Sick unto death

catrinaFOR MANY years before relocating to Mexico, I was a big fan of the Day of the Dead tradition. In my Houston condo, I had a ceramic Catrina on my bathroom counter, one that a Mexican crafts store outrageously overcharged me for, which I didn’t know then.

It had been marked up about 10 times. Double is the norm. Those crafty Mexicans.

By pure dumb luck I settled in one of the two most popular and highly publicized towns in the entire republic for Los Muertos, as the Day of the Dead is commonly known in Mexico. The other is Oaxaca.

This really tickled me 19 years ago. Now I’m just ticked off. The tourist mobs have grown to stunning levels and, for that reason, this year we are fleeing for the first time.

We’re riding a bus to Guadalajara late next week.

I have not been to Guadalajara since 2000. Our mountaintop town is located about halfway between Guadalajara and Mexico City. Actually, it’s a bit closer to Guadalajara. In spite of that, I have visited Mexico City a gadzillion times, and I have not returned to Guadalajara since my mother (R.I.P.) and my sister visited in that long-ago summer. I picked them up at the airport there, and then returned them a week later.

We’ll be staying in a downtown hotel that’s two blocks from the Hotel Morales, which is where I stayed three nights after flying to Guadalajara from Atlanta on January 19, 2000. It’ll be fun to take a peek into there for ole times sake. I tried to book a room at the Morales, but nothing was available for the dates of our visit.

We’ll be visiting the famous zoo and eating some Vietnamese pho, which I love. Other than those two things, nothing much is planned. We’ll just wander around. This will be our first trip to someplace “new” since our 2013 visit to Mérida. We don’t travel much.

What I remember most about Guadalajara is the atrocious quantity of pigeons that pollute the downtown plazas. I’m not a fan of pigeons, nasty birds.

But there will probably be more tourists here next weekend than there are pigeons soiling the center of Guadalajara. Gotta pick your poisons.

The last man standing

loquat
Before: The loquat sagging with its little fruities.

FREQUENT VISITORS here will know of my campaign to eliminate plants in the Hacienda yard, those that toss trash, causing me effort and headache.

There was the giant nopal, the towering pear and, of course, the monster bougainvillea. All gone now, thank the Goddess, and my life is better for it.

middle
During: The guys butcher the bush with chainsaw and machetes.

There was just one more major trash-tosser, the loquat which was here before we built the hacienda 16 years ago. It was one of a few fruiting nuisances on the property when we took possession. Another was a big fig, but that was removed to build the second carport.

The towering pear was here too. Before I learned my lesson I also planted an orange, but it’s still fairly small. I planted another pear, which was removed before the older, towering one was eliminated. I stupidly planted the nopal, letting it grow into a giant hell-raiser.

I also planted magueys that grew like mad. They’ve all been removed except a couple in planters. You can control greenery in planters. My two aloe veras have also reached massive proportions, but they throw little trash, which is sweet of them, and they’re good for burns, of course. But my child bride wants one of them gone. We’ll see.

end
After: Not much left, but it will revive.

I’m leaving the base of the loquat, mostly to appease my child bride who did not know of my hiring the guys who came today and wreaked havoc. I caught her by surprise.

She is not happy.

I leave you with this last photo, which is the sort of plant I prefer around here. The rainy season will be ending soon, two weeks or less, with luck. November is the nicest month in these parts, neither wet nor dusty, just sunny and mild and beautiful.

paradise
Birds of paradise. Photo shot before the gutting of the loquat back there.

Sober view of Trump

“It’s almost as if Don Rickles were running for president.”

FORMER FOX NEWS star Bill O’Reilly writes books now and then, and they’re always big sellers. But I’d never bought one till now. His latest is The United States of Trump, and it’s a goodie, a sober look at the phenomenon in the Oval Office.

trumpIt’s a 320-page history, neither pro nor con, as objective a view as you’ll find, of Donald John Trump, his childhood, the ups and downs of his real estate empire, his family life, his The Apprentice fame and finally his spectacular leap into politics.

Love him — as I do — or hate him, it’s a well-written and informative bio. O’Reilly looks at Trump’s pluses and minuses, his touchy personality, his love life, the near collapse of his real estate empire in the 1980s, its resurgence in the 1990s, his driving ambition, his tendency to steamroll opposition, his love of self. You name it, O’Reilly addresses it.

O’Reilly, clearly a conservative but who claims to be an independent, is what journalists are supposed to be, but so rarely are anymore, objective. Believe it.

The quote at top is O’Reilly’s. He is referring to Trump’s 2016 race, a campaign that shoved the boundaries of normally accepted presidential standards of behavior onto new ground, a territory where gravitas does not exist, where only victory matters.

Buy it. Read it. You won’t regret it. Thank me later.

Family matters

car
My daughter gets a surprise new car that my mother and I bought her in the late 1980s.

“Men cause problems between nations. Women cause problems in families.”

THAT’S A QUOTE from long-time radio host, physiologist and family therapist Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I heard her say that on the radio in the late 1990s when I was living in Houston. It stuck with me because it is so true.

The only Gringo family I still have are two women, my daughter and my sister. I have not communicated with my sister in over eight years. That was my decision because she is explosive and stressful to interact with. And I haven’t heard anything out of my daughter in two or more years. That was not my decision.

My daughter is not explosive, but she is hyper-sensitive and hair-trigger to offend. I apparently offended her in some way years back, after my Mexico move, so she has never visited me here in spite of my invitations, invitations I have given up on extending.

She gets her hyper-sensitivity honestly, from her mother who is also hyper-sensitive. We copy our parents to a great degree, and as a child she was around her mother far more than she was around me. Her mother and I split when she was just 5 years old.

My daughter and I had a great relationship when she was 5. When she was 8, her mother and mom’s boyfriend hightailed it to Canada and never told me where or how to contact them. This was primarily because the police were after them. They (were) returned to New Orleans about three years later. My daughter was 11.

She and I reconnected at that point, but it was never the same. She told me later that she had believed I was dead. Wasn’t that a swell thing for her mother to impart?

She lives in Athens, Georgia, now with her second husband, a patent lawyer. She is 53. They’ve been married for about 25 years, and they have no children, so I’m not a grandfather, and never will be. I would like having grandkids. It would be fun.

This all saddens me quite a lot.

My sister lives in the small town of Arcata in Northern California. I learned this online. She moved there from Atlanta at some point in the past eight years. She followed her long-time “partner” there. My sister identifies as a lesbian!

She used to be straight, but then she switched teams about 40 years ago.

Out of curiosity this week, I did internet sleuthing and discovered that she lives in a double-wide trailer, or at least that’s what it looks like on Google Street View. I learned about a month ago that her partner died two years ago at age 77. Her partner was far more personable than my sister. I liked her. R.I.P.

My sister is 78. I sometimes wonder if age has calmed her. I doubt it.

My daughter and my sister won’t communicate either. I don’t know which one started that aspect of the miserable situation. Both are professional therapists, by the way, as is my daughter’s mother. The three of them. Isn’t that a hoot?

Enough about them. Let’s trot this notion of women causing problems in families over to my horde of Mexican relatives. What do I see? I see us men mostly minding our own business and the women lighting gas fires all over the place. The gossip and the ensuing problems are endless. This appears to be a universal phenomenon. Sad.

Why can’t women be more like men?

Good night, Dr. Laura, wherever you are.