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.

Misinformation queens

COLLECTIVISTS ARE experts at propaganda and misinformation. So here are some facts for you.

queenLet’s look at the term Fat Cat, which is loved by collectivists. Fat Cat is a snide word for a spectacularly successful person. It is successful people who provide jobs, make the economy run, which spreads the good life and opportunity for all.

Some wealthy people are bad. Some are good. Same goes for the middle class and the poor. Some are good people. Some are real sumbitches. Being bad is not a trait cornered by the successful, those Fat Cats.

And we all want to be wealthy, want to be Fat Cats. It is said that money will not bring happiness, but who among us would not jump at the chance to test that theory? I’d love to be rich, and so would you.

By the way, here are the names of some current and former Fat Cats: Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and Mao Zedong. Wildly wealthy, left-wing Fat Cats, they differ from capitalist Fat Cats in this way: They do not make economies run or spread the good life and opportunity for all. They do precisely the contrary.

Every nation in the world is run by Fat Cats. Capitalist Fat Cats are preferred for freedom and prosperity.

At times, you see statements like Republicans want to eliminate welfare, Medicare, Social Security, etc. This too is incorrect. What they want to do is restructure these things so they will thrive in the long run. They want welfare to go to those who deserve it, not beach surfers. They want disability to go to those actually disabled.

When collectivists say otherwise, they are just pandering to the ignorant, and the ignorant eat it up.

Welfare systems are flying out of control again. They were reined in a lot during the Clinton Administration. Republicans did most of the reining. Thank Newt Gingrich. But now they are running rampant once more. The percentage of people on the dole is soaring, and that is not a good thing, financially or culturally.

You also see claims that no Republican voted for the Civil Rights Act. No Republican voted for Social Security. Not one! These errors are passed around willy-nilly online, and people believe them in spite of their being false.

More pandering to the uninformed and gullible.

It is common to hear (Barry is fond of saying it) that the Republican House is a hotbed of obstructionism, and that’s why nothing ever gets done in Washington nowadays. This is false. Hundreds of bills have passed the House, and they now sit stonewalled on the desk of Harry Reid, a high-ranking collectivist.

You need not look far to see the erroneous claim that Republicans don’t want to pay women as much as men. Most collectivists believe this. It is more than incorrect. It is silly nonsense. Who would not want his wife, his daughter, his mother to earn as much as men?

There was a sizable gap in the past, but that has mostly closed. Not entirely, however, and the small gap that still exists is due primarily to factors like the occupations women choose and that they often elect to work part-time, etc. It is not due to conservative oppression as collectivists want you to believe.

I wish conservatives would improve their propaganda skills. The lefties are far better at it.

* * * *

P.S. There is no War on Women either.

Mexico City Blues

Traveling in style on the elegant ETN line.

Traveling in style on the elegant ETN bus line.

WE RETURNED from Mexico City yesterday. The visit was quite successful, and there were no blues in sight. I just like the title, which I stole from Jack Kerouac’s book of poetry.

The trip had a dual purpose: 1. Tidy up and air out the apartment, which we do at least twice a year. 2. Do something about getting the apartment’s deed since it was paid off more than three years ago.

We succeeded at both. The apartment is tidy, and the deed process is finally in motion. I said in a comment on the previous Mexico City post that we should have the deed by year’s end. That was wrong. It will take up to a full year to get the deed in our hands, we were were told. No matter. It’s in the pipeline at last.

So that gives you plenty of time to save your $38,000 (or whatever our getting $500,000 pesos will require, depending on the exchange rate). Here are some more photos.

outside

The grand view. We’re on the fourth floor.

The place is only about four miles from the Alameda, rapidly reached down one of two avenues, one named Cien Metros and the other Vallejo.

The Metrobus system passes one long block from our apartment, and a subway stop (Instituto del Petróleo) is a bit farther, but not much.

The place comes fully furnished and with a lovely rose carpet, wall to wall, in the living room/dining room area. There’s also a clothes washer.

Living room looking thataway. Two door lead to bedrooms.

Living room looking thataway.  Kitchen to the right.

Two people fit here well for visits. It’s too small for permanent living, to my way of thinking, but some of the neighbors have entire families stacked into one of the units, which are all identical.

The property tax this year was about $30 U.S., so you can see that it’s quite economical. There’s a hookup to Gas Natural, a Mexican company that provides propane to one and all.

I mentioned in the previous Mexico City post that the bathroom is very small, too small to even have the sink inside it.

Instead the sink is in a recessed area just outside. We replaced the humble sink my child bride had lived with for six years with something far more elegant that we purchased at Sears at the Plaza Lindavista. I took a photo, which included me.

A selfie!

A selfie!

This should suffice to inspire you to start saving your pennies or pesos to purchase this great deal in about a year’s time. You’ll have your home away from home in one of the grandest cities on earth.

One thing I do in the nation’s capital, which I rarely do while at home about 225 miles away on the rural mountaintop, is watch the local news on the telly. That was how I learned that our left-wing demagogue, the perennial candidate who goes by his initials AMLO, is starting a new political party.

No other party wants him anymore.

It is called the Moreno Party, which means the Brown People’s Party. Yes, he knows that people are quite quick to vote their race. He likely learned that from Barry. Since 90 percent of Mexicans are brown, it’s not difficult to see what AMLO has on his mind.

Were this turkey to ever win, Mexico City — all of Mexico — would learn what it means to sing the blues. A post about this revolting development will follow. Stay tuned.

Jerk to lunatic

RECENTLY, I  was labeled a jerk by someone who holds political opinions that differ from mine. This type of name-calling has become all too common by extremists of both left and right.

Felipe?

Felipe?

If they disagree with you, instead of trying to point out the error of your ways, or make a sensible argument, they simply call you a name. You’re a jerk, an a-hole or — my most recent badge — a lunatic. It happened on Facebook. A political lunatic is closer to what was actually uttered.

It came from a Facebook friend, a former coworker, a good-looking blonde babe who, like so many in the media, where she once toiled, tilts way over to the left of the political spectrum. She means well but, like countless others in her camp, she is a utopian.

Everything should be equal, and all problems can be rationally solved. Sure, they can.

Let’s turn yet again to the Cambridge Online Dictionary which defines lunatic as a “foolish or crazy person.” I’m not sure I’m on board with the Cambridge definition. Crazy, sure. But foolish? Who considers a foolish person a lunatic? Maybe in Cambridge, England, but not where I come from. Fools are just that, fools.

Instead of maniacal, my political orientation might better be called Rooseveltian. Not Franklin Delano, but Teddy. Speak softly and carry a big stick. That sounds about right to me. And Teddy never advocated high taxes, taking money from the successful for gifts to the unsuccessful. And if a horde of wetbacks started rushing over the southern border, Teddy would have led a military expedition personally to plug the hole.

Teddy would never have praised Mohammedans, and if Israel had existed in his day, he would have sided with the Jews because Jews are closer to Christianity than to Islam. Teddy was no multiculturalist and would have scoffed at the glories of diversity, the new national religion to which we must all bow.

Teddy knew right from wrong. And Teddy made judgments.

He was no lunatic. If you’d called him one, you’d probably have received a punch in the nose.

Mexico City, again

dflrWE ARE HEADING to the nation’s capital next week for a few days. I don’t want to go, but I’m going anyway. It’s a necessity. We have an apartment over there.

My child bride bought it in the late 1990s with the help of her then-employer, the Mexican highway department.

The price was subsidized, and she paid just about $10,000. Now it’s worth about $50,000 due to the neighborhood’s moving significantly upscale even though it’s on the oft-gritty, near northside.

It’s very small and would fit into the Hacienda’s living room. Literally, I measured. But it has two tiny bedrooms (only one has a closet), a living room/dining room space, a minuscule kitchen, a small laundry area on a tiny back balcony, and a bathroom that is so itty-bitty the sink is out in the hallway, not the bathroom.

It was still not paid off when we married, but I paid it off a few years later. When we got married in 2002, she rented the apartment to a coworker and his wife. They stayed there, paying just the measly mortgage payments, until December of 2006 when they bought their own home. We decided not to rent it again.

So in January 2007, we drove over, painted the place in Hacienda colors, bought new furniture and appliances, and planned even more improvements that we have never gotten around to doing. The first couple of years we spent lots of time there, but the visits gradually tapered off to near nothing.

The first few years, we drove there. Yes, I have driven the Hellish streets of Mexico City.  A lot! It is stressful, to put it mildly. The only accident I have had in my years in Mexico happened in Mexico City, a minor fender-bender — but still. I have had my car towed three times in this country. Two of those tows took place in Mexico City.

Finally, around 2011, I decided not to drive there anymore. Now we take buses, and when we are in Mexico City, we get around mostly in taxis but occasionally on the subway, the Metrobus and jitneys called peseros. I prefer taxis, but those experiences depend a lot on the specific cabbie. Sometimes it can be hair-raising.

We once had a cabbie who would just about fall asleep at each red light. I was watching him through his rear-view mirror as I sat in the middle of the back seat. And between red lights, he would floor it till the next corner. We never made it to our destination. We got out, and paid what we owed.

He’s probably dead now, killed in fiery explosion.

* * * *

The Taxis

Taxis had a particularly bad reputation in Mexico City about seven or so years ago. The scuttlebutt was that you hailed one on the street at your peril. Some robberies and worse had occurred.

However, if you stood on any Mexico City street corner, you would spot tens, or hundreds if you stood there a bit longer, of taxis racing by with customers sitting in the back, safe and sound. No blood, no nuttin´.

So we did hail them on the street, and we lived to talk about it. A good system I used whenever possible was to stand on a corner and wait till a cab deposited a customer nearby. My thinking was that if that customer was not murdered, we would not likely be murdered either, and we never were.

But in recent years, the city government appears to have improved and better regulated the taxi system. With some exceptions for special services, all taxis now are painted the same color scheme, not like the rainbows of former years, and all honest cabs have special license plates. Most are honest.

And they use meters. All in all, the system works great.

* * * *

The Deed

We’ve been trying to get the deed to the apartment in our hands for a few years. The place has long been paid off, but getting the deed has to be done in person in Mexico City, where we visit infrequently now, at the office of a special kind of lawyer called a notario.

With the help of a neighbor, who tracked down two of the notarios who do the deeding for our specific location, we will be visiting the office of one of them on Monday. In the World Trade Center.* We have heard through the gossip pipeline that it’s gonna cost us between $2,000-$2,500. That’s U.S. bucks.

But we won’t be paying that on Monday, I imagine. We’re just take one more baby step closer to having the deed one distant day. When we have it, I would love to sell the apartment to avoid ever having to set foot in Mexico City again. Not a fan, amigos.

There are some fascinating things there, but the incredible hassle of merely getting from Point A to Point B via the maniac traffic or jammed subway in that tumultuous city is more than I want to mess with.

You can have it. Actually, for a price, you can have the apartment too. Special price for Moon fans.**

* * * *

* Yes, there is a World Trade Center in Mexico City, and its name is in English. Like the doomed one in New York City, it is very tall. Luckily, the Mohammedan population of Mexico is a fraction of one percent. They don’t much like it here, and that’s fine by me.

** $38,000, furniture, appliances, one parking spot included.

Souvenirs of Mérida

Merida

WALKING PAST the living room this morning, I noticed how sunshine through the big windows fell on these little framed prints that we purchased last January in Mérida.

They were about the only souvenirs we brought back from the Yucatán, not being big souvenir people. And they were not purchased so much as souvenirs as they were purchased because I liked the three little prints.

One is an old woman just sitting. Another is a woman washing clothes in a big pot over a fire. The third is an old couple sitting on a concrete love seat. We spotted those concrete love seats in many parts of Mérida, in parks and plazas. I have never seen them anywhere else.

One evening we were walking the nice, dark streets near the Casa Alvarez, the downtown guesthouse where we stayed in a penthouse room, very nice place to stay if you’re ever in Mérida, by the way, and we happened upon a bunch of shops and restaurants abutting a plaza.

That was where I found these three prints, which I bought immediately. They were cards really. Perhaps there was a place for an address and stamp on the back. I don’t recall. But if you put most anything in a frame, it rises to any occasion with a new-found elegance.

They are hanging now next to the stone fireplace in the living room.

It was my first — and last — extended stay in Mérida, but it was not my real first. That happened back around 1975 when I was working on the San Juan Star  in Puerto Rico. The newspaper’s union, run by a pack of pinche communists, went on strike, and it looked to be a lengthy one.

The devil, I said to myself, so I packed my bags and got on a plane to Haiti. After a few days in Haiti, I got on another plane to Mexico City. That flight first landed in Mérida, and everybody on the plane was hustled off to get shots against any Haitian cooties we might be carrying into Mexico.

I never got out of the Mérida airport that day, but it did count as a visit to the Yucatán, I think.

Mérida is an okay place, a nice Colonial city that looks pretty much like all Colonial cities in Mexico, something I wrote about shortly after returning home from that trip. It’s quite touristy and very popular among Gringos who are smart enough to move across the Rio Bravo.

I could never live there due to the climate. I have sweated enough in my life. And there are no mountains. Living without mountains is like eating a pizza without anchovies. It’s no pizza, a sham, a joke.

It’s midday now, and the three framed pieces have moved into the near-constant, cool dimness of the living room where they will not be very noticeable until tomorrow morning, assuming it’s not overcast.

Amazing how three postcards can inspire this many words.

Fifteen years a Mexican

DO YOU REMEMBER the movie Twelve Years a Slave, the one some members of the Oscar committee later confessed to voting as Best Picture even though they had not seen it? The PC theme swayed them.

Incredible, the terrible, phony times in which we live.

So I’m considering becoming a filmmaker next January when I hit the 15-year mark below the Rio Bravo. Since we Mexicans are almost as fashionable as blacks, I’m thinking I can just make the video on my two-bit Kodak Easyshare. I’ll have to find a distributor, but that won’t be difficult due to the trendy subject matter.

cameraNobody much will watch my flick, and even if they do, they’ll be afraid to say it’s trash because I’m Mexican (profiling!) and then the Oscar folks will knee-jerk me into wealth and fame!

I won’t be a bona fide Mexican for 15 years in January. I will simply have lived here that long. I became a bona fide, voter-card-carrying (yes, we must have a photo ID to vote, Gringos) Mexican nine years ago next December.

The first matter of business is casting. Here’s what I will need:

1. Imelda the sultry maid (brown skin required).

2. José the cripple in the wheelchair.

3. Manuel the arrogant rich guy (white skin required).

4. Lupe the bureaucrat who does nothing without a bribe.

5. Alejandro the cartel capo (brown skin required).

6. Axel the hit man (very brown skin required).*

7. Diego the beggar, age 9.

8. Jerónimo the alcoholic. He’s Diego’s father who beats him daily.

9. Valentina the beautiful female lead (white skin required) who swoons at the sight of …

10. Miguel Ángel the dashing male lead and incorrigible womanizer (white skin required).

I’ll be reading applications next week. Just send an email. The role of Miguel Ángel is taken. That will be me because I have white skin, plus I want to kiss and fondle Valentina.

We’re gonna get rich together, amigos. Practice speaking English with a Spanish accent. Hint: Pronounce “you” like “Jew” and stress every letter in English words, no matter how much you giggle.

All for now. I must go write my Oscar acceptance speech.

* * * *

* Bring your own machete. This is a low-budget operation.

No smiley guy

RECENTLY I POSTED a photo of myself on Facebook in which I was smiling, kinda. Someone commented on that aspect:  At last, a smile, she said. Fact is that I am not a smiley guy.

My second ex-wife often complained about it*, especially on seeing a photo. But I’m not a smiley guy in normal life either. I have no idea why. It’s not that I don’t feel good. I do. It’s not that I don’t have a sense of humor. I do. My child bride has often remarked that it is one of the things she likes most about me, my sense of humor.

Perhaps my lack of everyday smiles is because I am not lighthearted.

leatherfaceThe Cambridge Online Dictionary defines lighthearted this way: Amusing and not serious. Well, I can be quite amusing, but I’m also dead serious. So scratch lighthearted.

Who can be lighthearted these days anyway?

American women in particular are famous for having smiles pasted on their faces. It’s very noticeable here in Mexico because Mexican women only smile when there is something to smile about. It’s not a permanent part of their faces. Watch a Gringa tourist on the street here, or even one who lives here, and she’ll sport that vacuous smile.

Please like me.

But let’s not get off the subject here, which is my not being a smiley guy. So if you ever actually meet me, don’t expect a broad smile. But I may say something later to amuse you and make you chuckle. I hope so.

* * * *

* Among many other things.