November 15, 2018
A willing if untalented gardener, he collages cuttings in pots in strange combinations, confuses weeds and plants. He's not much of a painter, carpenter, or plumber either, though he does a little of all of these things: milusos, as Mexicans say, a thousand uses, a handyman.
Tony Cohan, On Mexican Time
My hands are freezing as I write this, I can only drink so many cups of coffee to keep warm, I'll be jittery if I don't stop. We emailed Steven last night regarding the heating problem and in short order he was at our door. I didn't share my thoughts on the construction of the house. He assured us the heat should be up to the task and said a serviceman had been called. I just hope by serviceman he doesn't mean Alejandro, the friendly caretaker who makes me think of Hilario, the handyman in Cohan's book
Steven stayed awhile, he's a bit of a raconteur, a person who finds talking easy and dominates conversation, but fortunately his talk is interesting.
My mother used to say avoid the word "I" in conversation if you want to be considered a good conversationalist, and it's stuck with me; when I listen to others my mother's voice has me counting the I's in their sentences. So it's a word to avoid, but avoiding doesn't guarantee anything, you still need something interesting to say. And while Steven is free with the I's he keeps my attention.
He saw my battered copy of Cohan's book and brightened, Tony is a friend and client. I probed for an answer to the location of Calle Flor and Steven confirmed my suspicions, Calle Flor is a made-up name, the author's perogative to change a name to protect something. Tony's house was not on Calle Flor, it was on Jesus, a three-block street between Tenerias and Umaran, and that makes sense, it aligns with the descriptions of neighborhood shops, intersections, and views of the cathedral from the rooftop.
Walking Jesus will be on today's itinerary.
Steven talked of his travels and his photography. We pulled out one of his books that is sitting in the casita, Mediterranean Villages. It's chock full of beautiful black and white photos and drawings made by Steven and Cathi. Paul and I have been to many of the same places, we have similar favorites, the Greek islands, Santorini and Monemvasia, and small Italian hill towns. It's a coffee table book I'd consider, unlike Kramer's coffee table book about coffee tables1.
Alejandro comes by. He studies the thermostat, he changes the batteries, he studies it some more. He touches the floor, caliente he says, well it's been mildly caliente all along, but not enough caliente. I don't have high hopes for heat.
We have a similar in-floor system in Otter Point, though ours is more complex, two floors and eleven zones. It took us awhile to find someone who could diagnose our heat issues, even the company that installed it couldn't fix it. They sent out a guy who stood in front of the system studying the manuals and talking to the manufacturer, all on our dime. I've come to think in-floor heat is one of those technologies that isn't quite ready, it takes almost a degree in engineering to understand the settings, and even when you understand it it is problematic. Slow to heat, inflexibly embedded in concrete, with a Rube Goldberg, or Wallace and Gromit, complexity; obscure settings and sensors and actuators and pipes and so many wires it's a wonder when it works.
I'm listening to Patty Griffin's Heavenly Day.
Mercado Ignacio Ramirez
The Mercado Ignacio Ramirez is adjacent to the Mercado de Artesanias, and just minutes from our house.