The water wars

The lovely new Evergreen ready for service.

I currently have three working water heaters. That is correct. Not one, not two, but three. Here’s how that happened. Let’s start with solar. I bought my first solar heater about 10 years ago. It did not work at all. I still had my big gas heater connected, so I procrastinated for a few years. Finally, I complained at the hardware store where I purchased it and, to my surprise, it was removed, and I got a full refund.

I let that same hardware store convince me to buy another of a different make, an error. It worked sometimes, sometimes not. That’s like having a car that works Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but not Tuesday, Thursday or weekends, i.e. a useless car. It was a useless solar heater. Again it sat on the roof for a few years. We used our old Heat Master. I had lost faith in solar water heaters completely.

We’ve been using a big Heat Master for the past 16 or so years. Works great, but it’s getting long in the tooth. I don’t want to wake up one winter morning to find the water heater has succumbed in the night, but it is still working okay, so I didn’t want to replace it. I’ll just install an alternative, I told myself.

I called Jorge the plumber.


Jorge came over, and I told him my plan. Remove the solar heater from the roof and install downstairs an on-demand heater I had already purchased, a nice brand called Avera. Hmm, opined Jorge, I bet I can get the solar heater to work. I am 99 percent sure. Those are good odds, so I agreed. He worked on it for a couple of hours and left.

It must have been a Monday, Wednesday or Friday. It worked when he left, but not on the next day, so I was back where I started, and my wallet was $1,500 pesos lighter. And the Avera was still in the box.

I called Jorge again.

He said all his customers with solar heaters are very happy. My relatives with solar heaters love them too. I asked Jorge for a solar heater recommendation. He mentioned a company named Evergreen. Jorge has one on his house, so I bought an Evergreen. Jorge installed it. It works pretty well, but it takes a good while for hot water to arrive from the roof, and it’s not very hot in the mornings. But it’s far better than the previous solar heater.

Heat Master

A week later I called Jorge to come install the Avera, which he did. He left. The water was wonderfully hot but, I discovered, the pressure through the house was abysmal, and when I turned on the cold tap even a little bit, the Avera switched itself off completely. Useless. I was pissed.

Online investigation led me to the conclusion that the water pressure entering the Avera was insufficient. When that happens, it turns itself off. It doesn’t care if you’re covered in soap or not. That seems to be a quirk of on-demand heaters in general, not just Avera.

I called Jorge again, telling him I wanted a pressure pump installed on the cold water pipe entering the Avera. He did not think that was the problem, but I insisted.

He installed a pressurizer. It’s the orange thing in the photo.

It now works like gangbusters. The solar will serve as backup. The Heat Master is old and uses lots of gas, plus it has a permanent pilot light which the Avera does not. I turned off the Heat Master. I can switch easily to any of the three heaters, but now the Avera is my main man. Hot and forceful. It’s a volcano.

The grass grows, yup!

The monsoon generally starts here in early June, and that’s what’s happened. The crunchy, dry grass of Springtime morphs very rapidly into a sea of lush green. Why, you could even walk on it. Wear hip waders.

A week ago, I took the Frankenstein mower (Craftsman body, Briggs & Stratton motor) to the shop for its annual makeover, which is to say get it running. It takes its winter siesta very seriously. That took only one day, and when I got home with it, I called Abel the Deadpan Yardman who said he couldn’t make it for another week, i.e. mañana, Sunday.

Oh, dear. The grass was already high. Now it’s higher. I took the photo this morning. This is not a problem for me, but it’s a problem for Abel who has to deal with it.

I did my own yard chores this morning, stuff I’ve ignored for the past few days. I brushed bat crap off the downstairs terraza shelves. I swept it away, carefully, with a facemask. Now there’s an actual use for a facemask. I scrubbed the birdbath and freshened the water. I cleaned the glass-top table and the web chairs on the yard terraza. I swept up a desiccated bird carcass my child bride had brought to my attention.

And now I’m writing this. An old coot’s toil never ends.

I hope Abel shows up mañana. He will because he’s very reliable, and he likes money.

While the wildly growing grass is a bother, another aspect of June and its accompanying rains is that the datura returns to life. Every fall I whack it way back because if I didn’t it would become another of my monster plants. When it returns in June, it’s smaller but still pretty, and it starts growing again.

By September, this will be three times larger or more.

Its current state.

Return to normal?

For months and months, access to our lovely plaza has been shut down by the municipal government for no good reason that I know of. Now and then, we’d be teased and it would open for a day or two, but then it would slam shut again. This was a Kung Flu measure, of course. I doubt anyone avoided the virus due to having to walk just outside the plaza instead of down the nice sidewalk.

Last Saturday we found it open when we drove downtown for my child bride’s resurrected weekly pastry sale. It seems to have been open ever since — I was there yesterday — which makes sense because the pandemic is, for all practical purposes, over.

But the Dancing Bears continue to wear useless facemasks, though I detect it may be a hair less common.

The two women passing near the end of the video are my child bride, in the black shirt, and her sister. Feel free to think of them as Mutt and Jeff. The two actual mutts following them belong to the sister. We don’t do dogs. But some dogs are nice.

My sister-in-law, a Dancing Bear, has a facemask dutifully and uselessly draped under her chin. My wife does not, but she does dance a mean salsa.

I was sitting on a concrete bench enjoying a lemon ice when I shot this video. I also took the following photos just for the heck of it because it was a lovely day. I framed them in wood for you. May the plaza remain open from now on. I pray so.

Same direction as the video.
And then the other direction.

The fat, brown baby

Those are supposed to be overalls on the kid. I think he’s a metrosexual.

My child bride continues her crochet artwork, and I’m here to brag about it. It’s a pastime she began last year due to putting her sidewalk pastry sales on hold. The sales resumed two weeks ago, and we have declared the pandemic officially kaput.

She crafts these things completely from scratch. We haven’t named this tyke, and we haven’t decided if he’s a soul brother or a brown-skinned Mexican, i.e. moreno. We’ll have to decide before naming him. LeRoy Jefferson or Carlos Delgado? We’ll likely leave it to his new owner who’ll be my sister-in-law, the local one.

I have loads of sisters-in-law, but only one lives here on the mountaintop.

About a month ago, we introduced you to Matilda, also known as the Buttcrack Baby. Here she sits on the scarlet sofa next to her new amigo.

The fat, brown baby also sports a buttcrack, but you can’t see it here.

Matilda clearly has a crush on the big brown boy.