While my child bride is up to her neck in dough, sugar and strawberries out in her own kitchen by the big gate, preparing for the weekly pastry sale on the main plaza downtown, I have my own responsibilities.
I start with wiping off the glass-top table on the Jesus Patio. I swipe the web chairs while I’m at it. This is done most every morning, not just Fridays.
The birdbath can be quite yucky because birds have no sense of personal hygiene, so I have to change the water and wipe clean that ceramic, which I purchased in Dolores Hidalgo.
The plants in the big pots in the veranda must be watered. I do that at least once a week, Friday, but sometimes twice. Some plants have been changed since last I posted this scene.
I sweep daily too. Well, nearly.
Surely, you’re wondering where I get the water to irrigate these plants, and that provides me the opportunity to do something I recall showing just once before.
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The Garden Patio
This is the Garden Patio, such a lovely name for the most butt-ugly part of the Hacienda. If you visit the Hacienda, you will not see it unless I lead you there.
Look at the top photo. The Garden Patio is behind that red wall on the left, and the only way to get there, aside from a gate to the back street, is through that narrow, arched opening.
This was a grassy area, more of the yard, after the Hacienda construction ended in 2003. I have since had everything added. The clay-tile roof, the concrete floor, the shelves.
Those two big, black trash bags await the garbage truck. One is yard garbage. The other is non-biodegradable kitchen trash. The white barrel on the left is for kitchen stuff. The big, black can to the right stores yard garbage.
I am too shiftless to compost. Sorry.
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Those two big, black bags ended up atop the garbage truck which arrived around 2 p.m. while we were eating fish burgers, sauteed vegetables and rice prepared by me.
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Weedeaters and me
I‘ve long had a love/hate relationship with weedeaters, and now I have a new one in the Garden Patio. Even though Weedeater is a brand name, I’ll be lowercasing it because Mexicans use the word to refer to all trimmers regardless of make.
Weedeaters, in my experience, are colossally temperamental. They are cranky to start and prone to stop running for no good reason whatsoever. They can be infuriating.
I’ve had a Truper weedeater and a Weedeater weedeater here at the Hacienda. I loathed them both. Two years ago, I switched to an electric, Sears weedeater, which runs fine but there’s that mile-long cord to contend with.
Last year I learned that Abel the Deadpan Neighbor who mows my lawn with my lawnmower has his own weedeater. He started doing the trimming too, but his weedeater is prone to frequent siestas, undesired timeouts.
In a moment of madness last week, I purchased a gas weedeater, a German Stihl. I then remembered I couldn’t let Abel use it because Mexicans abuse tools that aren’t theirs, so I hope Abel’s weedeater keeps siestas to a minimum.
Meanwhile, my Nazi Stihl will rest in the Garden Patio.
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All the yard gear in the Garden Patio was stored for years on the opposite end of the property, out by the front street wall and under a red-clay-tile roof there.
My child bride’s pastry kitchen now occupies that space. You can see her walking out there Friday morning in the following photo. She was unaware of the photographer.
Speaking of plants, one of my favorites is multiplying madly as everything does here. They are the spikey ones you see below. I don’t know what they’re called, but they multiply like, well, like us Mexicans. Catholic plants. Good breeders.
So there you have it, Friday, a busy day, at least until 3 p.m. when all is done, lunch is eaten, dishes are washed because I don’t procrastinate with dishes.
And then it was off to downtown to sit on a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.
As a kid, a century ago, living with my family in Florida, one of my responsibilities was mowing the yard. I was not fond of it.
That ended when I graduated from high school and headed off to college in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt. Ahem!
Flash forward about a quarter century. I bought my first house — in Houston, Texas. It had a yard. Two, actually. One out front abutting the street and another out back abutting the rear neighbors who, strangely, in my nine years there, I never met.
Once again, I was faced with mowing a lawn, and here’s where the moment came that sticks in my mind.
I was mowing the front lawn for the first time, and a neighbor across the street walked over. I mentioned that I had not cut a lawn in decades. Her response was: It hasn’t changed any, has it?
I laughed. No, it had not.
I mowed that lawn for nine years until 1995 when my then-wife divorced me for an illegal-alien yardboy. Just a coincidence that. She worked at a plant nursery.
I moved into an apartment and then another. No yards. And then I moved to Mexico in 2000, renting a two-story house that came with its own yardman. Indeed, I was not confronted with a yard that needed cutting until 2003 when we moved into the new Hacienda.
My new lawnmower was not big, and it sported a Briggs and Stratton motor. Those engines have changed little since I was mowing in Florida. They are clunky. A couple of years later, I bought a bigger, better mower from Sears that came with a good Craftsman motor.
For about six years, I mowed the grass. I got older. I got my wife to chip in, 50-50. I got older. That was when I hired Abel the deadpan neighbor to cut the grass. I still did the edging with a weedeater. I got older still.
About a month ago, I hired a guy down the street who has his own gas weedeater to edge the Hacienda lawn. I am out of the yard business in all its aspects. Last week, after removing the extension cord, I hung my electric weedeater on a wall. That’s all she wrote.
I’ll hit 71 very soon. It’s interesting to watch life wind down.
Time to smell the roses, which hopefully are not growing overhead.
ONE OF THE many adventures connected to living on the hardscrabble outskirts of town is getting stuff, mostly stuff in the mail.
There is no house-to-house delivery in my neighborhood. What happens is that all the mail for a certain area is dropped off at a central spot, which can be a small, corner grocery or it can be somebody’s home.
You then have to go there, the store or the home of some stranger, and ask for your mail. Of course, you have to know mail has arrived in the first place. Nobody comes and tells you. It’s a mystery-challenge.
I avoid the problem most of the time by having a post office box downtown, which is where 99 percent of my pittance of mail goes.
The quantity is small due in large part to not getting junk mail like one gets above the Rio Bravo. I wonder if that’s still a problem up there, like dinnertime phone calls. I don’t get those anymore either.
But sometimes I buy stuff from Amazon, the Gringo version. Amazon just recently opened a Mexico branch, which is great. Here’s the problem with ordering from the Gringo version, which I still do if necessary when what I want is not on the Mexican site.
You never know how it’s going to be sent. Regular mail or express mail like FedEx or DHL. Asking does no good. And the express services do not deliver to post office boxes, or so they say. Mexican magic can make it happen on occasion, but don’t hold your breath for that.
So putting the delivery address on the Amazon package is like Russian Roulette. If I put the post office box and they send it DHL, I’ve got a problem. If I put my home address and it’s sent regular mail, I’ve got another problem, though not so serious.
My main problem with the central drop-off here in the neighborhood is that I’ve never trusted it. It seemed like a black hole.
On rare occasions in the past, when I knew something had been sent to my home address, I would go to the fellow’s house where all the mail is dropped off, just over the railroad track, and ask. His wife would answer the door. Or, more commonly, no one would answer.
If the wife answered, I would ask if her husband was home. He never was. I would ask for my mail. She would know absolutely nothing of the mail. It was her husband’s job, not hers.
Repeated visits to the home got identical results. No answer or an absolutely clueless woman. Living here can be challenging.
A couple of weeks ago, I ordered camera accessories from the Gringo Amazon. For some reason, I assumed it would be sent express mail, so I put my home address on the package. It was sent snail mail instead.
Even so, Amazon provided tracking.
This morning, I checked. It was delivered yesterday, four days before the promised delivery of Aug. 10, next Monday. Though it had been “delivered,” it was nowhere in my line of sight.
Here’s where it gets juicy. That man who gets my mail in his home, the man with the clueless wife, the man who is never at home?
That man is the man I recently hired to weedeat my lawn. This means we have a personal relationship, very important, and not just that. I pay him money. He is now quite interested in me. I have hooked him.
Living in this country is all about personal relationships, which is why Mexicans have the reputation of being so freaking friendly.
Personal relationships facilitate lives. That’s true most everywhere, but it’s more true here. It can even keep you out of jail.
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While writing the above this afternoon, the doorbell rang. It was the package delivered by my “mailman” who weedeats the yard and lives just two blocks from here with the clueless woman.
The label says it arrived by something called MRU Post. I have no idea what that is. I have never heard of snail mail offering tracking, but this arrived in the typical two-weeks time of snail mail. It appears to be a new sort of snail mail. A Google search provided no answers.
It pays to have a personal relationship with the mailman. He never used to bring stuff to my house. Now he does. We are connected.
He likes the weedeating gig. And I like getting my mail.