The Papal proxy, espresso & sopa

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The blind musician who’d recently had treatment, it appears.

WE WENT TO a Baptism party yesterday. The guest of honor was a new nephew named Pablo Kareem. He’s a cute, upbeat kid. I tried to convince the young parents not to name him Kareem, which is better suited for a basketball player or a Mohammedan terrorist, but they paid me no mind. Kareem it is. But Pablo first.

It began with a Mass, of course, but my child bride and I skipped that and went straight to the party. It took place in a Salón de Fiesta in the nearby capital city. These are rental spaces that can be large or small, nice or not so nice. Ours yesterday was large and nice, and the event went as they always do. People sitting at tables yelling over the music that’s either blaring from a loudspeaker or tunes from a live band. There was food too.

Yesterday’s was five-star pollo en mole.

It’s not really my scene, as we said in the old days. I usually have to flee after an hour or so due to the racket and my long legs being cramped below a folding table.

I got into the Honda and drove alone to the pink-stone, Colonial center of town. I parked and walked a few blocks to an area known, I believe, as el Jardín de las Rosas. There are lots of sidewalk cafés abutting the Jardín. I sat and ordered a double espreso and a sopa Tarasca, a regional soup that can range from spectacular to so-so.

Yesterday’s was near spectacular. I’m a winner.

I people-watched for over an hour. There were plenty of folks passing by. There were also strolling musicians, sidewalk hawkers and panhandlers. One of the musicians was an old blind singer with a guitar who was being led by a woman I suspect was his daughter.

I gave him 50 pesos, which is far more than I normally tip in those situations, but I was thinking, There but for the grace of God go I, or something like that.

Finally, I got a call from the party. It was time to return.

It was a fine afternoon. I liked el Jardín de las Rosas. My child bride enjoyed screaming over the music to her Mexican abundance of relatives. And Pablo Kareem slept through it all, but he got the Pope’s blessing by proxy. His soul’s a clean slate.

Perhaps mine once was too. I’ve never been baptized.

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A shot from where I was sitting with espresso and sopa Tarasca.

The first of September

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Dining room table awaits croissants from the oven. I’m the maître d’.

IT’S A MORNING like most mornings, and here’s how it goes.

I get up first and check the news online upstairs. My child bride stays in bed and knits. She doesn’t do this every morning, but mornings over the past couple of months, yes.

Around 8ish, I return downstairs to light the oven where croissants already lie in wait. Then I walk to the bedroom to open the curtains, which were half open all night. I look out the window. Of course, what I see is color, but here it’s just black & white.

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It’s cool, overcast and gray this morning, so black & white seems right. In the other direction, my child bride continues under the covers with her knitting. Or maybe it’s crocheting. I dunno. It all looks the same to me.

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Lazybones still in the sack, not noticing I’m taking her picture. Just as well.

I leave the bedroom and head back toward the  kitchen, passing through the living room where I pause to gaze outside. Looking good.

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The living room window.

At last, she puts the handiwork aside, lifts herself out of sack, walks to the kitchen where the timer just sounded that the croissants are nice and hot.

September’s off to a good start. Plus, it’s Sunday, a day of rest.

* * * *

Note: A couple of hours later, the sun was out, and the sky was blue. Still cool, however.

Swanking the Hacienda

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Parota, a wood I’d never heard of.

WHEN WE MOVED into the Hacienda 16 years ago, there was lots of open space due to our not having much furniture at that time.

Our dining room set was tossed together in this way: My child bride had a four-chair set in her condo in Mexico City. We brought that here, put the table out to pasture, and ordered a six-chair table and two more chairs from a carpenter.

It was a rustic, Colonial design, and it served us adequately until just recently when we were rambling around for fun in a nearby town called Cuanajo that specializes in furniture. Cuanajo is chockablock with furniture workshops and showrooms.

The potholed town has been making furniture since the 16th century, or so said the fellow who delivered the dining room set you see in the photo above. It is made of parota, a tropical hardwood. I’d never heard of parota.

During our recent ramble through Cuanajo, we saw the eight-chair set and fell in love, or as much as one can fall in love with furniture. Since my spouse recently had some cash drop into her lap from an inheritance, we bought it. It is very swanky.

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Have a seat.

We advertised the previous six-chair set on an internet forum that caters to Gringos in our area, and it sold lickety-split. One justification we used for buying the new set is that when we have relatives over, they always come en masse (Mexicans!) and there’s never an easy way to seat them all. Now we have two more chairs at least and a larger table.

We even got to choose the fabric of the padded chair seats. The checkered design is cloth woven right here on the mountaintop. Support your local artisans!

The Hacienda didn’t change much for 16 years until recently when we removed and replaced the yard patio and then completely revamped the upstairs terraza, which included relocating the circular stairway to the other end of the house and installing yet another steel stairway from the “service patio” to the kitchen roof.

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The new greenish shade net sits atop the glass, not below.

As part of the upstairs terraza renovation, we installed a yellow shade net beneath the glass-and-steel roof. Click here to see how it looked then. That, however, was a mistake because it trapped and murdered mobs of insects that either rested up there visibly dead, or were wind-blown to the terraza floor to be swept up every morning. Yuck.

The new net is dark green and rests atop the glass roof, a better plan that does not trap and execute wayward, dimwitted insects.

We get more elegant every day, and we’re kind to bugs.

Nights of solitude

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The omelet and the toast.

I’M WRITING THIS last night, alone. It’s the second solitary night this week.

The first was planned. My child bride and a sister took a bus Monday to a town called Los Reyes, which is about three hours southwest of here.

(They changed buses in the city of Uruapan, which gained infamy years ago when bad guys rolled a decapitated head across a cantina floor.)

The sisters had to confer with a lawyer on a property issue. I slept solo in the Hacienda’s king bed, the window open for the cool air and the scent of datura. They stayed in a hotel. She returned the next day, and I was happy.

Yesterday, we got news that the son of a half brother — hers not mine — had been killed on a motorcycle in the nearby capital city. My child bride and a different sister took a bus down there to attend the wake. She’ll return today. Again, there I was in the king bed with the window open to cool air and the aroma of datura.

Last night, just like Monday, I skipped our traditional, evening salad, and I opted instead for a two-egg omelet with eight-grain toast.

There were no eggs in the house yesterday, so I had to walk half a block down the street to a very humble, hole-in-the-wall store. The eggs likely weren’t far from the hen’s heinie and, of course, Mexicans do not refrigerate eggs, which is no problem.

The omelet had onion, olives, tomato sauce, capers and Parmesan cheese from the green, plastic jar. After slipping it onto the plate, I added lemon pepper and Tabasco.

The toast received “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.” Clearly, I’m no foodie.

I skipped Netflix too, instead reading some old yarns of mine, in part to correct punctuation. Also to relive moments, which passes the time when you’re sailing solo.

Here is one of my favorites. It’s a true story, written maybe 15 years ago, recalling a trip I made to Scotland in the 1970s. The references to the hammock and roof tile hark back to the upstairs terraza here before the recent renovation.

That hammock was long one of my favorite reading spots.

The piece is called:

Last train to Holyhead.

New ImageSwaying in the hammock softly with Rosamunde Pilcher.

Though wet June is weeks away, there are rain clouds.

But the hammock is safe under the roof tile.

Pilcher’s book Under Gemini is set in Scotland, my ancestral home.

Look here on this page: The rain had turned to a soft blowing mist which was beginning to smell of the sea.

If it rains here now, it will smell not of sea, but of mountains. You will hear soft sighs of parched plants, see the settling of dust.

Under Gemini was published in the mid-1970s, and at that same time I was alighting alone from a train at the Inverness station, just up from Edinburgh.

Stepping off another car at the same moment was a California woman on the very eve of her 40th birthday, also alone.

She was a professor of anthropology, attractive, heading slowly, with backpack, toward a conference in faraway India. We ended up in the same guesthouse, dining together after passing through a few dark pubs.

We found each other engaging, and spent the next five days as constant, carefree companions, becoming one.

After Inverness, our train headed west to the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides. And later, there was the big smokestack boat that carried us south through the Sound of Isleat to a railhead at Mallaig.

We held hands on deck and smiled as our freight ship steamed through watery mountain passes. It was cold October, and we were the only passengers.

At Mallaig, we caught another train, continuing on through Fort William, Glasgow and finally, leaving Scotland, to Chester, England.

It was a five-day romance with no time for pains, sorrows or regrets.

Until those final moments. I had to return to London. She continued on to Holyhead on the windy Welsh coast, a roundabout route to India.

We kissed and waved goodbye as the old train chugged from the station in medieval Chester. Her window was open, and she leaned out, like in those old-time movies.

We never mentioned our last names and, even now, her first name, like her face, has faded. But not the memory of those final moments. Definitely not that.

The sweetness spiraled into sadness.

There is thunder here now. Let’s head inside the house.