Sweeping the roof

roof
Top of the Hacienda. Two chimneys, solar water heater, water tank.

NOBODY SWEPT the roof when I was a child in Jacksonville, Florida, certainly not my father who never showed any interest in home maintenance.

He focused on just three things: whisky, poetry and my mother, not necessarily in that order, but maybe.

It’s a good thing the Florida roof required no maintenance from my father. He likely would have stumbled off anyway. The flat roof was asphalt and gravel.

You don’t put a man focused on whisky and poetry atop a roof with no railings.

Years later, I bought my first house. That was 1986 in Houston, Texas. My second ex-wife still lives there, but let us not digress toward matrimonial horror. The roof was a gritty, sheet material that resembled glorified tar paper.

For mostly the same reasons that my father ignored his roof, I ignored mine, though I never paid attention to poetry.

And now I’m in just the third home of my life that isn’t a rental. The roof is concrete, and it has a gentle incline so it doesn’t collect water in the rainy season.

The only maintenance I give it is a yearly sweep, and I did that today, which inspired this information going your way.

While up there, via the circular staircase, I also wiped down the glass rods on the solar water heater. And I admired the view, which is spectacular, and I took this photo.

The roof is on its own until next year.

Night salads

SOMETIMES it’s good to show one’s human side.

Our evening meal is always a salad. I fix it myself. It’s served about 8 p.m., and we dine upstairs sitting in recliners watching Netflix, recovering from our ever-arduous days.

kit2While making the salads last night, my child bride snapped these two photos with her phone camera. The photos are not very sharp.

But neither am I.

It’s been quite nippy here in the evenings lately, and that’s why I am heavily clothed. We have no central heat. Or central air-conditioning either for that matter. No need.

kitThe flannel pants I am sporting were purchased in Costco, and are adorned with skulls and crossbones. The heavy hoodie was also a Costco buy.

That thing atop my head is an ancient and dreadfully misshapen watch cap. My child bride detests it.

But I never wear it out of the house, and I have a much newer version of the exact same model for social wear. The newer one looks quite smart, I think.

My normal preference for black-and-white photos has been cast aside for obvious reasons. We live in blazing color.

Work and solitude

WHEN WE first wed years back, I was the primary cook and dishwasher. I remain the latter.

But I tapered off on the cooking, mostly due to shiftlessness. It’s not that she took over so much as we just prefer the easy route. Quick stuff, takeout, restaurants, etc.

I used to do other work too. Decorative painting on the Hacienda’s walls. I’ve stopped. Too much effort.

Due to feeling increasing shame recently for my laziness, I’ve begun fixing more meals. I have some old standards. There’s jambalaya and gumbo. Jambalaya is lots easier than gumbo, so gumbo hasn’t returned to our plates just yet.

Maybe it never will. It’s not a quick meal.

I prefer easy fixings. I do a nice 15-minute minestrone. And there’s a pasta dish on which I dump steamed broccoli and garlic. Just today we’ll be having meatballs that I made yesterday in a crockpot.

And I’ve decided to work more in the yard, easy stuff. And wash the Honda more. I’ve been letting carwash guys on the plaza do it because it only costs a bit over two bucks.

Paying anybody to wash the car in these parts from June through October is akin to burning cash since it rains every single day. A clean car lasts about an hour.

But you gotta do something or, come November, you won’t even remember the color of your car.

So I’m working more now. Cooking, gardening, carwashing. It’s good to keep fairly busy, I think.

* * * *

The hermit life

I‘m reading a fascinating book called One Man’s Wilderness: an Alaskan Odyssey. A writer named Sam Keith used the journal of Richard Proenneke to construct the story of a man who moved alone at 51 to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1960s where he erected a cabin and lived solo for 30 years.

Proenneke’s talents with his hands and mind were awesome. He wasn’t an actual hermit because he received occasional guests, which he enjoyed, and, now and then, he returned to the Lower 48 for brief visits with relatives and amigos.

The book spoke to me perhaps more than to most people due to my longstanding hermit inclinations. Were it not for my love of womenfolk, perhaps I would have been a Proenneke. But I would have needed to hone my handyman skills first.

As a youth, I dreamed of living alone in an underground home on the bank sweeping down to the pond among cypress trees that rested on my grandparents’ Georgia farm.

Decades later, my hermit dream was to live in a half-buried school bus in the desert near Big Bend National Park. I read of a woman who did just that. I was flush with envy.

One wonders what a psychiatrist would say about those two dream homes being half buried beneath ground level?

I would have required a hermit woman, but doesn’t that negate the concept of being a hermit?

New ImageI would have cooked her gumbo in the school bus. And I would have washed her dishes. And maybe I’ll fix gumbo at the Hacienda again one day.

One must be kind to women.

The age of dust

WE ARE IN The Age of Dust. It lasts, more or less, two months, April and May. There is also the Age of Rain, the Age of Freeze and the Age of Loveliness.

That last one runs from November until late December. It is the Age of Loveliness because it has stopped raining; it is not freezing, and there is no dust to speak of.

It is neither hot nor cold. Our world is green, and the sky is blue. It is like that little bear’s porridge, just right.

The Age of Dust rivals the Age of Freeze as the worst of the year, but even those two Ages are pretty swell because this mountaintop is a wonderful place to live.

April also brings our wedding anniversary, 14 years now. Of my three marriages, this has been the longest even though I lived with my second wife for 19 years.

We were married just the final 10.

My Mexican child bride and I had known each other just under six months when we wed in the interior courtyard of her sister’s home on the main plaza.

We did not know each other very well, in large part due to the language barrier. My Spanish was still marginal, and her English was nonexistent.

But we took quite a shine to one another, and 14 years later it’s turned out just fine. I’d do it all over again.

Here’s a photo from the evening in question:

wedding

It was a low-budget affair. We didn’t even hire a photographer. A friend took pictures that were mostly useless.  A professional wouldn’t have that mystery hand in the photo.

There were about 30 guests. There was dancing, pozole and music, part of which was provided by this fellow:

We were married in the Age of Dust, and one day we will be dust, the both of us, likely me first, of course.

But it’s been a spectacular time. If you marry often enough, eventually you get it right. Dust doesn’t matter.