Family matters

car
My daughter gets a surprise new car that my mother and I bought her in the late 1980s.

“Men cause problems between nations. Women cause problems in families.”

THAT’S A QUOTE from long-time radio host, physiologist and family therapist Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I heard her say that on the radio in the late 1990s when I was living in Houston. It stuck with me because it is so true.

The only Gringo family I still have are two women, my daughter and my sister. I have not communicated with my sister in over eight years. That was my decision because she is explosive and stressful to interact with. And I haven’t heard anything out of my daughter in two or more years. That was not my decision.

My daughter is not explosive, but she is hyper-sensitive and hair-trigger to offend. I apparently offended her in some way years back, after my Mexico move, so she has never visited me here in spite of my invitations, invitations I have given up on extending.

She gets her hyper-sensitivity honestly, from her mother who is also hyper-sensitive. We copy our parents to a great degree, and as a child she was around her mother far more than she was around me. Her mother and I split when she was just 5 years old.

My daughter and I had a great relationship when she was 5. When she was 8, her mother and mom’s boyfriend hightailed it to Canada and never told me where or how to contact them. This was primarily because the police were after them. They (were) returned to New Orleans about three years later. My daughter was 11.

She and I reconnected at that point, but it was never the same. She told me later that she had believed I was dead. Wasn’t that a swell thing for her mother to impart?

She lives in Athens, Georgia, now with her second husband, a patent lawyer. She is 53. They’ve been married for about 25 years, and they have no children, so I’m not a grandfather, and never will be. I would like having grandkids. It would be fun.

This all saddens me quite a lot.

My sister lives in the small town of Arcata in Northern California. I learned this online. She moved there from Atlanta at some point in the past eight years. She followed her long-time “partner” there. My sister identifies as a lesbian!

She used to be straight, but then she switched teams about 40 years ago.

Out of curiosity this week, I did internet sleuthing and discovered that she lives in a double-wide trailer, or at least that’s what it looks like on Google Street View. I learned about a month ago that her partner died two years ago at age 77. Her partner was far more personable than my sister. I liked her. R.I.P.

My sister is 78. I sometimes wonder if age has calmed her. I doubt it.

My daughter and my sister won’t communicate either. I don’t know which one started that aspect of the miserable situation. Both are professional therapists, by the way, as is my daughter’s mother. The three of them. Isn’t that a hoot?

Enough about them. Let’s trot this notion of women causing problems in families over to my horde of Mexican relatives. What do I see? I see us men mostly minding our own business and the women lighting gas fires all over the place. The gossip and the ensuing problems are endless. This appears to be a universal phenomenon. Sad.

Why can’t women be more like men?

Good night, Dr. Laura, wherever you are.

A full Saturday

saturday
A very lovely morning after a pretty nasty week, weatherwise.

SATURDAYS ARE variable, but some are far more varied, i.e. busy, than others, and this is one of those Saturdays. I pause to fill you in due to my being a sharing sort of fellow.

When Saturday falls on the first of a month, then things get even fuller. There are Saturday chores, and there are first-of-month chores. There are also occasional chores, and one of those fell on this Saturday too.

That was the twice-a-month 8:30 a.m. drive downtown to check my postoffice box. I did that only to discover the postoffice shut due to this also being inauguration day for our new president (ugh!) in Mexico City. Why they had to close the postoffice here is one of those Latino mysteries.

So I came home with no mail, but since I almost never get mail, this is no big thing. That’s right, I get virtually no mail in my postoffice box, not even the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

I also don’t get sales calls at dinnertime.

Saturday morning is when Abel the Deadpan Yardman arrives to mow the lawn. Normally, we’ve ended that by December, but stubborn rains in November have kept the grass green and jubilant.

The first of the month means I check the two cars, the fluid levels, the tire P.S.I., that sort of thing. I did not do that today. Tomorrow is okay.

Saturday morning is when the plants on the veranda get watered, so I did that. It’s also when I shot the photo. It’s a cool, lovely day. I also wiped the Jesus Patio table and web chairs. You can see them in the photo.

Saturday is when my child bride sells her pastries in the afternoon on the downtown plaza, and I accompany her for the first few hours. As I write this, around noon, she’s out in her private kitchen baking up a storm.

Simultaneously, I hear pigs screaming bloody murder next door. They are not kind to their pigs. Sometimes they do murder them.

My neighborhood is not for the squeamish.

Though not specifically a Saturday chore, I washed the Honda because it was grubby due to the nasty weather this week, lots of rain and mud, and one wants to present an elegant face to the world.

And after Abel the Deadpan Yardman cuts the grass and heads home, two doors down, with his weedeater, I upend the mower and hose it clean.

It’s a Briggs & Stratton.

Furthermore, arriving this afternoon while we sit on the plaza hawking pastries is a woman from Santa Fe, New Mexico, who will live in our Downtown Casita for a month, maybe two. She just retired as a therapist. Perhaps she can heal me, make me right.

I’ll drive her to her new, temporary, home with the keys.

Yes, it’s been a very busy Saturday, busier than usual, and it’s only half over. And it will continue till tonight when we climb weary under the goose-down comforter draped over the king bed, and call it a day.

* * * *

(When I retired 19 years ago 19 days from now — yes, Dec. 19, 1999 — I wondered how I’d fill my days. It hasn’t been an issue, to put it mildly.)

 

Mardi Gras days

Carnival

CONTINUING THE old-photo theme I started Friday, we have here a shot from early 1966. That is me with my first wife, who went by the name of Ginger in those times, but not anymore.

She was, as the baggy blouse indicates, in a family way.

I was, as the beads draped around my head and neck and the Dixie beer can in my grip indicate, in an inebriated way. However, my fondness for booze did not really start till five years later.

We are standing outside a rooming house on St. Charles Avenue in Uptown New Orleans on Mardi Gras. A parade was passing in the street, which is how I caught those beads. I was 21, and she was 20.

This first marriage — for both of us — lasted a bit over five years. Ginger later married a more appropriate fellow, a great guy, and they’ve been together for decades. She had two more children. She’s now a therapist in New Orleans and, from what little I know, doing well.