Author: Felipe Zapata

Gringo-Mexican retired newspaper editor living in the mountains of Central Mexico since the dawn of the 21st Century. Felipe Zapata is a nom de plume. Formerly toiled at the New Orleans States-Item (now defunct), the Times-Picayune (New Orleans), The Houston Chronicle and the San Juan Star (also defunct) in Puerto Rico.

The Mexican relatives

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WHILE MY surviving Gringa relatives — all two of them — above the Rio Bravo have vanished, lamentably, into the shadows of the past, I have no lack of family that I’ve married into.

I took this shot downtown earlier this week. One of the newer relatives is that smaller example in the middle. Her name is Paula Romina, and she’s very nice, not quite 2 years old.

Paula Romina thinks my child bride hung the moon.

And so do I. That’s not my child bride holding Paula Romina, however. That’s her mama, Margarita.

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This young woman is named Alma, which is  Spanish for soul. She is the widow of our nephew who died two years ago at 32 from cancer. We took the nephew to the state capital for chemo treatments almost weekly for a year, but it did not work out.

They are good people. Buena gente.* A picnic is scheduled this afternoon, and the main dish will be roasted chicken.

* * * *

* With a couple of exceptions.

Your daily chuckle

I’M A YUGE fan of President Trump, a man I call the Blond Bomber, not for his involvement in overseas wars because he’s not a fan of that, but for the daily raspberries he lobs into the leftist camp. He is such fun!

And this is a fun, brief video. The Blond Bomber’s approval rating has soared following his masterful State of the Union speech.

On to 2020!

An incurable affliction

I’M AN OLD MAN, and I don’t like it one bit.

New ImageThis phenomenon sneaks up on you like a rat snake. First, you feel the energy level slipping. I initially noticed that about a decade ago when I was in my mid-60s.

That’s when I quit mowing the yard in summertime.

Then your body begins to jig and jag in various ways, nothing that puts you out of commission (yet), but it’s noticeable. Your balance becomes unreliable. You feel this most on standing from a chair or bed.

What separates the sickness of aging from other afflictions like a bad cold, the flu or injuries from a motorcycle accident is that you can recover from a bad cold or flu and, with luck, from accident injuries of every sort.

But there is no recovering from getting old. There is no pill to take. You will not take an aspirin and feel better in the morning. It’s a downhill skid.

This is rather disturbing, that there is no cure for the first time in your life. But I have been fortunate. I can say there is no cure for the first time in my life because — knock on wood — I’ve never had anything incurable befall me. Others are not so lucky.

I have no vices, and I’m skinny svelte. These things work in my favor. I used to have vices. Smoking, drinking. But I quit smoking about 30 years ago, and I quit drinking on a March evening in Houston, 1996.

I started smoking at age 19 when I was in the Air Force. I smoked pipes like David Niven, cigars like Fidel Castro and cigarettes like millions of people. Oddly, it was not very difficult to stop smoking. I tapered off. No cold turkey for this boy. I recommend that method.

I started drinking in my mid-20s when I was married to my first wife. It was moderate at first, and I favored Southern Comfort, which is ghastly now that I think back on it. Syrupy swill.

After the first divorce at 26, I got serious about drinking, switching to alcohol for adults, and I remained serious about 25 years. I wasn’t a falling-down drunk nor a nasty one. But I did drink daily, every single, solitary day. Then I quit. Life improved immensely.

Oddly again, quitting was easy, easier than stopping smoking.

And I was not always skinny svelte either. I weighed about 55 pounds more than I do now until I was in my early 30s. Heftiness is bad for your health, and you’re less likely to reach an advanced age if you’re a meatball.

I weigh now what I weighed at age 21.

So, no smoking, no drinking and skinny svelte, all positive things if you don’t want to die prematurely, and I will not die prematurely.

It’s too late for that. I can only die via the normal schedule.

I’m hanging in there, but I don’t like it. And there’s no good solution. There is only one cure. And you know what that is.

There goes the roof tile!

NOW THAT the Jesus Patio has been replaced with simply the Yard Patio, we’re moving onto other renovations, the largest leap of all, replacing the relatively small, clay-tile roof that has shaded part of the upstairs terraza for 16 years with, well, you’ll see later.

It’s gonna be YUGE!

The guys who renovated the yard patio returned yesterday morning and began dismantling the clay-tile roof. It took them just three hours. It would have taken me three weeks, even with help. Here’s how it looked:

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First, you remove the clay tiles which are just sitting there, unsecured.
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Then you remove the boards and beams.
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Then you remove one support column. The other will follow. Where the fellow is standing is where the circular stairs to the roof lived for years. It was relocated about a month ago.

They left after three hours due to having work elsewhere, but they will return this morning to continue.

That space under the clay tiles holds many memories. A hammock hung there for about a decade, and I used to swing in the lovely breezes while reading books. But for some reason I stopped using the hammock and finally it was removed. Habits change.

Most of the upstairs terraza was open to the elements, which are extreme out there. Daily rains for five months, mostly during summer, with insufficient drainage. Glaring sun in winter and spring.

Parts of the ceramic floor were replaced twice because it simply popped up. Then, just a few months ago, water began leaking into our bedroom below. It became clear that a drastic solution was necessary.

We’ll be covering the entire area with steel and tempered glass which, hopefully, will result in the space being useful. It never was very useful before. Stay tuned! It’s gonna be exciting.