Cheese, avocados & eggs

Within a block of the Hacienda sit three mom-and-pop stores that provide essentials. These stores are called abarrotes, and most are connected to homes, and most abarrotes are tiny, dark and grim. They have eggs and cheese and plenty of other stuff one needs occasionally. Many are crammed with merchandise.

We used to frequent an abarrotes just around the closest corner, but the owner was such a suspicious sourpuss that we abandoned her. This was made more convenient when another opened about 20 feet farther on.

The newer one is run by a woman who is the mother of the sourpuss neighbor just next door. The barrio suffers no shortage of sourpusses. The second store owner has a daughter with severe Down Syndrome, and she has a big dog that sits in the door, obstructing.

We walk down there — it’s very close — almost daily. It’s far more convenient than driving a few miles to the nearest chain supermarket to contend with long, slow lines, hand gel and face masks. The woman who owns the second store won’t win any personality contests either, but she’s nicer than the other one, and it’s got to be hard for a middle-aged single woman with an adult daughter with Down Syndrome.

Plus, the abarrotes owners — just like me — don’t care about face masks or hand gel.

I usually buy tomatoes and avocados. Sometimes cheese, sometimes eggs, and often a package of baked tostadas, which we eat with pozole and minestrone.

Abarrotes remind me of a mom-and-pop store on a red-dirt road in the rural area where I lived with my parents and grandparents in southwest Georgia a million years ago. The main difference is that the Georgia store was far larger than your average abarrotes, and the owners had smiles on their faces. They were glad to see you. I’ve never had the impression that an abarrotes owner was happy to see me at all.

But the convenience makes up for that.

The third abarrotes I mentioned in the first paragraph is behind the Hacienda, not too convenient. We rarely go out the back door.

As I write this Thursday evening, a hog is screaming bloody murder next door. They’re possibly killing it for bacon and ham steaks. That also reminds of my grandparents’ Georgia farm where hogs were murdered for the same reason.

One-man show, update

The home construction directly across the street from the Hacienda — being done almost entirely by one man, the future homeowner — continues to be a source of fascination. I wish I could do that.

I should take a photo while he’s there working, but aiming a camera at him seems a bit tacky, so I’ve never done it except sneakily. He likely would not mind because he appears to be a very amiable sort, and so does his wife who’s there on occasion too.

But this is the progress as of today. I snapped the shots while walking to the little store in the next block to buy cabbage and carrots for the minestrone I’m making for lunch.

The two-story house to the left was completed three or four years ago, but no one has ever lived there. I spotted a couple, the presumed homeowners, standing on the roof once, and I waved, and they waved back. There is an automated light that snaps on every evening, and stays on most of the night to give the appearance of occupancy.

But I know better, and now so do you.

I’m guessing it’s a retirement home, and the couple has yet to retire. Maybe they live in the United States or in a big city elsewhere in Mexico. Lord knows.

I sure as shootin’ would not have knowingly built a retirement home directly abutting railroad tracks, which that house does. Trains rumble through most nights. Well, all nights except when the teacher union or troublesome teacher “students” are not blocking the tracks somewhere. That is not uncommon, alas.

Plague year pleasures

ENOUGH OF GLOOM and doom. Let’s focus on pleasures, which we have quite a few here at the Hacienda on a daily basis.

They start at dawn. The window is open for the cool night air, and when the sun rises, the birds start to sing. Neighborhood chickens too, but the birds are nearer, sweeter.

And waking at age 75 with a sleek, smooth child bride at your side on the king bed is quite the pleasure, believe me. Were I still with wives No. 1 or No. 2, I’d been waking with crones. Let’s not underestimate the pleasure of this.

Then there is food. Neither of us is a foodie, but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t find pleasure in eating. This morning was special in that we had waffles, which we rarely do because we like to remain svelte and healthy.

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Aunt Jemima mix makes the best waffles.

Atop the waffles we pour real Canadian maple syrup from Costco.

To burn off the waffle calories, we did the usual morning exercise walk around the neighborhood plaza. We normally don’t encounter many people, but during these trying times we find even fewer folks. The plaza is ours, a pleasure.

A hot shower is great too. That happens later so we smell nice, a pleasure to others.

For lunch today, it’s minestrone, which I tossed together from a very simple recipe I’ve used for decades. It’s a healthy, low-cal version, which was the reason we ate syrup-drenched waffles earlier. We deserved it.

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Old Felipe makes the best minestrone.

In the afternoon, I make coffee at home, pour it into a thermos, and off we go to the big plaza downtown where we sit at a sidewalk table. I, of course, read my Kindle, and my child bride gossips with her sister. Bringing our own coffee negates the need to have the coffee house employees involved in the process during this plague year.

The less touchy-touchy you do improves your survival chances, it’s said.

That’s the primary period each day in which we escape the confines of the Hacienda to avoid going stir-crazy. Then it’s home for salads and Netflix before beddy-bye and pleasurably slipping into a world of dreams till it starts over the next day.

Plenty of pleasures available during the Plague Year.

Minestrone and O.J.

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My minestrone

I WEAR A SILVER ring on my right hand. It sports a miniature version of the Aztec Calendar. Maybe it slows my life down, or maybe not.

I’ll be 75 in a few days more, and that seems to have had an effect on my mind, perhaps because my father and I were near clones, and he died at 75. If the cloning continues into that realm, I still have a ways to go because he almost made it to 76.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a mental and/or emotional switching of gears. I’ve always been a real chill guy, but now I’m chiller than ever. I think it’s related to my birthday.

Enough about that.

I made minestrone for lunch today. It’s a spectacularly easy recipe I discovered years ago, and when we find ourselves nearing lunchtime and no plans to eat out and no leftovers in the fridge, I just toss together this minestrone.

It requires carrots and cabbage, the only two things I normally do not have on hand, but the day this dilemma normally presents itself is Friday, and there’s a veggie market on the nearby plaza every Thursday. I must think ahead at least 24  hours.

But enough about that.

We recently watched a mini-series on Netflix called American Crime Story: The People  vs. O.J. Simpson. It was quite interesting even though I knew how it would turn out. The program ended, O.J. walked, and I ordered Marcia Clark’s written version of the event, Without a Doubt, from Kindle. It added far more detail than did the TV series.

Clark, of course, was the lead prosecutor during the famous Los Angeles trial. Without a Doubt was written with a co-author, one of those ghost writer situations. Clark reportedly earned $4.2 million off the book. Not bad for a failed prosecution.

She left the District Attorney’s Office after the O.J. fiasco and turned to other things like writing books and making TV appearances.

She’s written a series of novels based on a defense attorney named Samantha Brinkman. I’m about halfway through the first novel, Blood Defense, and it’s pretty darn good. There is no ghost writer. Clark wrote it herself.

New Image
Leak was falling from the tip of the beam second from the right.

I was on the upstairs terraza this morning reading Blood Defense when my attention was distracted by a small leak at the far edge of the new glass roof, a leak that began almost immediately after the roof was installed weeks ago. It drips just inside the terraza, not outside where it would ideally fall. It was super annoying, a puddle-maker.

A lightbulb lit above my noodle while sitting there, looking out thataway, holding Marcia Clark, so I got up, walked downstairs to the Garden Patio, picked up a tall, folding ladder, lugged it upstairs and, with a piece of sheet metal and metal shears, made a water detour that I jammed into where the drip was originating. Problem solved.

The new upstairs terraza is so relaxing that we have 99 percent abandoned the renovated yard patio, which was once known as the Jesus Patio. Had we done the upstairs terraza first, we would have left the Jesus Patio in peace. It was a waste of cash.

Oh, well.