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

Miles of counter space

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Shot last night just before I hit the sack.

ONE OF THE MANY advantages of designing your own home is that you need not follow the dimensions of other people. And size does matter.

In the five-year period between when my last wife tossed me on the street in Houston in favor of her new boyfriend, an illegal-alien Mexican half her age,* and the day I boarded a Delta jet in Atlanta headed to Guadalajara I lived in three apartments in Houston.

Their kitchens were laughable in size. The strangest of all was the second place, a huge, two-bedroom, living room, dining room, office, spread that had a kitchen you could hardly turn around in. And the counter space? Virtually zero.

The other two abodes were not much better.

When I designed the Hacienda on graph paper (no architect in sight), an effort I shared with my child bride though I did most of it, I decided to go big.

The kitchen counter measures a bit over 23 feet, and yet my wife and I bump into one another if we’re both fixing something. And that 23 feet does not include the separate work table there at the right, added a few years later.

Then there’s the bathroom where again I decided to go long. The bathroom counter is almost 11 feet, but it has a major defect, a reflection of my stupidity. There is just one sink. It never occurred to me to install two sinks, which is all the rage.

Lord knows there is space. Again, we bump into one another.

I am tall, and all my life I’ve been bending over to get under showerheads which sprayed me nicely … on the back. The two showers here come straight down from high overhead. It’s really sweet, akin to bathing in a jungle waterfall.

Designing your own home is preferable, and if you do it in Mexico, cheap.

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* The relationship did not last long. Shocker!

(Note: Tomorrow marks the end of President Trump’s first year in office. I have an exciting roundup of his remarkable accomplishments. Stay tuned. You don’t want to miss it. Manaña on The Unseen Moon where the news is biased but never fake!)

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.

Mexican life

Hogs, hats, Mozart and chores

hat
Art can appear most anywhere.

YESTERDAY ABOUT noon, I was sitting on a web chair beside the glass-top table on the Jesus Patio. I was sporting my thick, black, winter hoodie with the hood atop my head. It was a bit overcast and quite cool.

To flip the hood up, I had to remove the old straw hat, which I sat on the table. It was then that I noticed that I had an art shot. The camera was with me, so I photographed. That’s the cursed peach tree, sans leaves, you see reflected.

I bought that hat for just 50 pesos a few years ago in Zihuatanejo.

For a good length of time, a hog next door was squealing bloody murder, and that’s probably because murder was in his future. They come, they go, they’re eaten.

In addition to the camera, I also had my Kindle because my initial intention on sitting out there was to start a new book, a brief bio of Mozart, but I got sleepy, set it down and started to doze. I woke a bit later, refreshed, and began to think of spring repairs.

Every December I have a list already made up of “spring” repairs for the Hacienda. However, I usually start them as soon as January arrives. If I actually wait till spring I may not have enough time to finish. It depends on the length of the list.

The list is usually work that needs to be done outside, either in the yard or on the house’s exterior. Doing such labor from June through October is a challenge due to the daily downpours. The time for work is from January through May.

This year’s list, which I’ve already printed out, consists of eight items.

  1. This is the biggie. A major section of the yard will have the grass removed, and cement and rock installed. Included in this is the removal of the last giant maguey from the yard. Never plant a giant maguey in your yard.
  2. Renovate the exterior of the downstairs bathroom window. It’s tatty, and the screen needs to be replaced.
  3. Repair a hole in a corner of the roof over the downstairs veranda. It leaks during the rainy season.
  4. Reroute a drain spout over the service patio.* Currently, it dumps rain into the service patio, but I want the rain dumped out on the street.
  5. Remove a plastic laminate roof that’s over part of the service patio.
  6. Install a new one, bigger and better. Gotta cover the new propane tank.
  7. Install a plastic laminate lid over the water tank and propane tank on the roof of our Downtown Casita. The sun is playing havoc with them.
  8. Get a blacksmith to make and install a handrail on the upper section of the stairwell here at the Hacienda. The bottom, larger, section already has one.

I’ll be getting price estimates in January. Contributions accepted from readers.

So there I was on the Jesus Patio with Mozart, the hat, the camera, hearing the hog and thinking of springtime chores as the cool breezes blew.

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* Patio de servicio, something most Mexican homes have. It’s where the water heater, propane tank, scrub sink, etc., are installed. Ours also has a clothesline. Service patios are usually outside.