Ice on the mountaintop

This is not our yard, but it sort of feels like it.

We awoke this morning to the first freeze of the season. January First, how appropriate. There was frost on the grass, and the birdbath was a skating rink.

The terraza thermometer indicated about 40 degrees at 8:30 when I stepped out there, but the other indications made it clear that an overnight freeze had occurred. This is not rare in January, and the good thing is that it warms up quickly as the sun rises.

Occasionally, we pass through winter without even one freeze, but that does not happen often. I prefer to dodge freezes because the plants get walloped, especially the banana trees that turn brown and require heavy trimming, which is a bother.

A cold front came through overnight, obviously, and yesterday announced its imminent arrival none too subtly with blustering winds. We were blowing all over the place. Three clay tiles even sailed off one of the carport roofs.

But let’s move on to other topics.

Old dogs, new tricks

Like most people, I enjoy music. I am not an aesthete. I just know what I like. I’m the same with food. I am not a foodie. Music enters the ears with pleasure as grub goes down the gullet pleasantly too. I am a simple man, raised on the red-dirt roads of Georgia.

Like most people of advanced age, I once listened to music on vinyl. For some reason, it comes to mind that I had a few records — that’s what we called them — when I lived in San Juan in the Caribbean. I did not have many. I had a Willie Nelson, maybe his first. I also had a few of the Argentine Atahualpa Yupanqui and the Brazilian Vinicius Demoraes that my Argentine girlfriend had brought up from Buenos Aires.

Flash forward more than a decade, and I was living in Houston. I remember my debut compact-disk player and the first day I used it. I heard Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi. CDs are better than vinyl no matter what Luddite aesthetes tell you.

Here at the Hacienda, we have tons of music CDs, almost all of which I toted over the Rio Bravo years ago. And we have the players. Alas, the players are going belly up, and new ones are more difficult to find.

More difficult, not impossible, and the available ones aren’t that good.

One of the three we still have in the house committed suicide last week, leaving two others with somewhat evil tempers. Sometimes they work, sometimes not. It was then that a word popped into my feeble, aging brain. Bluetooth!

This is a technology that’s about 20 years old, but I had never used it. The only thing I knew about Bluetooth was that if you put one device near another, they could communicate. That was the totality of my understanding. I knew people all over the place were using Bluetooth to listen to music, but I had no clue how. I went online to investigate.

Let’s make a long story short. Cut to the chase, as they say.

I am now the owner of a Sony Bluetooth portable speaker via Amazon Mexico. It’s only about four inches high, but it produces a great sound to my unaesthetic ears. It cost about $60 U.S. I can buy a second to provide stereo sound, but I doubt I’ll do that. I am happy with what I have.

I also subscribed to Deezer, a music app that has a gadzillion tunes, including Vinicius de Moraes and Atahualpa Yupanqui.

So, bye-bye boomboxes. The old dog has learned a new trick.

Bluetooth. Who knew?

The library

New Image

I’M A READER, and I always have been. This lifestyle amplified in 1996 when I went on the wagon. When you’ve got a snoot-full, you’re not much inclined to open a book.

Most of my life I’ve preferred histories and biographies, factual stuff, over novels. That preference remains in place, but I’m a bit more open to novels than I once was.

Since moving to Mexico, I’ve read War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but I still lean more to histories and bios.

When we constructed the Hacienda in 2002-03, we had these shelves and cabinets specially made. The cabinets extend a good bit farther to the right. It all cost just $500.

It used to be a library, but now it’s a museum, a focus of interest. The books are dead. We buy them no more.

There’s a warm feeling to a library, no matter its size, so this will stay put. The shelves are good spots to place pictures too.

If you click on the photo, and then enlarge it, you’ll get fuzzy views of the two of us, my child bride’s father, her brothers, my daughter and mother, and so on.

Against the right-side wall is a wooden holder with smaller shelves where music CDs sit. The same carpenter — a guy named Angel — built that too, all to my specifications.

As with paper books, we no longer buy music CDs. Our music comes to us digitalized, and so do books, which fly through space and land inside our Kindles. We both have one.

I know people who continue purchasing paper books. I find this cute and amusing, and I attribute it to their not really having tried the Kindle option, which is so much more convenient. You can even bookmark pages!

They will, of course, get on board in time.

Hanging on the wall there to the right is an artwork that I purchased my first month here on the mountaintop 16 years ago. It’s titled Vendor of Hearts, but in Spanish, of course. It was part of an exhibit on a hotel restaurant wall.

It’s painted on butcher paper. And standing atop the old record player in front of that art is a witch doll. Lordy!