Wondering about it all

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Sweet alyssum’s white flowers come to life in the summer.

IT BLEW SO hard last night the broom fell over.

Out on the downstairs terraza, that is. I heard nothing when it happened, just noticing it this morning. Around midnight I got out of the king bed to close the windows in case rain was coming in. Normally, the golden datura bush just outside that window blocks most rain, but you can never take it to the bank.

This morning I found a pool on the renovated upstairs terraza, so I swept it out through the inadequate drain hole. The guys are coming tomorrow (they say) to install the final canvas curtain, which will close off three of the four compass directions.

Right now, we remain at 50-50.

After bagels and cream cheese (lite) with black café Americano, we sat a spell, our morning breather, on the scarlet sofa with soft music, and I thought: Well, this sure is fine. One wonders that if life ends well it cancels or justifies the grief of the past.

Then we got up and started morning chores.

Morning of grass, Wi-Fi & tax

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View through the bedroom window this morning. Smells great at night.

ABEL THE DEADPAN Yardman normally comes Saturday mornings to cut the grass, but when I heard explosions from the neighborhood plaza at 6 a.m., I knew he wouldn’t arrive.

There was also live music, and Abel is a horn man.

His wife did come, however, to tell us what I already knew. She said he’d be here tomorrow morning instead, and he likely will. He’s pretty reliable.

While the grass continues to grow wildly, the doorbell rang again. It was a technician from Telmex, the phone company that is one of my two WiFi providers. Telmex’s service went dead last Saturday. Having two WiFi providers is a no-brainer in Mexico.

You want both suspenders and belt.

He switched modems, and I’m back in business. I don’t like to rely on the other provider, which is a TV cable company. Its WiFi takes a siesta from a few minutes to a couple of hours most days starting around noon.

As I do every second Saturday, I drove downtown to the post office before 9 a.m. to check my box, which usually is empty, but not always. I found what no one wants to find, a letter from the Internal Revenue Service.

It says I owe $1,206, including interest and penalties. There is a phone number, but it won’t be available till Monday. I bet this has to do with a screw-up of mine. I e-filed in March, as always, and immediately on hitting the Send button, I noticed a big error.

A YUGE one.

I quickly filled out an Amended 1040 (first time ever) and sent it via registered mail. You cannot e-file amended returns. It got there a couple of weeks later, I noticed through tracking. The amended form showed, correctly, that I overpaid by $842, which I applied to next year’s return, as always.

My income has been fairly steady for quite a few years, so I know what I owe. I overpay intentionally, and always apply it to the next year. If I have to pay from Mexico, it could be dicey. I have no U.S. bank account or credit card. There are services that let you pay the IRS by credit card, and if it comes to that, I hope they’ll accept a Mexican credit card,* and even if they do, I hope my bank won’t balk.

Always best to overpay to avoid squabbles from down here.

The IRS letter was dated May 2, and I got it today, almost two months later. Actually, it arrived June 11, but I haven’t checked my PO box lately. I suspect the claim that I owe $1,200 is based on the bad 1040, not the amended one they would have received later.

I’ll find out Monday morning. The phone line opens at 5 a.m. my time.

Otherwise, summer is going well. The golden datura bush outside the bedroom window is starting to bloom, sending perfume into the bedroom at night, which is far better than having the IRS on my decrepit tail.

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* A decade or more ago, many U.S. online businesses would not accept a credit card issued by a Mexican bank, but I have not run into that problem in many years. The rampant discrimination ended. In any event, almost all major banks in Mexico are foreign-owned. 

Citibanamex (U.S.), Bancomer (Spain), Santander (Spain) and HSBC (Great Britain). I believe the sole Mexico-owned major bank is Banorte.

A deviant Saturday

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We got to La Plazuela just before 2 p.m. Few other customers had arrived. That’s an actual half-car hanging on the wall, sliced right down the middle.

WE’RE PRETTY staid people, and our days don’t vary much, especially Saturdays when it’s baking in the morning, and hawking pastries downtown in the afternoon.

But we chucked all that yesterday and broke out of our mold.

We drove down the mountainside to the state capital with just frivolity on the agenda, not shopping, which is normally what takes us to the big city.

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First, we dined at a Cuban restaurant called La Plazuela. We ordered what’s called “the Banquet.” That’s it on our table. We ate it all.

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View in the other direction, toward the bar.

In 2012, we had quite a few Cuban meals at ground zero, the communist hellhole of Cuba itself, which is where we went for our 10th anniversary. You can read about that here. But we prefer our Cuban food in a free world.

After the meal, we headed to a movie theater, one of those fancy ones with the wide seats where waiters come to where you’re sitting to take orders, but we ordered nothing.

We were full of Cuban food.

The movie was Rocketman, the life of Elton John. It was a very good movie. I’ve long been an Elton John fan. The English actor Taron Egerton did a superlative job of portraying the singer and actually singing Elton’s music.

Elton John overcame his serious addiction to the bottle and drugs almost 30 years ago. He’s an old coot now, just two years younger than I am.

Saturday was notable for another thing: the initial lawn mowing of the year. Abel the Deadpan Yardman started his work for the summer of 2019. He arrived at 10 a.m. and finished before we headed to the state capital.

The lawn looks very nice this morning.

Sometimes, you gotta break out of your mold. It’s fun.

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Not a tall blade in sight. That’s an aloe vera on the right.

House of horrors

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Seven feet high! Doesn’t look it. I just finished whacking it back.

I DON’T WANT this to become a gardening website, but awful things merit mention.

The plant in the photo, a philodendron, is about seven feet tall.  Before moving to Mexico, I thought philodendrons were little, potted plants for the home. Only sometimes.

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Better Homes & Gardens says this about philodendrons:

(It’s) one of the toughest houseplants you can possibly grow. Whether you choose upright or trailing/climbing types, they are perfectly happy in a home setting. Even people with so-called “black thumbs” are usually successful at growing these plants. Philodendrons are very low maintenance and can sit idle for long periods. You can train them up a trellis or simply leave them to their own devices — philodendrons will survive no matter what.

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By toughest houseplants, they don’t mean tough to grow. Quite the contrary. It’s a tough customer. Very low maintenance? Will survive no matter what? No joke!

Not only does this grow easily. It multiplies. It started with one little stalk about a decade ago. Now it has many and continues to add more. And the plant is creepy. As it grows, it tosses “stuff” below. It’s the sort of stuff you’d expect to see in a werewolf movie, the scene in which the villagers discover what happened in the forest overnight. Oh, gross!

But this is one plant I do not plan to remove because it doesn’t toss trash over a wide area, just at its base. I do wish it would stop the proliferation of stalks, however.

I foolishly planted another in the small, carport, garden area of the Downtown Casita. It too is beefing up at a remarkable pace. I never seem to learn.

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The wheelbarrow contains just a bit of the gooey, grim material found at the plant’s base. The photo does not do justice to the miserable stuff.