Seven decades down

family

Then

AT 4:23 AM, 70 years ago today, a scrawny, unhealthy baby was born at the Emily Winship Woodruff Maternity Center at Crawford W. Long Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

T’was I.

It was three months after V-E Day, 24 days after President Truman dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and 21 days after famous firefighter Smokey the Bear appeared on the scene.

My mother was weary because I was a long time coming down the birth canal. Was my father there? I don’t know. He might have been in a bar.

I had an affliction. An intestinal valve did not work right, and I could not digest food properly. The prognosis was grim. I hung on, skinny and wan, for a couple of months until an experimental drug was first tried on me — and it worked. I’ve been digesting well ever since.

It’s strange to be this old because I feel good. I have no major health issues, and I’ve never had any. Knock on wood.  My last hospitalization, for nothing serious, was over 50 years ago when I was 19. I’ve never broken even one bone. The only obvious signs of this passage of time is that my hair is white, and my energy level is not what it was 30 years ago. You do feel that.

Alexander the Great, Lord Byron, Adolf Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ernest Hemingway, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix and Jesus Christ all lived fewer years. There is some debate about the last one.

There is one quite noticeable aspect to being 70: You know it’s the end game. Oh, it might come 20 years down the road, like it did for my mother, or just five years more, like it did for my father. It could come tomorrow, and nobody would be surprised. No one would say: So young. What a shame.  Young has vanished.

This age brings a sweet calm but also a sadness, una tristeza. Many things won’t be repeated: barreling 100 miles an hour on a motorcycle down a California freeway in the middle of a cold night; bicycling the perimeter of Puerto Rico, a long-ago, unfulfilled dream; having the sole motor of an Aeronca Champ conk out at 800 feet, forcing a spiraling, white-knuckle descent to a New Orleans runway …

… speedily bolting a crib together alone at night after my wife heads to the hospital earlier than expected; having my daughter call me Daddy; visiting a Cuban dictatorship with a Mexican; visiting a Haitian dictatorship with a Frenchman; a first view of England from the seat of a DC-10; seeing notes of music dance with DNA helices over a Florida lake while listening to frog songs sung far, far away; moving to Mexico alone with two suitcases …

… getting married yet again.

Best to enjoy the calm, an uncommon sensation decades ago.

I never amounted to much, as we Southerners say, but that goes for most people. Most of us simply breathe and live. With luck, we do minor damage and some good. The most the majority of us can hope for is that we made some small difference, sometimes in the life of only one other person.


“If I can stop just one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”


Emily Dickinson wrote that, and I believe it. The flip side is that you do not break hearts. Twice divorced, I fear I have been remiss in that.

Now*

Now*

I committed one major error. I drank too much. It went on for 25 years, from age 26 to 51. I was never a raving drunk. I never spent a night in jail. I never lost a job. I was a low-level boozer, blotting things — mostly myself — out.

I quit one sunset evening in March of 1996. I was sitting alone in the outdoor patio of a taco restaurant in Houston, Texas. It was a conscious decision.

I remember marveling at my clear-headedness. It was easy, and life made a 180-degree flip overnight. Things have been great ever since.

So I was born twice. Once in 1944 and again in 1996, so I’m not really 70 years old. I am 18, and my child bride is not really my third wife but my first. I’m just getting started.


“Death should take me while I am in the mood.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


* * * *

* Photo by Jennifer Rose.

Historically clueless

MY MAIN BEEFS, or rather some of them, with collectivists are that they are untutored in history and clueless about human nature. They are utopian and naive more often than not.

They dislike America, for instance. Incredibly, Barry and Michelle are on board with this. It is because they don’t know U.S. history very well due to being “educated” in the American university system, which for decades has been more political than educational, especially outside the hard sciences.

In the news, you rarely find stories dealing specifically with this issue — the collectivists’ ignorance of history — but this morning I came upon one, and I will share it with you. Another of the Moon’s public services.

Life changes

oldhammockSINCE DAY ONE, over 12 years ago, this hammock has hung right there on the upstairs terraza. I brought it from the porch of the two-story rental where we lived before building the Hacienda.

This hammock is actually second generation. Its papa rotted in time and was replaced by another, identical, that we purchased during a visit down to the coast. Good hammocks are not sold here on the mountaintop.

This one too is beginning to rot. It was always outside. We never brought it in, even in frigid winter. A couple of weeks ago, two young nephews were here visiting, and they played on the hammock in the typical fashion of 11-year-olds, which is to say maniacally. One string broke.

For many years, I was out there daily, swinging in the cool air under the red-tile roof, usually with a book, often with nothing but a peaceful heart. Those were good times. But I gradually tapered off. Dunno why. My child bride has never used the hammock much. She’s not much for kicking back.

I, on the other hand, am a first-class kicker-backer.

The perspective does not make one thing obvious. You step through that screen door, and you are almost against the hammock. It’s an obstacle, but when the hammock was used a lot, it was an obstacle I was willing to accept. Yesterday, I said to myself:  You will never use this hammock again, so get rid of it.

And I did. We folded it up and upended it into a corner out in the garden patio where the yard gear lives under another red-tile roof. My child bride does not want me to throw it away, even though it is well rotted, because she never wants to throw anything away. It’s a Mexican thing.

So I will wait some months, then toss it. Don’t tell her.

I went out this morning, and swept the upstairs terraza. It felt more open, more accessible, more friendly. I think even the magueys in the big pots are glad it’s gone. That terraza has always been a bit of a problem. Tough magueys are about the only plants that don’t die up there due to winter freezes.

In summer, it’s usually covered by a third with puddled rainwater. In springtime, the sun is brutal if you’re not under the relatively small percentage covered by the red-tile roof.

But we’ll be replacing the hammock with a couple of nice, soft chairs that are designed for outdoor life. We’ll get them from Costco in the capital city. It’s just a question of when we see something we like.

For years we also used the yard patio a lot, the one downstairs with the glass-topped table, web chairs and big, brown umbrella. However, that space too has dwindled almost to zero usage. Nowadays we use the downstairs terraza with its wicker rockers almost exclusively for kicking back.

Life changes. Dunno why.

Downside of diversity, Part II

AS PART OF The Unseen Moon’s occasional public service, and as a followup to yesterday’s post on the Downside of Diversity, here is an educational video by Chris Rock.

Yes, there is potty talk involved, and The Moon prefers to maintain its G rating at all times, but sometimes colorful speech is necessary to make a powerful point. If only Michael Brown had watched this video, and taken it to heart, perhaps he would not be lying dead on a cold marble slab today, or wherever he is.

We can easily connect Brown’s fatal encounter with the police to cultural differences. Brown’s culture was of the ghetto, a culture of constant, perceived victimization and, especially among the young, in-your-face defiance. The police officer’s culture of law, order and personal responsibility was another thing entirely.

This is dedicated to Swisher Sweets fans everywhere.

Downside of diversity

looters

Parched “civil-rights activists” stealing beer in Ferguson, Missouri.

EXCEPT WHEN left-wing schoolteachers* run amok in Oaxaca, we rarely see this type of thing in Mexico. I attribute this, in large part, due to our not being a multicultural society. We do not embrace diversity.

We are Mexicans and we are 90 percent brown, and it’s always been that way, and that’s how we like it. We  know that a nation is like a family, and a family consists of people who look alike, mostly think alike, share a common language and religion. That’s a family, señores, whether residing in a house or within national borders.

It’s why homes have walls and locks, and nations should too. Most do.

Show me a nation with lots of diversity and multiculturalism, and I will — with very few exceptions — show you a land where strife and bloodletting often reign. Diversity within a nation is a problem to be resolved as intelligently and as kindly as possible. Multiculturalism should never be encouraged and idolized.

The United States encourages it, worships it, and gets bloodied by it on a constant basis.

* * * *

* Left-wing teachers in Mexico is a redundancy. 

Maguey boner

tall

IT’S AUGUST, and an old man’s fancy turns to stuff of the earth.

Sometimes that stuff gets directly in our faces. When we came back from Mexico City last week, gone just four days, this tequila maguey had quite the stiffie.

That entire stalk appeared over those four days. For perspective, know that the regular spiked fronds circling below are over six feet from the ground.

This baby means business. The pole in the middle must rise about 14 feet or so.

Alas, it spells death for the plant, which I stuck into the dirt years ago when it was about eight inches tall. After poling up, so to speak, the plant has done its work, whatever that is, here on Earth. It dies.

This is the second time we’ve had a tequila maguey do this, so I have experience. I had heard that the plant dies after sporting its woodie, but I did not know it took so long to die. Mostly, it just sits there, looking woebegone. Finally, after a year or two, I had the first one uprooted, which is amazingly easy, and toted away. Before uprooting, it’s best to saw off the boner. Ouch!

That will be this plant’s fate too. There is one more in the yard, younger, and it will do the same one day, and that will be the end of it. I will plant no more. They are a hassle anyway, with those constantly sprouting swords.

August heads toward its finale. When September arrives, the end of the rainy season will be in sight. Normally, it dribbles a bit into October and then stops. November is our most beautiful month. It’s when you should visit.

Below the floor

I WENT TO church yesterday. Basilica, actually, but I went to basilica doesn’t sound right, bounces off the ear funny.

Driving down the cobblestone street, I passed the basilica and got a hair up my backside, so I parked and went up the long stone walkway to the huge old door. I didn’t have to doff my hat because I’d left the hat in the Honda.

dahliaI went inside and sat on one of the shellacked pine pews, in a spot where the place to kneel was flipped up because I don’t kneel and because the kneeling things make it a tight squeeze for feet. I like legroom.

The basilica ceiling is very high. In spite of its being a small town here, the Spaniards built a first-class operation. You can’t have a puny basilica. It makes a bad impression on God, or I imagine that’s how it would be seen.

It was late afternoon, too late for Mass or perhaps too early, or both. Not a priest in sight. There had been a powerful rain, and few folks were inside the basilica with me, perhaps seven or so. It was grandly decorated with massive buntings, red, white and gold, hanging from on high. And floods of fresh flowers.

There were three confessionals and electronic candles because wax candles have gone the way of most full-penguin nuns, a thing of the old days. Nuns want to be comfortable, and nobody wants to burn the basilica down.

You do forfeit the nice smell of hot wax.

We have our own Virgin Mary. She’s named La Señora de la Salud. All over Mexico, towns and villages have their own local Virgin Marys. I really don’t get it, all those Virgin Marys instead of just the one. Our local Virgin Mary, made of cane paste and very old, sits up high in a glass-enclosed perch in the basilica. People here take her very seriously.

I sit in the basilica every couple of months, and I always look at the marble floor and think of who’s beneath it: my brother-in-law, the one who accidentally shot himself to death with a little .22-caliber pistol some years back. There are tombs down there. You descend narrow steps under a ventilation grate in the floor.

If you didn’t know it was there, you’d just walk right over it, thinking of other things, not of all the rotting corpses below. I’ve been down two or three times, those tombs where Catholic people spend eternity.

On leaving the basilica, walking back down the long stone walkway, you have the option of crossing the cobblestone street and continuing ahead. Four blocks down a hillside, on a perpendicular street, sits another church, almost as big, but not a basilica, just a normal Catholic church.

I don’t visit there. I don’t sit. I know no one below the floor.

The fireplaces

Upstairs fireplace

Upstairs fireplace

Downstairs fireplace

Downstairs fireplace

FIREPLACES WERE a part of my childhood because we spent lots of time at Granny’s House. Actually, we lived at Granny’s House until I was almost 7 years old. There was a fireplace in every room save the bath.

After moving away — to Florida — we returned often, for decades.

There is something primal and savage about fire. It speaks to us, and warms and comforts us too. Before building the Hacienda we lived in a two-floor rental nearer downtown. There was a fireplace upstairs and down. The first year I lived there alone, not long after moving over the Rio Bravo, wondering what the devil?

It was very cold that first winter, and I would sit long spells with a coffee cup in the mornings in a chair placed quite close to the fire. I would watch those flames, which are fascinating if you pay sharp attention. If you are spectacularly alone, fire can become a dear friend. Like love, it warms you.

When we built the Hacienda, we told the headman, a stone mason among other things, that we wanted a huge fireplace downstairs made of stone. He did just that, but we would have preferred something even larger. I don’t recall now why we did not stop him in mid-work to get something bigger.

He was a stubborn old man.

See that chimney from the downstairs fireplace snaking up the wall toward the ceiling? It continues on through the second floor, also against the wall, providing an architectural touch with cornices on the floor above. The chimneys of both fireplaces are not inside the wall. Instead they abut the walls inside, not out.

I would have liked to have one of those chimneys that are so immense a person can stand inside or nearly, but what we have, especially downstairs, is pretty grand. We don’t use them much, however, but they’re great to admire.

When my Granny died in the 1980s, my parents moved to the Georgia farm and renovated the house. All of the fireplaces were covered, and central heat and air was installed. The ceilings were lowered. A new entrance was constructed. My parents were practical people, but I would have kept at least one fireplace.

Perhaps that one in the kitchen where I heated Coca-Colas on the hearth on cold mornings. Small Cracker kids sometimes do the craziest things.

The Brown People’s Party

THIS IS A real hoot. A dangerous hoot, but a hoot nonetheless.

Here in Mexico we have who has become, like Harold Stassen decades ago in the United States, a perennial presidential candidate. He is Andrés Manuel Lopéz Obrador (AMLO), and he really, really wants to be president. He ran for the office in 2006, leading a left-wing group called The Coalition for the Well-Being of All.

He came close to winning, but it was no cigar. He promptly flew into a snit and had hundreds of his supporters disrupt major streets in downtown Mexico City for months. International watchdog organizations had declared the election fair and square, but Mexicans still don’t have much faith in the electoral process.

AMLO finally gave up the Mexico City street encampments and declared himself a parallel president, the legitimate president, and he spent the next six years in his delusional office, traveling the country.

The following presidential election came in 2012, and AMLO was waiting with another lefty political coalition, this one called The Progressive Movement. Again, he lost. Again, he cried fraud. He is a sore loser.

morenaOur Harold Stassen now has a new political party, and it goes by its acronym MORENA, which stands for something or other. What it stands for is irrelevant. What matters is the acronym, MORENA, which is a Spanish word that means brown woman.

Yes, AMLO now heads the Brown People’s Party, a blatant race play.

AMLO has brought racial politics out into the open. I am for the brown people, he is none-too-subtly saying, and since Mexico is about 90 percent brown, he has quite a voter base to manipulate. And if you think low-information voters are numerous in the United States, know that we beat that number by far.

The next presidential election here takes place in 2018. Let’s see how many of our brown-majority nation vote for the Brown People’s Party on its name alone. Quite a few, I imagine. And AMLO imagines the same.

Heaven help us.