Ice cream stand

helado

WHAT’S BETTER than cool air and ice cream? Hot air and ice cream, of course. But we don’t have that hereabouts, and in 98 percent of circumstances, the cool air is preferable.

Most afternoons, after we’ve done lunch at 2 p.m. at the Hacienda, I head downtown just to get out of the house, sit at a sidewalk table, enjoy a nice espresso and watch the girls go by.

After the espresso and ogling, I sometimes stand up to walk to another side of our broad and beautiful plaza — to purchase ice cream, for which we are famous. There are a number of ice cream stands over there outside City Hall, and they’ve been in business for decades or more.

There, in the photo, is my favorite stand, La Pacanda. Like all the ice cream stands, it sells two styles: milk and water. The milk version, which is closer to standard ice cream, I find a bit unpleasant. It has, to my tongue, an oily consistency. So I always order the water style.

Sometimes I vary, but being a fellow set quite firmly in his ways, I normally order limón, which is a dead ringer for the lemon ices I used to buy many years ago at Angelo Brocato’s in New Orleans.

I get the small cup, 12 pesos, and then I cross the street and do one of two things, sometimes both. I slowly circle the plaza, or I sit on a stone bench, listening to the music softly playing through outdoor speakers.

Then I go home.

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Unrelated material: A few days back, after getting irked at WordPress, I started a blog on Tumblr, thinking perhaps I would abandon this WP Land, high-tail it. I linked to the Tumblr then, even though it was mostly a casual endeavor. I have since decided to stay put here, but I like it over there too. I have gussied it up considerably, and will run with it.

It will be lighter in tone, and it will have no political polemics. It has a new name, Satellite Moon. Tumblr surprised me. It’s well organized. There are lots of free blog templates and even the ones with price tags are reasonable. I bought one for $19. It absolutely beats the pants off Blogger.

Scratchy towels

STEPPING NAKED and wet from the upstairs shower stall this morning, I grabbed a fresh towel to dry myself, and it was scratchy and very nice.

I don’t understand the fixation on soft towels, fabric softener and so on. A scratchy towel is like a loofah pad. It’s invigorating, and you get dry at the same time.

We dry our clothes on a line in the sunshine under a clear acrylic roof out back. The first eight years we didn’t have the acrylic roof, so drying clothes during the five-month rainy season was a challenge. Sometimes, clothes would dangle out there for days awaiting a sunbeam.

When we built the Hacienda, we had a gas line installed next to the drain and faucets for a washer. We bought the washer, a nice Whirlpool that’s never given us a lick of trouble, but we never bought the gas dryer, and we’ve never missed it. A dryer would give us soft towels, and I’d miss the loofah thrill.

I’ve never purchased a clothes dryer in my life, though some abodes I’ve rented came with them. I used them when they were available because my fondness for scratchy towels was something that appeared later in life, like a good wife.

Some places I’ve rented came with dishwashers too, and I cannot imagine a more useless thing.

When I lived in Houston, married to Wife No. 2, we owned our home, but we never bought a washer or dryer. I was in charge of clothes washing, which likely had something to do with the fact that she worked days and I worked nights, so I had afternoons off. Once a week I would drive to a laundromat with a book and dirty clothes, which I would wash, dry and fold.

She always found clean, folded clothes and, often, a nice supper waiting for her when she got home evenings. I would already be gone to work. In many respects, she had a darn sweet deal.

Speaking of loofah pads, I once grew loofah gourds on a trellis in the back yard of the Houston home. They are an interesting phenomenon, and come with an outer shell that you must peel and break off. Then you’ve got yourself some mighty fine loofahs.

If you ever spend a night at the Hacienda, don’t expect soft towels.

Expect invigoration.

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What’s the photo got to do with anything? Nothing much. I was sitting downtown at a coffee shop today with a hot espresso, and I noticed how deserted the street and sidewalk were, which is quite unusual. It was about 4 p.m. I took this photo, which is nicer than a photo of a towel. ¿No?

Clarinets and orioles

HERE’S HOW the unemployed live:

Partly cloudy day but plenty of blue above, I sit on the outdoor patio on a web chair, next to the glass-top table, feet up on another web chair, big brown umbrella keeping me in the shade. Cool air. Around noonish.

orioleObjective: Read more of Henry Kissinger’s book On China. But, as often happens, I read nothing. I look at the flowers and fruit trees. There is a black-vented oriole in the fan palm. They are very skittish birds, so I must hold still. Leave the book on the table.

Someone starts playing a clarinet out back.

Two hummingbirds take umbrage, one with the other and then the other back again, in the vicinity of a purple bridal bouquet. That requires more of my attention. And then my eyes close as I listen to the clarinet. I doze, which was not my intention.

clarinetTime passes, and I feel a little chill. My eyes open to note clouds have blocked out the sun a moment. Gotta get up, I tell myself even though there is no reason to get up at all apart from feeling the little chill. I doze again.

Henry Kissinger must wait for another day. Or maybe this afternoon downtown on the plaza with an espresso.

This is how the unemployed live. If they get lucky.

Very Good Friday

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON, about 4-ish, I was walking solo down a narrow Colonial street strung above with banners colored purple and white. Are those Good Friday colors, or Jesus colors? I am not versed in the traditions of the Catholic Lord.

My destination was a coffee shop on the main plaza, which is jammed with an Easter market selling all manner of stuff — clothes, the works of artisans, tacos, burritos and sombreros. It’s similar to what transpires here on the Day of the Dead.

I planned to sit there with an espresso and watch the throng of tourists, admiring some, chuckling at others, rolling my eyeballs at times.

But I was still walking on that narrow street and I passed a pastry shop. About 10 paces farther on, I thought: Get something to go with the espresso, so I backtracked, entered, picked up a tray and a set of pincers, which is how you go shopping in pastry shops here, and looked about. The shelves held the typical fare, which normally is good to mediocre.

donutMy eyes stopped on doughnuts. There were chocolate-covered ones and sugar doughnuts too. My first inclination was the chocolate-covered, but I detoured to the sugared. Nearly every doughnut I have eaten in Mexico has disappointed me.* Dry and tasteless for the most part. If you can’t pour cheese over something, they seem to lose interest.

I put one sugar-coated onto the tray, walked to the counter and paid. Three pesos, which ain’t much.

Later, sitting at a sidewalk table with my espresso, I ate the sugar doughnut. To my shock and glee (because I know where the pastry shop is), it was one of the best of my life. It’s good I did not buy a dozen. I must remain sleek.

The doughnut, the throng of passing tourists, some of whom were quite lovely, the blue sky and and cool air made it a very Good Friday.

But especially that doughnut.

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* Note to Don Cuevas: Yes, I know the shop across from La Bodega has great doughnuts. But I have not been there.