Fading to black

skilletTHE TWELVE-YEAR-OLD boy walked into the kitchen on a warm summer day. It was time for breakfast — eggs and grits and ham steaks or bacon. A coffee percolator on the counter plucked away, but he didn’t drink coffee, not way back then.

The only way to get into the kitchen unless you entered through the long screened porch from the back yard was from the dining room, so he entered from the dining room.

The first thing one encountered was the old refrigerator immediately to the left. Just beyond that was a heavy, antique table covered with oilcloth. That table abutted a casement window that opened to the yard where things also were eaten at times, dinners and watermelon and apple pie.

New ImageHe was sitting at that very table one evening with his grandmother when he heard the harp music coming through the window.

He was a bit older than 12 when that spooky thing happened, and the source of the harp solo was never explained to anyone’s satisfaction.

To the right was a fireplace which was always lit on winter mornings, but this being summer, school vacation, up from Florida, there was no fire. And just beyond the table was a wall-to-wall counter, left to right, and cabinets above.

Lemonade, and tea too, would be made on the left side of that counter. Glancing toward the right, you’d see a sink and beyond that the stove where cornbread, which was wonderful with red-eye gravy, was cooked in a cast-iron skillet.

An eternal fixture on the left side of that counter was a heavy, gray ceramic jar open at the top. That jar was always full of salt that you pinched and sprinkled with your fingers.

Above the sink was another window, one that looked out not at the yard but toward a pasture for Hereford cows and the one, happy bull. That was when the boy was 12. Later, that pasture was turned into a grove of pine trees, when the government started paying farmers to take it easy.

Back to the kitchen. The wooden walls were shiplapped, as were the walls in the entire house, and there was a nice-sized pantry just to the right before you walked out the door to the screened porch. The kitchen floors were linoleum.

After breakfast on a summer morning, there were a number of  options for a 12-year-old boy. Here’s a good one:

He left the dirty dishes for Willie the maid, and walked out the kitchen door, continued about five feet to the screened porch door, and stepped down to concrete steps. There were plenty of cats, sometimes up to 25.

Granny liked cats.

revolverAbout five years later, the boy turned a .32-caliber, chrome-plated, Smith & Wesson revolver on one of those cats, a mangy, sickly one who was suffering. Gunning down a cat is not a pleasant experience, even if it’s best for the cat in the long haul.

But that came later. Today is a sunny summer morning, and the boy walked straight ahead, passing the small building on the left that had been his sister’s playhouse and then a larger building, also on the left, where his father had written short stories after World War Two. Then there was a gate.

Stepping down about foot on the other side of the gate, there were dirt ruts of a road heading left. It was a good route to walk because it was not public. It was private, though people from far and wide would come, knock on the door, ask permission, and then drive down that road to fish in the pond,

On this summer day, the boy aimed for that pond. The dirt road separated the pasture on the left — the same one visible through the window above the sink in the kitchen — from a grove of pecan trees on the right. The farm made money from cotton, corn, peanuts, beef and pecans.

The walk to the pond was not long, maybe a quarter mile, and the pond was somewhat sunken. You had to walk down an incline to the pond’s shore. The word pond is misleading.

It was a large lake though it was called a pond, and it was surrounded by towering cypress trees, many of which grew in the water itself, providing shade. Here is the experience of the pond: silence, at times broken by bird songs.

boatAn old rowboat rested on the water’s edge.

A man with silver hair and wrinkles, though far fewer wrinkles than many his age, awoke, and there was a beautiful Mexican at his side. He popped a Hershey’s Kiss in his mouth, bit down, smiled, and was soon asleep again.

Gone fishing — for good

fishing

LOTS OF PEOPLE dream of early retirement, and some even plan for it — giving the middle digit to The Man.

The traditional age is 55 because lots of corporations will start a pension at that point just to get rid of you. Retiring before 55 is possible, sure, but only if you’re fairly rich and have planned well.

Due to the aging of the Baby Boomer Generation, magazines and newspapers frequently run articles about retirement in general and even retiring early. These articles often say how difficult it is, that you gotta have 10 million bucks under the mattress. Baloney.

Even though I did little dreaming of early retirement and even less planning (think zip), the stars aligned, and I bailed at 55.

It was the best move of my life. The year was 1999.

And I’ve earned nary a penny or a peso since. At least, not from any effort on my part. Capitalism is a godsend. You stick five bucks in an account, and later you have seven bucks — or sometimes four, depending on which way the wind blows.

Lots of those magazine and newspaper yarns tell you the best towns in America to retire. And they can be great places, but not if you are living on my income, which is about $24,000 a year. That’s just $8,000 over the 2015 official poverty level in America for a two-person household.

Living in the United States these days on $24,000 wouldn’t be much fun.

Doing it in Mexico, however, is easy as pie.

So here is my recommendation if you want to leave the workforce at 55: Have no debt and enough money to make it to 62, praying that Social Security will not increase that age before you get there.

Probably won’t.

When you hit 62, start Social Security payments, which will likely be more than enough to live sweet in Mexico. An additional corporate pension, even a puny one like mine, is even better.

So come on down. The fishing is good.

* * * *

P.S.: Contrary to what’s been hammered into you, living in Mexico is safer than today’s United States of America. Plus, Mexico doesn’t do Big Government, disruptive diversity-worship, #brownlivesmatter, high taxes, and you’re not called racist every day by stupendously silly people.

We’re mellow. Bring a hook, line and bait.

Nairobi lesbians

New ImageA FUN ASPECT to this blogging thing is followers. Everybody wants to have as many followers as possible because who wants to write if nobody reads?

I have a button in the right column where you can click “Get Mooned” to become a follower. Get Mooned. Get it? Usually, when someone decides to follow The Unseen Moon I get an email about it. One thing has become clear: Some people do it just so you’ll go look at their blog. It’s a fishing expedition.

Another method is “liking” a post. If you’re on a fishing expedition, this would be easier for you. Now don’t get me wrong. I am quite fond of followers which, in theory, are readers. The more the merrier, as it’s said.

There are ways to detect that a follower is just on a fishing expedition. Most have a Gravatar, which is a link back to them. Often there is another link and a photo on that Gravatar. If it’s a teenager, you’re likely looking at a fisherman. If it’s a teenager hugging a guitar, you’re definitely looking at a fisherman.

I’ve been thinking of writing about this phenomenon for a year or more. Yesterday, I was pushed over the edge. I got an email that I have a new follower. That person or persons is named “Nairobi lesbians.” Here is the Gravatar. The Nairobi lesbians Gravatar has neither photos nor links to a blog. They (or she) seem not to have a blog, so this appears not to be a fishing expedition.

One must conclude that one or more lesbians in Nairobi actually want to keep up with The Unseen Moon. I welcome that. I imagine that being a lesbian in Kenya is challenging, so perhaps I can offer some lightheartedness and political astuteness now and then.

I’m part of a lesbian family. I am intimately acquainted with lesbians. My only sibling is a lesbian. My father’s only sibling was a lesbian. My mother had no siblings, so her side remains a question mark. In short, I know lesbians. I have embraced lesbians often, literally. You might say lesbians are my people.

But I pray the Nairobi lesbians are not related to Barry Obama, a brother Kenyan.

That would be quite disappointing.

* * * *

(Note: I always try to  include some photo or artwork on posts that are related to the topic. Nairobi lesbians presented a challenge. I did a Google image search using “Nairobi lesbians” as a keyword and came up with some interesting stuff, but nothing I could display. I opted for some kente cloth. Everybody likes kente cloth.)

(Tomorrow: Beasts breaching the barricades.)