Crackers, peanut butter & Coke

peanut

NOW THAT I do not have a family anymore, the original one, the one I was born into, I think about them fairly often. I miss them a lot.

Downstairs yesterday evening, alone and sitting on the scarlet sofa, reading the Kindle, I got hungry, so I stood up, and walked into the kitchen for a handful of unsalted peanuts, which I brought back to the sofa where it was comfortable.

Incense was burning, and the light was low.

My mind traveled from the peanuts to peanut butter and then onto crackers and Coke. That’s what my paternal grandparents, who were born in the 19th century, packed for road trips in the 1950s in their Chevrolet. They were in their 60s at that point.

When they arrived from Atlanta to our North Florida home, they’d still have some of those snacks in the Chevrolet, and then later, when they packed to head home, Grandmother would make more and bag them. They’d buy Cokes along the way.

My paternal grandfather owned a small general store during the Great Depression, and they survived fairly well, much better than many folks. My mother’s people who were farmers also weathered the Depression better than most due to growing their own food.

My mother’s parents owned Fords, but they never made trips, ever, which was different from my father’s people who were quite fond of driving about. Since my mother’s parents did not travel, I don’t know what they might have favored for road snacks.

It was not until last night that the fact that my maternal grandparents did not travel at all dawned on me. Maybe farming keeps one close to home, feeding the cows, plowing the fields, but I think it was more a matter of personality.

My mother’s father died when I was 12, and even then Grandmother tended to stay put. We visited her, not the other way around. Maybe she intuited something.

During a rare visit to our home in New Orleans a decade after she was widowed, she tripped and fell one night, was hospitalized, went downhill and slipped into death.

Her last trip. Hundreds of miles from home. She was 81. My favorite grandparent.

Funny where a handful of peanuts on a cool evening will transport your mind.

First day of fall

AUTUMN’S ARRIVED, and it’s still raining. I shot the video yesterday from the bedroom. Yesterday also was my child bride’s birthday. She turned 59 though she still looks 40.

One more year, and she can get Mexico’s Old Folks Discount card, which I’ve had for years. That gets you into museums, etc., free most of the time, but its best feature is travel discounts, often 50 percent. The two of us will be able to use buses and planes for the price of one. Of course, we almost never use buses or planes, but we may rethink that habit.

Our last flight occurred in 2013. A trek to Mérida.

Just before that, 2012, a trek to Havana.

Nothing since, at least by air.

We celebrated the birthday with a lunch out and have a trip planned to Querétaro next weekend to continue the birthday festivities a full week. Among the thrilling activities planned for Querétaro will be a visit to the new H.E.B mega-supermarket which has traveled down from Texas. Perhaps we’ll see some Lipton tea.

Querétaro is one of Mexico’s best cities.

The rainy season has about a month to go, although it could stop on Oct. 1 as it did one year. Normally, however, it drags on into October and sometimes dumps rain on the eve of the Day of the Dead just to be annoying and muddy. Hope not.

Back from the chaotic capital

WE RETURNED Wednesday via bus from Mexico City.

After spending four nights in our condo.

There is good news, ecstatic news for me. We rented the place to a nephew who started this week at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, a prestigious university that’s difficult to get into.

Our condo is walking distance from the school.

The not-so-good news is that his family views rent as money wasted, so they will be looking for somewhere to buy.  How soon we do not know. We may sell them our place. I hope so. I have left that decision to my child bride.

I vote a resounding yes. She, on the other hand, holds the typical Mexican view that one should never sell property under any circumstances whatsoever.

But she does see the inconvenience of its being in Mexico City.

It seems every visit to the nation’s capital is worse than the previous, traffic-wise. A friend who lives there says that each time a new thoroughfare is constructed, a new subway line opens or a Metrobús route is inaugurated, congestion just gets worse instead of better.

The young tenant and his mother arrived by bus on Wednesday, dumped a ton of baggage in the condo, and spent the night in a nearby hotel. The following morning, we left town, and they moved in.

She won’t be staying. Just him.

So, as things stand, our twice-yearly visit to air out the condo, chase the bugs away, and mop up dust is now canceled. May it ever be so.

I shot the video on our way back. There were only six other people in the two-decker ETN bus. It looks empty because it mostly was.

A few months back, I decided to never visit San Miguel de Allende again. I hope to make the same vow for Mexico City. Other destinations call and, of course, it’s ever spectacular here on my Mexican mountaintop where we live in peace.

* * * *

(Note: In the middle of the return trip, the bus was stopped by immigration agents, and the passengers were asked for identification. They were looking for illegal aliens, of course. It was a first for me and, strangely, we were in the middle of Mexico. It was akin to being in Kansas. I flashed my official, laminated, full-color, photo-included voter ID.)

Back from Mexico City

WE RETURNED from Mexico City yesterday after spending five nights in that tumultuous burg, and I’ve never been so happy to get back to the Hacienda.

We own a condo there, where my child bride lived when we met over 16 years ago, and we visit a couple of times a year to air it out. Otherwise, it just sits there, furnished and idle. We’d rent it if we could find someone reliable.

condo
Our condo is one of many in one of these buildings.

Two of the four full days were dedicated to straightening out a financial matter, a pension fund, left over from when my wife worked as a civil engineer with the federal highway department. For some reason, offices at UNAM, the massive National Autonomous University of Mexico, are involved in the matter.

I had never been to UNAM, which is in the southern side of Mexico City. Alas, our condo stands in the northern side. Since Mexico City traffic is beyond dreadful, this meant hours of sitting in taxis inching through traffic.

Otherwise, the visit entailed cleaning the condo, and eating caldo de gallina one day in a nearby restaurant we found recently and barbecue hamburgers in a food truck just across the street from our place.

So you get a feel for things, at top is a brief video I shot during the bus ride to the national capital, and below is another I shot from a Mexico City taxi. We were on our way to UNAM. Or maybe we were returning from UNAM. It really makes no difference whatsoever.

Now I’ve got yard work to do. Things pile up when you’re gone.