Mexican life

Strolling the yard

bones
Señora Bones scares intruders from the Hacienda. Well, that’s the idea.
corner
Renovated bathroom window. And the beams over both windows are newly varnished.

IT’S SUNDAY, our day of rest.

Saturday is our busiest day due to the weekly pastry sale my child bride offers out of her big basket that’s shaped like a sombrero. We do that downtown on the main plaza.

After the endless hubbub of Saturday, we kick back on Sunday. After watching a strange movie on Netflix this morning — Joe, starring Nicholas Cage — I took a stroll around the yard while my child bride began the lengthy, female process of bathing and dressing before we head out to a restaurant.

I photographed some stuff.

It was a nice morning, mild and sunny. There was la señora Bones, whom I’ve not shown here in a fair spell. She stands next to the Alamo Wall. Then there was a corner of the house, bath window on left, bedroom on right. We recently had work done on the bathroom window, new varnish, new screen.

The plant in the middle is the golden datura tree, which I whack back to a nub for winter. It’s starting to sprout again and will be full of big, gold blooms and a fine smell that drifts into the bedroom on summer nights.

Yesterday, I was sitting in a web chair, lazy style, watering with a garden hose when a goldfinch joined me for a bath. He sat himself on the sidewalk on the outer edge of my spraying and turned himself this way and that, fluffing up his feathers, giving himself a very nice shower. And it was fun for me too. He was only about three feet away.

Though we’re still in the dead of winter, calendar-wise, the pear tree thinks it’s springtime. That’s it below sprouting blooms. The weather has been so mild for a few weeks that the pear has lost touch with reality.

It’s good to live in agreeable surroundings.

She’s hollering up from downstairs now that she’s ready to go eat.

pears
Pear tree thinks it’s springtime.
Mexican life

Early retirement is fun

stone2
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.

window

Mexican life

From grass to stone

done
Work all done in one freaking week. Grass gone, maguey too.

MY PROJECT of removing grass and installing stone and concrete has finished its first phase, its first 25 percent. More to come next year.

The guys loaded up their pickup truck with leftovers and trash this morning, and headed off down the street 7,000 pesos richer than when they began last Monday. The cost of materials was 7,735 pesos, plus I tipped them 600 pesos due to rapid efficient work and their endless good humor.

At today’s exchange rate, that’s about 800 U.S. dollars for everything.

Here’s how the project looked along the way:

before
The beginning: ugly grass and ornery maguey, top left.
guys
Grass piled up, and maguey’s still rooted but sans angry fronds!
middle
Stones arrive. Grass piled up, uprooted maguey base sits on its side.
Mexican life

Sometimes there’s just too much

rock
About half finished with this year’s section. Photo from this morning.

I’M A LAID-BACK kind of guy. Don’t like having lots on my plate. Prefer having my feet up on the desk, or up on the table on the Jesus Patio. I’ve always been this way. Some call it lazy. I call it relaxed.

So I’m on edge of late. The biggest bother is the guys out in the yard. They arrive every morning about 8. We hardly have time to eat our bagels before the doorbell is clanging, which means I have to move the cars from Point A to Point B because the guys mix cement in Point B. The Honda goes out to the street for the day.

As I’ve dreamed of doing for years, I’ve begun the process of eliminating most grass from the yard and replacing it with stone and concrete, a process called empedrado, very common in these Mexican parts.

Looks nice and doesn’t need mowing.

The work being done this year will uproot about a fourth of the grass that will be uprooted when all is done in three more years. A big semicircle in the middle of the yard will stay put, the only grass I’m keeping. I’m doing the work in stages every winter.

That’s one thing on my mind. Another is that renters arrive to the Downtown Casita on Friday, and I want to get some plumbing and electrical work done there first. It could wait, but just this morning the Hacienda’s solar water heater sprang a leak, so I called the plumber. Maybe he can do the work here and at the Downtown Casita in one fell swoop.

Or not at all. You never know.

Retirement is supposed to be easier than this. I want the workmen done and gone. I want the solar heater to quit leaking. And I want my feet up somewhere with not a care in the world, reading my Kindle and dozing off now and then.

Now that’s the good life.