Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Promptings and Musings

     A few communiques shake me back to reality.   I was going to observe that we have had a murder of crows and a parliament of owls beset us during the past couple of weeks.   Crows are found in some abundance throughout Mexico, but precisely where the Quinta is,  we really do not have crows or ravens.   We have jackdaws (grackles), tordos, cowbirds, and the like, but no real crows....save for the occasional one who found a load of fermenting corn-seed.
     In any regard we have had quite a few crows, mixing with the parrots, generally from the neighbouring Hacienda de la Vega and down to the Rio Corona, including the Quinta Tesoro de la Sierra Madre.   They are loud and presumptive, but seem to be "group autistic" when it comes to dealing with the various flocks of parrots while both groups work the nearby orchards for larvae and other munchies.   This is the high point for the Valencia orange bloom....so, as Yogi would say, even deaf people can smell the orange blossoms.

      We do have owls.    But I have never witnessed them in the abundance now present.   There is a particular owl the locals call "pecho colorado" or "pecho rojo" ....or red-breasted, (perhaps ferruginous?) and these seem to have decided to begin a form of watermelon-seed spitting contest during the early nighttime hours.   They make a fairly sharp, repetitive, short whistle at spontaneous moments.     This is all well, but right now....during these days....there are between 7 and 10 of them inside the grounds of the Quinta or immediately adjacent and when they all get wound up it can be quite a peculiar attempt at the Chinese Water Torture (but using sound)....and the event can go on for an hour and a half.    They are not as loud as a male peacock or a flock of chachalacas....but it would be nice if they sing in something other than one single note...identical each one bird to the other.
     We have other owls....screech, barn, and the like....who also make overnight stops at the Quinta and environs.....and while they are repetitive as birds must be....they are a little less impositive in terms of dominating the nocturnal soundscape.
      From now until October or November we shall be dealing with scores and scores of species who come down from the mountains or up from the coast...it is always interesting.

More Later!
The Old Gringo

Monday, 29 March 2010

Trying Tymes

     We are back up after a brief stay.   We have had another bit  of cold weather although the afternoons have been warming up.    I believe it was last Sunday morning when we had ice on the old Dynasty.   Not much, but it was there for all the world to see.....and feel.   It is a bit disheartening to see how slow the recovery is for the bouganvillas....although there has been a bit of blooming....not much but some.   The powder puff is ever-so-slowly restoring itself and each day seems to reveal another couple of inches up the dead-looking limbs coming out with new, vigourous leaves.

     The flamboyan (aka Royal Ponciana) at the entrance to the Quinta is coming out nicely, but the others are still looking like Hiroshima in 1946.   Then, while whining about that, it must be noted that the old mesquite tree which forms a measuring corner for the property came out in a flourish of new leaves...literally glistenning in the morning dew.    It is proverbial,  folkloric law in South Texas and northern Mexico that when the mesquite tree leafs in the late Winter or early Spring that all chance of freeze and frost has ended.   And, as indicated, the tree had not leafed until after that point last week when the thermometer registered 31f / -1c during the early morning hours.

     As an aside, we were notified that the people who had bought a little studio apartment-type house between us and the Hacienda de Santa Engracia have placed their acquisition back up for sale.    It is a nice little place, though oddly designed.   It is on the paved Interejidal highway, has good utility service (water, electricity), and heavy air-conditioning capacity.   The grounds and gardens are a bit Spartan but nice and the lot is quite large.   The new owners turn out not to be quite as adaptive to life in Green Acres and would rather return their attention back to home in the Monterrey metroplex.
     There is also some serious talk about re-initiating the development, also between the Quinta and the Hacienda de Santa Engracia, which was to have been something quite exclusive and elegant.   It is centered around the old mill chimney of the Hacienda, on a sizeable knoll.   I believe there were a couple of mansion-like homes built up there, but never finished....as well as an "in-the-style-of" convenience store and shopping.....place....(don't know what to call the design).   The style is something like a cross between an up-scale mall in Missouri with a Spanish Colonial motif and some of the big developments around major Mexican cities that have huge houses that look like funeral homes or one of those 26,000 member Protestant mega-churches that could hold the Winter and Summer Olympic Games indoors and simultaneously.
More later,
The Old Gringo

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Quick Trip Up and Back

      The better half and I returned this afternoon from the Quinta...four days of small and medium sized projects.   We repaired (upgraded) the main breaker box for our electrical feed....I made a minor fool of myself grumping about the electrical service interruption....asking neighbours if they had service (they did) and generally molesting people before checking my own box.     There was a bit of voltage drop early in the day due to the effects of high winds in the area, and this seemed to have done some damage to the two fuses...which finally gave their lives to protect our televisions, refrigerator, water pump and other appliances.
     I replaced them in a flourish of electrical engineering proweress and all was restored....

     We had a bit of rain and things continue to stabilize from the effects of a really cold winter.    The flamboyan trees that bloom so impressively with their mad flushes of bright red-orange  are probably going to be delayed until mid-June.   Not all is lost however, because usually when the bloom is delayed it also tends to be more vigorous and to last longer.   We shall see.

     I return tomorrow to the Quinta....time to renew my Mexican passport and time to continue with the never ending projects that keeping a house at the end of the road requires.   Perhaps the better half will be making a few postings during my absence.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Odds and Ends

    Just back from our blitzkrieg of Central Texas...stopping briefly to visit our son at his place of work in the salt-mines of New Braunfels and then to visit the perfect pair and their two daughters in Round Rock.   The Perfect Pair just returned from Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico after a week's vacation.    It was an enjoyable episode, and they look forward to returning.
     Oddly, not all was perfect, because my son-in-law left town with a nagging upper-respiratory problem and arrived in Cancun's international airport with chills and a peculiar tiredness.   He had gone to the doctor in Round Rock before departure to deal with the problem, received medicine, gotten a bit better...but once on the ground in Mexico, he was not doing very well.   Fevers, chills, and chest pain.     They called in the hotel doctor who took the issue very seriously...He made a prescription and suggested that my son-in-law was probably suffering from pneumonia.   A hot shower, some medicine, and a night's sleep seemed to restore him, but during the next days of basking, touring, eating, shopping, and generally doing enjoyable things he began to slide back again.  
      The doctor came and rendered a bit more aid, and told them to immediately seek assistance once back in Central Texas.   He told them to make sure to tell their doctor there about which medicines were used.    So, once back in Texas, the doctor said that , yes, in fact it was pneumonia...and perhaps he should have taken it a bit more seriously, and to continue with the regimen of medication and bed rest demanded by the Mexican doctor. He stated that the medicine prescribed by the doctor in Mexico was an excellent choice and, (silver lining) a lot cheaper.
      My son-in-law is feeling 10X better now...recovering quickly...and telling his buddies that it's probably better to have pneumonia in Playa del Carmen than somewhere else.     AS AN ASIDE, this kind of intervention is common in Mexico....and it is more personal and cheaper, almost always.   ALSO, the doctor in Austin did nothing wrong, because he was only trying to accommodate a patient (friend) who was determined to go on a vacation to which he had been looking forward...and a patient who reasonably thought he was having an early onset of the famous Central Texas "cedar fever" allergy attack.

     My better half and I are going down towards the end of the week...for a bit of R&R for the better half, and to prepare for a series of visits by various types of guests.   The better half calls "rest" working 12 hours per day by  doing detailed improvements to the gardens and interior and re-organizing the linens, utensils, and general appearance and function of the Quinta.
She is such a dynamo that Alvaro and I try to hide a bit because neither of us (especially the Old Gringo) can keep up with her pace and her assignments.

     It is time to go about my appointed rounds here in the McAllen area.    I shall put on my flak-jacket and head out.   (Where did I put my helmet?)
Thanks, as usual, for your kind attention.

The Old Gringo

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Pleasant Interlude

      We are back up for a bit....some travel to Central Texas to see the grandchildren and the children.....and a little talk late this afternoon at the Mission Museum about the colonial city of Guerrero.
        Our business activity is good, a booking of some timid folks backed out choosing to believe the press and politicians while others have come and gone and others are booking for April and though the Summer.   This is all I am going to post about any of this matter save for the fact that my drive up from the Quinta and across the border was dull and boring and uneventful.

       My biggest probem, in reality, is chiggers.   I had to go out with the neighbour to a corner of his property which is adjacent to the Rio Corona.   There is quite a bit of heavy grass of various sorts, so I had the feeling that my task was going to include providing lunch to the chiggers.    In spite of spraying down after the fact the damage was done and my lower extemities, especially, were pretty much huge splotches of red, tied together by pieces of icky pale skin.

     Spring has certainly sprung.....everything is coming out and the sight is refreshing.     We might be seeing the northward migration of the Monarch Butterflies in a couple of weeks.   Various of the plants that we have placed around the gardens of the Quinta which attract the Monarch are right at the point of blossoming and this will provide us with a couple of months of presence of this noble creature. 
     In this vein, one of the best things for attracting the Monarch that people can plant is the low growing, weedy plant commonly called "blue mist" .   We have a small patch close to the house.   This patch is about 14 square feet, and flowers for about 9 months of the year.    During the two migrations of the Monarch there are up to 1,000 such butterflies crammed into that space during two episodes each day, early morning and late afternoon.
     This is not to overlook the  non-Monarch butterfly activity which in a way might be even more interesting.   We have several score....perhaps a hundred different types of these insects which certainly provide for a pleasant backdrop to our setting.

     During the next few days we shall be making other entries about going's on down at the place....along with other observations.    There is a lot of bird news.....like the inundation of white and brown pelicans (mainly white) at kilometer 84 of the Cd. Victoria - Matamoros Highway, who have invaded a series of small ranch irrigation lakes in that area...along with some white cranes that have black-tipped wings.   There are lots of other birds reminding us that they are still around and providing pleasant scenes of rural Mexico for everyone.