I MIGHT HAVE titled this post A Tale of Two Dentists because they are so different.
One is a woman. The other is a man. One is young, the woman. The other is not so young, late 50s. One is a periodontist, the woman. The other is just a normal dentist. They are both good-looking, intelligent and talented.
One has a very noticeable office that screams at you in yellow and orange. The other has an office that you would not know is an office had no one informed you.
There is no sign outside, and he does not even advertise. My dentist is strictly word of mouth, so to speak, and he’s talented enough to pull that off.
The two of us had a dental day on Tuesday. She had an appointment with the periodontist, and I had an appointment with the dentist. She has an issue, but I only needed a cleaning, which I schedule about every five months.
I also was at my dentist a week earlier when he took impressions for the implant I will get next week.
Three months ago, I wrote here about my need for an implant. Beats a bridge, I say. Those are for old folks, not me.
Dental care, like healthcare in general, is — as one never wearies of pointing out — one of the many superlative reasons to live South of the Border.
On Tuesday, everything was paid out of pocket in cash, and we were not bankrupted in the slightest.
One more week, and I’ll have my implant, losing the pirate smile I’ve sported for the last three months. I rather enjoyed the snaggle-toothed grin.
IF IT’S NOT raining, I might sit around noon on a web chair by the glass-top table, shaded by the big, brown umbrella, feet atop another chair, for no better reason than pleasure.
I did that on Friday past.
I usually bring my Kindle and camera too in case a hummingbird sits a spell atop a nearby bloom. I’ve been hunting a shot, but when the hummers spot the camera, they zip away. When I don’t have the camera, they’ll come stare in my face.
The top shot was taken Friday when the yard needed a mow. The bottom two shots were taken yesterday after a mow.
I’ve had people ask me, “What’s up with the lawn? It doesn’t look like Mexico.” Well, the grass was mostly here when we bought the double lot. There’s wasn’t much else, but there was plenty of grass, an endless, freaking headache.
I’ve been telling myself for years that I’m uprooting all of it, or most of it, and laying down concrete and rock, but I never do it. Two reasons: the cost and the (temporary) mess.
But I feel steel in my spine. I’m more determined. Alas, the rainy season started last month, so the work cannot begin till November at the earliest, giving me months to change my mind.
But I’m not going to change my mind!
I’ve even worked out a plan. Do it gradually.
When the rains end, we’ll do most of the section in the photo at the very bottom, empedrado* only up to the Jesus Patio. Beyond the Jesus Patio — that’s the Jesus Patio where you see chairs and a table — a larger and far more elegant patio will be dreamed up to eliminate all of the grass in that area. Next year.
The yard is too large to be included in one photo. From the upstairs terraza, I can see more of it but not all, even from up there. It’s absurdly big. There is no backyard because the house is built against a corner of the double lot.
If I had been smarter, I would have built our house on half the space, facing the main drag, and another, a rental, facing the back street. There are two entries. But I was not smart.
I was a dumb Gringo in over his head.
But at least, gradually, I am now determined to resolve this grass curse.** Pray the steel stays in my spine till November.
I want to sit on the (much enlarged) Jesus Patio, which will need a new name, and gaze upon stone and cement, less grass.
Like the Reverend King: I have a dream.
* A surface of concrete and stone, very common in Mexico. The sidewalk is empedrado.
** A curse due to its lunatic growth during the five-month rainy season. You can never turn your back. You surely cannot travel anywhere more than a week.
(Note: Another grass section is to the right of the middle photo. It’s sizable but the smallest of the three sections. It’s where sit the monster bougainvillea and the towering nopal tree. It will be filled with stone and cement too, but not this year. The bougainvillea and nopal will stay in place.
ARCHITECTS KNOW things you don’t, which is why you hire them. We did not hire one. Perhaps we should have.
Above you see one of the reasons. What should be one of the best aspects of the Hacienda is essentially useless, and we rarely go out there. It’s the upstairs terraza.
We initially intended to have a tile roof over most of it, but it was one of the last parts (expenses) of the construction process back in 2003, and I was weary of spending money.
The tile roof was scaled way back, just large enough to cover the hammock that was out there for years. I wanted my hammock, and I used the hammock for about eight years.
Then I didn’t. Finally I removed it because it was an obstruction to walk around every time we stepped out there.
Let’s count the architectural errors. You see the biggest in the photo at the top. If you sit in a chair, this is your view. The yellow wall. It you’re standing, or even in a hammock, the view is spectacular. If you’re sitting, it’s the yellow wall.
Here’s another: During the rainy season, which lasts about five months, a fourth of this terraza is a lake. The drainage is lousy. We’ve added extra drain holes, but the problem is the floor’s complete lack of incline.
And another: That floor tile is super slick. During the rainy season, well, you can guess. Swan dive!
And another: Plants out there almost always die. It’s freezing cold in the winter, and blazing sunlight in the spring. About the only things that survive are cacti.
Most of these problems could be eliminated by adding the entire tile roof I initially planned, but the primary problem would remain. If you sit, you’re looking at that yellow wall.
That too could be done another way, but then you’re looking at major work and expense.
Meanwhile, sitting on the downstairs veranda is just great, so this upstairs area remains low on the priority list.
It likely will stay the same forever.
Should have hired an architect.
(Note: The house design is mine, and it was written on sheets of graph paper. The workers took it from there.)
WE RETURNED from a week in Mexico City last Sunday to discover that we had left home in winter and returned in springtime, weather-wise, at least.
We’ve passed thorough 14 winters at the Hacienda and only twice, perhaps thrice, have we enjoyed a winter without one overnight freeze. The 2016-17 season is the latest.
Alas, spring here is no circus, the worst of the seasons. The only positive aspect is that there are no overnight freezes.
Instead there is dust and drab, brown mountains. What passes for heat in these parts happens in springtime. The fact of the matter is that spring is pretty yucky.
Our capital visit was very profitable. After years of waiting, we picked up the deed to the condo. We hired a guy to lay a nice ceramic floor on the service patio. He also improved the drain system for the clothes washer.
We found a great new restaurant nearby. Fact is the entire area is going upscale rapidly. When I first set foot there 15 years ago, it was ugly and industrial, which is why the colonia* is called Nueva Industrial Vallejo.
My arrival, it seems, on most any scene delivers a certain panache. It happened here where we live on the hardscrabble outskirts of our mountaintop town, and it’s also happened in Nueva Industrial Vallejo.
We fled to San Miguel de Allende to escape Carnival. We went to Mexico City for practical matters. But now it’s time to get down to business. Springtime is for renovations.
Our favorite contractor comes today to provide prices for work here at the Hacienda and also at the Downtown Casita.
Due to the stupendous dollar-peso exchange rate over the last couple of years, we’ve done lots of improvements we likely would not have done otherwise.
WE ESCAPED the Mardi Gras celebration in our hardscrabble neighborhood over the weekend by heading to the Gringo-invested burg of San Miguel de Allende.
I always find San Miguel unsettling to the soul. There is something just not right about it. It’s about as Mexican as I am, which is to say legally yes, spiritually no.
Perhaps Disneyland, but better: Mulatto* Ville.
It’s a combination of two very different worlds. Two mindsets, two races,** two cultures. And they do not stir well.
Oil and water.
Walking around downtown San Miguel, it’s all I can do to not burst out in howling laughter. The rayon shirts, the Bermuda shorts, the Birkenstocks, the berets, the feathers in the hat bands, the old white women*** wearing native blouses, the art paint smeared preciously on khaki pants.
So one might wonder, why do you go there? The main answer is restaurants. Mulatto Ville has great places to eat.
I enjoy eating.
And this recent trip was also to visit an old friend from high school who was wintering there, a retired university professor who included Marco Rubio among her students.
We took a drive north to Dolores Hidalgo where we had not gone directly downtown in a long time. We were pleasantly surprised, shocked even.
It’s a wonderful city that’s been undergoing renovation for a few years. Most of the plaza has been closed to vehicles. The church has been painted. Much of downtown too.
Some good restaurants and hotels can be found. And, unlike San Miguel, which has horrible streets and sidewalks, Dolores Hidalgo is flat, smooth and easily walkable.
It’s also one of Mexico’s main sources of talavara ceramics,**** the quantities of which are astounding and beautiful.
Next time we flee our area due to Carnival, we’ll be staying in Dolores Hidalgo, not south in Mulatto Ville.
In Dolores Hidalgo I spotted nary a Birkenstock*****.
* * * *
* I am playing loose with the word, of course. A true mulatto is the offspring of one white parent and one black one, à la Barry Hussein Obama who “identifies” as black.
** Oh, I know Mexican is not a race, but bear with me.
*** Why does everyone complain about Old White Men but never about Old White Women?
**** The other is Puebla. FYI.
***** My second ex-wife, now an Old White Woman, used to cringe at my own Birkenstocks, so perhaps I should avoid this point. Nowadays I sport Crocs but only at home.
A FULL MOON hung over Happy Ville last night, but that’s not its lingering display through the peach branches at the top. That’s a new WiFi antenna.
Here at the Hacienda we woke in high spirits today, so we’ve temporarily — perhaps permanently — renamed our home Happy Ville or, if you prefer español, Villa Felíz.
But there was work to be done, as ever, and I’ve been doing it for days. It’s cutting back summer yard growth. If this is not done, things fly out of control.
I’ve whacked one of the two daturas back to the nub. Same for the roses, and reducing the towering nopal horizontally* is an ongoing chore. And I’ve removed a goodly number of fronds from the big, malicious maguey.
I’m dumping my culls out back in the Garden Patio. Already included are lots of aloe vera, the aforementioned maguey and assorted odds and ends. The pile will grow.
When I’m finished, I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Yardman to wheelbarrow it down to the ravine out back.
* * * *
It was such a lovely morning, I decided to take the longer route for my morning exercise walk. This took me to the far end of the barrio where, oddly, a snazzy, four-lane boulevard of cobblestone is being constructed.
One can enter our hardscrabble barrio principally from two directions. This is the direction we rarely use, mostly because it was a potholed nightmare.
This renovation is welcomed, but I wonder why it’s being done so elegantly. I mean, really, four lanes? This stretch is only about a quarter of a mile and funnels into another narrow, two-lane, cobblestone street.
It would have been sweet if they’d made this short boulevard just two lanes instead of four and used the leftover money to build a bicycle lane from here to downtown. We’ve written the mayor about that. He’s ignored us.
No matter. It’s another fine day at Happy Ville.
* * * *
* Trimming it vertically is out of the question now.
BEACH DENIZEN and blogger buddy Steve Cotton recently wrote about the tendency of some Mexico expatriate bloggers to run out of material, letting their blogs lie dormant.
When this happens I think it reflects a lamentable lack of imagination and/or lack of a camera.
Just this morning, while resting on the throne in the upstairs bathroom, I noticed this scene, one I spot daily about that hour. But today it hit me that it’s a bathroom scene rarely seen above the Rio Bravo, so I photographed it.
The upstairs bathroom is colonial tile, floor to ceiling. We have two other spaces that are colonial tile, floor to ceiling.
That would be the downstairs bathroom, which is far larger than this one, and the spacious kitchen.
Making this photo black and white instead of color caused nothing to be lost because the colonial tile is black and white, which was my idea. It was a favorite accent I used when I painted art furniture in a previous life.
The mirror over the sink reflects what’s behind me as I shoot the photo. The light in the mirror is on the ceiling.
So if one runs out of good material to write about, just grab the camera and shoot any ole thing. It’s fun, and then you can blab about it down below … or wherever.
* * * *
To Mexico City!
Switching gears now, tomorrow my child bride heads off to Mexico City for three nights with a nephew, age 13.
I had planned to go too, but at the last moment I changed my mind, plus they will have more fun without the old codger in tow. It will be the boy’s first visit to the capital.