Odds & Ends south of the border

LIFE CONSISTS of details strung together, some good, some bad.

We live next door to a hot-springs motel that was constructed over a decade ago in what was an empty lot where a lonely cow lived. The motel has not provided us with as many interesting moments as we had imagined.

The traffic there is fairly constant. It’s a nice, well-maintained place.

Recently, the owner installed an automatic gate opener in the exit lane. It makes a whirring sound every time it’s activated as satiated customers depart.

We hear the whirring in the Hacienda, and we call it the Sound of Satisfaction.

* * * *

Credit card fraud, etc.

We’ll be going downtown early this morning to the bank. If you get there at 8:30, the wait isn’t bad before you can talk with one of the officers.

We have a number of issues to resolve. My child bride’s debit card is about to expire. The electricity bill for the Hacienda was not paid automatically from our checking account last time, as it’s done for years. And I need a new credit card because we had to cancel one last week due to hefty fraudulent charges.

odds&endsI only use credit cards online, never out in the real world. How do crooks put charges on it? This is not the first time it’s happened, but this week’s bogus charges are considerably higher than ever before. Good thing I keep a sharp eye on card movements.

Due to such perils, I consider four a minimum number of cards. All of my credit cards are issued by our Mexican bank. I had American credit cards when I moved south, but they’ve fallen by the wayside.

Anyway, if you live in Mexico you should have Mexican credit cards.

If you don’t care if your name is engraved on the card, and I don’t, you can pick up another credit card immediately at the bank. Ditto for the debit cards.

Our bank is BBVA Bancomer, the best bank in Mexico.

The worst bank is HSBC.

* * * *

Sonogram of my insides

More has happened on the health front. Recently, I got a colonoscopy, which I wrote about here, Getting a hose up my butt, and then a few days later I wrote a companion piece, An inkling of death.

The gastroenterologist who put the hose up my butt, due to some blood work he found suspicious, recommended I get a sonogram of my liver. I did that yesterday, and the doctor said everything looked okay.

The doctors keep trying to kill me, but I defy them.

The sonogram, done by a doctor not a technician in a high-tech lab in the state capital, cost the peso equivalent of $27.

Beats the devil out of ObamaCare.

* * * *

Nasty little birds

New ImageI’m battling birds. Some years, but not all, I have to fight off swallows around this time who want to build their wretched mud/spit nests on the roof beams along the edge of the Hacienda’s exterior.

They stick muddy spit up there, and I scrape it off from below with a hoe. They try it again. I scrape again, and so on. This has been going on for a week. Some years they bypass us entirely. Most years, actually.

But they are stubborn this year. Some people say it’s bad luck to remove their nests, but I don’t care. They’re nasty.

* * * *

Cheese and chairs

Within two blocks of the lab in the state capital, we found a cheese shop, so we bought some superlative cheese off a huge wheel. We also found a specialty workshop that we’ll be using. It’s a guy who renovates old office chairs.

At this moment, I’m sitting in an elegant office chair that I bought about three months ago at Office Depot. It was a replacement for the previous elegant office chair I had used for many years.

Alas, the old one is in bad shape, even sporting tape on one arm.

How fortunate to have found a shop that renovates old office chairs. When we return next week to pick up the official results of my sonogram, I’ll be dropping off the old office chair. Perhaps it has many more years ahead of it, supporting my butt because I prefer the older one.

Mexicans do everything.

We’ll likely cross the street for more cheese too. It was wonderful cheese.

 

The water jungle

water

And the rains came . . .

The change seems to come overnight, but it actually takes a spell.

And things happen, large and small.

* * * *

Swallow this!

Saturday night, during a downpour, I opened the steel door from the kitchen to the service patio. There’s an overhang under which runs the clothesline, a clothesline that draws no attention to itself most of the year.

But swallows like to sleep on that clothesline during the rains because the overhang keeps them nice and dry, and that would be okay if they didn’t crap on the floor. They are nasty guests.

On opening the steel door that night, I saw one swallow there, so I yelled at him. He ignored me even though he was only about three feet away.

Smart ass, I muttered to myself as I went for a broom. I whacked the clothesline with that broom, and he sped away, leaving white poop on the cement floor.

Of all the nerve.

* * * *

Like the goat Hefner

Later, I was in the downstairs bathroom, the big one, brushing my teeth, getting ready to lay my aging carcass on the king bed with my child bride, like the goat Hefner and his preposterous playmates.

Drip, drip, I heard, alarmingly. There’s a skylight over the tub, and it was a leak. Fortunately, it was falling into the tub so no harm done. I checked the two other downstairs skylights, one in the hall, one in the closet.

No leaks, but the season is fresh and young, as I once was.

I sealed those skylights with silicone in May, and what good did it do me? The other two will give out before September for sure. One cannot win against water.

* * * *

Making lakes

Depending on which way the wind blows, a good stiff rain can leave lakes on the floor of the downstairs terraza. Sometimes they are small ponds. Other times, the lake covers almost the entire terraza, a roofed terraza, mind you.

Later, it’s necessary to push it all out with a broom and squeegee.

* * * *

Blame is mine

The windows have never worked well, probably because I designed them and then hired a third-rate carpenter to build them. There’s no one to blame but me.

No matter how much silicone I squeeze along their edges, water still finds a way. Paper towels are the permanent, stopgap solution, it seems.

* * * *

Curtain mice

Years ago, I lived alone in a two-story rental closer to downtown. The summer rains would drive mice inside. I set out sticky paper nights, and mornings I would fling the little thrashing buggers over the property wall into a sewage creek.

I was an unkind man.

One night, lying in my bed reading a book, the drapes pulled shut nearby, I heard a scurrying sound as the curtain jiggled from bottom to top, as if something were climbing up from the floor on the far side.

He reached the curtain top, and peered over, and our eyes locked, yes, another dratted mouse! I shut my book, closed the door and slept that night in the upstairs bedroom. He was gone by morning. I think.

In that rental, on three occasions, I found rats in the toilet bowl. I just flushed them back where they came from. Don’t live next to a sewage creek.

A rat flushes easily, if you didn’t know.

* * * *

Poison and peaches

But that was then, and this is now.

Outside, the yard is going wild. Abel, the deadpan neighbor and lawnmower man, cuts the grass on Saturdays, and by Monday it needs it again. That’s just not right. We await the following Saturday anyway.

Snails come out and eat my poison. Flowers burst forth. The fruit trees muscle up. Soon, peaches will litter the grass, to rot and annoy me. I must wipe the glass-top table and web chairs every morning if I intend to sit out there.

* * * *

The good finale

It’s a superlative spot to sit, that stone patio, when the sky is partly blue, the temperature is 75 at noon with a gentle June breeze, and the hummingbirds and butterflies are making rounds to the riot of bougainvillea, banana tree blooms, nopal flowers and anything else with a hint of tasty color.

I sit there amid the grass under the big brown umbrella with a book which usually gets closed swiftly because one cannot read and sufficiently appreciate the cool, clear air one inhales in this damp summertime world . . .

. . . making me sleepy.

So much better than the dust of spring, no matter the leaks.

And there are no mice. It is a joy.