Kitchens, Commies, etc.

kitchen

WHEN THE pastry workshop was completed in February, we thought all was done, but it decidedly was not. There was the matter of the stove.

We had purchased what seemed to be a serviceable stove made by Whirlpool, but it was anything but serviceable. The oven would not hold a constant temperature. Finally, after numerous visits by Whirlpool “technicians,” a woeful misnomer in this case, the store where we bought it — Coppel — took it back and refunded most of the money.

Bizarrely, we learned the oven has no thermostat. How can an oven have no thermostat? Apparently, this is becoming more common, which explains the new models that have no temps on the dial, just temperature ranges, or they simply say 1, 2, 3, 4.

An oven with no thermostat is like a car with no steering wheel.

So off we went to Liverpool in the state capital, spent almost three times the cash, and two weeks later we had a lovely appliance called i/o Mabe, which is the high-end line of the popular Mabe brand. It has many bells and whistles, and my wife is happy.

The i/o Mabe has a thermostat.

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New website

I have combined and edited the three-part series from some days back called Newspaper Days, made it one website, and added it to the Bookmark list in the right-side column. FYI.

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Election approaches

On June 7, we Mexicans go to the polls, the midterms. One of the many sweet aspects to being a Mexican citizen is that I can vote, canceling out the time and trouble at least one Mexican leftist takes to mark his ballot. This is swell. I wish I could cancel out even more than one.

There are 10 official political parties in Mexico, which is both good and bad. The bad is that we risk becoming like Italy. The good is that it’s fun to have options.

I read the official websites of most of them, skipping only the Workers Party because you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know where a party stands when its emblem is a yellow star in a Red circle and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) because I am already familiar with it. The oligarchic PRI ran Mexico for about 70 years, stifling opposition.

pan-logoI am a PAN man, the National Action Party. This is the long-time conservative party, and I only deviate from it (to the PRI) in special cases. I voted for PRI’s presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, three years ago because the PAN candidate stood no chance, and I did not want the leftist PRD candidate to win.

Our political parties contain some odd birds. The Encuentro Social are evangelicals. The Humanistas are, of course, Humanists. Perhaps the strangest of all is the Green Party, which is actually an arm of the PRI. The international Green movement excommunicated our Greens some years back because our Greens supported the death penalty for kidnappers.

Our Greens have backtracked on that, now advocating life prison terms for kidnappers instead of execution. I prefer execution. Color me old Mexican Green in this detail.

The Greens will promise absolutely anything. Free schooling. Free medicine. If it sounds good, they promise it. It’s outrageous. They have chutzpah.

A relatively new party is the Morena, the brown people’s party. Morena means brown-skinned in Mexico. It is the invention of the perpetual loser, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO. He is a demagogue who has bounced about in different parties, and now has formed a new one, a blatant racial call since 90 percent of Mexicans are brown

May he continue his losing streak.

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Drawing Mohammed

Let us now turn to the Mohammed cartoon contest, which I supported. It was appalling to see so many talking heads, even on the right, including my man Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, going wishy-washy on Pamela Gellar’s courageous contest in Garland, Texas.

David Frum, writing in The Atlantic magazine said this:

mohammed“When vigilantes try to enforce the tenets of a faith by violence, then it becomes a civic obligation to stand up to them.” 

And Charles C.W. Cooke, writing in the National Review:

“There can be only two possible outcomes to this fight: Either Americans will eventually learn that they should not provoke radical Muslims, and thus that self-censorship is the order of the day, or radical Muslims will learn not to be provoked. Whether they have intended to or not, those who have proposed that Pamela Geller and her ilk should voluntarily refrain from provoking Islam’s discontents have run the risk of tacitly endorsing the former outcome.”

Let us continue to provoke them. And shooting them dead when appropriate.

Poop hole, solar heat

excavateEARLY WEDNESDAY we left the construction crew working at the Hacienda and drove the 40 minutes down the mountainside to the state capital for a bit of shopping.

The honcho Ramón had told us he was renting a machine to excavate the septic tank. We envisioned a hand-held apparatus of some sort and a smaller hole, so imagine our surprise at finding this when we returned four hours later. The dirt this thing was excavating was being tossed into a dump truck out on the street.

That was Wednesday.

hole

forpoopBy late afternoon Thursday, the septic tank was making progress, as the photo just above shows. There is nothing prefab about this baby. It’s being built from scratch, like Granny’s peach pie. The bottom had been covered with a layer of gravel, unlike the pie, and a concrete foundation lined the sides, atop which bricks were placed.

Liberal use of string keeps things level, and notice the spaces between the bricks in the lower part of the wall, obviously some sort of filtration system. It’s a hoot to witness this process.

For previous entry in this gripping saga, go here.

As always, for a blow-by-blow photo history, go here.

solar

SOLAR WATER HEATER

While we’re on the subject of home improvement, let’s turn now to the solar water heater on the Hacienda roof, which has never worked well in the four years it’s relaxed up there.

About a month ago, a commenter on another post inspired me to climb the circular stairway to the roof yet again and test the water. Still tepid, so I decided to return to the hardware store where I purchased it and complain for about the third time. The gizmo has a 10-year guarantee.

The reason I had not pressed harder on this is because I know that guarantees in Mexico are less a promise than a come-on, a selling point. They are not cast in rock. There is little a Mexican loathes more than giving a refund.

Previous complaints led the hardware manager to phone the manufacturer, a major Mexican firm, while I was sitting there with him. Drain the tank to get rid of crap, I was once told. I did that. Another time I was told to flush the whole shebang with vinegar. Never did that because I had no faith it would work.

I won’t bore you with details, but today the hardware store will send someone to dismantle and haul this bugger away. Turns out they had discovered a major design flaw. Well, duh. Initial indications are that I will get a full refund, not a prorated one. The purchase price was 10,000 pesos, about $850 U.S. at the time.

We’ll be buying another one, a different brand with a better track record. The hardware manager said they only sold six of mine, and four were defective. He does not sell them anymore. He’s sold 26 of a different model from a different company, and they work great, he claims, plus it only costs about $450 U.S.

This turn of events would not have happened were it not for the verbal, unintended nudge of a commenter here some weeks back. I don’t remember who it was, and a cursory (I’m lazy) search of the stacks revealed nothing. Please raise your hand and take a bow. I appreciate it.

Your reward, should you choose to accept it, is a free week in our lovely downtown Casita. Bring a friend. No smoking, no pets, but other than that, it’s here for you. No joke.

Kitchens and virgins

Tank space

CONSTRUCTION WORK continues at the Hacienda. In the photo above, you see a second-story brick wall going up that will serve to hide the water tank that will sit up there above the lavatory.

As previously announced, the initial plan of building a storefront has been modified. While the new space will have a large opening to the street so it can be rented or used as a storefront, our new plan is to outfit the area as a big, stand-alone kitchen where my wife can bake her stupendous pastries to hawk on the downtown plaza.

The new roof has been installed. Instead of just the traditional clay tiles that were there before, an additional subroof of plywood was added and the tiles now sit atop that. It makes for a tighter environment for the kitchen. The plywood will be painted to match the exposed wood beams that support the roof.

Saturday marks the end of the work’s third week and a photo album of the construction is here. The contractor initially told us the work would take four to six weeks, but that ain’t gonna happen.

The floor still has to be cemented and ceramic tile laid, the plumbing and electrical must be completed, the interior walls finished and painted, the door to the street installed, the propane tank, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, potty, water heater installed, the septic tank excavated. In short, God knows when it will be done.

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But Friday was more than just another construction day. It also was the Virgin of Guadalupe’s day. As you may know, the Virgin of Guadalupe is the personal virgin of us Mexicans. She is special to us because she is brown-skinned as most of us are. She is not just some old white virgin, and we love her for that.

Old white virgins — like old white men — are passé, so yesterday.

There was a parade downtown today, and there will be earth-shaking concerts on our local plaza Friday and Saturday nights. December 12 is when the Virgin was born, or was first spotted, or maybe her resurrection. I really don’t keep up with these things. I can’t keep Jesus’ or Moses’ lives straight, much less a Mexican virgin’s.

portal

I was downtown in mid-afternoon, and I shot this photo. It was tranquil — which is how I prefer it — the calm before the storm. But before I departed two hours later, there was a blaring taxi parade and associated drums, clarinets and tubas. The virgin apparently loves racket.

I got out just in the nick of time via a back street.