Copyright© 2018 by Kraken
Taking down the adobe bricks from the cave entrance, I thought about the next step that I dreaded so much. A heavy door of wood and adobe bricks was going to need sturdy support from the wood door jamb it was going to be hung on, which meant burying the jamb a minimum of nine inches. Digging down into nine inches of rock was not going to be easy. I started digging the hole for the left support jamb using the largest cold chisel and the heaviest hammer I had. The floor here didn’t seem to be as hard as the floor in the back of the cave, or the small tunnel between the caves. It only took me about twenty minutes to dig down about three inches, when I unexpectedly broke through stone into dirt. I was done digging the hole in less than forty minutes and started on the other side. In less than 30 minutes, I was done with that hole. Moving the jambs into the holes, I realized there was no way I could steady them enough in dirt holes to handle the weight of the door and adobe. It was time for Plan B.
I made each hole twice as deep as before, then went out to gather lime, small gravel, and sand to make concrete with. Back in the cave I mixed the concrete and poured about a couple of inches of it in the bottom of the first hole before putting the door jamb in, propping it level with two pieces of rolled steel from the trailer, and then filled the rest of the hole with concrete. I repeated the process with the other jamb. Now I just had to wait two days for it to dry. I cleaned the left over concrete out of the plastic bin, and decided it was time for lunch.
As I ate lunch, I thought about the process of adding sturdy shelves to the door to hold the bricks and beveling the bricks on the sides so the door would open without the bricks scraping against each other. When I was done with the sandwich, I climbed into the trailer and got started on building the shelves and support system. By the time that was done it was time for a shower, dinner, and a movie before bed.
After breakfast, I started working on the adobe blocks still in the wall, that were adjacent to the empty space of the cave entrance. Using a combination of putty knife, hammer, and knife; I slowly cut a notch from a block about two thirds of the way through the block from the cave side, then cut a 45-degree bevel from there to the house side of the block. I took my time making each cut, and it took me well into the night to finish after stopping for a quick lunch and dinner.
The next morning, I was hard at work hanging the door and adding the bricks to the shelf. I tested it to make sure the door didn’t sag, and the blocks didn’t rub on the wall when opening and closing. When it all worked as planned, I moved back to the trailer and made a simple latch with an oversized bullseye shaped release. Following a quick lunch, I worked on fashioning the rod the latch was going to catch. When I was done I mounted the latch to the outer support of the middle shelf, and the catch rod to the door jamb before testing everything. When it all worked I was ecstatic.
For the last step, I cut a thirty-inch piece of the smallest diameter steel rod I had, to use as my key. Stepping back into the house, I closed the cave door, and carefully started pushing the rod into the area where the bricks were, in front of the catch release. Slowly but surely, I worked the rod in, out, and around until I’d pushed it through the bricks. Holding my breath I pushed it further until it hit the release on the other side and the door swung open. Closing the door I looked for the key hole. While it was small, it was noticeable because of the different color of the brick from the stucco. I mixed up a small bit of stucco and coated the interior of the bricks, leaving the hole virtually unnoticeable as anything but a small imperfection. I left the door open for the stucco to dry overnight, and went back to the RV for dinner and another movie.
I spent most of the next day exploring, and finally found a quarry site in a canyon at the end of a long draw in late afternoon. The draw was north and a little west of the house, and was obviously a drainage route from further up the mountain. From what I could see, it extended back all the way up the slope towards the mountain face and out to the sides for a hundred yards or so. I was going to have to experiment with blasting powder to see how difficult getting the right size stones was going to be, but that was for later. I was back at the house just before dark.
Daylight found me riding to Las Cruces with my guitar on my back.
I pulled up in front of the restaurant just before noon, and walked in receiving my long-awaited helping of Anna smile, hug and kiss. She pointed back to my usual table and followed me over after stopping for two glasses of cold tea. Sitting down, she asked me what I’d been doing since I’d left.
“Mostly working on the porch roof, exploring a back way out from the house, being attacked by a mountain lion, and exploring for a stone quarry site for building houses, walls, levees and roads,” I replied between sips of tea.
“I heard about the mountain lion, and a little bit about the exploring from Jorge and Giuseppe, but tell me more about these plans of yours.”
With a grin, I said, “You’ll have to wait until I’m ready with some drawings in early November. In the meantime, my stomach is demanding to be fed.”
With a smile and an arm slap, she went back to the kitchen returning with our lunch which turned out to be pizza! As we ate the ground beef, bacon, and onion pizza she talked about what she’d been doing and the gossip around town. After about an hour of sitting with Anna, storm clouds rolled in and it began to get dark.
I paid her for lunch and walked my horse over to the stable where I ran into Giuseppe who was on his way to see Jorge.
“Afternoon, Giuseppe. Can you meet me at the restaurant tomorrow morning at ten, to discuss responsibilities and pay?” At his nod, I went on. “If you would, please ask Jorge to meet me at the restaurant tomorrow after lunch, to discuss his plans and drawings.”
He said he would tell Jorge and that he that would see me tomorrow at ten before hurrying off.
I walked out back to find Mr. Mendoza working on a bridle. Greeting me with a smile, he said, “I saw you going into the restaurant earlier, so I won’t even ask if you’ve seen Anna yet.”
With a grin, I replied. “After a week, I needed my helping of an Anna smile, hug, and kiss. I can tell you that she is doing well today if you are wondering.” While he was shaking his head in amusement, I grinned and got up. “I’m going over to the restaurant before the rain comes. I’ll see you at dinner.”
At the restaurant, I made sure to get another Anna smile, hug, and kiss before turning around and heading out the door again.
“Where are you going?” Anna asked, obviously confused.
“I’m going back outside, and then come back in, so I can get some more of that.”
She gave me the standard arm slap, and told me to sit down unless I had something to do outside, or somewhere to go.
I asked her for a cup of coffee and walked over to my table. I picked up the guitar from where I’d left it leaning against the wall, and started tuning it. Anna brought my coffee, sat down, and asked me to play the last song I played at her quinceanera. What could I do? I played and sang it to her.
“What’s the name of that song, Pablo?” She asked curiously.
“It’s called ‘Anna’s Song,’” I replied watching her blush a deep red behind her dark skin.
The next thing I know she was in my lap hugging my neck hard and giving me a deep kiss. Mrs. Mendoza picked that exact instant to walk in from the kitchen. She cleared her throat and gave us the look.
Anna broke the kiss and looked over at Mrs. Mendoza. “You need to hear this Grandmother. Play it again, please, Pablo.”
I sang it again and Mrs. Mendoza raised a questioning eyebrow. “I heard it the night of the quinceanera Anna, and more than a few times since. It’s a nice song but what does that have to do with your lack of public decorum?”
Anna gave a disgruntled sigh. “Tell her the name of the song, please, Pablito.”
With a sheepish look I said, “It’s called ‘Anna’s Song,’ Mrs. Mendoza.”
Anna gave Mrs. Mendoza a sharp look, sat back down on my lap, and gave me another long kiss. Mrs. Mendoza laughed and turned back toward the kitchen without saying another word.
We spent the next two hours with me playing and singing. Eventually, Anna told me she had to go help get ready for the dinner rush.
As she was rising from her chair I asked, “Do you remember our dance at your quinceanera?”
“Of course, I do. Like it was yesterday,” she replied.
I started playing and sang ‘“Can I Have This Dance.” And just like that my lap was full of Anna giving me a long hug and kiss. Thankfully, I’d moved the guitar out of the way as she sat down. She broke the kiss, stood up, gave me a blistering Anna smile, and went back into the kitchen.
Over the next three hours I drank coffee and softly played the guitar. By the time Anna came to get me for dinner, I was sung out and my fingers were a little sore.
I followed Anna back to the family dining room and sat down as the serving plates and bowls were being put on the table. As we ate Mr. Garcia said he’d heard that Giuseppe and I had killed a mountain lion but wanted to hear the entire story. When I was done with the story I handed Mr. Garcia the pouch I’d put the teeth and claws in. Opening the bag, he looked inside and made the comment that it was young mountain lion worthy of a warrior.
“Yes, Sir, it was. I’d like to have those made into a necklace for Giuseppe so that others will know of his ability as a warrior. I’m hoping you know someone who could do that,” I said earnestly.
“I know just the person Pablito. Leave them with me and I’ll take care of it,” he replied while tucking the pouch into the tunic he wore.
The table talk turned to how well the pizza sales were going, now that they had steady supplies from the butcher, baker, and Mrs. Gambino. That lasted through the end of dinner when Anna picked up the guitar and handed it to me, telling me to play her song.
I played “Anna’s Song” and when I was done Anna said, “Tell them the name of that song, please, Pablo.”
“It’s called “Anna’s Song.” I said blushing deeply yet again.
She asked if everyone remembered our dance at the quinceanera and, with a few giggles, everyone nodded that they did.
Anna, turned to me, “Please play our dance song, Pablo.”
When I got done with “Can I Have This Dance” you could have heard a pin drop. Luckily, I was saved when one of Anna’s cousins, a little four-year-old girl came around the table to stand in front of me.
“Can I have a song too?” the little girl asked sweetly.
I thought for a few seconds, nodded, and told her: ‘absolutely.’ I played “Thank Heaven for Little Girls.” Truth be known it sounded better when Maurice Chevalier sang it, but the little girl laughed, clapped, gave me a wet kiss on the cheek, and thanked me for ‘her song’.
I begged off more songs for the night telling them I’d been playing most of the afternoon and my fingers were sore. I sat back sipping coffee, listening to the evening conversation, and answering questions that came my way.
In my bed at the Drovers Inn, after dinner, I drifted off to sleep listening to the sound of a major Southwestern thunderstorm.
I must have really been tired as I woke up later than usual, but it was still raining so that could have explained it as well. Picking up my boots I walked to the door looking out at the street as I cleaned as much semi-dried caliche off them as I could knowing full well it was a lost cause. Finally giving up, I put the boots on followed by a slicker, and trudged over to the restaurant where I used another stick to repeat the scraping process on my boots before going inside.
Anna took me by the hand, led me back to my table, and said she’d be right back with coffee. She returned with my coffee in one hand, and carrying my guitar in the other. Laughing, I took the guitar from her setting it against wall. She sat down as I picked up the coffee cup she’d set in front of me. We chatted for a few minutes about sleeping to the sound of rain and thunderstorms before she left for the kitchen, bringing me a breakfast of eggs, bacon, grits, and toast. What a woman!
I sat at the table after I finished the fantastic breakfast Anna had brought, half listening to the conversations around me and sipping my coffee. I had no interest in going out in the rain, and fully intended to while away the day in the restaurant talking with Giuseppe or Jorge and playing the guitar.
With the breakfast crowd dwindling Anna came over and sat down with a cup of coffee of her own. After a couple minutes of companionable silence staring into each other’s eyes, she asked what my plans were for the next few days.
“Today I’m going to sit right here and talk with Giuseppe, Jorge, and maybe Juan. Tomorrow, I was planning to make a trip to El Paso to register my brand and do some research on ranchers with cattle for sale. With all the rain we’re having though, I think I’ll wait until later to do that. Instead, I think I’m going to spend the next day or two visiting with you before going home and getting some more work done.”
“What’s our brand going to be?” She asked.
“That is a surprise for November.”
She gave me a small pout and then laughed. “You are planning a lot of surprises for November. You had better be ready to deliver!”
“I don’t see any problems with revealing most of the surprises I’m working on by November, but I’m keeping some in reserve.”
She liked that answer, gave me a quick kiss, and went back to work.
Giuseppe arrived at exactly ten, carrying a leather satchel. Anna greeted him and brought us both a cup of coffee as he sat down. Once Anna had retreated back to the kitchen, we spent a few minutes exchanging pleasantries and then got into the discussion.
I asked him for his thoughts on the construction of the levees, irrigation systems, dams, retention ponds, retention buildings, roads, and the bridge. Pulling his notes and recommendations from the satchel, he began talking and for the next hour covered everything I asked about in great detail, except for the irrigation system which he hadn’t considered. He added that he thought the Hacienda should be built of stone and mortar as any adobe of that height tended to compress itself from the weight, and wouldn’t last more than ten years or so without major reworking of the foundation.
I was quite happy with his analysis and recommendations and told him so, while giving him an eagle as his pay for the consulting work he’d done. He took the $10 gold coin gratefully with a smile.
“Giuseppe, between now and the beginning of November, I want you to focus on documenting what you’ve just told me in a journal with a detailed description, diagrams, cross sections, materials list, anticipated length of construction time where you can give it, any problems that might arise, and how to prepare or compensate for them. I would like the journal to be broken out into separate sections for each construction activity we’ve discussed, leaving room for a section on irrigation.”
He thought for a moment and asked, “Why do you want this?”