Life of little things

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Elephant on our plaza.

FEW MEN lead lives like James Bond’s. Maybe none do.

Most lead lives that are a string of chores and small events. I am no exception. Here’s how it went on Monday. The morning hours went as always. Eat, walk, read news.

The real thrills began in the afternoon.

I headed out at 4 p.m. after tossing three bags of trash in the trunk of the Honda. We have neighborhood trash pickup almost daily, but it’s not like you put your garbage can on your curb where its contents get dumped into a huge truck with a mechanical rear end.

No, you have to keep your ears peeled for the clanging of the bell, which announces the trash men are nearby. Then you have to grab your trash bags, unlock the gate and dash down the street where the garbage men wait none too patiently.

It’s a bother, so I rarely do it.

Instead, I toss my junk into the Honda and drive to a spot near downtown that’s behind a large market. A trash truck waits there daily from 4 to 6 p.m., primarily to dispose of the market vendors’ garbage. I take advantage of that.

I’ve become buddies with those trash guys over the years. They love to see me coming because I’m a better-than-average tipper. And there’s my good nature too.

Just before dropping off the trash, I stopped at a paint store nearby and purchased lots of paint that set me back $1,800 pesos, which is a little under $100 U.S. bucks. Later this week, two guys are coming to start some major refurbishing at the Hacienda.

The most noticeable will be the whole front wall facing the street, which is currently a garish, almost orange, shade. It will morph into the color of adobe. The rest of the work will be primarily touch-up in various spots inside. And the entire roof over the dining room and kitchen will be scrubbed and a waterproof paint applied.

I left the paint store with the floor of the Honda’s passenger seat jammed with paint cans. Then I headed to the main plaza where I parked near a pastry shop before walking two blocks to my barber. I just got a rim job, and she charged me 15 pesos, a pittance.

I gave her 20 instead.

Returning to the main plaza, neatly trimmed and with a wool bebop cap atop my head, I went into the aforementioned pastry shop and purchased a chocolate muffin. I then walked to the family coffee shop, sat at a sidewalk table with a hot café Americano negro and my Kindle, and finished a short bio of Paul Newman. Then I drove home.

It appears the monsoon season has ended. It lasted longer than usual this year. Must be that “climate change.” I filmed the short video below this morning because it was a beautiful day, “climate change” or not.

I planted that palm when it was about 18 inches high, and the same goes for those pole cacti, some of which are, I suspect, of the hallucinogenic variety, but I don’t eat them. I just enjoy seeing them. It’s a visual high.

At the end of the video, you see one of the canvas curtains we installed last spring to block rain from entering the upstairs terraza. I’ll be raising the curtains soon, and they’ll stay up till next June when the monsoon descends again.

What’s that elephant up top? Part of a humongous Nativity scene that’s being installed on the plaza. It’s an annual Christmas event. The Yule elephant is larger than an actual beast. I shot the photo with the chocolate muffin in one hand, the camera in the other.

Multi-tasking.

Little things. James Bond would be bored if he walked in my shoes.

We have beautiful women here but no Aston Martins.

First of December

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Dining room near dawn today. No sign of Santa. Or reindeer.

THIS IS HOW the dining room looked this morning when I entered from the rather distant bedroom just after 7 a.m. The Canon sat nearby, so I snapped the shot.

The First of December, so the Yuletide is upon us if the shelves in Walmart and Costco are to be believed. They’ve had Christmas stuff for some time now.

Like most kids, I loved Christmas in those distant days when I was young, but I’ve lost touch with it. I’m not sure how that happened or when. I loved it, and then I didn’t.

Due to an ever-stressed environment (booze) at my childhood home in Florida, Christmas was best celebrated at my mother’s family farm in southwest Georgia, my maternal grandparents. The tree was always tall and green, and Santa was fond of stopping there though Lord knows how he found us in those rural, dirt-road boonies, but he did.

Maybe he smelled the cows or was drawn by the orchard of pecan trees.

I hesitate to cast blame, especially when I played a major role, but I think I went south, so to speak, on Christmas during my second marriage. That wife, you see, was fanatical about Christmas. You couldn’t deck the halls too much. More was always better.

The tree had to be a real one, of course, and those things are nasty. It’s a sticky tree. They prick you. They shed. And then you have to get rid of them somehow, dragging them out the door while they leave a trail of trash behind. And those are all things the guy must do. The womenfolk just direct. I balked, and so did she.

It was an annual crisis. We both were at fault. Her overdoing, my underdoing.

Wife No. 3 does not provide those problems. We have an elegant, high-end, artificial tree we bought about 15 years ago at a department store in the nearby state capital.

Sometimes we put it up. Sometimes we don’t. I say we, but it’s really her. She does not ask for help. I sit on the sofa providing moral support. She does not get mad about it. We rarely have visitors, so I’m not sure why it gets put up. It’s just for us, and I don’t much care. I do enjoy traditional Christmas music,  however.

Silent Night, Holy Night, and so on. Deck the Halls!

Christmas Eve does not happen at the Hacienda. She does the usual Mexican thing elsewhere with her relatives, sometimes here on the mountaintop, sometimes at the nearby state capital. We have kinfolk splattered all over the place.

Christmas Eve dinner takes place near midnight in Mexico. I don’t do midnight, so I’m at home enjoying peace and quiet. When they get around to eating, I’m snoring. Everyone is happy. Our Christmas tree stays up till she gets around to dismantling it. Again, I watch and provide moral support, reveling in not having an angry Christmas spouse.

This is just one of many pluses one finds in Mexican women.

I wonder if she’ll put up the tree this year. I’m always ready with moral support.

Fa-la-la-la-la and Kalamazoo!

The first of September

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Dining room table awaits croissants from the oven. I’m the maître d’.

IT’S A MORNING like most mornings, and here’s how it goes.

I get up first and check the news online upstairs. My child bride stays in bed and knits. She doesn’t do this every morning, but mornings over the past couple of months, yes.

Around 8ish, I return downstairs to light the oven where croissants already lie in wait. Then I walk to the bedroom to open the curtains, which were half open all night. I look out the window. Of course, what I see is color, but here it’s just black & white.

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It’s cool, overcast and gray this morning, so black & white seems right. In the other direction, my child bride continues under the covers with her knitting. Or maybe it’s crocheting. I dunno. It all looks the same to me.

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Lazybones still in the sack, not noticing I’m taking her picture. Just as well.

I leave the bedroom and head back toward the  kitchen, passing through the living room where I pause to gaze outside. Looking good.

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The living room window.

At last, she puts the handiwork aside, lifts herself out of sack, walks to the kitchen where the timer just sounded that the croissants are nice and hot.

September’s off to a good start. Plus, it’s Sunday, a day of rest.

* * * *

Note: A couple of hours later, the sun was out, and the sky was blue. Still cool, however.

Swanking the Hacienda

table
Parota, a wood I’d never heard of.

WHEN WE MOVED into the Hacienda 16 years ago, there was lots of open space due to our not having much furniture at that time.

Our dining room set was tossed together in this way: My child bride had a four-chair set in her condo in Mexico City. We brought that here, put the table out to pasture, and ordered a six-chair table and two more chairs from a carpenter.

It was a rustic, Colonial design, and it served us adequately until just recently when we were rambling around for fun in a nearby town called Cuanajo that specializes in furniture. Cuanajo is chockablock with furniture workshops and showrooms.

The potholed town has been making furniture since the 16th century, or so said the fellow who delivered the dining room set you see in the photo above. It is made of parota, a tropical hardwood. I’d never heard of parota.

During our recent ramble through Cuanajo, we saw the eight-chair set and fell in love, or as much as one can fall in love with furniture. Since my spouse recently had some cash drop into her lap from an inheritance, we bought it. It is very swanky.

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Have a seat.

We advertised the previous six-chair set on an internet forum that caters to Gringos in our area, and it sold lickety-split. One justification we used for buying the new set is that when we have relatives over, they always come en masse (Mexicans!) and there’s never an easy way to seat them all. Now we have two more chairs at least and a larger table.

We even got to choose the fabric of the padded chair seats. The checkered design is cloth woven right here on the mountaintop. Support your local artisans!

The Hacienda didn’t change much for 16 years until recently when we removed and replaced the yard patio and then completely revamped the upstairs terraza, which included relocating the circular stairway to the other end of the house and installing yet another steel stairway from the “service patio” to the kitchen roof.

terraza
The new greenish shade net sits atop the glass, not below.

As part of the upstairs terraza renovation, we installed a yellow shade net beneath the glass-and-steel roof. Click here to see how it looked then. That, however, was a mistake because it trapped and murdered mobs of insects that either rested up there visibly dead, or were wind-blown to the terraza floor to be swept up every morning. Yuck.

The new net is dark green and rests atop the glass roof, a better plan that does not trap and execute wayward, dimwitted insects.

We get more elegant every day, and we’re kind to bugs.