Let’s have a chat!

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Motion-sensor light that was poorly aimed.

A CANADIAN who goes by Kris because that’s his name mentioned on another blog today that he does not have a blog because his life lacks events that are sufficiently interesting to merit a write-up. Truth is, you can write about anything.

It’s often not so much the topic but how you present it.

Steve Cotton who lives inexplicably in Casa Cotton in the sweltering, insect-infested, Mexican beach town of Melaque often writes on potentially boring subjects, but his manner of writing makes it interesting. I’ll return to this theme down the way.

* * * *

Steve’s latest post was not on a boring topic. It was a death.

Yesterday, Steve wrote about Ken Kushnir, a first-generation American whose family hailed from Russia and who retired to Mexico many years ago from California with his Honduran wife. Ken died a few weeks ago.

I knew Ken, and I liked him. He was always smiling.

Ken, like Steve, like me, wrote a blog. His nom de internet was Tancho. His is the latest death among a group of Gringo bloggers who moved to Mexico in the last 20 or so years.

Another went by Sparks, but his real last name was Parks. And there was John Calypso who wrote an interesting blog dubbed Viva Veracruz which has been taken offline. Also, not long ago, Michael Warshauer died of cancer. The focus of his blog, My Mexican Kitchen, was, not surprisingly, on cooking and eating. He was a retired baker.

It seems we’re dropping like those proverbial flies.

Ken Kushnir, R.I.P. And, a tad tardy, Michael Warshauer too. Another good guy gone.

* * * *

But back to the topic of blog-writing and how having an interesting life is not required, though it surely helps. A bit of imagination can put, with luck, a fairly engaging spin on most dreary doings. Let’s look briefly at my fascinating day so far.

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A neatly trimmed bougainvillea!

I noticed recently that the motion-sensor light attached to the outside of our bedroom was not coming on when I walked up the Romance Sidewalk from the most critical direction at night. I climbed a ladder to adjust it this morning. Can’t test it till tonight.

I do incredible things.

(Update: The adjustment worked! Just so you know.)

Also today, I stopped procrastinating about trimming the bougainvillea you see in the photo. It’s one of four bougainvilleas in the Hacienda yard, plants I wish I’d never installed here way back when, about 16 years ago.

I went so far as to skip my customary exercise walk around the plaza this morning in order to adjust the light, trim the bougainvillea and write this blather for you. I did complete my gym routine at 7:30, however. I have a gym set here upstairs, and I use it.

The Canadian Kris (see first paragraph) used to leave good comments fairly frequently here, but he decided to stop when I took issue with a positive comment he made about the communist dictatorship of Cuba. Quite a few Canadians seem to have a positive view of Cuba, incredibly. Commenters come and go. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

Kris is welcome to come back. But Canadians are oddballs.

You never know who is reading your stuff. I recently heard from my daughter after a very long absence. She used to read my website years ago, and maybe still does. And she’d leave comments on rare occasion, sometimes to cuss me out.

Yes, I am a defective dad. As was my father before me.

She said that she’d uncovered some of her paternal grandfather’s artwork tucked away in her home. My father liked to paint. And she noticed for the first time some were reproductions of famous artists. Like my father, I also was an artist of sorts.

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My father’s copy of a Winslow Homer piece from 1899.
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Here is how Homer did it.

About the same time, I received an unexpected email from my last ex-wife. Aside from the occasional birthday greeting, I never hear anything from her, so this was a surprise. She wanted to know why I am a Trump fan. She seemed genuinely mystified, and she asked politely, as most Trump foes do not, so I sent her a reply that went something like this:

  1. Trump thumbs his nose daily at Political Correctness, a movement that is quite literally destroying Western Civilization.
  2. He knows the need for borders, and is doing what he can about it.
  3. He’s fighting the Regulatory State and making headway. I don’t recall any other president even mentioning the growing threat of the Regulatory State. Do you?

My response to her was a bit more detailed on those three points. Of course, there are numerous excellent reasons to be a Trump fan, but those are the three I mentioned.

I also mentioned to her the #WalkAway campaign, a movement of former Democrats like me who have abandoned that nefarious party. It’s most visible on YouTube.

Here’s a thoughtful video by a woman who worked in the Clinton Administration. She states why she’s abandoned the Democrat Party and is now a Trump supporter.

I’ve long wondered if my ex-wife reads my website, so she does. I’ve never mentioned my Trump love directly to her. I invited her to join me on the Trump Train because there is room for her. We do not discriminate. We’re a diverse bunch of cheerful folks.

Some of us make moonshine and marry our cousins, but most do not.

It was strange that I received communication from both my daughter and my last ex-wife in the same week. It’s always nice to hear from them, rare as it is.

I think our chat has come to an end. I probably should pack my bag for Guadalajara.

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.

The in-laws I never knew

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Carlos, the pistol-packing physician. Perhaps heading to a house call. 

I’VE HAD THREE sets of in-laws due to having two former wives and now a third wife who won’t ever be an ex. I sure hope not. I’m too old to start over.

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Mama, Margarita.

I never met my third set of in-laws because they died long before I came on the Mexican scene 19 years ago. Both died too young. My father-in-law, who was a family physician and surgeon, died of a heart attack at 61.

My mother-in-law, who bears a strong resemblance to my child bride, died in childbirth when she was only 31.

She was having her fifth child. The baby survived, but she did not. That same baby went on to die of a heart attack last year in his early 50s.

Mama’s death had a massive negative effect on the family, an effect that has tumbled down through the decades.

Daddy was something of a tough hombre, a trait the photo illustrates well. In spite of that, he was much beloved in the Tierra Caliente town of Los Reyes where he long practiced medicine.

If patients couldn’t pay, he would accept poultry or vegetables as payment, whatever they offered. People in Los Reyes remember him fondly to this day, decades after his death.

My child bride, as a teenager, often worked as his receptionist and even gave shots to patients on occasion. She got paid extra for that.

Family lore says the doctor wasn’t fond of Gringos, a feeling he passed down to some of his offspring. I have changed most of their minds, however.

I wonder if I would have changed his.

My mother-in-law was beautiful.

Soaked morning in mourning

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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.