The morning after

FIVE OR SO years ago, a storm blew through our hardscrabble barrio, leaving nine enormous trees uprooted on our neighborhood plaza, about a quarter of the total.

They were humongous trees, 40 or 50 feet high, and it was no small storm that brought them all down at the same time. I’m convinced it was a tornado that briefly struck and departed, but due to the ferocity of the blow, no one was outside watching.

And there are no windows facing the plaza.

Yesterday something similar happened. It was fairly fast, and I did not think to get the camera and film it. I was standing at the door of the upstairs terraza praying the new canvas curtains wouldn’t be destroyed. They weren’t, but it looked dicey.

I think the wind gusts were hitting near-hurricane velocity.

This morning, I filmed this. It was a lovely dawn, and all has returned to normal. Later the two of us did our exercise walk on the nearby plaza. It was littered with fallen leaves and limbs. And the top of one tree, a section about 15 feet long, had broken off entirely.

A few years ago a plumber installed a solar water heater on our roof. He wasn’t going to, but I insisted he bolt it down, which he did. During yesterday’s storm, it would have landed atop the sex motel next door had it not been bolted to our roof.

One darn thing after another.

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.

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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.

More leftist lunacy

JUST WHEN YOU think they can’t get any nuttier, they do.

When our (relatively) new, leftist head of state, whom I refer to as el Presidente Moonbat, took office in December he initiated a number of numskull moves, one of which was to gut the previous administration’s reform of the educational system.

There’s lots of bad things you can say about the previous administration — and Moonbat does that on a daily basis, sowing discord — but it did good stuff too. Like the education reform. Here’s how it worked before the reform:

alfred_E_Neuman_400x400No need to prove you’re qualified to be a teacher. Indeed, your Aunt Guadalupe, on retiring from her teaching post, could have named you as her replacement in spite of your having no teacher training or talent whatsoever. Aunt Guadalupe likely became a teacher in exactly the same way when her Cousin Luis retired.

This is what unions do.

The previous administration’s education reform put a stop to this, and also initiated tests to prove teacher competence. Moonbat has ended that, and we’ve returned to the past.

There are teacher unions in Mexico. Sometimes they battle each other — literally, like throwing punches and chairs, etc. One of these unions, which goes by the initials CNTE, is little more than an arm of the Communist Party, and CNTE is particularly powerful in the State of Oaxaca, which brings us to today’s main topic. At last!

The union in Oaxaca has announced there will be no more teaching of English. Instead there will be classes of  indigenous languages. This is akin to, say, Arizona ending Spanish or French classes and teaching Apache or Navajo instead.

How do you say nincompoopery in Spanish?

And there’s more: All classes will have not one but two teachers. One will provide academic instruction and the other will teach extracurricular subjects, however that plays out. How do you say “staff padding” in Spanish?

And there’s even more: Teachers won’t be issuing grades. Students will grade themselves and that of their peers. The CNTE has also come up with “alternative textbooks,” books which badmouth capitalism and heap praise on famous communists.

More details on this indoctrination here. Pathetic.

Meanwhile, the rating agency Moody’s recently issued a pessimistic report about Mexico’s economic future, citing the federal government’s lack of “public policy coherence.”  Of course, leftist economic “thinking” is inherently incoherent.

And there’s even more: The overwhelming majority of Mexicans think el Presidente Moonbat is the cat’s pajamas. They just adore him. He supports “the poor,” you know.

Unbridled democracy. Just gotta love it!