Swanking the Hacienda

table
Parota, a wood I’d never heard of.

WHEN WE MOVED into the Hacienda 16 years ago, there was lots of open space due to our not having much furniture at that time.

Our dining room set was tossed together in this way: My child bride had a four-chair set in her condo in Mexico City. We brought that here, put the table out to pasture, and ordered a six-chair table and two more chairs from a carpenter.

It was a rustic, Colonial design, and it served us adequately until just recently when we were rambling around for fun in a nearby town called Cuanajo that specializes in furniture. Cuanajo is chockablock with furniture workshops and showrooms.

The potholed town has been making furniture since the 16th century, or so said the fellow who delivered the dining room set you see in the photo above. It is made of parota, a tropical hardwood. I’d never heard of parota.

During our recent ramble through Cuanajo, we saw the eight-chair set and fell in love, or as much as one can fall in love with furniture. Since my spouse recently had some cash drop into her lap from an inheritance, we bought it. It is very swanky.

CHAIR
Have a seat.

We advertised the previous six-chair set on an internet forum that caters to Gringos in our area, and it sold lickety-split. One justification we used for buying the new set is that when we have relatives over, they always come en masse (Mexicans!) and there’s never an easy way to seat them all. Now we have two more chairs at least and a larger table.

We even got to choose the fabric of the padded chair seats. The checkered design is cloth woven right here on the mountaintop. Support your local artisans!

The Hacienda didn’t change much for 16 years until recently when we removed and replaced the yard patio and then completely revamped the upstairs terraza, which included relocating the circular stairway to the other end of the house and installing yet another steel stairway from the “service patio” to the kitchen roof.

terraza
The new greenish shade net sits atop the glass, not below.

As part of the upstairs terraza renovation, we installed a yellow shade net beneath the glass-and-steel roof. Click here to see how it looked then. That, however, was a mistake because it trapped and murdered mobs of insects that either rested up there visibly dead, or were wind-blown to the terraza floor to be swept up every morning. Yuck.

The new net is dark green and rests atop the glass roof, a better plan that does not trap and execute wayward, dimwitted insects.

We get more elegant every day, and we’re kind to bugs.

More leftist lunacy

JUST WHEN YOU think they can’t get any nuttier, they do.

When our (relatively) new, leftist head of state, whom I refer to as el Presidente Moonbat, took office in December he initiated a number of numskull moves, one of which was to gut the previous administration’s reform of the educational system.

There’s lots of bad things you can say about the previous administration — and Moonbat does that on a daily basis, sowing discord — but it did good stuff too. Like the education reform. Here’s how it worked before the reform:

alfred_E_Neuman_400x400No need to prove you’re qualified to be a teacher. Indeed, your Aunt Guadalupe, on retiring from her teaching post, could have named you as her replacement in spite of your having no teacher training or talent whatsoever. Aunt Guadalupe likely became a teacher in exactly the same way when her Cousin Luis retired.

This is what unions do.

The previous administration’s education reform put a stop to this, and also initiated tests to prove teacher competence. Moonbat has ended that, and we’ve returned to the past.

There are teacher unions in Mexico. Sometimes they battle each other — literally, like throwing punches and chairs, etc. One of these unions, which goes by the initials CNTE, is little more than an arm of the Communist Party, and CNTE is particularly powerful in the State of Oaxaca, which brings us to today’s main topic. At last!

The union in Oaxaca has announced there will be no more teaching of English. Instead there will be classes of  indigenous languages. This is akin to, say, Arizona ending Spanish or French classes and teaching Apache or Navajo instead.

How do you say nincompoopery in Spanish?

And there’s more: All classes will have not one but two teachers. One will provide academic instruction and the other will teach extracurricular subjects, however that plays out. How do you say “staff padding” in Spanish?

And there’s even more: Teachers won’t be issuing grades. Students will grade themselves and that of their peers. The CNTE has also come up with “alternative textbooks,” books which badmouth capitalism and heap praise on famous communists.

More details on this indoctrination here. Pathetic.

Meanwhile, the rating agency Moody’s recently issued a pessimistic report about Mexico’s economic future, citing the federal government’s lack of “public policy coherence.”  Of course, leftist economic “thinking” is inherently incoherent.

And there’s even more: The overwhelming majority of Mexicans think el Presidente Moonbat is the cat’s pajamas. They just adore him. He supports “the poor,” you know.

Unbridled democracy. Just gotta love it!

Nights of solitude

New Image
The omelet and the toast.

I’M WRITING THIS last night, alone. It’s the second solitary night this week.

The first was planned. My child bride and a sister took a bus Monday to a town called Los Reyes, which is about three hours southwest of here.

(They changed buses in the city of Uruapan, which gained infamy years ago when bad guys rolled a decapitated head across a cantina floor.)

The sisters had to confer with a lawyer on a property issue. I slept solo in the Hacienda’s king bed, the window open for the cool air and the scent of datura. They stayed in a hotel. She returned the next day, and I was happy.

Yesterday, we got news that the son of a half brother — hers not mine — had been killed on a motorcycle in the nearby capital city. My child bride and a different sister took a bus down there to attend the wake. She’ll return today. Again, there I was in the king bed with the window open to cool air and the aroma of datura.

Last night, just like Monday, I skipped our traditional, evening salad, and I opted instead for a two-egg omelet with eight-grain toast.

There were no eggs in the house yesterday, so I had to walk half a block down the street to a very humble, hole-in-the-wall store. The eggs likely weren’t far from the hen’s heinie and, of course, Mexicans do not refrigerate eggs, which is no problem.

The omelet had onion, olives, tomato sauce, capers and Parmesan cheese from the green, plastic jar. After slipping it onto the plate, I added lemon pepper and Tabasco.

The toast received “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” Clearly, I’m no foodie.

I skipped Netflix too, instead reading some old yarns of mine, in part to correct punctuation. Also to relive moments, which passes the time when you’re sailing solo.

Here is one of my favorites. It’s a true story, written maybe 15 years ago, recalling a trip I made to Scotland in the 1970s. The references to the hammock and roof tile hark back to the upstairs terraza here before the recent renovation.

That hammock was long one of my favorite reading spots.

The piece is called:

Last train to Holyhead.

New ImageSwaying in the hammock softly with Rosamunde Pilcher.

Though wet June is weeks away, there are rain clouds.

But the hammock is safe under the roof tile.

Pilcher’s book Under Gemini is set in Scotland, my ancestral home.

Look here on this page: The rain had turned to a soft blowing mist which was beginning to smell of the sea.

If it rains here now, it will smell not of sea, but of mountains. You will hear soft sighs of parched plants, see the settling of dust.

Under Gemini was published in the mid-1970s, and at that same time I was alighting alone from a train at the Inverness station, just up from Edinburgh.

Stepping off another car at the same moment was a California woman on the very eve of her 40th birthday, also alone.

She was a professor of anthropology, attractive, heading slowly, with backpack, toward a conference in faraway India. We ended up in the same guesthouse, dining together after passing through a few dark pubs.

We found each other engaging, and spent the next five days as constant, carefree companions, becoming one.

After Inverness, our train headed west to the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. And later, there was the big smokestack boat that carried us south through the Sound of Isleat to a railhead at Mallaig.

We held hands on deck and smiled as our freight ship steamed through watery mountain passes. It was cold October, and we were the only passengers.

At Mallaig, we caught another train, continuing on through Fort William, Glasgow and finally, leaving Scotland, to Chester, England.

It was a five-day romance with no time for pains, sorrows or regrets.

Until those final moments. I had to return to London. She continued on to Holyhead on the windy Welsh coast, a roundabout route to India.

We kissed and waved goodbye as the old train chugged from the station in medieval Chester. Her window was open, and she leaned out, like in those old-time movies.

We never mentioned our last names and, even now, her first name, like her face, has faded. But not the memory of those final moments. Definitely not that.

The sweetness spiraled into sadness.

There is thunder here now. Let’s head inside the house.

A small pretender

ABOUT 7 P.M. yesterday, I was sitting on a web chair in the yard patio, enjoying life.

I had come home about an hour previously and, after changing the birdbath water, wiping the glass patio table, the chairs too, I took a seat to enjoy the view.

The August air was cool.

I noticed something zooming about the bush just in front of me. It appeared to be the smallest hummingbird in the world, and it was visiting orange blossoms. Could that be a hummingbird? It was so tiny. And it appeared black and white.

I stood for a closer look, but it dashed to the other side of the orange bush and vanished off somewhere. I came inside for internet sleuthing.

It was a hummingbird moth. I had never heard of such a thing. It comes in two varieties, the Clearwing Moth and the White-Lined Sphinx. Mine was the latter. Here is some interesting information. The video, which isn’t mine, is not too clear because they are hard to tape.

Its range is from Central America to Canada, but I’d never seen one. Unlike most moths who are night creatures, hummingbird moths gad about in daylight.

Life’s full of surprises.

hummingbird-hawk-moth-mircea-costina
Still shot that I found online.