Running out of steam?

YESTERDAY, A READER from Tennessee emailed to ask if all was well on my end. The reason being that over a week has passed with nothing new under the Moon.

I rarely remain silent so long, but maybe I will in the future. Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. The older you get, the less steam you generate.

I began this writing effort 15 years ago come January. I started on the Blogger website with a different title. I believe the first post was about a lunch here at home with company, the guests being the inimitable Al Kinnison and his wife, Jean.

(Both of whom are now deceased. They were witnesses at our 2002 wedding. R.I.P.)

Al read it later and told me he liked it. That inspired me, so I soldiered on, mostly writing about my relatively new life in a startlingly different world. Often I waxed lyrical, and people praised it. The list of followers grew, and it was fun.

I permanently pasted some reader feedback on the side column of that blog. Here are just a few examples:

Infectiously personal.

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

Dark introspection.

You are so funny. I was snorting in my atole reading this.

You disgust me. (a paraphrase)

Later, I abandoned Blogger and switched to WordPress, a far better platform, as it’s called. And by 2011, I had wearied of writing about “Life in Mexico,” which had become routine. The novelty was gone. Anyway, many Gringos here were writing about “Life in Mexico.”

They had that base covered well. One good example is Steve Cotton’s blog where he never seems to weary of writing about Mexico. I admire his stamina.

I tossed my first blog aside and started fresh with the intention of writing not about Mexico but other stuff. Enter The Unseen Moon, a title that came to me out of nowhere in the process of writing The Old Wolf. The phrase was in the final line.

Speaking of The Old Wolf, I began writing short fiction, which I’d never done before. Prior to 2005, with the birth of the first blog, in spite of being in the newspaper business for 30 years, I had never written anything but headlines and photo captions.

I was an editor, not a writer.

Most of the brief fiction is available hereabouts via links. I also jumped into politics, the good sort, the conservative kind. Leftists, being the rabid bunch they are, reacted as they do, and I had to block quite a few commenters due to rudeness and curses.

My WordPress list of blocked people is laughably long, all because of ill breeding. Sad.

So, here we are almost 15 years after the start. We’ve gone from the novelty of living in Mexico to fiction to politics, and at times it’s all combined. And I have aged. Fifteen years ago my hair was as much black as white. Now it’s all white, and I’m creaky, sometimes cranky.

Am I running out of steam? Perhaps. But not today, it seems.

See you down the line, but Lord knows when.

Do not go gentle into that good night. 

— Dylan Thomas

But why not, Dylan? One wonders.

Swearing off San Miguel

YEARS AGO a friend said we were in a rut, that the two of us rarely did anything different and new. He was correct.

He was referring to travel, but the accusation likely was accurate in other life activities. I attribute it mostly to age. I used to enjoy travel far more than I do now.

I wonder if I’m becoming as big a fuddy-duddy as was my father all his life. He thought if you’ve seen one city you’ve seen them all. He didn’t want to go anywhere. Of course, that’s ridiculous. There’s a huge difference, for instance, between Houston and nearby New Orleans and even San Antonio, Texas.

I’ve never been to Omaha, but I bet it’s quite a switch from San Francisco.

I was sitting in the central plaza of Mérida years ago, or was it Puebla? I recall looking around and thinking that I could be sitting in the plaza of any Mexican colonial city. Why did I blow airfare and hotel costs to come here?

Colonial Mexican cities are indeed quite similar.

But I have decided to branch out a bit, travel-wise. Not to do it more often, but to go to new places. Part of this change is the decision to never, ever visit the silly city of San Miguel de Allende again. Never, never, never.

It had become a habit, a pattern, on deciding to get off the mountaintop for a spell, to go either to Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Coast or to San Miguel de Allende. They are about the same distance from the Hacienda, but in opposite directions. We were in a rut. Didn’t really give much thought to other options.

With rare exceptions, when we travel we drive. We don’t fly. If memory serves, the last time we flew anywhere, it was to Mérida in 2013, just a year after we flew to Havana for our 10th anniversary. Both jaunts were on Interjet, a nice airline, by the way.

I’m not going to swear off Zihuatanejo because a beach is a beach, and it’s the nearest beach. We’ve gone to Zihua so often, however, that it’s getting a bit ho-hum.  And you’ll sweat your ass off. We haven’t been there in three years.

But we’re swearing off San Miguel. No more. Enough is enough. In spite of having some great restaurants, places you don’t easily find elsewhere in Mexico, it’s just a laughable town inhabited by some Mexicans and lots of goofy Gringos who parade around in funny clothing. It’s amusing at first, but that wears off.

I’m making a list of new places to visit. We’ll be driving, and they are either one day or two days away. We’ll spend one night en route for those two-day spots.

Having just begun this project, the list is short:

  1. Guadalajara. Oddly, we are a bit closer to Guadalajara, Mexico’s second city, than we are to Mexico City. Yet we’ve been to Mexico City a thousand times, and I’ve not been to Guadalajara in 17 years, and just briefly then. My child bride and I have never been there together.
  2. Xilitla, San Luis Potosí. This idea came from one of The Moon‘s frequent visitors, Peggy Langdon. She went to Xilitla once, and I saw her mention of it on Facebook. There’s a place called Las Pozos in Xilitla. I want to see that.
  3. Zacatecas. I’ve been there just once, many years ago. It’s my wife’s favorite Mexican city, and she’s been to most of the biggies. She’s visited every state save one, Quintana Roo. She racked up those trips as a result of her 14 years working as a civil engineer for the federal highway department. She loves Zacatecas, and we can visit Aguascalientes at the same time. Trivia Department: Zacatecas is Mexico’s northernmost Colonial city.
  4. Tequila, Jalísco. This idea came from Steve Cotton who visited there recently. It looks like a fun place. This would be a two-day drive. We’d likely overnight in the Gringo-infested town of Ajijic or nearby. Ajijic, like the aforementioned San Miguel de Allende, is always good for eye-rolling.

That’s the entire list for now. I’m open to suggestions. New places would have to be within a two-day drive. My ideal one-day drive is six hours max. More than six hours turns a drive into an ordeal in my book.

Don’t suggest places that require planes. If I get on a plane, I’m going to Colombia, not to the other side of Mexico.

As for San Miguel, I wish you well, amigos. Try to get on without me. I won’t miss you, but thanks for the hilarity you’ve provided through the years.

Eternal bloom from the barrister

orchid

STEVE COTTON, a retired barrister from Oregon who now lives occasionally in the “little Mexican village” of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, and writes now and then on his website Mexpatriate — In the Key of Steve, came with family in February to stay in our downtown casita for a spell.

Señor Cotton, being a well-bred sort (tip of the sombrero to his Mom and Pop), as a token of apreciation — I didn’t charge him for the rental — left this orchid for us. We transported the flower from the downtown casita here to the Hacienda where we live, and we sat it atop the dining room table.

As I said, that was February … of 2017.

Yes, the orchid has graced our table for over a year, and it’s never lacked flowers. I find this remarkable. I didn’t know any plant flowered for more than a year.

So every morning especially, as we chew toasted bagels with cream cheese or the occasional croissant with orange marmalade, we think kindly of the former Oregon barrister who now lives occasionally — when he’s not flying all over the place — in the “little Mexican village” of Barra de Navidad, Jalisco.

Night blooms

WALKING INTO the dining room/kitchen last night shortly before 10, as the clock on the wall clearly indicates, I saw this, and decided to take a photograph.

It’s not a very sharp photograph because, contrary to the camera’s shrill advice, I did not use the flash, just the light hanging from the ceiling, which is not visible here.

Let’s call it a mood piece.

My child bride had turned in quite early — she was in bed with her Kindle — but I was still rambling around.

Two items of note: The wicker backs of the chairs were done years ago by my wife. They’ve held up pretty well. The second thing is the orchid on the table. It was left, already blooming, in our Downtown Casita in February by Steve Cotton.

Five  months later, it’s still in bloom. Amazing.

Nightlife.