Hail wallops the Hacienda


IT SHOULD NOT be raining in these parts in March, but it’s done so a couple of times in recent weeks. But not like this afternoon. Lord no.

First, black clouds hovered over the mountains. Then they headed this way. Wind began to blow, big-time. Rain came and then hail, lots of hail.

We had one of the three canvas curtains extended on the upstairs terraza. The center of each curtain is clear plastic to permit light to enter. But after a summer in direct sunlight, the plastic had discolored and weakened. The hail tore it to shreds.

Here you can see the one that was destroyed, the clear part in the middle.

I’ve already called Nico the Curtain Man who says he’ll be here Wednesday. I think we’ll have to find some other material for the center of the canvas curtains, which we need to block the daily rains of summertime.

In the meantime, the yard looks like it needs a snowman.

Birds, paint & plague

Playground of the orioles.

SPRINGTIME, THOUGH we’re not officially in springtime yet, brings birds to the Hacienda, pretty birds and fun ways to watch them.

It began three days ago. In the early mornings, between 7 and 8, I’m generally upstairs checking out the woeful state of the world via the internet. There’s a bank of windows just beyond my desk, and they open to the upstairs terraza.

orioleHanging out there, pure decoration, are two large balls made of straw or something like a thick vine. The larger is about 18 inches across. It’s the big one that’s become a post-dawn playground to black-vented orioles.

They fly under the glass roof and at the top of the ball is an opening through which the orioles, two of them, descend into the ball, flit about inside, and then depart to climb around the outside of the globe. This goes on for a minute or two, and they leave.

Three days in a row now, about 7:30 or so. They have a schedule.

This morning I tried to sneak to the door with my camera, but orioles are cautious, unlike house sparrows and hummingbirds which are fine with human company, and when I merely stood up from my desk, the orioles fled, lickety-split.

The Downtown Casita’s new look.

We’ve gussied up the Downtown Casita, a fresh coat of light yellow and an artsy circular stairway from the balcony to the roof. The twirly design is the same we have on the stairwell inside the Hacienda. I found that style online years ago.

The ironwork was done by a young, very talented and artistic blacksmith. That would cost a small fortune above the Rio Bravo if you could even find someone who could do it.

It’s available for vacation rentals, plus we house visiting relatives occasionally, which comes in handy because Mexicans have lots of relatives, and they like to visit.

* * * *

Moving on to the spreading plague of coronavirus that is leaving millions dead in its wake worldwide. No? Well, okay, but it’s scaring plenty of people.

We have very few cases in Mexico, about eight, last I heard. Just south of us, Guatemala and El Salvador are quarantining themselves. El Salvador will let no foreigners enter for the next month. Guatemala is barring people who’ve been in China.

Here in Mexico, on the other hand, our nincompoop leftist president is doing next to nothing. On the contrary, he’s sticking with his hug approach, the one he extends to narcos. He always favors hugs, he says. Narcos, plague? No matter, he wants to hug.

Leftists love hugs because it distracts you while your pocket is picked.

Don’t fault me. I voted for the other guy. Maybe the other guy was corrupt. Who knows? But at least he wasn’t a nincompoop.

The window treatment

The “Before” shot.

WE HAVE THIS window, you see, from the dining room out to the garden. It provides a nice view in the morning while we’re enjoying biscuits, honey and café Americano negro.

But for some reason it’s the window that attracts far more rain in the monsoon months and sun in the sunny months than any other window. Both elements play havoc with the wood, which we must refinish with an unholy frequency.

A refinishing was done just a few weeks ago during other paint work.

Plus, there are a few weeks of the year when the sun sits just so in the morning sky, aiming its rays directly into my eyes while I’m trying to enjoy those biscuits and honey at the dining room table. It forces me to sit in odd positions, seeking comfort.

For years, I’ve been saying: Something must be done.

At last, I have done it.

Nico does his magic.

The man known as Nico, who custom made and installed the canvas curtains around the upstairs terraza last spring, came to the rescue. We now have an awning.

Didn’t cost much either. Should have done this years ago.

The “After” shot.

It looks quite spiffy, I think, and will go a long way to protect the wood from rain and rays all year, plus my eyes during those certain months at breakfast.

Speaking of changes, I have also installed a new photo in the website header, replacing the ancient church that’s held that spot of honor for quite a spell. I took this new photo myself downtown yesterday, a mural in an interior patio.

The entire photo does not fit in the header. To see it all in lovely color, click here.

I am fond of skulls. Bones in general. They remind me of mortality.

Toil and beauty

Lovely red flowers adored by hummingbirds.

JANUARY IS THE time for annual chores, but the chores are done before a backdrop of beauty here at the Hacienda. Well, at least till the first overnight freeze clobbers us.

That likely won’t be long in coming.

The chores include paying for our post office box for another year. Paying for water at the Downtown Casita for another year. Paying property taxes for our three places. For the Hacienda and the Downtown Casita, we go to City Hall. For the Mexico City condo, which continues to be rented to a nephew university student, I do that online.

I won’t even mention that property tax amounts because it would shock and sadden those of you who live above the Rio Bravo and pay through the nose. The water bills too.

The Hacienda’s unmetered water runs 720 pesos annually, about $38 USD.

January is also a great time to begin outdoor renovations because the annual monsoon is on hold till June. The Hacienda is almost 17 years old and, like aging people, is beginning to sag. That includes the Romance Sidewalk, which was sagging at one spot, literally.

So the guy who was painting here for a couple of weeks — he finished painting — turned his attention to repairing the sidewalk. First, he ripped up the sagging section.

There was a little cave below, empty space caused by Lord knows what. Were there bears living in there? Wolverines? Rats? I neglected to snap a photo. But here’s how it looks after the cavern was filled with sand and concrete detritus.


New Image

And here above is how it looks this morning. Ready for romantic walks in a level manner for another 17 years. We’ve now finished this season’s renovations at the Hacienda. However, there will be more work at the Downtown Casita. We’ll hire a blacksmith to install a circular stairway from the balcony to the roof and a handrail for the stairs inside.

A homeowner’s work is never done.