More stuff about water

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The shiny, new pump above, and the old faded one below.

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A FEW DAYS ago, I wrote about where water comes from, and the annual cleaning of the underground cistern, a chore we handle ourselves, the two of us. Coincidentally, during that same week, the nearby pump that delivers water from the cistern to the tank on the roof made funny noises for the second time in recent weeks, so I decided to replace it. It was 17 years old, installed during the Hacienda construction.

It is not a pump you want to fail. Without it, there’s no water anywhere in the house.

I don’t know the useful life of such a pump, but 17 years seems a long time, and the pump looked quite ratty, as you can see from the photo. The new pump is big and beautiful.

Like Muhammad Ali.

Coincidentally again, and also water-related, the Honda got a new water pump last week, another precautionary measure. That pump too was the original, and the car has 210,000 kilometers. As I write this, the Honda sits in the shop having its A-C radiator replaced. The A-C decided to commit suicide during our hottest month of the year.

Yes, the Honda has a streak of malevolence.

But enough about the Honda. Let’s return to the house. The tank on the roof sports some sort of electronic gizmo — with mercury inside, I think. It dangles inside like a snake — that senses when water falls below half full. At that point, it signals the pump below, the one that was replaced, to ignite and send water from the cistern up to the roof.

Following this?

Just after the pump started acting goofy, the electronic gizmo up top failed its mission, and the roof tank’s water level fell considerably below half. I knew this because I went to the roof, put a ladder against the tank, popped the top, looked in, saw the situation, and gave the electronic snake a shake. It turned on the pump below, and water started to come up.

But obviously, there was a problem. So today, Jorge the Plumber came with the new pump, plus a new electronic snake for the roof tank. Jorge is also an electrician.

So now I have a new pump down below and a new electronic snake up top. With luck, this pump will top the 17 years of the previous one, and the snake will last as long as possible. And the Honda’s A-C will keep me cool for a long time to come, especially in May.

The entire cost — the labor and materials — ran the peso equivalent of $160 U.S. The cost of the work on the Honda has yet to be determined.

Let’s go have a coffee now. I’m bushed.

Where water comes from

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My child bride, sporting her Kung Flu mask, does the mopping.

THE MONTH OF MAY means the cistern must be swept and mopped. It’s the underground tank where the municipal water arrives daily and waits to be pumped to the roof tank from where it is distributed to the faucets inside the house via gravity.

We do this every year. Many people never do it, but we don’t live like that. This became doubly important a couple of years ago when we stopped using bottled drinking water and installed a filtration system under the kitchen sink. It has a separate faucet, and that’s our drinking water now, straight from this cistern.

The water that fills the cistern comes from an underground spring.

The tank, which is concrete, was built about 12 years ago, replacing a “modern” plastic job that was installed when the Hacienda was constructed in 2002-03. The plastic one collapsed in time because it was installed incorrectly, the only error the builder committed because he was “old school” and had no experience with plastic cisterns.

And by pure lousy luck, the day he installed it, we were in San Miguel de Allende. Had I been here, I would have noticed and corrected the bum installation. It was the only time we were out of town during the entire nine-month construction.

But all’s well that ends well, especially when it’s an actual well. This big baby — 9,000 liters — has never given us any problems.

You may be wondering, if the cistern is empty, where is our water coming from? There’s a separate, above-ground tank about half this size, just beyond the photo. We switch to it when the cistern is empty which only happens in May.

We have five tanks in all, but the cistern is the largest.

To empty the cistern, I shut the valve on the pipe from the street, and it takes about two weeks to empty. After the cleaning, the valve from the street is opened again, and it takes three or four days to refill. It’s quite low tech. Old school.

The bone corner

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SITTING IN THE living room on the scarlet sofa thinking about life.

Looking across the room at the bone corner.

No gainful employment, no money concerns, no health worries, just creaky, that’s all. My own bones. It could be worse, far worse. Sunday morning, and I already did some gardening, trimming the bothersome bougainvilleas, cut a few branches from the neighbors’ fruit trees that are hanging over to my side. Lousy, surly neighbors.

We’re doing more stuff away from home these days, weary of this Kung Flu hullabaloo. Tomorrow I’m taking the Honda to the garage for an overdue servicing, plus replacing the water pump and the AC Freon. This afternoon we’ll be lunching at a restaurant downtown that’s been closed for weeks but now is open weekends, just weekends. Gonna eat Sloppy Joes and French fries. I love anything you can dip in ketchup.

I crave raw oysters dumped into a cup of ketchup and horseradish. Problem is that there are no raw oysters on the mountaintop, and I wouldn’t eat them anyway, not anymore. Too much pollution. Plus, you need Dixie Beer with raw oysters to do it right.

Sitting on a stool in the dim, air-conditioned bar at Schwegmann’s supermarket on Airline Highway in Metairie, Louisiana, while the summer sun buckles the street tar outside would be the ideal setting, but those days are gone. For me, at least.

Made some rounds around downtown yesterday afternoon, hunting biscuits. Went to my usual place on the big plaza. No biscuits. Drove to another pastry shop, a newish one near the Downtown Casita. No biscuits. Drove back near the plaza to yet another pastry shop on Romero Street, and bingo! Biscuits. I bought six. Whole wheat.

Biscuits are the Staff of First Breakfast at the Hacienda. Costco sells biscuits too, but they are ponderous with butter, and I don’t like that.

Sloppy Joes, French fries, raw oysters and biscuits. Three out of four ain’t bad.

Where’s the onerousness?

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Felipe runs a butcher shop in the next block. He’s a good guy.

I WAS READING yesterday on the blog of an old Gringo who lives in the sticks outside the touristy, Gringo-infested burg of San Miguel de Allende that the old Gringo in question — his name is Alfredo — was finding life in the Plague Year “onerous.”

I am not finding it onerous, just a bit inconvenient at times, but mostly I’m doing just fine. I read, I watch Netflix, I fix lunch, which is the main meal of the day in Mexico, I power walk around the neighborhood plaza every weekday, and I tend to the  yard. With some exceptions, it’s what I did before the Kung Flu tossed everyone into a tizzy.

I don’t garden every day — not the lazy days — but I do what needs to be done, and Abel the Deadpan Yardman does the heavy lifting, so to speak, and there’s rarely much heavy lifting. This morning, I hosed the yard plants for the first time in a couple of weeks, just the plants, not the grass, which fends for itself.

Then I rested on a downstairs veranda rocker and shot this picture of myself. That’s me in a good mood. I already had the camera at hand because I planned to photograph the butcher minutes later during the power walk. The butcher is named Felipe too.

That young man is a red-meat entrepreneur. I like him. He has a wife and a young boy, and they are all well-behaved.

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Grinning from ear to ear.

I’m a little scraggly, but I tidied up later. One must maintain standards of appearance and deportment. I learned that in the Air Force decades ago. Or not. Just after snapping this shot, I grabbed my mahogany cane — to thrash unruly dogs — ushered my child bride through the big, red gate, and we powered around the nearby plaza.

Perhaps there was a bounce in my step. She detoured to a little store to buy peanuts for  cookies this afternoon. They are tasty cookies and go great with coffee.

The plaza was empty, so we didn’t have to maintain social distancing. The space was all ours on this lovely, blue-skied, cool-aired, carefree day.

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The neighborhood plaza was wide open today.

We’re not letting the Kung Flu get us down. Tomorrow I’ll be meeting a guy named Miguel at the Downtown Casita, and he’ll do some renovation in the carport that will entail removing plants — one of my preferred activities — and installing ceramic floor tile.

Faux brick. It will look sweet.

To date, the Plague Year has prompted two cancellations for the Downtown Casita, leaving just one in place, a couple who’ll arrive in late October for only two weeks. I don’t much care for two-week reservations because the income is hardly worth the effort.

There’s plenty of time for them to cancel too. I rather hope so.