Segue into spring

Though spring officially started some weeks back, and it’s been warm during the days, especially if you stand outside, we have not acknowledged springtime at the Hacienda till today. We did that in a number of ways.

We took the goose-down comforter off the king bed, replacing it with something lighter. I have switched from nighttime T-shirts to a tank top. The tower fan was moved from its winter home in a closet into the downstairs bedroom. And, perhaps most significantly, I have uncovered and connected the cooler upstairs, which we use to blow nicer air while we watch Netflix and eat our supper salads.

Springtime is most dreadful upstairs in the evenings. On rare occasions, we’ve actually abandoned our nighttime routine, usually in May, and fled downstairs where it’s significantly cooler because it’s downstairs and has higher ceilings.

It’s now that we start praying for the rainy season. Alas, it won’t start till June, no matter the prayer level. God’s mind is focused elsewhere.


Driving home from downtown around 6 p.m. today, I pulled the Honda into the Hacienda just as I remembered that I needed to stop at the water office on the neighborhood plaza two blocks away to pay the water bill. This presented a dilemma: Drive back the two blocks, which would be silly, or just walk back. So I walked.

My water bill is 70 pesos a month, which is about $3.50 U.S. It is not metered. It’s a set amount the entire neighborhood pays. We use the water for everything, including drinking after that portion passes through the filtration system installed beneath the kitchen counter.

I always pay five months in advance for convenience. The woman who mans the water office, which is only open the last two weeks of each month, from 5 to 7 p.m., is the wife of Abel the Deadpan Yardman, my gardener.

At times, it’s almost like living in Mayberry. Except people don’t smile as much.

Walls and weight

This is Miguel Jr. He’s 13 years old. Yep, child labor.

A crack developed in an upstairs wall recently, stemming from an array of glass bricks we had installed about 16 years ago in a space that originally had wooden windows like the one you see to the left in this photo. There was a serious problem with rain because the windows are badly made, so we removed the most vulnerable window and installed glass bricks.

No problem until a crack in the wall appeared recently. This is not rare in this type of construction. It happened in the stairwell many years ago, and I just spackled it over and painted. No sweat. But since this was happening in an exterior wall and jutting out from the glass bricks, I called my main man, Miguel. That’s his son in the photo, Miguel Jr.

While Papa Miguel was downstairs working on something else, some talavera tile that had worked loose, he assigned the preliminary toil to his son who is 13, and he did a fine job. Dad did the finish work, and all was completed in half a day.

They left the work unpainted because I wanted them gone as soon as possible, and I told Miguel I would do the painting, and I will. Lord knows when.


The fat boy

In the late 1970s, I weighed 225 pounds. I was 6 feet, 3 inches tall, and maybe I still am (doubtful), but the poundage was evenly distributed, so I really did not look fat, just very large and imposing. A black beard added to the menacing effect.

Around 1980, I knocked off about 55 pounds simply by eating better and doing regular, relatively light exercise, and I’ve been around 170 pounds ever since, 40 years. It wasn’t that difficult. Tip: Diets do not work.

Something odd happened recently. I put on some weight around the waist. I attribute it to age. My body is settling a bit. I admit, however, that I’ve become a bit careless with what I eat. No major deal except for one thing. I went from 34-waist jeans to 35-waist. Well, there is a second thing. For some irrational reason, finding 35-waist pants is almost impossible. The sizes leap from 34 to 36, and 36 is too loose.

I bought two pair of new jeans — I only wear jeans — with 36 waistlines, but they tend to slip south. The belt saves me. I recall that I once wore Dockers khakis in Houston, and Dockers were available with 35-inch waists. Don’t see those available now, however, but I prefer jeans anyway.

On Amazon Mexico, I found Wranglers jeans with 35-inch waists. A pair is winging its way to the mountaintop as I write this. If that works, I’ll order a couple more. Three pair should be enough.

Plus I have the two droopy 36s.

Meanwhile, my child bride made apple pie this week for the first time ever. Yesterday, I bought vanilla ice cream at the supermarket. After lunch today, we heated two slices, put vanilla ice cream on top. It was the first time I’d eaten apple pie with vanilla ice cream in about three decades.

It was lovely.

And around 5 p.m., I was downtown, sitting at a sidewalk table with an agua de fresa, which translates to strawberry water, but that fails to convey how good it is. I included a photo. Yes, the expanded waistline is due to age, nothing else.

I curse the years.

Time to pucker up!

My patch of parasitic mistletoe.

A couple of months ago when we were still in winter and the bush — hibiscus, I think — in which this thing resides was still lacking its leaves, I noticed a patch of something green sitting there alone. Looks like mistletoe, I muttered as I continued on with life.

This morning, I took a photo using a plant-identification app and, sure enough, it’s mistletoe. I mentioned this to my child bride and, after the appropriate smootch below the mistletoe, she said she’d never heard of it. It must not be “a thing” in Mexico.

Hibiscus, I think.

The plant on which the mistletoe lives — mistletoe is a parasite — is, I believe, a form of hibiscus. The plant-ID app was unsure. When we moved into the Hacienda 18 years ago, it was living cheek-to-jowl against a loquat tree where some nincompoop had planted it. I uprooted it and planted it over thataway a bit, giving it space.

The hibiscus — and let’s assume that’s what it is — flowers now and then, kinda pretty, and it does not toss trash all over the place, so I’ve left it in peace. Longtime readers here know that I am a plant predator, quite the killer when it suits me, and it suits me when a plant becomes a nuisance, mostly by tossing trash.

When we moved here, there was a fig bush where one of the carports now sits, so it was removed, which is a shame because I like figs.

The skeletal loquat.

Not far off is the loquat tree which grew like mad, tossing loquats all over the place where they rotted on the ground. Tossed big, ugly leaves too, much like those of a magnolia, which is a yucky tree, I think, in spite of my being a son of the Old South.

Rhett Butler and all that.

Alas, my child bride is excessively fond of loquats and the tree on which they grew maniacally. But she didn’t have to deal with the constant mess and work, so her vote was of less value than mine.

I am a kind husband, however, so I did not remove it. I only cut it back, way, way back, and I maintain it as you see in the photo, a half-alive zombie.

When I die, she can let it go whole hog again and, believe me, it will.

It needs a trellis.

Let us further milk the gardening topic today. While the Hacienda was under construction in 2003, I planted five bougainvillea bushes along the property wall you see in these photos. Two promptly died. Of the remainers, one was very different. It does not go berserk, and at times during the year it’s all flowers. It’s my best bougainvillea buddy.

But the best gardening news of the day is that we have mistletoe, which gives my child bride another reason to kiss me, even though she’d never heard of mistletoe. You get your kisses where you can. That’s always been my philosophy.

… had a little lamb

Where’s Mary, er, Maria, said the little Mexican lamb.

As the Plague Year lumbers on, my child bride continues her new art of crochet, and here is her latest piece because I know you’ve been on the edge of your chair … anticipating. But how much longer will this be her focus? Now that both of us have received the Kung Flu vaccine, she’ll likely resurrect her pastry business in a month, which is the waiting time for the vaccine’s full effect to kick in.

The white area of the lamb is actual wool.