Old-style living

line

I WAS HANGING these socks, jeans and towels on the clothesline today when it occurred to me that people north of the Rio Bravo likely don’t do this anymore. You’re all modern and such. Got your gadgets.

When we built the house, we had a gas connection installed there in what Mexicans call the “service patio” in case we ever bought a gas dryer, but we’ve never bought a dryer, 15 years now. We line-dry.

It’s no big deal, and it’s free.

We do have a washer. Same one we purchased 15 years ago.

Sharp eyes may notice two propane tanks. The big one was installed when we built the house, but about two years ago it developed issues, so we bought a new one, the smaller. Next January, we’ll have the big one hauled away.

It’s 99 percent empty.

The manufacturers recommend a shelf date for those things, about a decade. That surprised me. I thought they were good indefinitely, and they likely are used indefinitely by most people if there are no problems.

But we had problems.

When I was a kid in Florida, I recall my mother hanging clothes on a line in the backyard. We had no dryer. I don’t recall a washer either. She must have done them by hand. It was nice seeing white sheets blowing in the wind.

Like in the movies.

Doing the propane shuffle

gas
“The guy” and his son install the new propane tank, left, on Friday.

I’M A GAS MAN, and I’ve been a gas man since long before I flew over the Rio Bravo to settle down. I don’t like electric stoves, for instance, and can’t imagine why anyone would use one when there is a gas option.

Gas is cheaper, and you can fine-tune the gas flame far better than you can adjust the heat on an electric burner. Quicker too.

When I lived in Texas, our house received gas from God knows where via buried pipes. Water came the same way. Both were metered, and you paid for what you used.

In Texas, and New Orleans before that, my stoves were gas as were space heaters and water heaters. Gas is the way to go. Cheap, clean, explosive. Nothing’s perfect.

When we constructed the Hacienda 15 years ago, I bought about the biggest residential propane tank you ever see. It holds 500 liters. I filled it when it needed filling, but otherwise I gave the thing little thought.

About a year ago, the gizmo that measures how much gas is in the tank decided to quit working. This is problematical. I began winging it, guessing. Recently, I had a plumber over, told him about the issue, and he asked how old the tank was.

He said that it’s a good idea to replace them every 10 to 15 years, something about the interior welding that can go bad. So instead of replacing the meter, which would have been a special order, time-consuming, and the tank was nearly empty, I bought a new tank.

They’re not that expensive.

It’s smaller, holding 300 liters instead of the 500 the bigger tank holds.

I’ll be using the smaller tank exclusively, so I can either let the big one sit there forever, or I can have it removed. I’ll likely do the latter although that’s going to be a bear. The only way out is through the kitchen, dining room and living room.

The tanks are in an interior patio.

I’d prefer to have the big tank empty before hauling it through the house. Since the meter is broken, the only way to judge the quantity is by knocking on the side with your knuckles. It’s sounded empty for weeks, but we’re still using its gas.

But it will run out one day soon, and I’ll just switch to the other tank, which I had filled yesterday from a tanker truck.

The plumber rigged the copper pipes and connections so that I can fill either tank separately from an outside connection on the street, and I can send the gas into the house from either tank too, separately.

Excellent Mexican design.

Sweep, rake, burn

MEXICAN LIFE isn’t all about sunsets and margaritas. Sometimes it’s work. Yesterday, for instance.

upstairs

First, I swept the upstairs terraza. I got to enjoy a view of the mountains and our neighborhood’s red-tile roofs.

service

Then I swept the service patio downstairs. That’s where the washing machine, water heater, clothesline and propane tank live. Not much of a view there.

veranda

Third on the list was the veranda. Pretty good view, but there’s lots of stuff to sweep around, complicating matters.

rake

At that point, I moved outside. First, the rake which resulted in three piles. Here’s one. Most leaves fall from a pear tree.

fire

I lit a match to a piece of ocote, stuck it into the pile, and flames erupted. Soon it was consumed, a black smudge.

driveway

Back to the broom. I head out beyond the Alamo Wall to sweep the driveway and clear the pastry workshop entrance.

street

And, finally, it’s out to the street where I swept the sidewalk and a bit of the street too. Unlike in some cities above the Rio Bravo, we have no mechanical street sweepers.

I’m a Virgo. We like to be tidy.

man

Lastly, the gardener gets a breather on the veranda, posing with his tool while his child bride wields the Canon.

Storefront update

roof

WE HAVE CHANGED the purpose of the storefront we’re building.

While construction moves along handily, we’ve decided to turn the area into a bakery for my wife. She bakes pastries and sells them out of a wicker basket on the downtown plaza every Saturday afternoon. She has become very popular and sometimes sells all 40 or so items in less than an hour.

Profits go into her “mad money” account at the HSBC.

However, for the past three or four years — neither of us can remember how long — that she’s been doing this, the Hacienda kitchen becomes a maelstrom of activity, especially Friday and Saturday mornings. Pots and pans are piled everywhere, and it’s difficult to move about. Baking outside the house would be a step up.

So, we’re purchasing a propane tank, a water heater (one of those little, on-demand things), a refrigerator and some sort of oven yet to be determined. A kitchen sink will be installed. A very large table and counters will be installed too, and the Hacienda Bakery will be born — out thataway.

We will still install a big opening to the street so that it can be rented as a storefront in the future, but that entrance will remain shut until some distant day. The previous post on this project can be found here.

And an almost daily photo update of the construction can be found here.

Electric and water lines embedded in wall.
Electric and water lines embedded in wall.

(Tidbit: Our contractor, a fellow named Ramón, has a separate crew simultaneously constructing our town’s new courthouse where public trials will be held. This is part of Mexico’s judicial reform that is gradually being put into place around the nation. Legal proceedings have previously been held behind closed doors. Not good.)