Tag Archives: Kindle

Rain, book, berries

IT’S AUGUST when I normally start to weary of the rain, but that hasn’t happened yet, the weariness. I am still loving it.

Yesterday about 4 p.m., I headed out the door to drive downtown and have a nice café Americano negro, but it was raining, so I sat a spell on a wicker rocker on the veranda.

Pulling the Canon from my man bag, I shot the video. When the rain slacked, I drove downtown. It wasn’t raining there.

I sat with the black cafecito and read my Kindle. I’m about halfway through a wonderful novel, A Gentleman in Moscow by the oddly named Amor Towles who’s a guy.

Who births a man child and names him Love?

While my normal drink at this time of day and at this location is the café Americano negro, I’ve been known to wander off the reservation. That wandering often leads me to the ice cream shop around the corner where one can purchase this pink thing you see below. Agua de fresa con coco.

Water of strawberry with coconut. There is also dairy in there, and it tastes really good. Costs about 68 cents, Americano.

Living where I do provides many pleasures.

My first hummer

In memory of Jack Brock.

FOR A FEW years, since I purchased my Canon, whenever I sat on the Jesus Patio to read my Kindle, I always toted the camera and rested it on the glass-top table.

One might wonder, Why does he do that? The answer is this: I wanted a photo of a hummer. Though the little buggers are commonplace in the Hacienda yard, photographing one has proved impossible. Till yesterday, that is.

The midday was overcast. Perhaps that explains my little friend’s relative lack of shimmering color, something often seen in hummer photos. Or maybe he’s a she and, like many birds, perhaps the hummer ladies are a bit drabber.

He (or she) is puffed up a bit too, a nippy afternoon.

No matter. Like Hemingway kneeling beside an African rhino, high-powered rifle aimed skyward, I have shot my prey. There will be no more safaris. I will read my books in peace.

Life goes on.

Night blooms

WALKING INTO the dining room/kitchen last night shortly before 10, as the clock on the wall clearly indicates, I saw this, and decided to take a photograph.

It’s not a very sharp photograph because, contrary to the camera’s shrill advice, I did not use the flash, just the light hanging from the ceiling, which is not visible here.

Let’s call it a mood piece.

My child bride had turned in quite early — she was in bed with her Kindle — but I was still rambling around.

Two items of note: The wicker backs of the chairs were done years ago by my wife. They’ve held up pretty well. The second thing is the orchid on the table. It was left, already blooming, in our Downtown Casita in February by Steve Cotton.

Five  months later, it’s still in bloom. Amazing.

Nightlife.

The cursed grass

Friday, before Saturday’s grass cutting by Abel the Deadpan Yardman.

IF IT’S NOT raining, I might sit around noon on a web chair by the glass-top table, shaded by the big, brown umbrella, feet atop another chair, for no better reason than pleasure.

I did that on Friday past.

I usually bring my Kindle and camera too in case a hummingbird sits a spell atop a nearby bloom. I’ve been hunting a shot, but when the hummers spot the camera, they zip away. When I don’t have the camera, they’ll come stare in my face.

The top shot was taken Friday when the yard needed a mow. The bottom two shots were taken yesterday after a mow.

I’ve had people ask me, “What’s up with the lawn? It doesn’t look like Mexico.” Well, the grass was mostly here when we bought the double lot. There’s wasn’t much else, but there was plenty of grass, an endless, freaking headache.

I’ve been telling myself for years that I’m uprooting all of it, or most of it, and laying down concrete and rock, but I never do it. Two reasons: the cost and the (temporary) mess.

But I feel steel in my spine. I’m more determined. Alas, the rainy season started last month, so the work cannot begin till November at the earliest, giving me months to change my mind.

But I’m not going to change my mind!

I’ve even worked out a plan. Do it gradually.

When the rains end, we’ll do most of the section in the photo at the very bottom, empedrado* only up to the Jesus Patio. Beyond the Jesus Patio — that’s the Jesus Patio where you see chairs and a table — a larger and far more elegant patio will be dreamed up to eliminate all of the grass in that area. Next year.

The yard is too large to be included in one photo. From the upstairs terraza, I can see more of it but not all, even from up there. It’s absurdly big. There is no backyard because the house is built against a corner of the double lot.

If I had been smarter, I would have built our house on half the space, facing the main drag, and another, a rental, facing the back street. There are two entries. But I was not smart.

I was a dumb Gringo in over his head.

But at least, gradually, I am now determined to resolve this grass curse.** Pray the steel stays in my spine till November.

I want to sit on the (much enlarged) Jesus Patio, which will need a new name, and gaze upon stone and cement, less grass.

Like the Reverend King: I have a dream.

This large semicircle is the only grass I want to keep. About a third of it all.
This is the first grass that will go. It continues way off to the left.

* A surface of concrete and stone, very common in Mexico. The sidewalk is empedrado.

** A curse due to its lunatic growth during the five-month rainy season. You can never turn your back. You surely cannot travel anywhere more than a week.

(Note: Another grass section is to the right of the middle photo. It’s sizable but the smallest of the three sections. It’s where sit the monster bougainvillea and the towering nopal tree. It will be filled with stone and cement too, but not this year. The bougainvillea and nopal will stay in place.

All shrugged out

I MET AYN Rand, briefly, at a talk she gave in 1963. It was in a smallish meeting room in a second-floor walk-up in San Francisco. I was 19 years old.

I do not recall the circumstances of being there. I had not read Rand and only knew she was famous, and the talk was free. She was there with her sidekick Nathaniel Brandon.

Flash forward more than half a century. About a month ago, I decided to read Atlas Shrugged, her magnum opus. I skipped the warm-up novel, The Fountainhead, which is somewhat less wordy, and went directly to the 1,188-page Shrug.

One of my few conscious objectives on retiring 17 years ago was to read more books. I have always been a reader, but I decided to do even more. Before retiring, I had generally avoided extremely long books for no better reason than shiftlessness.

Plus, it interfered with my drinking.

Since moving over the Rio Bravo, however, and sobering up, I turned to some really lengthy works. War and Peace, Anna Karenina, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, etc.

All great books and, brother, are they long.

Tolstoy, I like. Dostoyevsky, not so much. I bogged down in Crime and Punishment. I made even less progress with One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I tried to read long before moving to Mexico. Maybe I should try again, but doubt I will.

Back to Ayn Rand. She’s famous, so I thought I should read her main work. I bought it on Kindle for under $5.

And I dove right in.

A wag described Rand’s works as twice as long as phone books and half as interesting. Shrug was interesting enough to hold my attention but just barely. A couple of times I decided to abandon the effort, but I soldiered on … and on … and on …

Until this week. I made it 67 percent of the way through. Kindle tells you that. I can go no further, pooped out.

Rand’s take on things is not complicated. She calls it Objectivism. You owe nobody anything, and nobody owes you anything. There is nothing metaphysical, no afterlife, no way to know anything except by reason. Your main interest should be yourself.

* * * *

My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

* * * *

It was surprising to see her curse notions (in 1957) that today are known as political correctness. For instance, the requirement to embrace the “correct” opinions and even, to a degree, the proper personal pronouns.

Rand and I do, however, share quite a few values of the libertarian stripe —  an aversion to taxes, a love of capitalism, minimal government and a dislike of obligatory altruism, something that should be a personal choice.

But I also believe in an afterlife. Rand did not.

Rand and I are polar opposites of Pocahontas Warren, Red Bernie, Crooked Hillary, Screaming Dean, Weepy Barry and all the other heroes of today’s Democrat Party, the party of income redistribution and pink “pussy hats.”

But if you’re ever tempted to read Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, I suggest you go instead to CliffsNotes.

Watch your step

THERE’S A street project right off the main plaza downtown that’s been going on since last autumn, which is a long time because the renovation is just two lengthy blocks.

This project interests me, and I take a stroll by there almost every weekday after sitting at a sidewalk table with my Kindle and a café Americano negro.

In the United States, it would have been done far faster, and the entire work site would be blocked off so pedestrians and gawkers like me could not walk all over the place.

Around the workmen. Hopping over wet cement.

Here, no effort is made to keep pedestrians out of the work area, and none of the workers sports a hard hat. The main reason the project is taking so long is that there is little mechanized about it. It’s strictly manual labor.

If a passerby trips on something, falls and busts his noodle, he should have watched where he was going. He does not sue the city. We are not litigious that way.

The work started last year with an extensive excavation. New sewer and water lines were buried deep as were electric cables and wires in fat orange conduits.

Part of the reason the project is taking so long is the detail work, primarily on the sidewalks.

I should have photographed some of the detail, but I didn’t. This is fine rock work that will last a century.

There is sunken lighting for a nice nighttime look.

About the only nod to modernity are wheelchair ramps.

This photo shows the area where most of the stone is being worked to make it usable. It was a rose garden outside the church/hospital to the left before the renovation began.

Big stones are cut to size by hammer and chisel.

The scenes of the first two photos are at the end of the block down thataway, the far side.

We don’t have the reams of rules and regulations here that are so prevalent above the Rio Bravo, rules and regs made necessary by lawyers and government meddling. No environmental impact study was required.

Bugs were just squashed.

Here, if you need something done you hire some guys and do it. There are always guys available, plenty of idle hands of men who never grasped the need for schooling.

Just around the corner from the renovation I noticed this sign outside a tiny pharmacy. Look what you can have done. (Excuse the photos’ blurry edges. I had the camera set for that effect, but I did not notice till later.)

You can measure your blood sugar and blood pressure, or get a pap test.

You can get a medical certificate, maybe to get out of class. A problem with your toenails? No sweat.

A wound will be bandaged, and if you need an injection, they’ll stick you with the appropriate needle.

And all will cost next to nothing, and no pricey doctor reference is needed, but a doctor is likely there. Just go in, pay a buck or two if you want some medical advice or a prescription.

Living here is easy. Even if renovating a street takes forever. It will last forever after it’s finished.

Eating cheese

plaza
All the Christmas tourists have gone, thank the Goddess.

WALKING ACROSS the plaza Friday heading to the coffee shop, I was unaware that soon I’d be hauling cheese.

No sooner had I sat down with my café Americano negro and opened my Kindle to Charlemagne than my child bride walked up and deposited a bag with a container of cream and a half-kilo of cheese on my table.

Please take this home, she said.

She was heading to the gym.

One of the many things you’re warned about on visiting Mexico is not to eat the cheese. Isn’t pasteurized, they say, or something like that. I pay it no mind.

If someone puts a tasty cheese in front of me, I eat it, no questions asked, and it has not killed me yet.

This is named queso fresco — fresh cheese — and it’s my favorite. We  recently found a butcher shop in a bad neighborhood that sells great queso fresco.

When I got home, I took a photo for you. Half a kilo is a big hunk of cheese, and it will last us a while.

cheeze

Till I got it home it wasn’t even refrigerated.

I am fearless.

Music men

band

OUR MOUNTAINTOP is a magnet for tourists, especially during the Christmas holidays, Easter Week and the Day of the Dead. Most of the tourists are Mexicans.

But in all the years I’ve lived here, I don’t recall our having the hordes that we have right now.

We live on the outskirts of town, and every day we face a long line of creeping traffic heading downtown. Luckily, there is an alternative route, but I’m not going to advertise it.

A twist to this year’s Christmas season is a gasoline crisis. Lots of gas stations are out of fuel, and those that have some often have long lines of cars. A number of Mexican states are affected, and nobody seems to know why.

Rumors abound.

Our “Energy Reform” starts Sunday, the first day of 2017. Gradually, the Pemex monopoly will fall as foreign gas stations are phased in around the nation.

In theory this will lower prices, but on Sunday prices will increase from 15 to 20 percent, so people are angry.

But Mexicans are usually angry about something or other. Along with the Energy Reform, we’re getting a reform of the legal system, and reform of the educational system.

That latter has the teachers, a gang of union leftists, foaming at the mouth, which tickles me no end.

Mexico is changing.

The last gas crisis, earlier this year, only lasted about a week. The current one has gone on more than two weeks. Nobody seems to know how long it will last. I fill the Honda tank every time I pass an open station with no line.

Mexico is ever entertaining and challenging. If it’s not severed heads rolling down cantina floors or teachers apoplectic at having to take competency tests, it’s something else.

One way to stay mellow is to sit at a sidewalk table on the main plaza with a hot café americano negro, reading my Kindle and sometimes seeing street musicians.

I tipped those old boys in the photo.

And life goes on.

Afternoon relax

yard

EARLIER THIS week, I was on the Jesus Patio relaxing, a talent I have possessed in spades for most of my life.

That’s my foot you see there in a Crocs shoe, the footwear designed for semi-professional relaxers.

My child bride and I are polar opposites in this regard. Although she is very fond of her own Crocs, she does not use them to relax because she’s mostly incapable of relaxing.

She’s always full throttle.

I don’t understand those people.

It was about noon, and the neighborhood was uncommonly quiet, possibly because it was Christmas Eve.

I was reading a book on my Kindle, Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis. It’s an excellent followup to Ernie Pyle’s Brave Men, which I finished about a month ago.

Both were correspondents during the Second World War, a profession that baffles me because you stand a good chance of getting killed unnecessarily.

Tregaskis was not killed in the war, but he came very close. Pyle was less fortunate, shot dead in the war’s final months.

Both books are excellent though Pyle’s is the better of the two. They provide a good idea of what war is like, or rather what World War II was like.

It was one of America’s greatest moments.

Occasionally, I would quit the Kindle to look at the scene above. That’s aloe vera on the left and the other is philodendron. They were quite little when I planted them.

One of the many good things about reading is that it can transport you to another world.

I was jumping from chilling on the Jesus Patio to dodging grenades and machine-gun fire in the Pacific.

You don’t get to do that every day.

I hope Santa was kind to you. This has been an exceptionally fine year.* If you read books like Tregaskis’ and Pyle’s you know that better than most. History matters.

* * *  *

* Trump!