Soaked morning in mourning

New Image
Our barrio church.

IT RAINED LIKE a motheroo last night. I awoke at 2:30 to the pounding of horizontal water, thunder and my child bride closing the bedroom window.

The rainy season got off to a spotty start about 10 days ago. It blew in big-time one evening, then rained two or three times more. Then nothing for six or so days. Till last night.

I went back to sleep, but awoke about an hour later to the near silence of a calm sprinkle. I got up to open the bedroom window again. Then back to dreamland. It was easy. The air was cool.

Just before 7, I opened my eyes to a gray dawn through the window and the gonging church bell on the plaza 1.5 blocks away.

Someone had died. Death is marked here in the barrio by a slow, dismal gong that continues for hours, often all night long, and it’s done manually. A guy is up there in the bell tower pulling the rope about once every 10 seconds.

Not an enviable task.

Sitting down at the dining room table for bagels and cream cheese at 8, I saw the downstairs veranda under a lake, water that had blown in from the storm. The upstairs terraza had a lake too, but a far more modest one, so I decided right then to install at least one more canvas curtain up there, closing four of the five sides.

The sort of storm we got last night, blowing so much water into the two terrazas, is rare. Last summer it only happened two or three times during the daily, five-month monsoon.

Less rare is a neighbor’s death and the slow gonging of the announcement.

Not being a Catholic, nor even much of a barrio participant, I will not get a gong when I die. That’s too bad. I would like that sort of sendoff, especially if accompanied by lightning, thunder and flooding tears from heaven.

Drama and death suit one another.

I wonder if it will rain again today.

Death in a clay pot

shelves
These shelves are now clean and oiled.

WHILE WE PLOD through mud from June till November, we’re covered with dust from March through May. There’s no perfect world.

Well, maybe November. Neither rain nor dust. It’s a beauty.

The shelves in the veranda had a significant layer of dust this morning when I headed out the door with an old cloth and a spray bottle of 3-in-1 furniture oil.

I started on the far end of what you see in the above photo. First, I removed most of the dust with a stiff brush. Then I returned with the rag and furniture oil. It was looking good as I progressed in this direction.

Finally, I reached the final shelf, the only one to the left of the door, the shelf in the corner directly below the occasional bat roost in the clay roof tiles above.

The bowls were full of cobwebs and other detritus, which I shook over the grass outside. Then I got to the very last bowl. I looked inside and, amid the other crap, noticed a suspicious-looking glob at the bottom. Hmmm, I thought, could it be a bat?

I was not born yesterday.

I walked around back to the Garden Patio to shake the bowl upside down into a trash bin. As I did so, stuff fell out, but nothing substantial, so I looked inside again.

No mistaking it now. There rested a dead bat, stuck to the bowl bottom. This is not the first time I’ve had bat experiences hereabouts in which action was required.

Once a bat became entangled in nylon string of a dangling wind chime. I liberated him. Once I found a bat snoozing in the hanging sombrero of the bottom photo. I tossed him into the grass, leveraged him into a shoe box and freed him that evening from the upstairs terraza. I decided not to look behind that hat anymore, and I haven’t.

On another occasion, I found a bat dangling from a bedroom ceiling-light fixture in the Downtown Casita. I liberated him too and sealed off the chimney where the little bugger had snuck in like an illegal alien from Honduras or Guatemala.

But back to the dead bat stuck in the bowl. I inserted a stick, moved it about a bit, and upended the bowl over the trash bin again. Ker-plop! The bat remains fell out.

I washed the bowl, placed it on the shelf again, and snapped the photo.

Rarely a dull moment.

bowl
This is the very pot where I found the body. The hat is where I once found a sleeping bat.

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.

Noses and gasoline

nose

THIS MORNING, sitting at my computer, reading the news about 7 a.m., I paused to blow my nose. I’ve had a half-assed cold since Sunday.

My right nostril started to bleed … and bleed … and bleed. In a fast moment, it was like I was standing in a slaughterhouse watching the gutting of a hog. It was a torrent, and it would not stop.

After about ten minutes with paper towels and toilet paper, however, I did manage to control the inundation because it coagulated in my nose, and I had a ton of paper pushed up there.

My child bride and I drove to a clinic. An hour later I looked like this. There is lots of gauze up my nostril, and there it will remain till Friday. It’s not very convenient because, as mentioned, I have a cold.

I remember long ago that my mother told me my father had a similar situation one morning, bleeding profusely through the nose.

He was dead a year later.

The doctor prescribed a heavy dose of Vitamin K.

As if the cold weren’t bad enough, there is more.

* * * *

Gas shortage worsens

As mentioned a few days ago, parts of Mexico are suffering a severe shortage of gasoline. Instead of getting better, it’s gotten worse. And, lucky us, it seems the problem is most severe in my state.

gas-lineup

As we drove this morning to the clinic, we passed the Pemex station just up the highway, there was a line of cars at least a half mile long. I stole the above photo off the internet. I don’t know why they are standing there instead of being in their vehicles.

Not a good week hereabouts, neither for noses nor vehicles.

I wish we had bicycles.