The Odd Pot

The ironing board

IT’S TOUGH to run a hacienda with no permanent employees.

Had all haciendas been run before 1910 as ours is now — sans employees — it’s likely the Mexican Revolution would never have happened.

Hacienda owners would have done their own dirty work. The peons would have been in their personal fields cultivating their corn Monday through Saturday. They would have gotten drunk and fornicated on Saturday nights and gone to Mass on Sunday mornings.

The old-style life.

We do employ part-time help when it cannot be avoided. Recently we hired bricklayers to reset some roof tile and such stuff. While they were here I got them to do some yard work. They carted the considerable green garbage away in their pickup truck.

And they did not charge me much.

IronTheir pickup was jammed to the cab’s roof when they left. God knows where they dumped it. Somewhere ecologically sound, I’m sure. You bet.

But what they hauled away was just a drop in the proverbial bucket of what needed to be cut, trimmed, dug and hauled away, so a week later I asked Abel the deadpan neighbor to lend a hand. For cash, of course. He ain’t my pal.

He was here Saturday, digging, planting, trimming, even cutting some limbs from the loquat and peach trees. I scheduled that while my child bride was distracted in the kitchen.

She calls me the Destroyer.

Abel also left with a pickup load piled high. Off to the mystery dump. That work was cheap too, which is one of the many beauties of living below the Rio Bravo.

Work is not only cheap, you can get stuff done quickly and simply.

Take the ironing board, for example. My lovely bride was well into a high hill of wrinkled clothes this morning when — snap! — a metal brace on one of the legs broke.

She stripped the padding, and I tossed the board into the back of the Honda. I drove to the blacksmith. Do you have a blacksmith in your neighborhood? Bet not.

I pulled up outside the blacksmith’s workshop. Can you fix this? I inquired — already knowing the answer. He got right on it, and ten minutes later, I gave him 30 pesos, about $2.30 U.S., and drove away. The ironing will be finished tomorrow.

32 thoughts on “The ironing board

  1. What’s really nice is hiring your neighbor to do the yard work! There are lots of free-lancers around here but we feel better having a licensed and bonded company who, like my huzbin says, we can sue 🙂


      1. A bonded company gardener facilitating possible lawsuit(s) — yikes! Now there is a glaring difference between neighboring countries; and a darn good reason to be on this side 😉


  2. I have a blacksmith just down the road. This is horsey country. Well, not up here, but down there, Ladner way. I too fix things. Just today I bought a shovel handle and installed it in the shovel part. The handle cost just about as much as a whole new shovel, but it was the principle of the thing.

    I weld stuff too, just because I can. Us Old Farm Boys are a resourceful lot.


      1. Not sure what a Nanny State Collectivist is, must be a Mexiamerican word for a helping hand.

        Short story: We lived on a farm, never had much, three squares, clothes on our backs, and all the work I (we) could handle. You get the idea.

        My Mom grew roses, had about 20 bushes, I would say. When they would bloom, Mom would, Sonny, go take this bunch to some neighbor lady. So, off I would go on my bike to deliver them. One day I asked her why she was giving them away. She didn’t really have much. Her answer stuck with me till this day. Sonny, she said, if you have something beautiful, and more than you need, share it.

        I have about 70 rose bushes here on the Mount of Tsawwassen. I give most of the blooms away. I guess the point she tried to make was, if you have something good, and you don’t share it, what’s the point of having it.


  3. The wife was at the house recently to check things out, etc. Leaky toilet. Usual plumber came and figured out the problem. He went down the hill and bought the part and installed it. Total less than 100 pesos ($8.50). We were all happy and dry. NOB, $115 just to look at the problem.


    1. Patzman: I recall that in the U.S. it costs $100 or more just to have plumbers, electricians, etc., come knock on your door. The actual work is additional.

      Now and then I read stuff saying it’s not cheap to live in Mexico anymore. Is that ever wrong. However, Gringos can get hosed if they’re not careful. There’s always that. We’re always ready to take advantage of you folks. It’s only fair, having stolen so much of our country and all.


  4. We pay (the going rate) 200 pesos for an 8 hour day (1 hour for lunch lincluded) for garden type labor – semi-skilled jobs get 300 pesos a day; and usually a beer or two – yesterday I added an avocado to the pay,

    The trick is to hire trustworthy people; not always a slam dunk. These people have an opportunity to case the joint, and often do. We enjoy a lot of handyman activities and only hire it out when it is beyond my skills or not-in-the-mood – but always a trusted employee. SO far we have not had any thefts here at La Punta Es casa 😉


    1. John: I have never hired anyone by the hour, always by the work to be done, and I never toss an avocado into the pay scale. Beer either. They can get loaded on their own time.

      We have had quite good luck over the years finding trustworthy folks. I credit my good karma.


  5. NOB you would be forced to buy a brand-new ironing board because a new one would be 30 bucks, and to repair one would be $150. So, instead of fixing you would just add to the landfill … and so goes everything else up there. TVs, other electronics, washing machines etc.



  6. My husband is also the “destroyer” in the garden. He is no longer allowed to handle clippers.

    I am fortunate to have a husband who is very good at fixing things. It doesn’t matter if it’s plumbing, electrical, cars whatever he always finds a way to fix it.


    1. Jackie: Actually, it’s the predator that she calls me. I couldn’t think of the English translation quickly of depredador when I first penned the post, so I went for destroyer. No matter. Pretty much the same.

      I am not very good at fixing things, but I am much better than my father was. R.I.P.

      I am very good with clippers, however.

      By the way, your comment went to the moderation line because there was a typo in your email address, and WordPress interpreted that as a newbie here.


  7. So, I have heard that the topsoil in your area is thin. (Maybe that’s further down the mountain, Im not sure. Anyway, if you piled all those leaves and branches in a corner of the Hacienda property and let the critters do their work, couldn’t you could end up with nice compost to spread all around and put into pots? Just a thought.


    1. Christine: The topsoil is thin here. And many people have tried to convince me of the beauty of composting, but it hasn’t taken yet in my noodle. I don’t think nopal cactus fronds (or whatever they are termed) would compost very well or branches from peach trees, but who knows? Plus, I don’t really have a corner here where it would not be an eyesore.

      Basically, I’m just plumb lazy.


  8. I was hoping you’d have said he fixed it in ten minutes flat. But I guess that little omission let me leave a comment that passes for wit in these parts.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we try to fix as much of our own stuff as possible, and generally succeed.


        1. It’s part of several half-torn-off posters somewhere in DF. My mischievous part wanted to make it the same as the default image, or one of those colored square things. But I ultimately decided to do this instead.


  9. The real deal for us is some of this outdoor work can be a serious safety issue. Most who just canvass the neighborhood for jobs aren’t really equipped to, for instance, prune mature trees. The pros have all the block and tackle equipment and a chipper to reduce the cuttings to mulch. They amateurs come through when the city has a bulky trash pickup for this area which is how the trash gets hauled out. No problem there. I just don’t want anyone to become a quadriplegic because of a fall on our property.


    1. Carole: You don’t grasp the full Mexican tree-trimming style. You shimmy up and whack away with the machete. If you fall and die, it’s because your time was up. The Virgin Mary wanted to give you a hug in person.

      And that’s all there is to it. It would never occur to the trimmer’s survivors to sue anyone.


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