One of the lazy days

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SOMETIMES YOU wake up to a day in which nothing of note is waiting. This is one of those days. They do not bore me. I like them.

Given that the eventless day stretched before me, I decided to do at least one thing that needed to be done, and that was to whack back three bougainvilleas, the smaller ones. The fourth, a monster, is beyond hope and goes its own way.

But due to the day’s relaxed atmosphere, I just whacked back two of the three. The third will have to wait. Maybe mañana. It was warm out there, and the sun was glaring, reason enough to come inside and drink cold, red tea.

Speaking of red, I photographed the above before calling it a day. Midday actually because it was scarcely beyond noon. That’s a bottle-brush tree, the red of which complements the red of the house. While the grass grows more yellow and crunchy by the day, some yard plants are blooming.

Though you cannot see it, buds are erupting on the uppermost reaches of the nopal tree there at the rear. That’s always fun until they fall to the ground, ground that was until recently grass, but now is concrete and rock.

In a couple of hours, we’ll be lunching downtown, location yet to be decided. That will happen around 2 p.m., breaking up the afternoon nicely. Then we’ll come home, relax a spell, then head back downtown for a nice cafecito on the plaza.

Lazy days are great days. I’ve never been ambitious.

Early retirement is fun

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We bought that red, ceramic globe recently near Dolores Hidalgo.

I RETIRED QUITE early, age 55, and that means you potentially have lots of years ahead of you, years in which you must do something or other.

My plans were few. I knew I’d use the time to read books. I like to read books because it’s an interesting thing to do, plus it makes me even smarter than I already am.

Not on the plan was yard work, which I dislike. My distaste for yard work was one of the reasons I recently had part of the Hacienda lawn filled in with stone and cement. That’s the lighter part in the photo above. The darker is the sidewalk, which is 15 years old.

But I’ve discovered that I’ve simply substituted one form of yard work with another. The stone and concrete require sweeping. The primary reason is that there are plants, big ones. One is the towering nopal, and the other is the monster bougainvillea.

The nopal drops big, dead, prickly “paddles.” Ker-splat! The bougainvillea snows dead leaves and other miscellaneous crap.

I was out sweeping this morning when this realization came to me. It’s still yard work. However, sweeping stone and concrete is far more fun than fussing with grass.

I don’t regret the stonework. We intend to do more next year.

Back to the theme of retirement. Lots of folks dream of retiring early, which is a phrase open to interpretation. The standard “early retirement” is 55, and that’s what I did. Other people, mostly young ones, dream of leaving the work world even earlier. At 40, for example. Good luck with that, amigos.

Here’s what you usually have to do to retire early, say, at 55. Don’t go into debt. Save, save, save … and invest wisely. Being single can help. These are not difficult things to do, but few folks do them. It’s equally simple to lose weight. Eat less crap, and do regular moderate exercise. Again, easy, but few people can do it.

I’m having a fun time, and I’ve been having fun since 2000. Before that, not so much. One late afternoon recently, I was sitting here before the Hewlett Packard screen, and I looked out yon window. Below is what I saw.

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Bougainvillea butchery

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THAT’S ABEL the deadpan yardman cutting the bougainvillea down to size, or at least less large, last Saturday.

He also mowed the lawn. It probably was the final mow of the season because it has stopped raining. In the summer it rains every day, every freaking day.

November is our loveliest month, incomparable. The sky is blue. The air is cool. The mountains are green. The birds sing. You really cannot beat November in these parts.

No later than January, we’ll be taking out the grass to the left of the sidewalk, part of a project to eliminate all grass except in the middle semicircle. The green-and-yellow maguey you see on the left will be removed and trashed. All the area beyond the sidewalk will become stone and concrete.

The grass at the bottom right of the photo will remain. It’s part of the semicircle in the middle of the lawn.

That maguey’s removal will be the final one. We had five. Three were of the sort you see in the photo, which grow to monster size. The other two were smaller tequila magueys. I planted them all when they were little, thinking they were cute. They became a colossal nuisance. I am to blame.

We have others that are confined in planters. You see one there in the middle of the photo. Word to the wise: Never let a maguey escape from a planter. It will turn on you.

It will not show you love.

But November is here, and it is beautiful.

Separate summers

Datura outside our bedroom window yesterday. There’s also aloe vera.

MY FATHER DIED a quarter century ago when he was just three years older than I am right now.

He was a sad man, but he loved summer. He worked evenings, which gave him days free to labor in the yard where we lived in Northern Florida in a ranch house.

He loved the Atlantic beach, sand and saltwater, and he loved tending the yard. Neither interfered with his drinking, however. Heat stirs well with highballs.

I don’t drink — well, not anymore — and maybe that’s why I don’t like gardening, and I don’t live near the beach though we can get there in three hours down the autopista.

And I loathe heat, the lack of which makes my mountaintop home wonderful in summertime. But things really grow here, much better than they did in my father’s yard.

Gotta be the latitude.

Every winter I blaze through the yard like a machete-wielding madman even though I actually use a small saw and branch trimmer. The golden datura is slashed back to basics, leaving the trunk and some nubs. It’s soft wood.

It booms back in June once it feels a touch of rain.

My father had a pink-flowered mimosa of similar size in our Florida yard. It was the only thing of any height. The rest were pansies, petunias, such stuff, all planted in rows.

Here I have a Willy-Nilly Zone where things grow, hemmed in by rock and concrete, in any direction they desire.

And for things of size, there’s monster bougainvillea, the towering nopal, a gigantic fan palm.

I was pressed, as a boy, into yard-mowing duties, and I received a small sum. I forget how much. And I once cut the Hacienda lawn too, years ago, but not anymore.

That’s why the Goddess invented pesos for me to pay Abel the Deadpan Yardman.

About a decade back, after I moved to Mexico, I drove a rented car slowly by the Florida house. The mimosa was gone. Everything was bleak. The grass was spotty due to cars being parked on it, just like a rack of rednecks would do.

There were no flowers at all. Nothing.

In the 1950s, the area was the middle class moving up. Now it’s the working class barely holding on.

Summers separated by half a century of time.