Curse of cats

Steve Cotton’s eternal orchid provides a floral touch.

Our neighbors on the side opposite the sex motel are a troublesome bunch. It starts with their personalities and goes downhill from there.

They have at least two cats, and the unruly beasts have discovered our upstairs terraza, the nice faux-wicker chairs and the soft cushions. At some point during the night, they come over here — it’s easy for them atop walls and roofs — to sleep and perform other functions.

A month or so ago, I walked out there one morning and stepped directly into a big pile of cat caca. It seemed like a lot for a cat, but my child bride says she’s seen cats drop that quantity. I was thinking raccoon or mountain lion. It had been left on a rubber rug at the door.

I simply picked up the rug, took it outside and hosed the poop off.

This morning, I stepped out there, and one of the cushions had an equally copious deposit of caca. It was my child bride’s turn, so she took it outside and hosed it down too. Clearly, measures must be taken.

Winter is here, and we don’t spend time out there, so the cushions are now stored in a closet, and the chairs upended against a wall. We have three months till Springtime arrives, so perhaps the nasty cats will have adopted another home that’s not theirs by then.

If not, I may purchase a shotgun.

A pre-cat scene from last year.

A moonbeam heater

The music comes from the neighbors out back. Yes, it is that loud.


As I’ve mentioned numerous times, we have three hot-water sources here at the Hacienda: solar, gas and on-demand. What catches my attention most is the solar. I’ve spoken to a number of people with solar panels, and everyone says they work great.

And they do … if the sun has been shining. In the early morning, it’s useless, so for people who bounce out of bed to take a steamy shower before heading to work, a solar heater will disappoint.

In the afternoon and early evening, however, it’s hot enough to boil eggs or cook live crawfish to serve with ketchup.

What I want sitting on my roof beside my solar panel is another heater, a fourth, which has yet to be invented, that works on lunar power. Yes, I want a moonbeam heater.

“Green” energy has a way to go before rising to the reliability of old-school sources like natural gas and coal. Remember last winter when Texas came close to having its entire energy grid collapse during a prolonged, hard freeze? That was because Texas switched to “green” energy in a big way, which was a huge error.

“Green” is a great backup, but not as a sole source. At least, not yet. And as Texas went green in one direction, it shut down old-school sources simultaneously.

When we want hot water in the morning, it’s a simple matter of flipping a switch from the solar to the on-demand. And we still have the old-style gas heater sitting out there too with its pilot off. We have options. Texas stupidly had too few options.

Don’t put aging hippies in charge of energy.

I climbed to the roof yesterday to shoot these brief videos. In the middle of the top one, you see the roof of the sex motel next door. That orange room is the laundry. There are several industrial-sized washers in there but not a single dryer.

They dry stuff on those metal racks, which are new. Until recently, blankets, etc., were simply spread flat on the roof to dry.

In the bottom video, I was shooting over the glass top of the upstairs veranda, three-fourths of which is covered by shade cloth.

It was a very lovely day.

Neighbors then and now

Back in Texas, I lived in a middle-class Houston neighborhood. My house did not stand out. In Mexico, I live in a working-class neighborhood, and my house stands out a lot.

Here are my current neighbors:

Directly to the left, as one faces the street is, of course, the sex motel. Directly to the right is a family of surly people. They have animals that come and go, plus a tractor and a horse. Across the street, a nice, late-middle-aged couple who live two blocks away are building two storefronts. We’re looking forward to that.

My neighbors in Houston couldn’t have been more different.

Directly to the left was a woman from Finland. For the nine years I lived there, I never saw the inside of her home, and she never saw the inside of mine. She was standoffishly friendly. To the right was a retired Baptist preacher and his wife who were about 60 when we arrived. They were very nice people. Once he invited my then-wife and me to a church where he was delivering a guest sermon. We accepted the invitation.

I am not a Christian, but I support and favor them.

Directly across the street lived an elderly woman and her troubled, unemployed son who was about 40 years old. The woman was very nice. She was a chain smoker, and her home smelled like an ashtray. I was over there now and then, mostly to do her favors. Her son was worse than useless.

One day there was an ambulance parked outside. I looked through my window as a covered body was wheeled out and slipped into the ambulance. I figured it was the old lady, but it wasn’t. It was the son. I never knew why he died.

Cater-cornered to the left was a couple in their 30s with two children, one of whom was born about midway through my time on that street. It was the second marriage for the woman, and she also had a son from her first marriage. That son was mentally dysfunctional in some way. He was about 10 when I moved there in 1986.

They were a very nice couple whom I liked a lot. The second baby was born about 1990, and they named him Travis, a traditional Texas name. Travis was a good boy. Around 1993, we heard that the older boy had been caught molesting a girl child down the block, but he was not arrested. I do not remember why.

Later, during the years after my 1996 divorce and before I moved to Mexico in 2000, my ex-wife told me the older boy had died. He would have been in his early 20s. I don’t know the details, or perhaps I just don’t remember. Been a long, long time.

My second ex-wife still lives in that house. The Finnish woman moved to New York to live with a sister. The Baptist preacher and his wife likely are deceased as is the old woman across the street. I think Travis’s parents are still there. I would enjoy seeing them, but I doubt I ever will. Travis would be about 30.

I paid $65,000 for that ranch house in 1986, and now it’s worth over $200,000. I got the house in the divorce, and shortly afterwards, in a moment of madness, I gave it to my ex-wife, not the most financially astute move of my life.

We paid about $100,000 for the Hacienda land and construction in 2002-03, and I have no idea what it’s worth now, but I’m not going anywhere, which is, of course, what I thought when I lived in the Houston house. Life springs surprises. Sometimes they hurt.

And neighbors can be very different.

Dead birds, sheets & towels

We’re having a scaled-down Day of the Dead this year due to the Kung Flu hysteria. Normally, there’s a massive artisan market installed all around our big, downtown plaza, but not this go-around. Instead of the market, they installed this decoration, which is cordoned off, appropriately, with crime-scene tape.

To stand where those people are, you enter from the right, way over there, after having your temperature checked and a glob of anti-bacterial gel dumped on your hands, no matter that the virus is not bacteria. This year, all good sense has sailed out the window.

I took the photo yesterday.

This morning, I trimmed some bushes, raked up some crap, found a dead bird, tossed him into the trash, and picked up rotting, mystery fruit that falls from the neighbors’ tree that they have growing directly against my property wall. Yes, my wall, not theirs.

Later, I ascended to my roof via the circular stairway atop the dining room to check on something to do with the defective solar water heater and, while up there, I noticed the sex motel next door was drying sheets, towels and blankets. Directly on the floor.

I’ve noticed this many times over the years, but I’ve never photographed it. The sex motel has two or three giant washers in a room that sits on the backside of the roof, but what it lacks is even one dryer or a clothesline, which I guess would look low-brow.

So, flat on the roof they go. Nobody knows but me.

Yep, right on the roof. Towels, sheets, blankets, whatever needs to dry.