Doing the propane shuffle

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“The guy” and his son install the new propane tank, left, on Friday.

I’M A GAS MAN, and I’ve been a gas man since long before I flew over the Rio Bravo to settle down. I don’t like electric stoves, for instance, and can’t imagine why anyone would use one when there is a gas option.

Gas is cheaper, and you can fine-tune the gas flame far better than you can adjust the heat on an electric burner. Quicker too.

When I lived in Texas, our house received gas from God knows where via buried pipes. Water came the same way. Both were metered, and you paid for what you used.

In Texas, and New Orleans before that, my stoves were gas as were space heaters and water heaters. Gas is the way to go. Cheap, clean, explosive. Nothing’s perfect.

When we constructed the Hacienda 15 years ago, I bought about the biggest residential propane tank you ever see. It holds 500 liters. I filled it when it needed filling, but otherwise I gave the thing little thought.

About a year ago, the gizmo that measures how much gas is in the tank decided to quit working. This is problematical. I began winging it, guessing. Recently, I had a plumber over, told him about the issue, and he asked how old the tank was.

He said that it’s a good idea to replace them every 10 to 15 years, something about the interior welding that can go bad. So instead of replacing the meter, which would have been a special order, time-consuming, and the tank was nearly empty, I bought a new tank.

They’re not that expensive.

It’s smaller, holding 300 liters instead of the 500 the bigger tank holds.

I’ll be using the smaller tank exclusively, so I can either let the big one sit there forever, or I can have it removed. I’ll likely do the latter although that’s going to be a bear. The only way out is through the kitchen, dining room and living room.

The tanks are in an interior patio.

I’d prefer to have the big tank empty before hauling it through the house. Since the meter is broken, the only way to judge the quantity is by knocking on the side with your knuckles. It’s sounded empty for weeks, but we’re still using its gas.

But it will run out one day soon, and I’ll just switch to the other tank, which I had filled yesterday from a tanker truck.

The plumber rigged the copper pipes and connections so that I can fill either tank separately from an outside connection on the street, and I can send the gas into the house from either tank too, separately.

Excellent Mexican design.

Bougainvillea butchery

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THAT’S ABEL the deadpan yardman cutting the bougainvillea down to size, or at least less large, last Saturday.

He also mowed the lawn. It probably was the final mow of the season because it has stopped raining. In the summer it rains every day, every freaking day.

November is our loveliest month, incomparable. The sky is blue. The air is cool. The mountains are green. The birds sing. You really cannot beat November in these parts.

No later than January, we’ll be taking out the grass to the left of the sidewalk, part of a project to eliminate all grass except in the middle semicircle. The green-and-yellow maguey you see on the left will be removed and trashed. All the area beyond the sidewalk will become stone and concrete.

The grass at the bottom right of the photo will remain. It’s part of the semicircle in the middle of the lawn.

That maguey’s removal will be the final one. We had five. Three were of the sort you see in the photo, which grow to monster size. The other two were smaller tequila magueys. I planted them all when they were little, thinking they were cute. They became a colossal nuisance. I am to blame.

We have others that are confined in planters. You see one there in the middle of the photo. Word to the wise: Never let a maguey escape from a planter. It will turn on you.

It will not show you love.

But November is here, and it is beautiful.

The long table

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SEE THAT CHAIR down there, just opposite? That’s my chair, and it’s where I sit when I eat a morning bagel or an afternoon pozole. The King’s Chair, and I’m the King.

The Queen sits to my right. The Princess and her Prince by marriage live in Georgia and have yet to visit the castle.

Perhaps one day.

Nobody sits at this table for the evening meal, which at the Hacienda is always a green salad with diced chicken on top. I make that, and we go upstairs and watch something on Mexican Netflix, a great service.

We have side-by-side recliners separated by a tiny table.

But this is a view I rarely see, which is why I photographed it. What I always see is what’s behind the photographer’s back. That would be me at this moment.

There’s a big window to the left, and another behind, both of which provide great outdoor views.

But it’s uplifting to view life from a different perspective now and then. I think so, and I want to stay uplifted.

Concrete mesas

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MESA MEANS table in Spanish. I now have two mesas in the yard where damnable bananas long held sway.

The photo above was taken on a nice summer day. You see two stands of banana. One is just this side of the black-rock Alamo Wall, and the other one, higher, is beyond. A third, which abuts the house itself, is not visible.

More on it below.

As recently noted in the post dubbed The winter scalp, banana trees, which I stupidly planted years back when they were cute little babies, had become the curse of my life.

I have taken concrete action against two of the three. The ground in which they grew has been covered with concrete and stone, which is raised to form two mesas.

I could have simply covered them with concrete and stone at ground level, but the two mesas give me places to set things, maybe artsy-fartsy stuff to give drama to the yard.

Below are photos of the work:

No. 1
Removing banana remnants with machete and pickax.
No. 2
Early stages of mesa No. 1.
head
Work done. No more freaking banana trees here! It’s 60 centimeters tall.

Now I need to find a stone or metal sculpture to dress it up.

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Long, long ago, I planted a little banana tree in this corner against the house. It grew high and multiplied. I snapped this photo one dark night many years back.

It grew and grew and grew until it was impossible to walk into this corner or even see the corner, so it had to be eliminated.

To wit:

shot 1
Workman with pickax uprooting banana bases and roots.

That big aloe vera bush, left side of photo just above, was not even planted when I took the night photo.

two
Second mesa just lacking fill at this point.
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Interior is filled with rubble from God knows where.
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All done. This one is larger than the other. Also needs a sculpture.

And that concludes another construction caper. The toil spanned four six-hour days, and the total price for material and labor was 2,450 pesos, about 135 bucks. I tossed in a 200-peso tip because that’s the kind of guy I am.

I’ve loved stone and mountains all my life, and now — at last — I’m surrounded by both. Life is good.