Next week we enter the first of the two worst months of the year here, April and May. They are dry and warm, a warm that comes indoors at night, especially upstairs where we have our evening salad with Netflix, and becomes incredibly stuffy.
The low upstairs ceiling does not help.
We strip to tank tops and skivvies. We have no air-conditioning, but two years ago we bought some sort of water-tank cooler, and it assists a lot upstairs, but it’s loud. For the bedroom downstairs we purchased an oscillating tower fan, which also is a boon.
Why we waited 15 years to make those meager moves is a mystery. Before we just suffered with a pedestal fan upstairs that blew heat around.
Downstairs, we had an elegant ceiling fan in the bedroom that was nearly useless. A saving grace of downstairs is a higher ceiling, especially in the living room. But even in the bedroom, the ceiling is higher than upstairs.
April and May are incredibly dry. The mountains turn brown. The campesinos burn fields, which sends ash and dust everywhere. You’d think we’d open the windows in the warm months, but we close them instead, keeping dust out and a bit of cool inside.
Spring is not a joyous time at the Hacienda. We just buck up.
IT’S 6 P.M., and cold in the house. I’m in flannel pajamas, a heavy coat, a snazzy scarf around my neck and a watch cap on my grizzled head.
There is nothing to be done. It’s late January, and we’ve actually been lucky so far. There were light freezes on two consecutive nights earlier this month, but it’s not dipped below 32º since. Other winters have been far worse. But some have been better.
I never weary of marveling at Mexican thought processes. Of course, it could be just my wacky relatives, not Mexicans in general, but I tend to project family nuttiness onto the nation as a whole.
Last week we enjoyed about three beautiful, consecutive, mild days, so my sister-in-law stated one afternoon with a straight face that she thought winter was over. My child bride agreed. A couple of nice days, and seasons are redefined for them.
I chuckled at the absurdity, and I’ve been proven right, not surprisingly. A few days ago, it got ugly, cold, and it even rained, which is not supposed to happen in January, not here anyway. It’s the dry season. Cold is one thing. Cold and wet is worse.
A few nights ago we watched a movie on Netflix titled The Bookshop which is set in England in the late 1950s. It stars two of my favorite actors, Bill Nighy and Emily Mortimer.
Ray Bradbury is mentioned repeatedly, and it occurred to me that I have never read anything by Ray Bradbury. I downloaded a Kindle sample of Death Is a Lonely Business, and it became clear why. He’s too cutesy and wordy for my taste.
Before coming home and slipping into the flannel pajamas, I was on the main plaza downtown with a café Americano negro and a raspberry muffin from a nearby pastry shop. I pulled out my Kindle and began the Lonely Business sample.
I couldn’t cut it. One of the many great things about Kindles is that one can order free book samples. Ray Bradbury will remain alien to me, and I don’t care.
Before writing this post, I opened the Gab social mediawebsite where I have an account. Gab is the free-speech alternative to Twitter. Leftists say it’s a white-supremacy website or alt-right, whatever that is, but it’s not, although you will find lunatics there. Most are not. One of the downsides of free speech is you have to let everyone speak.
The lunatics are easily blocked.
Big Tech has done everything imaginable to destroy Gab, including barring ways to financially contribute. Just recently, Gab found a way to accept credit cards again, and I used that route today to donate a small sum plus buy a Pepe the Frog sticker for my Honda.
It is en route, Gab told me. I will have the only Pepe sticker on the mountaintop although in a field between here and the nearby capital city, there is a huge boulder that appears about eight feet high and wide, and it’s been painted to look like Pepe! I keep meaning to pull over and take a photo.
I briefly read Gab daily, rarely post anything but, amazingly, have over 1,000 followers. I do use Gab’s excellent and relatively new browser, Dissenter.
Pepe the Frog has been used as a freedom symbol by those Hong Kong protesters, and everyone knows those Chinamen are white supremacists and alt-right crazies.
Well, I’ve gone on long enough. It’s dark now, and my child bride will return from the gym very soon, expecting her salad to be ready. I cannot disappoint her.
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.
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.
I’M WRITING THIS last night, alone. It’s the second solitary night this week.
The first was planned. My child bride and a sister took a bus Monday to a town called Los Reyes, which is about three hours southwest of here.
(They changed buses in the city of Uruapan, which gained infamy years ago when bad guys rolled a decapitated head across a cantina floor.)
The sisters had to confer with a lawyer on a property issue. I slept solo in the Hacienda’s king bed, the window open for the cool air and the scent of datura. They stayed in a hotel. She returned the next day, and I was happy.
Yesterday, we got news that the son of a half brother — hers not mine — had been killed on a motorcycle in the nearby capital city. My child bride and a different sister took a bus down there to attend the wake. She’ll return today. Again, there I was in the king bed with the window open to cool air and the aroma of datura.
Last night, just like Monday, I skipped our traditional, evening salad, and I opted instead for a two-egg omelet with eight-grain toast.
There were no eggs in the house yesterday, so I had to walk half a block down the street to a very humble, hole-in-the-wall store. The eggs likely weren’t far from the hen’s heinie and, of course, Mexicans do not refrigerate eggs, which is no problem.
The omelet had onion, olives, tomato sauce, capers and Parmesan cheese from the green, plastic jar. After slipping it onto the plate, I added lemon pepper and Tabasco.
The toast received “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” Clearly, I’m no foodie.
I skipped Netflix too, instead reading some old yarns of mine, in part to correct punctuation. Also to relive moments, which passes the time when you’re sailing solo.
Here is one of my favorites. It’s a true story, written maybe 15 years ago, recalling a trip I made to Scotland in the 1970s. The references to the hammock and roof tile hark back to the upstairs terraza here before the recent renovation.
That hammock was long one of my favorite reading spots.
The piece is called:
Last train to Holyhead.
Swaying in the hammock softly with Rosamunde Pilcher.
Though wet June is weeks away, there are rain clouds.
But the hammock is safe under the roof tile.
Pilcher’s book Under Gemini is set in Scotland, my ancestral home.
Look here on this page: The rain had turned to a soft blowing mist which was beginning to smell of the sea.
If it rains here now, it will smell not of sea, but of mountains. You will hear soft sighs of parched plants, see the settling of dust.
Under Gemini was published in the mid-1970s, and at that same time I was alighting alone from a train at the Inverness station, just up from Edinburgh.
Stepping off another car at the same moment was a California woman on the very eve of her 40th birthday, also alone.
She was a professor of anthropology, attractive, heading slowly, with backpack, toward a conference in faraway India. We ended up in the same guesthouse, dining together after passing through a few dark pubs.
We found each other engaging, and spent the next five days as constant, carefree companions, becoming one.
After Inverness, our train headed west to the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. And later, there was the big smokestack boat that carried us south through the Sound of Isleat to a railhead at Mallaig.
We held hands on deck and smiled as our freight ship steamed through watery mountain passes. It was cold October, and we were the only passengers.
At Mallaig, we caught another train, continuing on through Fort William, Glasgow and finally, leaving Scotland, to Chester, England.
It was a five-day romance with no time for pains, sorrows or regrets.
Until those final moments. I had to return to London. She continued on to Holyhead on the windy Welsh coast, a roundabout route to India.
We kissed and waved goodbye as the old train chugged from the station in medieval Chester. Her window was open, and she leaned out, like in those old-time movies.
We never mentioned our last names and, even now, her first name, like her face, has faded. But not the memory of those final moments. Definitely not that.
The sweetness spiraled into sadness.
There is thunder here now. Let’s head inside the house.