It was a dark & stormy night

Okay, that’s a lie. While it was dark, it was not stormy because the monsoon season has petered out. But here is what happened.

I awoke around 1:30 a.m. to make a pee-pee run. After taking care of business just across the hall from the bedroom, I was heading back to the sack when I heard something suspicious. I walked into the distant kitchen where my suspicions were confirmed.

The water pump was running.

Most homes in Mexico get water in a different way than they get it above the Rio Bravo. Up there, water comes out of the taps, water you can actually drink, and the water bill comes every month. End of story. It’s not much different than how those homes get electricity and gas. It’s simply there if you pay the monthly bill.

Here, however, one usually has an underground cistern which is filled either automatically from the municipal supply or filled manually from a tanker truck. For about 10 years, we used the latter system, but now we use the former. Every weekday, water comes in from the street to fill our cistern, which holds about 9,000 liters.

It’s a set rate of about $3.50 U.S. a month, unmetered.

There is also a tank on the roof which serves the house taps via gravity. There’s an electronic gizmo inside that tank which senses when it’s half empty. At that point, the gizmo turns on a pump that sits below near the cistern. In our house, it’s just outside the kitchen window. Pump goes on, and water travels from the cistern to the roof tank.

The gizmo is prone to failure. When that happens, it’s almost always that it fails to notice the roof tank is empty, and you find the taps in the house bone dry. But on rare occasion, it fails in the other direction, not noticing that the roof tank is full, and the water keeps on coming and coming and coming.

There is a drain hole at the tank’s top, so the water then flows out to the roof and through various drain pipes to the ground.

And that is what was happening at 1:30 a.m. I imagine I flushed the john before hitting the hay, and that triggered the pump, so it likely had been running about three hours, pouring water all over the Garden Patio and then out to the street via another drain pipe.

The immediate problem was an easy solve. The pump has an on-off switch. I walked out there and turned it off, and went back to bed.

This morning, as I was preparing biscuits and honey at 8:30, I heard the water pouring into the underground cistern from the municipal supply. It had an oddly hollow sound. I stepped outside and opened the cistern lid to find it almost empty, so I had tossed about 9,000 liters into the street in the middle of the night.

I’ve phoned the plumber. He’ll be here Monday to replace the electronic gizmo. It’s not very expensive.

Speaking of water, for many years, our drinking water came from those five-gallon bottles atop a dispenser in the kitchen. I finally wearied of hoisting them, and now we have a filtration system beneath the kitchen sink, something I should have done years sooner.

Living in the “Third World” often presents problems those pampered people farther north never think of.

The color tree, etc.

Colorful ribbons did the trick.

A year or so ago — I lose track of time — as part of my campaign to sweep the yard clean of nuisances, I had this loquat tree cut way back to its nubs. Unlike other nuisances, which I’ve simply removed, I left these nubs with a single branch each because I figured my child bride could let it grow big again after I was pushing up daisies.

The plan worked for a while, but then it did not. The tree died, so I have repurposed it, as they say, into yard art. I have a background in colorful art, which you can see here.


More like my father

My father and I were always like two peas in a pod with a couple of huge exceptions. He had no sense of adventure, and he loathed travel. My sense of adventure long ago landed me here on my Mexican mountaintop, and I loved travel. That has changed, which is something of a problem because my child bride remains a travel fanatic. I lost the travel bug in the past year. I imagine it has much to do with aging.

Like my 18 years in New Orleans, I’m now in another touristy place, over 21 years. I live in a spot where people visit and think, Gee, I wish I lived here. Well, I do live here, and it’s great.

Alas, the pandemic is winding down, and she’s hot to travel! Guanajuato! Zihatanejo! San Miguel! Colombia! Spain! And I’d rather have my fingernails yanked out. I am now in dodge mode, wondering how long I can keep it up.

Meanwhile, she is satisfying her mania for constant movement by crocheting up a storm, housecleaning, fixing pastries, you name it, never a still moment. Maybe I should have married someone closer to my own age, but where’s the joy in that?


Back to the yard

I phoned my builder a week ago, and he came here yesterday to see what I wanted done. Mostly, I want lots of grass removed and replaced with stone and concrete. There are some unrelated details, but it’s the grass that I want gone more than anything. Alas, he is currently building another house, about the same size as ours, he told me.

So I am in wait mode. We have till next June, which is when the annual monsoon returns. Patience, I tell myself. Of course, I could hire someone else, but this guy is great, and so are his prices.

Speaking of the yard, it appears the rain has retired for this year. The grass has stopped growing, which is good. In a couple of months, it will be brown, dusty and crunchy.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman comes Sunday, and instead of mowing the grass, he will give the Alamo Wall a haircut. The ivy runs amok.

Coming over the top like the Huns at Verdun.


Honda’s back in shape

As I mentioned a few days ago, the Honda’s air-conditioning ceased to work. We took it to the state capital yesterday where the compressor was replaced. That set me back the peso equivalent of a tad over $700 U.S., money well spent. I loathe heat just as my father loathed travel. One must pick one’s loathing.

Front versus the rear

This is the front gate. Not bad.
This is the rear gate. Grubby.
This is the street out back. Muddy. The LP truck just departed.

Our propane tank was filled this morning. It cost about $110, or 2,200 pesos in real money, and the last fill-up was about seven weeks ago. I used to go three months or more between fill-ups, but I also used to have a much larger propane tank.

I should have snapped a photo of the truck while it was down there near the yellow sex motel, but I did not think of it till the guys had gone. Way down there is a pipe up high on my brick wall where the gas guy climbs a ladder and fills me up, so to speak.

I remember when my parents lived on our Georgia farm in the 1970s, after my grandmother died, they had a propane tank too, about the size of my previous one. I wonder how much they paid. Their gas came from that tank, and their water came from underground.

Their electricity came from far away, the only utility that was not on-site, as they say.* It was rural life. In the meantime, we’re waiting for the monsoon season to stop. Enough already with the mud.

My child bride’s pastry kitchen, just off to the left in the top photo, has its own propane tank, a small one. The kitchen also has its own electricity service and water heater.

Women can be costly to keep.


*Well, there was the telephone. It came from afar. It was a party line till it wasn’t. Party lines, as old folks will remember, enabled you to listen to conversations of other people. It at times led to trouble.

The morning bird

Our mornings do not vary, but they have varied from, say, a decade ago when I would depart bed in the dark around 6 a.m., leaving my child bride in place, sleeping. They say that as one ages, one needs less sleep, but I’ve gone in the other direction. Perhaps it’s just laziness. I’m in bed now till after 7, and we get up at the same time.

I go into the living room where I slip my feet into the Crocs that I always leave in the same spot the previous evening. I continue to the kitchen to take biscuits from the fridge and place them at the ready inside the mini-oven for a hour later.

I take grounds and filter from the coffeemaker which cranked up at 6:30. I put plates on the table. I pour a glass of water, and break off a piece of ready-made toast, the kind you don’t normally find above the Rio Bravo in supermarkets, or at least you didn’t decades ago. Maybe you do now with so many of my new paisanos lurking there.

Today, looking through the window above the kitchen sink, I saw a solitary bird, just sitting. He was on the Garden Patio roof. I walked into the living room to get the Canon, thinking he’ll be gone when I return, but he wasn’t. He was waiting for me.

I took his photo. It’s not a black-and-white shot. It’s color. That was the color at that early moment on this chilly, July day.