Bones, hair, cobblestones & cheese

FLY
I was sitting on the Jesus Patio when I shot this guy nearby.

AUTUMN ARRIVES on Saturday, but we’ve already started Fall.

In our hearts, if not in celestial reality.

The leaves are dropping from the peach tree, littering the Jesus Patio, making more work for me, not appreciated.

I like the photo above, so I’ve added it to the header.

Unrelated to fall is that we’ve now entered the third week of my child bride’s broken arm, caused by a fall. The doctor said the cast would stay in place from four to six weeks. We are praying, of course, for four.

The biggest challenge, certainly for me, but for her too, it seems, is her mop of hair. She cannot arrange it to her satisfaction with one hand.

So that leaves me.

We’ve come to verbal blows over this matter.

cdmx
Disheveled on an early morning in Mexico City.

Here she is sitting in our Mexico City condo three years ago. Her hair has not been cut since, so you can imagine. It’s not only long, much longer now than in this photo, but it is quite curly. You might even call it kinky.

We’ve had quite a few emotionally challenging moments due to this mop.

Her getting both her arms back in action cannot come too soon.

Matrimonial bliss hangs on it.

* * * *

And furthermore …

As I’ve written on various occasions, our town is renovating streets, especially around the spectacular plaza.

This has been going on for y-e-a-r-s. Three at least. Nonstop.

street
Just yesterday on the third side of the plaza.

Laying the cobblestones, and sidewalk renovation too, has been completed on two sides of the plaza. Above, you see the third side, and they’ve dug up all the old stones on the fourth, the side that abuts my family coffee shop. We’re in the rainy season, so we have an abundance of mud.

The Goddess willing, this will end before I die.

* * * *

Moving on to cheese

cheese
This is queso seco.

One of the many great things about living south of the Rio Bravo is the abundance of great avocados or, as we call them, aguacates. Another is cheese or, as we call it, queso. We Mexicans love our queso.

Visitors are cautioned to avoid cheese. Sometimes it’s not pasteurized, maybe most of the time. I pay that warning not a lick of attention.

The cheese in the photo is called queso seco or dry cheese. We bought it here on the mountaintop, but recently we found a very small store that sells only cheese on a street corner in the capital city.

The cheese is unrefrigerated, and on our first visit we found wheels of various cheeses sitting on the floor. This would appall a persnickety person, but we bought a quarter kilo, which was exceptionally tasty.

We took it home, ate it happily, and did not die.

Uprooting one’s roots

datura
At the top of the stairwell.

FOR THE FIRST decade after moving to Mexico I visited the United States once a year for a week or so. The primary motive was to see my mother.

The first three or four years I did it alone, flying. It was not until 2004 that my child bride had obtained a U.S. visitor visa. We then continued the trips, sometimes flying, other times driving. It’s a long way from our Mexican mountaintop to Atlanta, which is where my mother lived.

My mother died in January 2009 at age 90. After that, we’ve only been above the border once, a few months later, and that was to do paperwork related to my mother’s death. We went to San Antonio for that.

I have not visited my natal nation in nearly a decade. Instead I’ve remained down here in tumultuous Mexico and, oddly, life here has begun to seem normal. This is so even though I continue to equate Mexican life to Alice’s Wonderland.

This is because so many things here don’t make a lick of sense.

I almost never speak English, and I find myself forgetting English words on occasion. And though my Spanish is quite passable, I hardly would qualify as a Spanish professor. This occasionally leaves me dangling in a verbal limbo.

I find myself picking up Mexican habits. More and more, I respond “yes” to most queries. It’s easier that way. And doing something mañana instead of today leaves more relax time for today.

My driving habits cannot now be described as admirable.

One local habit I’ve not acquired and never will is epic, rampant, shameless lying.

I won’t be crossing the border again, ever. Everything I need can be found nearby. I watch America on the internet, and it looks disgraceful and sad. Walking the sidewalk here, on the other hand, I see people smiling.

With two exceptions, I have no relatives above the border. They all died except my sister and daughter. The first I do not like, and the second does not like me. I own no property in the United States.

I have no U.S. identification papers aside from my passport which I will not renew when it expires. Don’t know why I did it last time.

At this moment just past dawn, the church bell is slowly gonging down on the plaza, so someone died. It’s a mournful sound, but I feel pretty good about things in spite of having uprooted myself from the dirt from which I sprouted.

bones
On the stairwell landing, halfway down.

Louisiana birthday

jumbo
The pot is much larger than it appears.

I STIRRED UP a nice pot of jambalaya today for my 74th birthday.

Years ago, in Mexico, I fixed jambalaya much more frequently. I rarely make it now, but special occasions call for special food. There will be no cake.

I also whip together a passable gumbo, but that’s even more labor-intensive. I may never do that again, but who knows? But I’m lazy.

I lived in New Orleans for 18 years if you don’t know. Both my first wife and my daughter were born in New Orleans, a place that forms odd people.

Time passes far more quickly as you age. Not just years, but weeks and months, even days. It’s a strange phenomenon. So, here I am at 74, just one year younger than my father when he died of a heart attack. In spite of getting annual physicals, there had been no indication of any heart issues for him.

So much for annual physicals.

Apart from a lower energy level, I had no age-related issues until I hit 73. That’s when I really started noticing. Now I feel it, but I still get around pretty good. There’s the occasional wobble.

Aside from anything major, probably the most noticeable change that comes with age is the loss of sure-footedness. This in spite of my doing more exercise than most people my age, plus the significant issue of possessing a child bride.

This afternoon, as I toss Tabasco hot sauce (from Avery Island, Louisiana) on my bowl of jambalaya, I’ll wonder if I’ll make it to 75 or, even more significantly, to 76, something my father did not manage to accomplish.

Felíz cumpleaños to me!*

* * * *

* And just like last year, my child bride forgot.

An inkling of death

AFTER A POINT on the Highway of Life, death ceases to be a concept that has little to do with you, and it becomes considerably more real.

I have passed that point.

My father developed colon cancer when he was about 70, younger than I am now. He previously had dealt with prostate cancer. Both were in remission when a heart attack killed him with no warning when he was 75.

JM15_2_1024x1024In spite of my father and I appearing to be clones, I’ve had no significant health issues at all until relatively recently. I’ll be 74 in a couple of months.

Generally, I avoid the medical community when possible. If my body doesn’t bother me, I don’t bother it. We made a deal.

I keep my head firmly plunged into the sand. I am my own ostrich and worst enemy.

However, one of the many great aspects to healthcare in Mexico is that you can do lots of things on your own, things that would require the permission of a doctor above the Rio Bravo.

Due to this liberty, I give myself an annual checkup, a simple one that hits the high points. I go to an independent lab, and leave some blood. Sometimes I leave other things too, stuff that comes out of other orifices.

Cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, blood in the stool, etc. That latter is the old test for colon cancer. It’s marginally effective but better than nothing.

Due to my father’s having colon cancer, “they” say my chances are increased. I wonder if they are right. They probably are. Due to that, I got my first colonoscopy in Houston in 1997. No problem was found.

When I moved to Mexico, I read somewhere that colonoscopies are done under full anesthesia. I don’t want to do that, so I opted around 2005 for a barium enema, better than the stool test, not so good as colonoscopy.

You do not get anesthesia for a barium enema. By the way, barium enemas are no fun, but not nearly so bad as you may have heard.

Again, no problem was found. In 2011, I did it again with the same outcome.

Here we are in 2018. For some reason, I had decided not to do those tests anymore. I was sticking to my guns until about two months ago when my usual pattern down south changed noticeably. Every morning.

This is one of the warning signs of colon cancer, so my ears perked up.

Many physical issues clear themselves up if you’re patient. I waited. It did not clear itself up, but it did make a significant move toward normal. But not entirely.

I started checking around, and discovered colonoscopies are available without undergoing full anesthesia. I did it last Saturday and wrote about it in the eloquently titled post Getting a hose up my butt.

But today’s post is not about the procedure. It’s about the dark days before.

* * * *

Again, an inkling of death.

I kinda wigged out.

Sometimes the internet is great. Sometimes you should steer clear. Something I did not know was that colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and it’s one of the slow growers.

That means by the time you have symptoms, it’s made a bit of progress.

This put me into a funk. It wasn’t too bad in the daytime, but nights were another matter. You know how actual, trivial problems seem, well, trivial in the light of day, but at 3 a.m. they become catastrophic, an odd phenomenon.

Sleeping became a challenge. In the daylight hours, the situation was more manageable in my head, but it was still serious.

I became mostly convinced I was dead meat. This causes apathy, and I grew extremely apathetic and glum.

I was worried mostly about my child bride, less about myself. I am not young, and I have no more goals to reach, as if I ever had many in the first place.

I subscribe to no organized religion, but my experiences with LSD and psilocybin in the 1990s mostly convinced me of an afterlife. That was somewhat encouraging, and I was looking forward to it a bit.

But mostly it was a dark apathy.

The colonoscopy, however, found no polyps, not even precancerous ones. But the doctor did extract a bit of liquid and told me to take it to a lab for biopsy.

Biopsy!

And come back in a week, he said. We’ll have the results.

So there I was again. The cloud had dissipated somewhat, but I viewed the biopsy matter with a very dark eye.

The followup appointment was yesterday. The biopsy found nothing bad. The sun began shining again. I was good to go for a spell longer.

My only aunt, my father’s only sister, also was an ostrich. Her cancer — I do not know what type — appeared quickly and beyond repair when she was about 86. She died shortly after. She, my father and I  have the same surname.

My mother, on the other hand, made it to 90 and simply died of old age, too many things in her body just ran out of steam.

Turns out that what caused my bowel issue in the first place, what led me down this dark lane, was diverticulitis. I am being treated with antibiotics and intestinal flora.

I wish my body had just told me that in the first place.

I thought we had a deal.