Mexican life

Ton of steel

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WE’RE INSTALLING a metal-and-glass roof over the upstairs terraza, as some readers may recall. This decision was made after 16 rainy summers in which the upstairs terraza turned into a small lake, rendering it useless for anything.

The lake problem resulted from the builders’ not installing the terraza floor with any incline toward the small drain holes. It is level. This was done because we did not explain adequately that the space above the downstairs bedroom was going to be open.

Maybe even we did not know it at the time. I don’t recall. We hired no architect, and we were winging it. It’s akin to being your own lawyer at your murder trial.

We lived with the annual six-month lake out there until a straw broke the camel’s back last summer — a small leak into the bedroom below. We had previously replaced some of the ceramic tile in the terraza because it had buckled. That happened twice in recent years. But the leak did the trick. Serious action was required.

Two neighbors of our Downtown Casita had installed a glass-and-steel ceiling partially atop their house, making a nice roof patio. It looks good, so we decided to do something similar. They told me what it had cost, and it was reasonable. And they had hired a contractor to handle everything, making things simpler for themselves. Smart.

I contacted the same contractor, but he never responded. Screw it, I said. I’ll do it myself. And it will cost less.

First, we hired the same blacksmith who did the work on the neighbors’ house. After he installs the framework, we will buy the smoked glass elsewhere and pay to have it installed by that separate business.

The blacksmith arrived Tuesday with four guys to deliver the steel beams and columns, depositing them in our yard. Be back later this week, he said, to do the installation. While the neighbors’ price seemed reasonable, I had neglected to notice that our upstairs terraza is far larger than the domo (that’s what it’s called here) over their home.

We were flabbergasted at the quantity of it all.

The size of our framework dwarfs that which tops their house. After the installation, the metal will be painted the same color as the Hacienda. Rojo costamar. Seacoast red.

But first the blacksmith must return and install the frame. Hope he doesn’t take long. You never know with those folks. It only needs to be fully done before the rains start in June.

But I want it done far before then. We’ll buy some patio furniture. Maybe throw a fiesta. You can all come. Whoopee!

Mexican life

A couple of pictures

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THIS ATTRACTIVE woman was sitting nearby the other day as I was enjoying my usual afternoon café Americano negro on the downtown plaza. She has a familiar look, but I can’t quite place her.

And the kid? Got no idea.

And later the same day, at night, I was descending the stairwell at the Hacienda on my way to the king bed when I paused at the scene below and said to myself, “That’s interesting. I’ll take a photo.”

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Mexican life

Winter windows

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Bedroom view which is full of golden datura much of the year. But not now.
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Living room. We made the stained glass years ago.
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Dining room. That’s the new yard patio out there.

IT’S COLD outside, but the view from inside is nice nonetheless.

The skies are blue, the air is chill, and all is right with the world, if you don’t think about the lack of gasoline. But I filled up yesterday, so I’m happy.

The cold I caught over two weeks ago is finally winding down, and it taught me a hard lesson. Don’t remove my long johns in winter.

I donned them in December, and later removed them for just one day, 24 freaking hours, and that’s when I caught the cold.

We’ll be heading downtown before noon today to make yearly payments. Property taxes on two houses and water bill on one, the Downtown Casita. These are done in person at City Hall.

I paid the property tax on the Mexico City condo online last week. Water bills for the Hacienda are paid monthly, same for Mexico City.

The only other annual fee is that for two cars. I do that online too. Oh, yes, the post office box. I paid that at the post office two weeks ago. About 15 bucks. All these things are quite reasonable, a pittance compared to what you Gringos and Canucks pay where you live, poor babies.

Inexpensive living with wonderful window views.

And all the tacos you can eat.

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(Update! When we got to City Hall to pay our stuff, the entrance was blocked by POPs (Pissed-Off People) demanding to get paid for something or other. This is not a rare occurrence in this country. We’ll have to return to pay some other day.)

Mexican life

A passing scene

New Image

THIS MYSTERY plant has been hanging for at least 15 years from a wooden beam that’s part of the roof of red-clay tile atop the upstairs terraza.

I rarely do anything to it. I don’t fertilize it. I often go long spells without watering it. Yet it soldiers on, as they say, sometimes sprouting these lovely flowers. I see this plant daily through the window just above the computer screen that sits on my desk.

Alas, the scene isn’t long for this world. Next month, or possibly February, the roof will come down, and so will that brick column you see in the photo. It’s one of two that help support the red-clay roof.

The two support columns originally were carved wood, but the bases rotted over time, and were replaced by brick columns.

We’ll be installing a huge steel and tempered-glass roof that will cover the entire upstairs terraza. Currently, the tile roof covers 20 percent at best. It was one of the last parts of the Hacienda construction in 2003, and I was weary of spending money.

I shortchanged the roof.

Five months of daily rain and then seven months of direct sun every year have not been kind to the terraza’s ceramic floor. We’ve had it repaired a number of times and just last summer a leak somehow made it through the inches of solid concrete and dripped into the bedroom below.

That was the straw on the camel’s sagging back.

So a new, far larger roof is on the way. The scene I’ve been admiring through the window above my computer screen for years is going to change drastically, and the fate of this faithful plant has yet to be determined.

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The oddball, leaning roof is visible over the upstairs terraza in this photo from 2003, just after we had moved into our abode. Putting it there and in that way was entirely my idea. I should not try to be an architect.