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Looking out my Backdoor: It's not a perfect world …


Last updated 10/14/2021 at 8:45am

Honest to Pete, sometimes I’m blind as a bat. Yes, I know; let the clichés roll on.

These last six years that I’ve lived in my Etzatlan house, I thought my bodega roof drained frontward. My neighbor Janet asked if I knew what that large pipe was about on the other side of our shared wall. What pipe?

We asked “the boys.” Yes, that pipe drains the gutter from my bodega roof onto the other property and makes a right mess. Joe and Yvonne used to own both houses. They were here only in the winter and they didn’t care. It never rains in winter.

I was still mightily puzzled. I look at my bodega side wall and it obviously drains frontward. Leo suggested I go inside my bodega and look at the ceiling. Oh. It slants to the back. I stand outside and look at the side wall again. Oh, there is a false front, well, false side front, built up to complete the only enclosed wall of my patio roof.

Six years I’ve lived here and not seen the obvious. There is a lesson in here, folks.

A couple days later Josue, with Leo’s help, rerouted a drain pipe to cross along my back wall, down a hitch in the wall’s get-along, to shoot roof water onto my patch of front grass. It’s what “the boys” call a “Mexican fix.” It’s not pretty but it works.

We have a similar expression in Montana. We would say “we cowboyed it together.” I’ve seen baling machines held together with more wire on the outside than what went to making hay bales from the inside. Cowboyed together.

While the drain pipe was being built between rain storms, my refrigerator quit working. I reached for an ice cream treat mid-afternoon and found soup. I called Leo to help me transfer my foods to Crin’s refrigerator, empty since she is not here.

This was on Wednesday. Leo phoned Damian, the appliance repair person. Two hours later, true story, Damian came, puttered and poked and declared the Freon needed replacing and hauled my refrigerator to his shop. Imagine that! A repairman showing up in two hours!

My refrigerator was very cleverly manufactured with an enclosed back, not removable. On Friday afternoon Damian brought home my refrigerator with a Mexican fix. On the clever back side there is an equally clever addition of pipe running bottom to top or is it top to bottom? I don’t know. I don’t care. My refrigerator works.

Amidst this flurry of activity, I’d said to Josue, “I have an idea.” People close to me have learned to cringe when I use that phrase. But he’s a brave young man and listened closely as I explained that I’d long wanted to have my couch cut down into a chair.

My couch (with matching chair) is a wooden frame that I’d had made in a traditional rustic style in Concordia, a small town outside Mazatlan noted for wooden artisanal furniture. It seemed to me that in my small space, a chair made more sense than a couch. I’d have a matched set along with my rocking chair. “Also, I’d like for the two chairs to be finished naturally, not this traditional dark brown through which the lovely grain hardly shows. Can you do that?”

Josue carefully examined the project. “Si. A Mexican fix. I can do it.” He took away the couch that day. Five days later, he returned with a beautiful pecan colored chair, the finish warm and showing the lovely wood grain to full advantage.

While Josue is working on my other chair, I’m cowboying together down-filled cushions for both chairs. Fortunately, I had several all-down back cushions to use for filler. My backyard looks like a chicken slaughterhouse, but I’m nearly finished.

I stood at my kitchen window last night and watched water gush from my new bodega roof drain. My refrigerator pops on with a click but hums right along. I love my new chair with new puffy, flumpy down cushions.

As my friend said to me last week, “It’s not a perfect world but it’s not bad.”

With a little ingenuity, we will cowboy together the broken parts of our imperfect world, as best we can, one small project at a time. It might not seem like much but every bit counts. I’ve often said that there is little that cannot be fixed with duct tape, WD-40 and Bag Balm.


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


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