Minestrone and O.J.

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My minestrone

I WEAR A SILVER ring on my right hand. It sports a miniature version of the Aztec Calendar. Maybe it slows my life down, or maybe not.

I’ll be 75 in a few days more, and that seems to have had an effect on my mind, perhaps because my father and I were near clones, and he died at 75. If the cloning continues into that realm, I still have a ways to go because he almost made it to 76.

In the last few weeks, I’ve noticed a mental and/or emotional switching of gears. I’ve always been a real chill guy, but now I’m chiller than ever. I think it’s related to my birthday.

Enough about that.

I made minestrone for lunch today. It’s a spectacularly easy recipe I discovered years ago, and when we find ourselves nearing lunchtime and no plans to eat out and no leftovers in the fridge, I just toss together this minestrone.

It requires carrots and cabbage, the only two things I normally do not have on hand, but the day this dilemma normally presents itself is Friday, and there’s a veggie market on the nearby plaza every Thursday. I must think ahead at least 24  hours.

But enough about that.

We recently watched a mini-series on Netflix called American Crime Story: The People  vs. O.J. Simpson. It was quite interesting even though I knew how it would turn out. The program ended, O.J. walked, and I ordered Marcia Clark’s written version of the event, Without a Doubt, from Kindle. It added far more detail than did the TV series.

Clark, of course, was the lead prosecutor during the famous Los Angeles trial. Without a Doubt was written with a co-author, one of those ghost writer situations. Clark reportedly earned $4.2 million off the book. Not bad for a failed prosecution.

She left the District Attorney’s Office after the O.J. fiasco and turned to other things like writing books and making TV appearances.

She’s written a series of novels based on a defense attorney named Samantha Brinkman. I’m about halfway through the first novel, Blood Defense, and it’s pretty darn good. There is no ghost writer. Clark wrote it herself.

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Leak was falling from the tip of the beam second from the right.

I was on the upstairs terraza this morning reading Blood Defense when my attention was distracted by a small leak at the far edge of the new glass roof, a leak that began almost immediately after the roof was installed weeks ago. It drips just inside the terraza, not outside where it would ideally fall. It was super annoying, a puddle-maker.

A lightbulb lit above my noodle while sitting there, looking out thataway, holding Marcia Clark, so I got up, walked downstairs to the Garden Patio, picked up a tall, folding ladder, lugged it upstairs and, with a piece of sheet metal and metal shears, made a water detour that I jammed into where the drip was originating. Problem solved.

The new upstairs terraza is so relaxing that we have 99 percent abandoned the renovated yard patio, which was once known as the Jesus Patio. Had we done the upstairs terraza first, we would have left the Jesus Patio in peace. It was a waste of cash.

Oh, well.

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.

CHAIR
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.

Battling the bushes

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Aloe vera on the left, philodendron on the right. Both growing again.

THURSDAY MORNINGS there’s a mercado on the neighborhood plaza just down the way. Mostly, it’s fruits and veggies, but you can also find fresh fish flopping atop a tarp on the sidewalk, and used clothing and deep-fried pigskin from a copper vat.

What you cannot find, at least today, are decent avocados. Prices are really high lately, and one effect of that is that street vendors do not buy them to sell because they don’t sell. You can still find avocados easily in supermarkets, however.

Returning home following my morning exercise walk, I looked about the yard. The rainy season does good things and bad things too. All have to do with rampant growth. The grass gets green (good), and it must be mowed (bad).

Plants that were chillin’ over winter and spring muscle up. Habitual passers-by here at The Unseen Moon will recall that I’ve eliminated quite a few yard plants over the last year or so, to my happiness and my child bride’s dismay.

Some, like the cursed peach tree and monster pear tree, are gone altogether. Here’s a shot from 2015. That’s the peach on the left. The pear is barely visible farther on, right side. Also, you’ll notice the old, stone Jesus Patio.

old
Olden days. Funky, funky and more funky.

We now sport a cleaner look.

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These days. Sleek and fresh. Time to party!

That big aloe vera in the top photo is whacked back a bit, something I did this morning. I also trimmed the other aloe vera that sits outside our bedroom. I did that a couple of days ago. The cuttings rest in what I call the Garden Patio, below.

Abel the Deadpan Yardman will be here Saturday to mow the grass and weedeat. I’ll have him haul the aloe vera cuttings down the street where he’ll toss them into the ravine.

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Lots of burn treatment available in this pile.

Remember the colossal bougainvillea I had removed a few months ago? Here’s how she looked then with my child bride providing size perspective.

bougain

And then I had her removed, all but the base.

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But like an unruly woman, she’s reasserting herself, but I’ve got the upper hand now and will bend her to my considerable will. She’ll learn who’s her Daddy.

bougain baby
Just you wait, Dearie.

In an ideal world, plants with attitude would be eliminated completely from the Hacienda property, and only polite ones would stay put.

shade
Yellow looks nice. Bugs love to get between the net and the glass. Then they die.

In other news, the fellows who installed the shade netting in the renovated upstairs terraza last month will return today or tomorrow to remove the yellow net we chose at first. The reason is that it hangs below the glass domo, trapping bugs which then die there. Due to the light color of the net, the bug graveyard is horribly visible. Creepy.

So the yellow netting will be removed, and a darker, greenish one will be installed atop the glass, not below. This will also add a bit of protection against hail damage.

Never a dull moment. And if you read this far down, a Gold Star and Honorable Mention will be added to your permanent record. Congrats.

Six-month project ends

IT’S FINALLY FINISHED, renovation of the upstairs terraza.

The idea was born last summer when a small leak developed that resulted in drops of water dripping into the bedroom below. That was the proverbial last straw after years of having lakes in the terraza during the five-month rainy season.

That’s lakes, not leaks.

Due to poor drainage, the terraza was basically unusable during the annual monsoons and, due to having almost no roof above, it was not that pleasant out there during the months of glaring sunshine either.

It was wasted space.

It’s nice to have peace and quiet here again. And a great spot to sit.

Everything, including the furniture, totaled about $12,000 U.S.

Below are a couple of photos taken during the project.

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Removing the small roof of wood beams and clay tiles last January.
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Installing glass atop a steel superstructure many weeks later.