The long, dark road

In many respects, the day you’re born you start your journey down a long, dark road to death. It doesn’t seem that way for much of your life because the sun is usually shining, and you’re getting on with things. But that doesn’t last.

I’ll be 77 later this year, not ancient, but certainly not young, not even middle-aged. At this stage, stuff starts to happen, to change. In just the past year, two notable things have befallen me, one is worse than the other.

The lighter one, so to speak, is that I’m not skinny anymore. Since I trimmed down from 225 pounds to about 170 in the early 1980s, I’ve been what I preferred to call svelte. In the past year, I’ve put on some poundage, mostly in the middle, and now my jeans are too tight. I’m planning to purchase new ones at Walmart next week.

No one would look at me now and call me fat, but no one would call me svelte either. I’m more of a normal fellow, aesthetically speaking, and that’s okay by me.

The second thing is worse. Some months ago I noticed that my night vision was failing. I see fine during the day, but at night things get sorta blurry. This is not good for night driving, something that was put to the test this week when we had to return from the nearby state capital in the dark due to a medical appointment that started at 6 p.m.

Before going there, I told myself: It’s mostly a straight shot. What can go wrong?

After leaving the doc’s office about 7, and stopping at a drugstore for some medicine, we headed up the highway. Not too bad, but not too good either. It was worse than I had anticipated. At one point, just for a couple of seconds, I actually lost track of the asphalt. My child bride noticed, asked about it, and I responded, er, nothing.

Fortunately, we made it home intact, but we had a chat the next morning, and I came clean with her. No more driving to or from the state capital, which is about 30 miles away, after dark, something I’ve done off and on for 20 years. If, for some reason, we must be there late, we’ll spend the night in a hotel.

Why not let her drive? Because she has no experience driving on highways at night. None, zip, zero. What driving she’s done in her life has been town travel, plus she’s prone to nervousness, not a good combination for a Mexican highway in the gloom.

And she does not want to.

Life consists of stages. We’ve just debuted on a new one. Drat!

Raising the roof

Roof tiles removed, they’re about to take down the rotted wooden beam.

No sooner had our guys finished the banana tree removal and filled the space with rock and concrete than they moved onto the second phase of this week’s toil, which was replacing a rotted wood beam and cross boards on the side of a carport.

The carport did not start life as a carport. It started as simply a covered area in one corner of the double lot we purchased in 2002 to build the Hacienda. It had been used as a party space by the lawyer’s family who previously owned it. There was nothing more on the double lot except a stand-alone bathroom on the far end of the property.

We began using it as a carport on one side and a junk-collection area on the other side. In 2014, we converted most of the trash area into my child bride’s pastry kitchen. That’s one wall of the pastry kitchen you see in the top photo.

But this week’s problem was rotting wood on one side of the roof. The guys removed tons of clay tiles and then the outermost beam, purchased a new beam, trucked it here, stained it, replaced it, and re-covered it with the clay tiles, all in just four hours.

New beam gets stained. The fellow on the left is fond of observing.
New beam is now in place, and cross boards are being laid down.
Voilá. The roof is ready to last another 20-plus years.

The rock-and-concrete “table” that was finished Thursday was dry by today, so we hoisted a couple of decorative pots atop it because we’re all about art, green and otherwise.

Far better-looking than the dead stand of bananas, ¿no?

The game of chess

The two of us headed downtown this afternoon to do lunch at a restaurant and complete a few chores like paying the annual water bill for the Downtown Casita and tax bills for the Casita and the Hacienda. Unlike some years ago when they were boring, time-consuming procedures, it went like a snap today.

For a few minutes, we sat at my sister-in-law’s coffee shop, out on the sidewalk, and I shot this photo of a chess game. The young fellow with the black mask is one of our numerous nephews. He was just learning to play, which heartened us because normally all he does is lie in his dark bedroom playing video games on his cell phone.

The guy with his back to the camera is also a nephew who is visiting from Querétaro. Both the boys are 17 years old. The older guy standing up is giving them some chess pointers. Below is a photo of him that I took three or four years ago at the same location.

He’s an artist who needs a pair of glasses. Reminds me of Tom Waits.

Bye-bye, bananas

Following the last freeze, and what made me decide to eliminate the bananas.

In recent years I’ve engaged in a campaign to make the yard more user-friendly. I’ve removed lots of plants that I ignorantly installed way back when. Some, however, were here when we purchased the double lot in 2002. Monster nopals, humongous bougainvilleas, pear trees, peach trees, gargantuan magueys, to name a few.

And my gardening chores have diminished accordingly.

We once had three stands of banana trees, but we were down to just this one. Tuesday was its day to die. In its place we now have a nice concrete and stone “table.” I plan to puchase two big decorative, clay pots to sit atop the stone.

Below you see the work under way.

A machete brings the banana trees to an ugly end on Tuesday.
The finishing touches of the murder. Rocks wait their chance.
The coast is clear! Ready for the new look.
And it gets started from the right side.
Miguel, my main man, sweeps away loose ends today.
And a new era is born at that end of the Alamo Wall.