Mixed signals

View Thursday from our upstairs terraza.

TUESDAY AND Wednesday got really weird here on the mountaintop. It rained and it blew, blowing so hard that a 20-foot sheet of metal roofing separated from our neighbors’ backyard shed and sailed over into our yard.

Apart from breaking a few clay tiles atop the wall that separates our yard from the Garden Patio, no damage was done. The two of us donned gloves and toted it out the gate and left it on the street behind the neighbors’ house.

Later it was gone. They are not nice people.

Someone posted on a Yahoo forum that focuses on our area that this is the first time that snow’s been visible here in 54 years. I feel like I’m in Colorado.

New ImageBut it’s almost springtime! For the past few days, while sitting in the dining room with bagels, we watched through the window a visitor drinking from the ceramic birdbath, an Altamira oriole.

So while winter makes what I pray is its final punch, signs of springtime frolic in the yard simultaneously.

Mixed signals from the Goddess.

Day of hope


I STOOD in the morning bathroom, admiring my Springtime doings.

I had installed a fresh deodorant stick and a new bottle of liquid soap, little harbingers of a longed-for change of season.

Has winter gone? Not officially, of course, but the Goddess does not always copy the calendar. She is capricious.

Have we really dodged the bullet? Has the worst of winter passed with nary a single frozen morning? Fourteen years here on the mountaintop, 11 in the Hacienda. Not one winter has passed without an overnight freeze. Usually, there are many.

I hesitate to speak of this now because just last year we also made it to March freeze-free. I rejoiced, lit incense, and then … bam! A couple of overnight freezes walloped the yard. That’s the biggest drawback to freezes. It sucker punches the yard, creating tasks for me, cutting and toting out the victims. Brown death is not a good yard look.

If memory serves, however, those freezes fell upon us in the first week of March 2013, and now we’re in the second week, and the forecast says nothing untoward is on the highway barreling down from Texas.

Getting two straight years of moderation affects the yard in good ways. It has really gone to town, so to speak. Things are growing wildly. Why, just this morning, I went out, clippers and whackers in hand, to talk a little sense into some areas. Stern discipline.

There was the drooping vine over the archway between the stone wall and the secondary carport. That same vine, rooted elsewhere, was climbing over the red roof tile of the carport, sneaking over the neighbor’s house a bit. That baby got slashed.

Much of the grass is turning brown due to lack of rain or watering. That’s okay because it won’t require mowing, and it will return in wet June. But one area, just outside the dining room window, refuses to die. I had to weed-eat it into submission.

Last month, with the help of younger, stronger fellows, much of the planting areas were stripped clean. Years of old growth were trucked away, weeds intertwined. Mulch was spread. Cacti were moved. A little brown wagon was bought. An architectural touch.

I am nothing if not arty. Now it’s almost like a Zen garden in spots.

Twelve days to go till the Vernal Equinox. My fingers are crossed. My deodorant is new, and so is the soap. I’m feeling fresh, clean and fortunate.

Fog of winter


WE HEAR it’s pretty dang cold above the Rio Bravo.

Here on our Mexican mountaintop, things are mostly following the blueprint. Quite cool to cold in the mornings, then getting mild and sunny later in the day.

Sometimes mornings bring fog, as you see in the photo.

What’s odd this January is Birds of Paradise are in bloom, and Red Hot Pokers too. We rarely see that. Must be global warming. I’m neutral on the global warming dispute, not being a scientist, but did you catch the incredible irony of that research ship that was caught in the Antarctic ice recently? Its mission: study global warming.

Most of the news media chose not to report that point. It damaged their worldview.

What you don’t see in the photo is that our monster bougainvillea has lost most of its leaves and flowers. I’ll get Abel, the deadpan yardman, to take this opportunity to whack it back in a week or two. I have clippers, but he will prefer a machete.

It’s also time for house repairs. Our currently favorite albañil (guy who builds and repairs) will come by tomorrow morning to give us prices. There will be some waterproofing paint, some reconnection of clay ceiling tiles, some reconnection and grouting of ceramic floor tiles, stuff like that. Then we’ll be good as new, almost.

Other things on the to-do list: Tax forms and renewing my child bride’s U.S. visa.


Sunlight from a window shines on my face one cold morning

Yesterday had that feel. Maybe it was due to being post-Christmas.

It’s time to winterize.

I started by culling. My scarf pile was too high. Ditto the watch cap collection.

I have slimmed down to just five scarves. Three are wide, and one of those is a scarlet Christian Dior! I have had it for decades. A second wide is black-and-white wool my child bride knitted. I’m wearing it in the photo. The third wide she also knitted, acrylic.

The watch cap collection now numbers four. I tossed three others. Various defects.

I favor watch caps, but my wife dislikes them. No matter. My favoring, in this instance, outweighs her dislike. I think watch caps give me a Jack London look.

Plus, they can be warm and comfy. My favorite is the one in the photo. It’s also on my head at this moment as I type. All are solid dark colors except one that’s multicolored. Jack London would have sniffed at the multicolored.

And then there are sweaters. My child bride has helped there too. My favorite is a black turtleneck she knitted years ago. It has an Aztec skull on the chest, beautifully done.

I didn’t cull sweaters yesterday because the sweaters were culled in past years. In addition to the black, wool turtleneck, I have a red acrylic my child bride knitted, a cotton Eddie Bauer from years back, a wool white-and-black, store-bought, that I rarely wear because it’s tough to get on and off. Too bad because it’s nice otherwise.

And then there’s the hand-woven green wool I bought in Galway, Ireland, in 1977. Still looks great and fits fine after all these years. Clothes-wise, I’m ready.

No culling needed for pants. They are always jeans. There are other coats and jackets, but they stay the course from year to year.

There’s the issue of heat. We have no central heat, of course. We have two fireplaces that get used less every year. We have two portable propane heaters downstairs and one upstairs. They work pretty well if you sit near them.

The basic protection against winter cold here is simply to bundle up in warm clothing and sleep under goose down. My best house coat is a big, thick, red-plaid Abercrombie and Fitch number that I call my Dope Coat.

I call it that because when I swallowed psilocybin and LSD in the late 1990s, I would put it on to keep warm. Entheogens can give you a chill. Maybe you did not know that.

But I’m winterized now. Sweaters fluffed. Watch caps and scarves at the ready. Down comforter as always. And the Dope Coat.

Most people think living in Mexico means heat, but that’s not always true. We live 7,200 feet high in the mountains, and it frequently freezes overnight in winter.

Then it warms up in the afternoon, becoming quite lovely.

* * * *

(Note: Culled items went into a plastic bag, and will be gifted to the “underprivileged.”)