The end of Cain

I immensely enjoyed the Cain Era, brief as it was.  He brought real color into the Republican race, pun intended.

He came out of his corner looking like a contender.

Alas, he was not.  For me, it was less the questionable bimbo outbreaks than it was his lack of world knowledge, especially the 11-second, squirming silence when asked about Libya.

He is charismatic, and we need charisma these days.  But a better-informed charisma, it turns out.

It would have been a hoot to see the first bona fide black president be a conservative, not the radical, Democratic, Hawaiian, biracial “black” poseur currently in the Oval Office.

A true black president would have spoken well of the nation and perhaps put Al Sharpton, Maxine Waters, Charles Rangel, Sheila Jackson Lee and others of their ilk out of business and public office.

Cain is a sterling example of the truth that success is open to all in the United States.  And his love of the womenfolk does not negate that.

His life contradicts the lie that is the victimization party-line preached by mainstream “African-American” leaders, all of whom are hair-processed, shameless opportunists squatting — like incubuses — atop the souls of their brainwashed people.

So long, Herman. We hardly knew ye.

Casual Friday

Ted set the alarm clock for 5 a.m. because it took him a long time to dress properly, even on Casual Fridays.

He worked in a bank, a pretty good job he snared after arriving from his daddy’s farm three months ago.

That’s where he had grown up.  Ted was 24.

He was full of dreams.  He wanted to marry and have a family.  He dreamed the usual dream of a small house of his own in a nice, quiet neighborhood, surrounded by a picket fence.

A golden retriever.

He was quite ambitious too.  Though he was only a teller at the bank, he knew that hard work would bring promotions, and he knew the importance of appearance most of all.

Ted was meticulous about his appearance, even on Casual Fridays.  That was when he wore the Clarks, good casual shoes made in England.  Ted’s Clarks were old, but he took care of them.

He rented a room in the Marbol Hotel.  It was inexpensive and just four blocks from the bank.

This city life was quite a transition from the farm.  Ted was very neat and clean by nature, something difficult to do for a farmer who worked with hay and pigs and chickens.  Ted loved his clean city life.

He donned a soft, cream-colored, cotton shirt.  A sharp tie.  Khakis from the Men’s Wearhouse.  Black socks and the Clarks.  No coat, however.  That was Ted’s only nod to Casual Fridays.

Appearances matter.

Lennie Slick, the night guy, was still at the front desk when Ted headed out the door of the Marbol Hotel at 7:30.  Lennie gave him a crooked smile and said: Looking real good this morning, Ted.  Ted didn’t care for Lennie.

He dressed sloppily and he smelled disreputable.

* * * *

As Ted squeezed into his cubicle at the bank, just before the 9 a.m. opening, he said Good morning!  to Sylvia who was the teller at his right.  And he nodded politely to George at his left.

Ted was in love with Sylvia, but she did not know it.  She had long, blonde hair, milky skin with a few freckles. She was trim and always well-dressed.  Yes, Sylvia knew the importance of appearance.

He wondered how she would feel about golden retrievers.

Ted had invited Sylvia to lunch five times, but there was always something she had planned.  Once, Ted saw her in a restaurant lunching with George, but he tried not to think about that.

Ted did not like George.  George’s pants pleats weren’t always perfect.

* * * *

There was a gunshot.  Blam!  And the security guard fell to the floor, old Larry, a retired policeman.

Four armed men made their way down the row of tellers, demanding money.  Just be calm, Ted told himself, but his hands were trembling.

Finally, a masked man stood before him, pointing a pistol at Ted who froze completely from fear.


* * * *

It was the top item on the television news at 6.  A film clip showed paramedics pulling a stretcher down the sidewalk.  There was a sheet-draped body.

The cameraman panned the length of the corpse to the only things visible:  two feet, and you could see blood on the Clarks.

* * * *

(One of a series titled  The Marbol Hotel.)

The winter cut

Years back I bought two baby banana trees, each about 18 inches tall.

An old friend who now lives in a place called Jocotepec told me:  Those things will get away from you.

He was from Florida, so he knew.

But banana trees lend an exuberant, tropical air to any home, so I ignored him and planted them in two separate spots.  Later, I took an offspring of one of the originals and planted it in a third spot.

Time passed.

Note that I mentioned an offspring.  Babies are what banana trees do best.

They are bunnies.

I now have three monster stands of banana trees which, in the wet summertime, deliver as expected.  Tropical and exuberant.

Then winter comes.

The merest hint of a freeze turns tropical and exuberant into brown and dead.  So the more numerous and taller your banana trees, the bigger mess you have on your hands in winter.

I have no gardener, and some of the banana trees exceed 20 feet in height.  But something must be done because earlier this week we had two overnight freezes, and the banana trees reacted accordingly.

Something must be done, and it’s not just the banana trees.  The datura reacts to freeze almost as poorly as the bananas do, and I have two sizable datura bushes that recently bloomed.

So it’s time for The Winter Cut.  This is a gradual process because the work is much, and the man is old and lazy.

I have initiated a new procedure.  Each day I whack a little, and I wheelbarrow it to the back patio, out of sight, and I toss the detritus into a pile, a pile which will become a mountain.

When the mountain approaches Himalayan proportions, I’ll find a fellow with a truck, and I will pay him to take it to the municipal dump.

Lesson learned:  Listen to old men who live in Jocotepec.

Three weddings

I‘ve been married three times.  It’s made life interesting.  Some folks marry young and keep the same spouse for a lifetime.

There are both advantages and drawbacks to that.

There are advantages and drawbacks to divorce too.

The main advantage to divorce is that it makes life interesting.  The primary drawback is that — for a time — you are living in Hell.

Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane:

1.  First wedding.  Took place in my parents’  living room on Audubon Street in New Orleans in 1965.  Our honeymoon voyage was on a borrowed motorcycle around the neighborhood.

I had just turned 22, and the bride was 19, a teenager.

Attending were my parents,  her mother (her father had not been told, a story for another day), the motorcycle owner (a friend named Lon Reed) and the preacher, a Unitarian.  There may have been one or two others.

No rice was tossed.

It lasted a bit over five years.  I was the one who bolted.  Divorces are easier on the person who bolts, harder on the person left behind, the boltee.

We had two children.  A daughter, now 45, is married and lives in Athens, Georgia.  A son was born prematurely and died of pulmonary complications.

2.  Second wedding. Took place at the Unitarian Church on Fannin Street in Houston, Texas.  There was no honeymoon because we did it on the bride’s lunch break from work.  We had already been living together for seven years.

I was 41, and she was nearly 39.  We had both been married once before.  Attending were us two and the preacher, alone in the church at midday.

No rice was tossed.

We lasted another decade.  She was the one who bolted, making me the boltee, which is how I know it’s harder on the person left behind.  The following seven years were like wandering through the wilderness.

3.  Third wedding.  This brings us to the photo above, which is the entryway to the inner patio where the wedding took place in 2002 in a developing nation.

I was 57, and she was 41.  I had, of course, been married twice, but she had never wed, a virgin in the matrimonial sense.

Quite a few people attended the ceremony.  The patio was packed.  A judge tied the legal knot.  I was done with Unitarians.  A guitarist sang, and we danced.

A great time was had by all, but there was no rice.

We drove to Guanajuato, Mexico, my first-ever honeymoon.

We will celebrate our 10th anniversary next April.  Neither of us will bolt.  If you get married often enough, you finally get it right.

Three weddings.  No funerals.  Not yet.

Morning ice

As Beethoven played Ode to Joy on the living room stereo, I stepped out to the yard this morning …

… and found the birdbath a solid block of ice.

The first real freeze of the season.  The tail of November, which ain’t too bad. Last year it began the first week of this same month, which was bad.

Back in the house, I made the switch.  I took off the summer-autumn morning coat of orange checks, put it in the closet, and pulled out the winter morning coat that will serve till Springtime.

It’s denim with a nice cozy lining.

And so we begin again.  The yard plants will half die.  We will exhale morning vapor.  The portable gas heaters will glow red.  A fireplace blaze now and then, but that’s more for show.

We’ve slept under the goose-down comforter for a couple weeks already, but now it will be essential.  And I recently bought 12 pairs of mostly wool socks, a heavenly new offering at CostCo.

The cycle of  life atop a 7,200-foot mountain in a developing nation.

American twilight — 3

The internet is the best and worst thing that’s ever happened to the United States of America.

While it’s revolutionized countless aspects of life, mostly for the better, especially in the streamlining of commerce, it has also made us nastier.

And that one negative issue may cancel out all the positives.

In no period in recent history has the population been so angry with itself.  The economy has lots to do with that, sure, but the internet has made it so easy to curse ourselves out.

Go to any news story on the internet — Huffpost, Fox News, Yahoo,  CNN, Daily Beast, anywhere, left-wing or right-wing — and read the comments.

Hundreds of thousands of people every day hurl the vilest of epithets at those who hold counter opinions.  This degrades the public consciousness.

It is epic, this new civic discourse.

Young people are growing up in this environment, thinking it acceptable.

The daily flood of curses is facilitated by anonymity.  It’s much easier to name-call if your mugshot and identity are not attached to them, and they rarely are.

You will hear that this is “free speech” which makes it okay.

It’s not okay.

Free speech is the right to voice counter opinions.  Telling someone he is an asshole is not free speech.  It is rudeness.

And when a society has enough citizens calling one another assholes on a daily basis, that society will self-destruct.

The internet has made this so simple to do, and it’s being done.

* * * *

(Note: This is the third in an occasional series about the ongoing collapse of the United States of America.)

Olmec and leaves

It dawned almost clear this final Sunday of November.  Been dawning quite foggy recently.  It rained a couple of times in the past few days, which it decidedly should not be doing now, but the Republicans have ruined the climate.  What can you do?

And they freed the slaves too, but so what?

I raked these leaves yesterday, and I’ll be burning them in the yard later.  It gives off a sweet smell of autumn and lost dreams.

My lovely wife and I sat a spell in the yard, she knitting and me doing what I do best:  as little as possible.  We had background sounds.  The hog and horse next door were chatting.  There were neighbors’  roosters here and about, still announcing the dawn three hours after the event.

Aunt Jemima waffles and Canadian maple syrup are coming to the table in a short time, a Sunday custom.  A banana will get mashed in the mix too.

A nice, hot soak in a full tub to follow.  Oh, boy.

And later, we’ll be having steak, guacamole and onions at a restaurant downtown, which we often do for Sunday lunch.  Then a coffee on the plaza, a little kickback time.  And I’ll come home and torch these dead leaves — and perhaps dream of things that went up in smoke, lost.

* * * *

(Note:  The stone head is an Olmec reproduction.  The stone ball is just a ball.)

The puma’s bed — 2

. . . but he couldn’t sleep, so he opened his eyes again and looked through the large window.  He bounded off the bed, walked to the window and put his cold nose on the glass, but there was no glass.

He jumped through the opening, landing on grass, twigs and soil, not a well-tended lawn but the type of world he preferred, more primitive.

In the distance, down this hillside where sat the house, was a lake reflecting moonlight.  He liked the look of it, and he slowly descended.  There was a dock that ended with an octagonal landing over the still water.

Around the eight sides were clay pots of Saint Peter, their spiny pillars erect.

He lay on the octagon and listened.  Frogs from the lake’s far shore, a quarter mile away, sang as if sitting beside him.  Geometry lessons from 35 years back splashed themselves in lively color on the inner surfaces of his closed eyelids.

He opened his eyes and looked at his paws, but they were not paws.  They were a man’s feet shod in shoes.  He remembered hours ago, sitting in the living room, as the shaman gave him a muddy drink.

This is wonderful, he thought out loud.  It will never end.

* * * *

(The puma’s bed, the beginning.)

Giving thanks

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in another world, but you can be grateful anywhere, even here.

I’m a lucky boy.  Midway between 65 and 70, all my parts work, and I breathe freely.

I have a child bride of light cocoa, and our big red house is paid for, as is the snow-white Honda car that is modern and newish.

The summers here are not very hot, and the winters are mostly bearable.  I have no debt.  I ate no turkey yesterday, but I did have pan-fried chicken in a restaurant up the road.  I paid cash, and somebody else did the dishes.

I am appreciative of late-November days that dawn chill and foggy, and then turn into sunshine and cool, mild afternoons that go great with coffee.

Dead leaves lie on the grass outside, reminding me there were good times in my previous life, there where dead leaves in Fall are expected.  They are not so expected here, which makes them fun.

I am grateful I don’t have to work for a living, that I have no boss.  I get up when I want to, and I hit the sack when it suits me.

I sit at this desk and see mountains through the window over the computer monitor even though at this moment they are mostly hidden in fog.

I have no mammoth problems of any type.  How can one not be thankful for that?  I have coffee and orange juice and low utility bills.

And a hammock that swings under clay tiles.

I’m a lucky boy.

Fact, Fiction and Opinion Stirred in an Odd Pot

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