November at last

shot

WE HAD TO shove the rainy season out of here this year. It was stubborn.

But now it’s gone, and the best month of each year is upon us, just a bit tardy in arriving. Though November is the best, December can be good too, depending on the mood of Mother Nature.

January and February are too cold (at night) and this can bleed over into March. Then April and May show up, the nastiest months of all. Dry, dusty and, at least upstairs at the Hacienda, way too warm for our druthers.

It seems the rainy season was evicted here Tuesday night by a cold front that, while it did bring some rain, also dropped the temps into the high 30s. It was nasty on Wednesday, got better on Thursday, and then it dawned quite lovely on Friday. which was a typical November day.

I was sprawled on the Jesus Patio yesterday, enjoying the sunny, cool afternoon, doing nothing of note, and watching the chicken walk around the yard.

I noticed a reflection in the living room window, a mirror of the property wall that was behind me, the aloe vera bush and part of the peach tree.

So I snapped the above shot.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman comes this morning to mow the lawn. I’ll ask him to catch the chicken, and maybe he can. I’ll tell him to bring his kids to help.

But yesterday was beautiful. With luck, today will be the same. I’m optimistic because, after all, it’s November, every year’s most delightful month.

Beheading Birds of Paradise

birds
Survivors. Birds of Paradise who made the cut … or didn’t.

THIS SUNDAY MORNING, I awoke and thought of Sundays of Long Ago, specifically when I was married to my second wife and living in Houston.

We had a routine. I’d retrieve the fat Houston Chronicle from the lawn, pour coffee for the two of us — maybe we ate something too, can’t recall — and back to bed we went for an hour or more, reading the newspaper. It was fun.

I wonder if the Houston Chronicle still publishes a print edition. The world has changed so much in the past two decades. Another former employer, The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, does not. It’s only online.

Just like me.

But this morning, here at the Hacienda, a far cry from Houston and New Orleans in all aspects, after coffee and bagels and cream cheese (lite), I went out the veranda door to do a bit of yardwork.

Madeleine Peyroux was still singing on the music machine.

I deadheaded a few Birds of Paradise. I whacked back one of the small bougainvilleas. I picked up rotting golden datura blooms from the ground in the Willy-Nilly Zone. And I cut stalks of defunct aloe vera flowers.

The weather was wonderful, and it appears the rainy season, which long overstayed its welcome this year, may have retired till June. I pray so.

We have plenty of work planned around here,* and it awaits the genuine end of the rainy season because it’s outdoor work. Not work I will do, of course. Work that people I employ will do, guys who do cement and stone.

And colonial tile.

terraza
Potted plants sitting on a scruffy surface. But you just wait!

There are three arches in the veranda, as you can see in the photo. There are potted plants resting on the three ledges below. They sit on a dingy brick surface. In about a week, a guy will come and lay beautiful colonial tile. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this 15 years ago or even last year.

It will be a huge — Yuge! — improvement. I’ll post photos.

In the meantime, I wonder if my second ex-wife still reads the Sunday newspaper in bed. I almost emailed her this morning to inquire. But I didn’t.

* * * *

* More work than has been done by far since the Hacienda’s construction. Roofs will be razed. Stairs will be moved. Floors will be ripped up. The Jesus Patio will be destroyed. Fruit trees will fall. More on all that when it happens.

She does do windows

maid
That’s Maria on the ladder. She’s kinda short.

PROBABLY MOST people in Mexico, especially the foreigners, who can easily afford domestic help have domestic help.

While we have a maid who does monthly cleaning at our Downtown Casita, we have not had a maid here at the Hacienda in about 10 years. Neither of us like people underfoot, even if those people are lessening our workload.

My child bride has done most of the housecleaning for years, and I have done most of the yardwork for those same years. It seems fair enough, though I think I get the better part of the deal especially now that I have almost abandoned yardwork, turning it over to Abel the Deadpan Yardman.

But housecleaning here came mostly to a standstill when my wife broke her left arm almost two months ago. I picked up some slack, mostly ironing, but actual cleaning, well, it got a little grimy hereabouts.

Finally, we surrendered and called the maid, the same one who cleans the Downtown Casita. Her name is Maria.

There is a second reason we have avoided maids. They steal. Of course, they don’t all steal. Maria has never stolen anything from the Downtown Casita, and I cannot imagine she would steal anything here. But our last maid stole, and I know that it’s a common risk with domestic help.

We would leave home while the previous maid was here, giving her free access, access she took advantage of, which we noticed during the months after we let her go for other reasons. The robbery only became obvious later.

Clothes, music CDs, etc. Lord knows what else.

So we have a new rule. We never leave a maid here unsupervised. We will stick to this rule even though we have complete confidence in Maria.

There is one problem I have noticed. Both Maria and my child bride are gossip hounds, and if they’re in the same room together, Maria’s work tends to slow or stop while the mouths run. Why do women chatter so?

Maria came last week and this week, and things have gotten tidy again. We will likely hire her once a month in the future. Or not, depending.

We still dislike people under foot.

Bougainvillea and Moonlight

MY CHILD BRIDE headed by bus to Querétaro Monday morning on family business, but I stayed here at the Hacienda.

It’s always strange being here alone. There are aspects to it that I enjoy, but the negatives outweigh the positives.  I’ve grown accustomed to her face.

About 7 p.m. I headed outside to walk about the yard for no other reason than to stretch my legs, but I noticed yardwork that needed to be done. It was still light out, but the moon loomed in the sky. It was day and night.

I grabbed clippers and trimmer. First, with clippers, I removed some aloe vera flowers on stalks that had lost their will to live. The moon watched.

Dropping the clippers, I turned to the hedge trimmer and rounded two of the smaller bougainvilleas, the ones that are still controllable. Then I bent over and pulled some weeds at their bases, weeds that I should have pulled weeks ago.

I’m getting lazy. Years ago, I would never have let those weeds grow to that extent. You get older. You cease to care about some things.

I was in my pajamas, or what passes for my pajamas. Flannel pants with Garfield the Cat all over them and a black T-shirt from Lands’ End.

Getting darker out and feeling that I’d done enough yardwork, I came in for the traditional evening salad and foccacia bread.

The Goddess willing, she’ll be returning tomorrow afternoon.

And evenings will be normal once again.