Weekend wrap-up

IT’S BEEN a long time since the last Odds & Ends post:

1. I’ve abandoned my Facebook page. As so many people ahead of me have noticed, it’s a real time-waster. It’s the second time I have abandoned it, but I think it will stick this go-around. Perhaps now I’ll use my Twitter account more (under my real name), but I need to learn to be pithy.

2. I’ve started an album in my SlickPic website that will be devoted to almost daily photos of the storefront construction here at the Hacienda. When we built the Hacienda’s residence back in 2002-2003, I took scads of digital photos. One day, after it was all done, my hard drive committed suicide. Everything was lost.

odds__endsYes, I should have backed it up somewhere. In some areas, I am an ignoramus.

Mexican construction is very interesting and — in many respects — quite different than how it’s done north of the Rio Bravo. I was fascinated by the process, especially the use of tree trunks to hold up the ceilings until the cement dries. Of course, there are no crawl spaces or even basements, nor empty spaces in the walls where you can blow insulation. It’s solid brick and concrete.

3. You may have heard of the conflict in the state of Guerrero where a bunch of radical students (almost an oxymoron here) met up with a bunch of men with guns, some in police uniforms. There was gunfire, a few deaths on the students’ side, and 43 of the students were hauled off somewhere, presumably dead now.

It’s hard to pick the good guys because there aren’t any. The state of Guerrero has long had a particularly severe corruption problem, and that includes — obviously — part of the police.

But the students have long had a sour reputation too. They are called Normalistas, due to the type of school they attend, which are named Normal Schools, and they turn out uniformly left-wing teachers.

The student teachers are given to blocking highways and streets. (Pick your radical issue.) Generally, they have made an horrendous nuisance of themselves all over the nation for years. To get an idea of the “education” they receive, see this YouTube video. Note Karl Marx, Che Guevara and lots of raised fists.

This is particularly true in my neck of the Mexican woods, so I am not sympathetic. At times, when a gang of these youngsters want to go en masse somewhere to stir up trouble, they simply stop buses on the highways, kick the passengers out, and off they go, free bus ride. Cops usually no nothing.

Since thuggish President Gustavo Diáz Ordaz ordered  the Tlatelolco Massacre in 1968, which severely backfired on his administration, students have been given mostly free rein all over Mexico. They have become as most children become without parental discipline: spoiled brats. Spankings are long overdue.

Think billy clubs and tear gas because these are older children, far past puberty.

Perhaps some judiciously applied billy clubs and tear gas years ago would have prevented what has happened in the state of Guerrero. I think so. In the meantime, God knows where those 43 kids are.

4. It’s Saturday, which means we’ll be downtown this afternoon selling my wife’s pastries out of the wicker basket. There are some new items on the menu, especially quiche with caramelized onions. Two weeks ago, we sold out completely — about 40 items — in 30 minutes. Last week, all was gone in 40 minutes.

So, don’t show up late. That’s my advice.

Hacienda, Ltd.

The "Before" shot.

The “Before” shot.

NEXT WEEK a construction project will begin here at the Hacienda.

We’ve had relatively minor construction projects in the past, but this will be far greater. We’re going to build a locale, which is what we Mexicans call storefronts.

Previous construction projects have included the carport for the Nissan, basically a concrete floor and a clay tile roof, much like what you see here, but smaller and behind the photographer, which was me. Another clay tile roof was built in what is now called the Garden Patio. It’s where most yard gear is kept, not visible here.

And then there was the stone and concrete that replaced the grass and dirt (mud) over a wide area just inside the entrance from the street. It’s called empedrado, and you see it here on the ground in the photo. I would like to remove all grass from the yard and replace it with empedrado. Maybe I will one day.

When we purchased the double lot that now houses the Hacienda, this portal in the photo was already in place. It was about the only thing here. We have used the left side to park the car, and the other side for not much of anything. That is going to change, big-time. That’s where the storefront will be.

The street runs parallel to the wall at the right. From the left brick column, next to the Honda, a wall will be built back to the rear wall. And from that same brick column, another wall will be constructed, going right, until it connects with the wall that runs parallel to the street.

All of which is to say that everything will be enclosed except where the Honda sits. On the far right, extending out from the roofed area, a half-bath will be built over a septic tank that will be dug.

On the roof of the bathroom will sit a large water tank that will be fed from the street.

The inside will be stuccoed. Fluorescent lighting and six wall plugs, plus switches will be installed. The floor will be covered with another level of cement and ceramic tile will be laid. Lovely interior paint will go all around.

According to the builder, this will take four to six weeks total.

The cost — labor and material — for all that I have mentioned (plus some other, piddling details around the Hacienda) will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000. When all is done, another $850, more or less, will be paid to purchase and install what’s called a cortina — a curtain — a wide steel door that slides down and up to provide a spacious entry from the street. Thousands of customers will flood through.

Customers for what? That’s a good question. I have no interest in renting it. Don’t need the money and dealing with tenants likely would be a headache. Maybe my child bride will open a pastry shop one day. The storefront will join the downtown Casita as an income source for her in the distant future after I die.

It’s an investment. We’re on the main drag of our neighborhood.

As the work progresses, I’ll post updates. It’ll be fun.

* * * *

(Note: I will be taking periodic photos of the work’s progress, and they will be posted in sequence right here.)

Tropical music memories

HAVING WATERED the potted plants on the downstairs terraza, an every-Saturday-morning chore, I sat a short spell in one of the wicker rockers and listened to a song coming through the window behind me from the living room music machine. Roberto Carlos was singing El Show Ya Terminó.

borderIt reminded me of Puerto Rico, where I lived in the 1970s in a penthouse atop a five-story building on Calle Norzagaray* in Viejo San Juan — Old San Juan — overlooking the sea. I lived there with an Argentine named Silvina, a reformed working girl who always kept things from getting stodgy.

Once, she flew back to Buenos Aires for something or other, leaving me briefly alone high above Calle Norzagaray, but when she returned she brought gifts, vinyl discs of Atahualpa Yupangui, an Argentine folk singer and guitarist, and of Vinicius de Moraes, a Brazilian.

We spent many a late night — after I had returned from my work at the San Juan Star and she from her job waitressing at a restaurant-bar — sitting on our rooftop patio, next to the hammock, with Bacardi, Coke and music, watching cruise ships sail into the dark, starry nights.

Those two vinyl records have long vanished. I forget the title of Yupangui’s disc, but I have since purchased another of his albums on a modern CD. I like it, but far better is the compact disc I found of the exact other album she brought from Buenos Aires. It is titled Vinicius de Moraes con Maria Creuza y Toquinho.

mdThey sing in Portuguese which may be the loveliest language of them all.

I left Silvina behind when I returned to the mainland, but about five years ago she found me on Facebook. She was back in Buenos Aires, running a stable of taxicabs. She reminded me that I had introduced her to T-Bone Walker, so I emailed mp3 versions of T-Bone, and she thanked me.

She has grandchildren now, but I don’t — and never will.

It’s amazing where morning on a Mexican terraza will lead one’s time-stretched mind.

* * * *

* Calle Norzagaray is a short street, and I think the building where I lived is the pink one in the photo, but don’t hold me to that. It’s been 40 years, even though my second wife and I visited just 20 years ago.

(Other visits to the island are here and here.)

The gay mafia

LEFT-WING television pundit Bill Maher has criticized what he dubs the “gay mafia.”

He was, of course, referring to those who “take offense” at most anything while crouching behind the protective walls of their constant-victim status. Staying with the mafia theme a moment, there is also, of course, a black mafia, a Latino mafia, a feminist mafia and some lesser-known mafias too. All suffer mightily.

Fear them because you could lose your livelihood with an unwise word.

There is also a white mafia. It’s called the Ku Klux Klan, but nobody pays them much attention anymore because of white privilege. You can say whatever you want about them.

543446fed35b7fd43d433af0c2faa1adAnd there’s always the real Mafia, the greasy-coifed guys called Big Palooka and Little Jimmy. That was the mafia you wanted to steer clear of — back in the old days — before collectivists and their shrill political-correctness malarky greatly expanded the pool of mafias and their tactics.

So what floats this topic to the top of the pool today? An incident at a military, full-dress, formal ball in New York in which a couple of lesbian Army officers decided it would be great to French-kiss and play grab-ass and then get “offended” when someone asked them to knock it off. Details are here.

The officer who intervened, due to people taking photos and videos he rightly worried might end up on Facebook and Twitter, is now on the verge of being booted out of the military for insensitivity. Yes, him, not the lesbian smootchers and grab-assers at a formal military ball. They remain off limits, touched by God and holy.

He is a lieutenant colonel and decorated combat pilot. But those qualifications count for naught up against “offended” lesbians. This is the American world in which you live. Weep.

* * * *

(Note: This viciously run, unjust, new world is brought to you exclusively by those who favor the NDP — the New Democratic Party. Ironically, Maher, who seems to be growing a bit brighter with age, this week blamed the recent NDP drubbing in the midterms in part on the NDP’s getting “lost in the weeds of political correctness.”)

Cuttings of November

EVERY YEAR around this time I start to think of butchery.

The yard goes berserk every summer, you see, and as frigid winter arrives — it often freezes — things flip entirely in the other direction, leaving much of the yard dead, brown and butt-ugly.

aloeSome things you can just ignore, like the grass, but others must be dealt with. Topping this list are the three stands of banana trees, which must be whacked back.

The fan palm, which grows taller every year, must be trimmed. I think this season I’ll need a ladder, a first.

The two datura trees get cut back severely, but that’s pretty easy because they are very soft wood. The loquat tree is attacked, and there are two stands of some plant that grows wildly from bulbs.

I just eliminated one of the two this morning. Perhaps the second will fall tomorrow.

I’ll get Abel the deadpan neighbor who cuts the grass all summer to dig up this aloe vera bush you see in the photo. It’s gotten too big for its britches, elbowing way over onto the sidewalk.

We’ll still be prepared for the occasional burn in the kitchen, first-aid-wise, because there are three other stands of aloe vera in the yard. But they’re not butting onto a sidewalk, not bothering anybody at all.

polesWell into our 11th year at the Hacienda, the yard is big and beefy, not like the starter environment of 2003 when I cared for all with little effort.

Now, much has gone totally out of control, and I let it be.

I’ve long been a cactus man and could be happy living in the desert. Cacti did not feel at home at my house in humid Houston, back in the 1990s. That’s not the case here.

Look at these pole cacti. I planted a couple when they were just little tykes. They have multiplied, and are almost as tall as I am.

What you see farther back is a maguey that has shot up its death tree. When it “flowers,” it’s the last gasp, its death rattle. It will die, but it takes quite a long time to do that. In the meantime, it’s a conversation piece.

That’s all for now. It’s time to go downstairs and eat cereal. Then I’ll shave, bath and dress, drive to the market by the train station and buy tangerines. It’s the season. I’m a tangerine man.

The lady warriors

THE AMERICAN elites’ politically correct obsession with putting women into military infantry and other front-line combat positions soldiers on.

Because women can do anything a man can do. There is absolutely no difference, aside from plumbing and what dangles where, between the capabilities and talents of the two. It’s about fairness, you know.

Arrant nonsense, of course.

girl

It appears that President Barry is poised to order women into direct-combat positions by January 2016. A military that does this has a death wish, no matter how much you gussy up the gals in camo.

Women do have a long history with fighting forces. Camp prostitutes, of course, and in certain periods of European history — when wars were a more gentlemanly affair than they are today — many soldiers brought their wives along on campaigns to sew and cook and love.

The ladies got to watch battles from a nearby hill, but no safe hills exist these days.

And the great American experiment that began in 1776 continues its disintegration into nuttiness, mostly brought to you by clueless, dreamy-eyed collectivists.

These notions invariably spring from the NDP, not Republicans. Keep that in mind the next time you’re inclined to say the two parties are the same, so why bother to vote?

We are engaged in a religious war with Mohammedans. The Mohammedans do not bring women to their battles, and Mohammedans react nastily when they encounter women opposing them.

You’ll end up with sand between your butt cheeks as a camp prostitute for the other side. It won’t resemble what you were led to expect during “empowering” Women’s Studies at Bryn Mawr. Not by a long shot.

Down the mountain

ONE OF THE many beauties of living on my Mexican mountaintop, where it’s cool and comfy most all the year, is that we can hop into the Honda, get on the autopista that passes through here and be on the Pacific Beach at Zihuatanejo in 3.5 hours flat. And it’s a beautiful drive.

We’ll be doing that quite soon.

Zihua, as the locals call it, is the old, original end of what is now the combined Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. You’ve likely seen ads for Ixtapa in glossy travel mags. While Zihua sprang up naturally long, long ago, Ixtapa was built by the Mexican government in the 1970s to attract tourist money, which it does. Think Cancún.

You cannot see Ixtapa from Zihua. Though the two are the same municipality, they are separated by low mountains, and are about a 15-minute drive apart. The fact that they are not mutually visible means that one can stay in old Zihua, enjoy its funky atmosphere, and not give a moment’s thought to flashy Ixtapa.

The people vacationing in Ixtapa, a different sort of people generally, can do the same, ignoring what they likely consider to be the riffraff of old Zihua. That would be people like us. We are riffraff.

There are many snazzy hotels on the edges of old Zihua too, but we shun snazzy and always stay on the same short street, Calle Adelita, which runs parallel to Playa Madera and is easy walking distance to downtown. There are a number of low-key hotels and good restaurants on or abutting Calle Adelita.

We have stayed in four of the hotels on Adelita and soon we will try two more on the same trip. One is Villas Miramar and the other is the Hotel Palacios. The two sit next to one another, neighbors.

We walked through both a few years ago and were unimpressed, but their write-ups on TripAdvisor indicate we may have been hasty. And since we have found fault with the other four, often trivial, we’ve decided to branch out.

The previous four were:

1. Casa Sun & Moon*, a big building with few rooms. It’s an old hotel and most of the rooms are dark and musty. However, there are three suites that are spectacular and offer great views of the bay, plus each has its outdoor jacuzzi. They keep raising the price in spite of a severe downturn in Mexican tourism. That’s nuts.

2. Zihua Caracol, which is jointly run with the Casa Sun & Moon. They are directly across the street from one another, and share the same reception desk, which is in the Zihua Caracol. This is a pretty nice hotel, but there is no ocean view. Gotta have an ocean view.

3. La Quinta de Don Andrés, which is where we stayed on our initial overnighter on Calle Adelita years ago. This place is next door to the Casa Sun & Moon. We enjoyed our first stay at Don Andrés, but shortly thereafter it underwent a major renovation and prices skyrocketed.

Last spring, we stayed there again because the prices had gone down a bit, but we were disappointed. There were a number of design features we disliked. The bedroom was so tiny it was difficult to walk about due to the king bed. The balcony was minuscule. And the AC was unreliable. We came home one day earlier than planned.

The hotel has larger rooms, but they cost quite a bit more. Plus, there’s a penthouse that covers the entire roof, and it’s stunning. Alas, the price is stunning too.

4. Bungalows Adelamar. Mexicans are fond of calling hotels with kitchen facilities bungalows. All of the places mentioned so far have kitchen facilities, but are not called bungalows, but the Adelamar calls itself bungalows. There is no website, so the link goes to TripAdvisor’s report on the Adelamar.

This is a nice place to stay, but there is no ocean view. Pity. It is quite inexpensive, about $60 in the off season. We always go to Zihua in the off season because it’s significantly cheaper, and we are cheap people.

Being a tightwad is a big part of the reason I now live loose in Mexico —  and you likely remain a wage slave.

* * * *

But on this upcoming trip, we will stay in both the Villas Miramar and the Hotel Palacios. The first night will be in the Miramar because they are booked the two nights after that. We’ll move next door after one night. This is good because it will provide a chance to give both a test drive for future visits.

On our very first trip to Zihua years back, not long after the autopista to the coast was completed, we stayed on a mountainside overlooking the bay, just out of town. The hotel is named Villas el Morro, which has a spectacular view, a beautiful pool, but is inconveniently located, isolated, and awful parking if you come with a car.

There were troubles with the AC and bathroom, and the manager/owner was surly and uncooperative.

The most memorable drawback to Villas el Morro is that the morning sun is a blast furnace on all the rooms and their balconies. We tried to enjoy the balcony in the mornings, but were forced to take evasive, creative action, which you see illustrated in the photo below.

baggie

Surviving the sun at Villas el Morro.

We invariably eat at Fonda Dona Licha, a very nice place downtown. We are not foodies.

* * * *

* On arriving, we changed plans and stayed at the Casa Sun & Moon, a suite on the street side because the spectacular Master Suites on the beach side were occupied. The street-side suite was quite suitable and spacious. The hotel has improved what were the dark and musty rooms with nice paint and amenities. And the price was reasonable again.

On name-calling

THE UNSEEN MOON prides itself on decorum, a characteristic that slides further into disuse on a daily basis, not here, of course, but in the society at large.

The Moon soldiers on, however, in the old-fashioned way.

A commenter on the previous post cited name-calling and finger-pointing. It was a little vague, unclear as to whether I was the name-caller and finger-pointer or if the other commenters were the culprits.

Perhaps a bit of both.

callI confess to finger-pointing, which is to say: Lookee there! He (or she) is causing the problem. This is being judgmental, an admirable trait, especially when the judgments are the same as mine.

But I never name-call. Again, one man’s meat, as they say, is another man’s poison, so the nomenclature seen regularly here might possibly by considered name-calling by some folks.

Let’s look at three examples, my favorites:

1. Barry.  This is President Barack Hussein Obama, the lame-duck president. Barry was, perhaps still is, a nickname he used. I use it for only one purpose: to trivialize him. So sue me. I’m not a fan.

BarryOthers who dislike Barry refer to him as Hussein, or use his full name, including Hussein, because they want to give the impression that’s he’s a Mohammedan (more on Mohammedans down the line). I don’t think Barry is a Mohammedan, and I am pretty sure he was born in Hawaii.

He’s a lousy president.

2. Collectivists.  These are left-wingers, fans of Barry. Collectivism has its place, mostly when lots of people with ponytails join together to purchase organic foods at cheaper prices. Applying collectivism to government is a colossally bad idea. See Soviet Union, Red China and Cuba.

Those three communist despotisms are collectivism writ large, and you don’t want to even start down that road. Government should be small, not big. A side issue are labor unions which have, at times, a valuable place in this world. But only unions in the private sector. Government unions should be verboten, always.

3. Mohammedans. These are the followers of Mohammed, of course. Call it what you will. Islam. Muslim. I prefer Mohammedans for the same reason I favor Barry. There is a disparagement implied. I am not a fan of Mohammedanism, and you should not be either.

IslamWe are currently engaged in a 21st century religious war, and only one side fully understands — the Mohammedans. If you think otherwise, you are proving my point that only one side fully understands. Barry does not understand. Or collectivists in general. They live in a rainbow fog.

All Mohammedans are not terrorists, you say. That is true, but the vast majority either support the terrorists or are cowed into silence and submission. The “Arab street” exploded in jubilation on 9/11.

* * * *

Those terms are the usual extent of my name-calling. If you want something far nastier, go to Huffpost and leave a conservative comment on a story (any story, pick one), and you will get severe blowback. Collectivists have name-calling down to an everyday art. They simply curse a lot. I long for a kinder world.

Have a nice day.