Dismal month of May

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Sea of crispy grass. In eight more weeks, this will resemble a jungle in Chiapas.

WE’VE JUST BEGUN the worst month of the year. The best month is November, but this is the miserable month of May, the final wheeze of the dry season. Next month will bring the refreshing, daily downpours.

But for now, it’s dead grass and dust. We keep the windows closed for the most part to keep dust and heat outside. Well, what passes for heat here, which is a cakewalk compared to a summer in New Orleans or Houston, my old haunts.

People here complain about “the heat.” My child bride is especially prone to this. I snort and tell her she should spend a few summer days in Texas or South Louisiana. Then she would know heat. What we have here in May is a bit of discomfort, nothing more.

Speaking of the daily rains which are heading down the highway toward us, we’d like to get the entire glass roof atop the upstairs terraza in place before the skies open. Next Wednesday marks a month since I paid the deposit. They’ve installed six panes, and they have about 50 more to go. I’ll stop by their place Monday to bitch and moan.

Other news is that a nice couple just vacated our downtown Casita yesterday after a two-month stay, so it’s available for vacation rentals now. Just so you know.

For you, a special price. The Moon discount.

But back to May, we’ve actually been blessed a bit this year. It seems less unpleasant than previous Springs. We’ve used the air cooler less than usual upstairs in the evenings while we munch on salads and watch Netflix. And while it’s a tad warm in the bedroom as we drift off to sleep with the windows open, when 5 a.m. arrives it’s quite chilly.

Mornings are good here. Most things are good here.

Vista of a Mexican yogi

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View while sitting cross-legged on the faux Persian rug in the living room. Ommmmm.

LAST DECEMBER, I wrote here about throwing my back out, as they say, rendering myself a temporary cripple.

I’ve had that problem now and then for decades, far more before my last divorce,* but it usually cures itself in four or five days. Last December it lasted two weeks, which had only happened once before. It was a hard time.

But it woke me up. Though I’ve done somewhat light exercise on a regular basis for decades I had begun to get lazy about it, and that matters.

I have a gym set here at home, and my schedule had been thrice a week, and I cheated occasionally. I now do it five times a week. I still cheat some, but not often and not without good reason.

I also do a 20-minute, rapid walk around the neighborhood plaza. Again, I was known to cheat, but now I’m cheating far less.

A new element is some light stretching exercise. I call that yoga, but it’s not. It’s stretching. I do short stretching of my back in the morning before getting to the gym set, and in the late afternoon after returning from my usual café Americano negro on the main plaza downtown.

That afternoon session is longer and involves lying and sitting on the living room floor atop a faux Persian rug. Sometimes I even light incense. I’m invariably alone at that hour, between 6 and 7.

While sitting, I’m getting the view above. The lights are out, and the late afternoon sun is out thataway. Thought I’d share the view with you.

* * * *

* It’s an issue with a psychological element.

(Note 1: Aging is no fun though I appear to be holding up better than most geezers my age. Last September I wrote here about a crippling heel spur I had developed. There is no good solution to that except for surgery. I chose to do nothing because it only bothered me now and then. I thought it was permanent, but it lasted eight months and vanished. Just recently. How about that!)

(Note 2: Unrelated to anything written so far but included just to keep you up to date on Hacienda joys and sorrows, a lightning strike on Monday fried our Samsung 32-inch LED smart TV, our TV-cable box, and a wifi box. The surge entered via the TV cable, not the electric wires. I have a surge protector by the TV, but I only had the TV power cable connected to it. The surge protector also has the option of running the TV cable through it, but I had foolishly not done so, an expensive oversight. As for wifi, I have two services, which is how I am communicating with you right now.

(I’ve already purchased another TV and connected it to Netflix, which is all I watch anyway. Our TV cable provider is a company called Megacable. Its service is abysmal, so Lord knows when the second wifi will be restored. I really don’t care about the cable TV, but my child bride watches it while she irons.)

Facing springtime with trepidation

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Banana trees making their annual comeback after being whacked back to nubs.

WITH LUCK, winter and its too-frequent overnight freezes is behind us, not officially, of course. That happens later this month.

As challenging as winter can be — we have no reliable heating system — the real bear is springtime, specifically the months of April and May. It gets stuffy in the house in the evenings, particularly upstairs where we wind down the day with Netflix and munch our salads in recliners like old people.

As we have no reliable heating system, we have no cooling system whatsoever. Of course, the upside to this situation is that our electric bills year-round are the peso equivalent of about ten U.S. bucks per month.

Bet you’re not feeling sorry for us now, huh?

Sometimes in the evenings of April and May it gets so stuffy upstairs that we turn off Netflix early and flee downstairs where it’s always cooler due mostly to the considerably higher ceilings, especially in the living room.

We have a fancy ceiling fan in the bedroom that we only installed about five years ago. Aside from looking elegant, it does squat. It’s only usable at the lowest speed because higher speeds make lots of racket, and that interferes with sleep.

Last year I said: I’m mad as Hell, and I’m not taking it anymore. Just before the cooling, summer rains arrived, I purchased one of those tower fans that sits on the floor. It does all manner of fancy stuff, but it’s still a fan. We’ll use that downstairs instead of the elegant ceiling fan.

That leaves the more serious problem of upstairs. A fan helps, but not much. I’m going to buy one of those “coolers,” which appears to be a fan with some sort of water system. Some you can even drop ice into them somehow.

Buy a room air-conditioner, you say? No way, José. It would murder our electricity bill. I’m assuming the cooler won’t do that, and if it does, it won’t be as bad.

I’d never heard of these coolers till last year when I noticed them in our only department store here on the mountaintop. The store is Coppel, a Mexican chain. I’m leaning toward a cooler made by Symphony. If you have any experience with coolers, I’d like to hear it.

Meanwhile, spring inches closer. The grass, in spite of some rare winter rainfalls, is turning brown and crunchy. I took the photo above this morning. The banana trees are making their annual comeback. They’ll grow high, eight to ten feet.

I used to have three batches of banana trees, but I had two removed and the area cemented. Otherwise, the bananas would have returned like the living dead. Below is a rock-and-concrete table where a batch of overbearing bananas lived for years.

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This mesa is about 15 inches high. No bananas can break through that, amigo.

Strolling the yard

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Señora Bones scares intruders from the Hacienda. Well, that’s the idea.
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Renovated bathroom window. And the beams over both windows are newly varnished.

IT’S SUNDAY, our day of rest.

Saturday is our busiest day due to the weekly pastry sale my child bride offers out of her big basket that’s shaped like a sombrero. We do that downtown on the main plaza.

After the endless hubbub of Saturday, we kick back on Sunday. After watching a strange movie on Netflix this morning — Joe, starring Nicholas Cage — I took a stroll around the yard while my child bride began the lengthy, female process of bathing and dressing before we head out to a restaurant.

I photographed some stuff.

It was a nice morning, mild and sunny. There was la señora Bones, whom I’ve not shown here in a fair spell. She stands next to the Alamo Wall. Then there was a corner of the house, bath window on left, bedroom on right. We recently had work done on the bathroom window, new varnish, new screen.

The plant in the middle is the golden datura tree, which I whack back to a nub for winter. It’s starting to sprout again and will be full of big, gold blooms and a fine smell that drifts into the bedroom on summer nights.

Yesterday, I was sitting in a web chair, lazy style, watering with a garden hose when a goldfinch joined me for a bath. He sat himself on the sidewalk on the outer edge of my spraying and turned himself this way and that, fluffing up his feathers, giving himself a very nice shower. And it was fun for me too. He was only about three feet away.

Though we’re still in the dead of winter, calendar-wise, the pear tree thinks it’s springtime. That’s it below sprouting blooms. The weather has been so mild for a few weeks that the pear has lost touch with reality.

It’s good to live in agreeable surroundings.

She’s hollering up from downstairs now that she’s ready to go eat.

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Pear tree thinks it’s springtime.