TWENTY-FOUR hours after the last post, I was walking to the Honda again. But this time I was returning from the Basilica.
I had gone there with my child bride, her sister and the nephew we once called The Little Vaquero. But he’s not so little anymore at age 15.
Once a year, the local luminaries pull our version of the Virgin Mary from her high perch in the Basilica and parade her around town upon shoulders. People take this very seriously. Being neither Catholic nor Christian, I view it less as a religious event and more as a tourist attraction.
It was supposed to start at a civilized hour but being Mexicans we got off to a tardy beginning. So tardy that I wearied of waiting and left, which is when I walked down the hill and shot these pretty photos.
The rest of my crew hung around, but an hour later they too tossed up their hands, figuratively speaking, and left. I’m sure the Virgin managed to make her annual trek through the cobblestone streets of our mountaintop town, but none of us bore witness to the sacred event.
Anyway, if you’ve seen it once, and I have, you’ve seen it sufficiently.
A friend of ours, a fellow who went by the nickname of Don Chino, used to manage this event, but he died last year. When Don Chino was in charge, the Virgin headed out the Basilica door with a spring in her step.
SATURDAYS ARE variable, but some are far more varied, i.e. busy, than others, and this is one of those Saturdays. I pause to fill you in due to my being a sharing sort of fellow.
When Saturday falls on the first of a month, then things get even fuller. There are Saturday chores, and there are first-of-month chores. There are also occasional chores, and one of those fell on this Saturday too.
That was the twice-a-month 8:30 a.m. drive downtown to check my postoffice box. I did that only to discover the postoffice shut due to this also being inauguration day for our new president (ugh!) in Mexico City. Why they had to close the postoffice here is one of those Latino mysteries.
So I came home with no mail, but since I almost never get mail, this is no big thing. That’s right, I get virtually no mail in my postoffice box, not even the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
I also don’t get sales calls at dinnertime.
Saturday morning is when Abel the Deadpan Yardman arrives to mow the lawn. Normally, we’ve ended that by December, but stubborn rains in November have kept the grass green and jubilant.
The first of the month means I check the two cars, the fluid levels, the tire P.S.I., that sort of thing. I did not do that today. Tomorrow is okay.
Saturday morning is when the plants on the veranda get watered, so I did that. It’s also when I shot the photo. It’s a cool, lovely day. I also wiped the Jesus Patio table and web chairs. You can see them in the photo.
Saturday is when my child bride sells her pastries in the afternoon on the downtown plaza, and I accompany her for the first few hours. As I write this, around noon, she’s out in her private kitchen baking up a storm.
Simultaneously, I hear pigs screaming bloody murder next door. They are not kind to their pigs. Sometimes they do murder them.
My neighborhood is not for the squeamish.
Though not specifically a Saturday chore, I washed the Honda because it was grubby due to the nasty weather this week, lots of rain and mud, and one wants to present an elegant face to the world.
And after Abel the Deadpan Yardman cuts the grass and heads home, two doors down, with his weedeater, I upend the mower and hose it clean.
It’s a Briggs & Stratton.
Furthermore, arriving this afternoon while we sit on the plaza hawking pastries is a woman from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who will live in our Downtown Casita for a month, maybe two. She just retired as a therapist. Perhaps she can heal me, make me right.
I’ll drive her to her new, temporary, home with the keys.
Yes, it’s been a very busy Saturday, busier than usual, and it’s only half over. And it will continue till tonight when we climb weary under the goose-down comforter draped over the king bed, and call it a day.
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(When I retired 19 years ago 19 days from now — yes, Dec. 19, 1999 — I wondered how I’d fill my days. It hasn’t been an issue, to put it mildly.)
WHEN WE MOVED to the Hacienda in 2003, there were a few trees on the property — a fig, a loquat, a peach and God knows what else.
As a housewarming gift, the great Al Kinnison surprised me with a load of fruit trees he’d purchased in Uruapan in La Tierra Caliente. Leaving me no option, bless his heart, I planted them. There was a pear, an orange and something else I still don’t recognize, maybe macademia.
Like other plants I’ve allowed here, they’ve turned on me, become evil, and I’m sick of them. Last month, I had the monster nopal removed. Today, it’s the pear that just this past summer started dropping a colossal quantity of fruit which I had to scoop up and dump into the ravine down the street.
I mentioned the problem recently to Abel the Deadpan Yardman, who said he would happily remove the pear. According to him, if you cut it into pieces and let it dry about five years, it makes stupendous firewood.
He arrived this morning with a wheelbarrow and machete, nothing more. I offered him my big pruning saw, which he used instead of the machete. After downing the pear, he proceeded to machete it into smaller pieces.
This has come with a price to pay. My child bride was quite angry in spite of my having told her previously that the pear had to go. Abel’s arrival with his machete and wheelbarrow caught her by surprise.
If she had her druthers, the yard would be limb-to-limb fruit trees of every imaginable variety. My druthers would leave us with a parking lot of stone and concrete. We’ll have to settle on a sweet spot in the middle.
In a few weeks, workmen will be removing more grass from the yard and installing stone and concrete. A part of that will entail removing the peach tree, another trash-tossing pendejo, which abuts the Jesus Patio.
I have told her this too, but I will have another sourpuss spouse on that not-distant day. And then it will blow over. Peace will reign.
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(The Unseen Moon has a new face. Hope you like it.)
THIS IS THE Day of the Dead, and last night was the preceding evening.
My child bride usually builds an altar in the living room. There are too many who died too young in her family, and there was a new addition to that sad list this year. A kid brother died last May of a heart attack at the age of 55.
My mountaintop town is famous throughout Mexico for its Day of the Dead festivities and activities. There are spectacular graveyard scenes in the area. One is within walking distance of our home. Some years we walk over there on the Big Night, and some years we don’t. Last night we did not.
We stayed home, eating salads and watching Netflix.
The traffic is always dreadful. Were our cemetery not within walking distance, we’d never see the event. The most publicized cemetery here is on an island in the lake. You can only get there by boat, and hordes of people visit.
A far superior option is to visit one of the many other cemeteries that surround the lake, places where you’re not shoulder to shoulder with tourists traipsing through the tombstones, candles and marigolds.
It’s full of loveliness and spirit.
Life for the living will start returning to normal tomorrow. By Monday the mobs of tourists will be gone, the massive market on the plaza will pull up stakes, and we’ll return to our customary tranquility hereabouts. That’s how I like it.