Gardens finished just before rainy season

Yes, we’re still here and going strong. You just haven’t heard anything from Mexico since January, and there are some good reasons. The biggest is health issues — first for Leslie, then for me. I won’t bore you with details but we both spent some time in a hospital. Leslie was very sick in January and February. In mid-March — about the time she got significantly better — I got sicker than I’ve been in my life, and that lasted until early June. Now we’re both doing very well. We have some terrific doctors. Some are not-so-terrific, but you get that in the States too.

The other big reason I haven’t posted anything is because there was nothing to report! Nothing happened in the first few months because we were dealing with other issues. Now, however, I can show you our new landscaping, which includes a super little herb garden.

We hired Enrique and his crew to renovate the gardens, front and back. They put in a variety of flowering plants that should provide color all year ’round. He also reworked our front courtyard and it looks great. We wanted to replace the fountain in front because it was directly in front of the door and a few people almost fell into it when walking away from the door. Plus, it didn’t work anymore.

We thought about moving it and replacing all the tiles in the courtyard. Enrique had a better idea. His crew removed the fountain and replaced it with a tile medallion that gives the courtyard a whole new look while retaining the original tile and saving a lot of money. Enrique also moved a palm tree from the back yard to the front courtyard and added lots of color in the two north corners.

The herb garden includes rosemary, basil, thyme, parsley and tons of cilantro. There’s also some green leaf lettuce and two zucchini plants. I plan to add some jalapeño plants soon.

Here are some videos to show you what the new landscaping looks like. Turn your sound on because I’ve tried to provide some explanation, although I don’t know the names of all the plants. First is the front courtyard:

The new front courtyard. We hope to put some planters on the low walls on either side of the gate.

Next, here are two videos of the back yard. First is the new plantings, and second is a look at the new herb garden and our three fruit trees.

The back yard, including the newly painted fountain that looks MUCH better.
The herb garden and fruit trees.

Leslie and I are enjoying all the color. We’re especially excited that we’ll probably never have to buy cilantro again! We tried to grow it when we lived in San Antonio — too hot. We also tried when we lived in Illinois. No luck there either. It’s going great guns here — but you would expect that, wouldn’t you?

Our timing was excellent on this installation. Enrique’s crew finished just a few weeks before the rainy season began. We get rain here at Lakeside generally from mid-June through the end of October. Most of the time the rains come at night, but this past week we’ve had a few days when it rained all morning. Highly unusual. I actually turned our sprinklers off because we don’t need them right now. It may not rain every night, but there’s rarely a gap of three days between storms.

Some of the big rains come from feeder bands of Pacific hurricanes. Most hurricanes make landfall farther south or they stay out in the Pacific. Some drift north and hit the Baja peninsula. I’m very happy that Fabian and his crew finished sealing the roof before the rains came. We won’t have to do that work again for at least eight to 10 years.

And finally, a picture of Ziggy and Marley:

They’re all grown up now. Just hitting their first birthdays and they can’t share the kitty bed anymore!

I’ll close with some “before” photos of the landscaping so you can see the difference. I hope it won’t be six more months before a new post!

Hasta luego!

The front courtyard as it used to look, with a non-working fountain that was in the way.
You can’t see the old fountain. It had horses on it, and didn’t look Mexican at all. Enrique’s guys painted it and now it looks great. Many of the plantings were overgrown and well over 10 years old.

Rainy season has its ups and downs

A few weeks ago I posted about the beginning of rainy season here in the Lake Chapala area. It’s mostly a good thing, but not so much when there are cracks in your roof. Leslie and I returned from three weeks in San Diego to find the roof of this brand new house had leaked and damaged one of our rugs. Then we experienced two nights of torrential rain that forced us to put towels down to soak up the rain and prevent further damage.

The good news is the damaged rug is not one of the prized oriental rugs, and the leak did not extend into the living room. The bricks in the boveda ceiling got wet, and still show dampness nearly two weeks later. But a leak in the living room could’ve been much worse. We think it’s fixed now.

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You can see the wetness in the ceiling caused by a leaky roof. It may take more than month to dry.

And we have rosemary, thyme and basil planted in neat containers on the terrace, but they seem to be dying. The owner of the local garden store — who gets rave reviews from our friends — said “too much water.” Not much we can do about the amount of lluvia (rain) God sends us, so we may have to replant those herbs.

The rain comes mostly at night, although I got slightly damp last week walking home from my Spanish class at 11 a.m.! And the storms really light up the night sky. Here’s what it looks like from our back door, looking south across Lake Chapala:

On the positive side, nobody waters their lawns at this time of year. Rain comes almost every night — sometimes in torrents, sometimes in soft showers, and often at 3 a.m.!

This is when things get really, really green. When you look north out our front door, you see part of the Sierra de San Juan Cosalá mountain range. When we moved in, there was nothing but brown on the mountains. Now, it’s lush and green, and it will stay that way until the end of the year.

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This was taken June 23. Lots of brown in the mountains.

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This was taken a month later. Rainy season makes a big difference!

Rainy season continues until the end of October. There’s a webcam that looks south from Ajijic toward Mount Garcia on the other side of Lake Chapala. Click on the link if you want to see what we see every day from our patio. The webcam is in a different location, of course.

Next post will be long-promised photos of our house in the Riviera Alta neighborhood of Ajijic, Jalisco, México. You’re invited to come see it in person!

Hasta luego!

 

 

 

Rainy season is here!

In a previous post I noted that May is the hottest month in the Lake Chapala area. It got up to 90° F. or more several times during May, but low humidity and cooling breezes off the lake or the mountains made it feel comfortable. Now “rainy season” has begun. That means lower temps, higher humidities and lots of much-needed rain.

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During “rainy season,” rain usually comes late in the afternoon, as in this photo, or during the night. We’ve been awakened a few times by thunder at 3 a.m.!

One storm sent driving rain out of the north, and it came in under our front door. I mopped up a full bucket of rainwater!

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I mopped as long as the rain rushed in under the door. Just one of several reasons the door is being replaced. Hopefully by the end of July.

A few days later, our new best friend Eddie came and installed some weather stripping on the front door and two other doors that were problematic. Eddie lived in California for many years and is fully bilingual. We hope he’s going to do lots more in coming months.

We’ve been told that as the season progresses, the storms come more frequently out of the south. We’re not sure that’s true, but it would be great because the two doors on the south side are sliding glass doors and rain won’t come in if they’re closed.

Rainy season runs until September or October. The mountainsides outside our front door are already getting a bit greener. I have a “before” photo. As soon as it gets to peak, I’ll snap an “after” shot and post them.

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Leslie’s winning pimento-cheese sandwiches. They were VERY good!

On another note, Leslie won another prize at the June meeting of CASA — Culinary Arts Society of Ajijic. The theme was “picnic” entrees and desserts. Leslie’s “open-faced spicy pimento-cheese sandwiches” took the People’s Choice Award. She got lots of comments from CASA members saying those sandwiches took them back in time to family picnics where pimento-cheese sandwiches were a staple. I, too, have fond memories of those sandwiches. But my grandmother never put jalapeño peppers in them!

Finally, still no photos of the inside of the house. Sorry! Hopefully, Eddie will come tomorrow to help us hang art on the walls and the place will be more photogenic. But we still need to locate some necessary items of furniture. First priority, however, is for me to decide on a new grill.

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At least the wine fridge is full! Some Mexican wines are very, very good. Come down for a visit and we’ll let you try some.

Leslie and I are headed back to the States this week. While daughter Stephanie is taking a well-deserved vacation to Italy, we’re going to be house-sitting and cat-sitting for her. So we’ll be back in San Diego for about three weeks. Looking forward to seeing friends at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on Coronado Island. I’ll try to post from there, since this is sort of a vacation for us.

Hasta luego!

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On the patio just outside the kitchen, we have rosemary, basil and thyme growing in pots!

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At our front door, which is soon to be replaced by something that will let light and air in, we have some terrific Talavera pots with Gerbera daisies (left) and geraniums. We’re working on making this place look better.