Tag Archives: pastries

Less than a tithe

This is our neighborhood church. Built, I’m guessing, in the 1500s.

WE USUALLY don’t answer the doorbell because it’s often passing kids goofing around or someone selling something we don’t want. And it’s almost a two-block round trip from inside the house to the front gate and back. That more than anything.

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A Catholic spell

I come from country people who were never anything but Baptists or Methodists that I know of.

In spite of that, I was deposited in a Catholic school for kindergarten and First Grade in Albany, Georgia, about 10,000 years ago. My mother did it because it had the best reputation in town, education-wise.

My sister was sentenced there too. My sister had imagination, however, or maybe it was just childish ignorance. She came home one day and announced that she’d changed the Holy Water, freshened it up with stuff from the tap.

Neither the priest nor the nuns ever noticed, which tells me that Holy Water’s fame is overstated somewhat.

My mother, before enrolling me, made the nuns promise they wouldn’t try to turn me into a Catholic, and they did so promise because, one imagines, our money looked green.

However, one day I came home with the report that, after having misbehaved in some way, I was made to kneel on rice before a painting of the Virgin and beg forgiveness.

Mother took me out of the school at that point, and I left Catholicism forever if you don’t count that my second ex-wife is a recovering Catholic, and Mexico is full of Catholics.

My child bride does not seem to be a Catholic, but the environment rubs off. Her father was an atheist and her evil stepmother, after father died too young, became a Jehovah’s Witness, one of those pests at your front door.

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Speaking of doorbells

As I was saying, we rarely respond to the doorbell here at the Hacienda unless we are expecting someone.

But my child bride was toiling in her pastry workshop the other day when the doorbell rang — it rings both out there and here in the house — and since there was little walking involved, she opened the little speakeasy portal in the steel gate.

Two ladies were there, and they were not pesky Jehovah’s Witnesses, but Catholics on a collecting mission.

You see our neighborhood church up top? It is very old, and it’s in bad condition. We were informed that City Hall has agreed to chip in a percentage for a much-needed restoration, but residents here in our poor barrio have to pony up too.

We were being asked to pony up, so we ponied.

We learned that the amount one is asked to contribute is based on how well-off you look. In our hardscrabble neighborhood, we look quite well-off, so we were asked for 1,000 pesos.

We paid for the sake of architecture.

I think the Vatican should pay for the entire restoration, but it doesn’t seem that Headquarters pays us much mind.

I hope enough money is raised because I like the church. I see it every weekday morning during our exercise walk. I’ve rarely been inside, but I hear singing at times, and I see funerals and weddings there. All part of the tapestry hereabouts.

Real estate baron

sala
Hacienda living room as seen from the dining room table this morning.

WE OWN three homes. One is the Hacienda where we live. Another is the Downtown Casita* where nobody lives. The third is the condo in Mexico City where nobody lives either.

All are stylishly furnished.

If we had to pay Gringo-level property taxes on those babies, we’d dump them fast as a flash.

My second ex-wife still lives in the Ranch-style home we purchased in 1986 in Houston for about $65,000. It’s valued far more now, and she pays way more in property tax than we pay for our three Mexican addresses combined.

We’re likely going to add a fourth address to our real estate empire. It’s a new development of just 11 off-street lots downtown here in a fantastic location.

And all utilities are ready to go, buried underground.

It’s just the lot. We’re not going to build a house, so it will be an investment, nothing more. And with the peso-dollar exchange rate what it is, the price is stupendo!

More on this later, I suppose.

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* Available to vacationers for a quite reasonable price!

(Note: Actually, we will own five properties if you believe our electricity provider which lists my wife’s pastry kitchen as a commercial storefront, a separate account. Its bimonthly bill is usually a bit higher than the entire Hacienda bill.)

Street scenes

carajo
Suicide house

WHILE MY child bride was peddling pastries on the main plaza yesterday, I took a walk around with my camera.

The upstairs windows on the above building open from the bedroom where my brother-in-law, separated from my sister-in-law after she tossed him out for philandering, accidentally shot himself to death about eight years ago.*

The same windows were used about a year later in a Nescafé television commercial. You see a woman sipping coffee briefly in one of the windows at the 0.55-second mark.

Not included in the commercial was the fact that the very bed on which the body was found still sat in the bedroom.

All of the street scenes were shot here. It looks more like Italy than Mexico to me, but it’s not Italy.

Continuing my stroll, I went down thataway and shot the next photo. It’s an intersection we call Seven Corners.

The black-and-white photos are fairly realistic because we’ve had some unpleasantly cool and rainy days of late.

Things will return to idyllic very soon, I’m sure.

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Seven Corners

* Don’t ever think a .22-caliber pistol is just a toy, especially if you point it at your heart and pull the trigger.

The perfect time

bedroom
Smaller bedroom window.

NOVEMBER, THAT IS. It’s the perfect time here, not that other times aren’t swell too, but you can’t beat November.

There’s something strange about our perfect time being ushered in by the Day of the Dead when we embrace and drink to the notion of death and mortality.

But don’t dwell on that. November is almost upon us. And why is November so sweet? Because the summer rains have ended, but everything is still fresh and green.

Plus, frigid winter hasn’t arrived.

Friday morning was full of chores while my child bride was out working in her pastry kitchen. Chores for me, that is.

One was window-washing which inspired me to shoot the two photos. At the top is the smaller window in the bedroom, and at the bottom is one of two huge, dining room* windows.

Note the very green grass. People have asked me online why in the world I have a green lawn in Mexico, that it makes no sense. I guess they expect dust and burros.

The grass makes sense to me, especially now that I don’t mow it anymore. Someone else does.  I just admire it.

And sometimes I clean the windows for a better view.

kitchen
Big dining room window.

* Why is dining room two words while bedroom is one word?

(Note: The stained-glass items hanging on the bottom window were made by the two of us about a decade ago at a trade school in a nearby town. There are much larger ones hanging in the living room window.)

(Note 2: An astute observer might notice the black dot on the middle pane of the bottom photo. That’s a very small piece of broken mirror my child bride pasted to the spot. She uses that little mirror to pluck her eyebrows under natural light. Women are strange sometimes.)

Summer moments

corner
A corner of the veranda starring Bart Guevara.

SATURDAY MORNING, yesterday, and Elvis is crooning love songs on the living room’s music machine.

The far edge of July.

I was communicating via email at dawn with my friend Ray in Alabama who was telling me what I already knew, that Alabama is no place to be in summer, weather-wise.

Here, of course, it’s cool and damp all summer, even into autumn. After that, it’s just cool but not damp.

Heavenly.

After talking to Ray, whom I hope to meet in person one day, I ate a bagel with cream cheese, light, with my child bride, and she hastened out to her pastry kitchen for final touches on Saturday’s sale on the plaza.

First, I went to the living room to turn on Elvis. Then I went outside to chores like wiping the tabletop and chairs on the Jesus Patio, pulling weeds, pushing the mower out for Abel the Deadpan Yardman who arrives at 10 o’clock.

I swept the cushions on the rockers on the veranda before taking the photo above. We bought the big ceramic tile with Bart Guevara on our last visit to San Miguel. We found it on the highway between San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo.

Though cool and damp, as always, the morning sky was blue and the sun shone sweetly. It’s a great place to live.

As night fell on Saturday, the grass was shorn, we’d lunched on roasted chicken, rice, chiles and soft-drink Sangría out by the highway in a humble place with earthen walls, afternoon rain had fallen and departed, pastries had all been sold on the downtown plaza, and it was cool and damp.

Thanks for stopping by.

Summer moments. With Elvis.

And Bart Guevara.

One of our pastry customers yesterday.
One of our pastry customers yesterday.

 

Agua! agua! agua!

taller
Pastry kitchen’s water supply, added last year.

SHORTLY AFTER purchasing the double lot where now stands the Hacienda, I mentioned our future location to an old Gringo of my acquaintance.

But there’s no water out there, he said, referring to the hardscrabble neighborhood on the edge of town.

Knowing there were hundreds of people in the neighborhood, I scratched my head and wondered, so how are so many people living there if there’s no water?

As in so many things, the truth sat in the middle.

back
Big tank out back, badly painted.

We discovered on moving that there was water, it was simply nasty water. The municipal supply here had a brown cast to it. Good for flushing, not bathing, certainly not drinking, but that’s true most everywhere in Mexico.

So, in addition to the customary underground cistern and the roof tank, we installed an additional, large, above-ground tank out back and a smaller one out by the front gate.

tinaco
Tinaco on the roof.

Water was brought to us in tanker trucks. It cost about 20 bucks a month and was only slightly inconvenient. This went on for about eight years until a neighbor mentioned that the municipal water had improved.

He was correct. It was crystal clear spring water.

We had the small tank out front and the underground cistern out back connected to the municipal supply.

front1
Small tank out front.

No more tanker trucks.

And instead of paying 20 bucks a month, we now pay about three bucks a month for an unlimited supply.

Somewhere along the line we also installed another, larger tank out front about 20 feet from the smaller tank.

cistern
Underground cistern.

I filled that big tank with a hose from the nearby smaller tank, and had a pump attached. We then had a way to water the yard and wash the two cars.

The large above-ground tank out back also was filled with a hose from the small tank out front, a block away. It was a very long hose indeed, a pain in the kazoo to do.

frontbig
Big tank out front.

The inspiration for this post came just this week when I finally had a plumber add pipes that fill the large, above-ground tank out front and the large, above-ground tank out back automatically from the municipal supply.

We are fully automated, water-wise. Our water supply rivals the Mediterranean Sea. Survivalists will envy us. We could float a fleet of Somalian pirates.

That old Gringo who said there was no water in our neighborhood might have been half right 14 years ago, but he’s not right now. In fact, he vanished years ago.

And I remain. With agua galore.

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(Note: The very top photo shows the tinaco above the new pastry workshop that was built last year. It was immediately hooked to the municipal supply.)

Night moves

New Image

SITTING ON the living room sofa last night with most of the lights turned off for mood and comfort, the two of us split a brownie, which was sweet and good.

I noticed this scene. The light comes from small bulbs behind two huge, pressed-tin masks on the wall just above. One is the moon. The other is a tribal face.

This artwork is by Arturo Solis who lives here in town.

Sombrero seller

hats

YESTERDAY WAS our pastry day on the big plaza downtown. I brought my camera in a black bag.

First thing I do is enjoy one of my child bride’s goodies accompanied by a café Americano negro. I watch people.

Later I walked out to the plaza with my camera. Here is one of the photos. Better versions, as always, are available here.

Little comas

THE HUMAN body does strange things.

For instance, we spend a third of our lives in a coma, a state of suspended animation. We have a soft place to lie down for this, and we put on comfy clothing, or we just strip naked.

I refer to our need for sleep, of course.

I sleep like the proverbial log, normally. It helps to not have something worrying you. Have you noticed that worries magnify magnificently at night? A trifling concern in daytime becomes a monster worry after the lights go out.

And then when you wake in the morning, that same worry shrinks to its proper proportion, easily resolved.

My child bride worries about everything, so she doesn’t sleep as soundly as I do. She has a mob of relatives, all of whom have big-time issues, being Mexican and all, and she worries about every one of those relatives, nonstop.

I don’t worry about her relatives at all, and I only have two on my side. My daughter who lives in a field of clover, and my nutty sister whom I have not heard from in three years.

You’d think I might worry about that latter, but I do not. Quite the contrary. It gives me peace of mind.

Unlike lots of aging men, I don’t get up repeatedly at night to take a whiz. Just once, usually. Sometimes not even that. My svelte body  works well — he said, as he knocks on wood, the desk I had made by carpenters years back.

This happened just once last night, about 4 a.m. Waking up at night here is interesting. There are sounds. Last night, I heard a burro bray and there were the unsettled chickens that overnight in the neighbors’ apple tree.

croissantIt’s also said we require less sleep as we age. I haven’t found that to be true. I get a good seven or eight hours as always.

Maybe my nights pass smoothly because I have a beautiful babe next to me, even if she is fretting over relatives.

Our comas end with bagels and Philadelphia cream cheese or, on special occasions, croissants and orange marmalade.

It’s a great way to return from the world of the comatose.