashes. My hardscrabble neighborhood, more than any other here on the mountaintop, goes bananas for Mardi Gras.

Living just a block and a half from the plaza presents problems. The worst are the monster concerts that blare for four nights straight. We sleep with silicone earplugs.

Having lived 18 years in New Orleans, I know Carnival. What passes for Carnival here pales in comparison, but I think my neighborhood excels in noise, a Mexican specialty.

Roundabouts August, I am weary of rain, every year. Roundabouts February, I am weary of cold, every year. Walking through the living room this morning, it was, I’m guessing, about 50 degrees at most.

We have no climate control in the house. Our electricity bills are constant all year long. Constantly cheap.  I have not been in the United States in seven years and was there only sporadically, briefly, the nine years before that.

Most Americans live in sealed houses, which is great where temps vary wildly, but it’s pretty even here with the exception of January and February when it can freeze at night.

There’s no playing with a dial on the wall to make life sweet. The temperature just is. Here are a couple of other things. No junk mail in my post office box. No sales calls as we sit down to supper. Is that still common in America? Bet so.

My wife is the most important thing in my life. A close second is my Kindle. Departing a restaurant yesterday alone in the state capital, I left it unseen on a chair. The waiter chased me down outside to return it. Bless him.

That was very unlike me. Long ago, I formulated what we’ll call Felipe’s First Law of Placement, which is that you never put something important out of sight in, say, a restaurant unless you literally cannot leave without it.

Car keys or an umbrella during a downpour.

I abide religiously by the law, usually. Why did I break it yesterday? No clue. Got me to thinking. While I do not have a backup wife, I need a backup Kindle, so I ordered one today, a newer version, the Paperwhite.

A backup wife has appeal, but I don’t think I could get away with it, nor should I. Too old for that anyway.

I’ll close with that. We’re going to take our exercise walk around the plaza. Wonder what we’ll see this morning. Unconscious bodies? Blood stains on the cement?

We’ve seen both in the past.