Grace died

THE LETTER from the probate court in Maine landed in my post office box this week. Grace had died back in June. Grace was the second part of Marty & Grace, my two lesbian aunts.

Grace was not really my aunt. Marty was, my father’s sole sister. Grace was Marty’s “partner” of countless decades. I was probably around 10 when they found each other, so Grace was a part of my life almost from the beginning, though we did not see each other much, Marty & Grace, because they were Yankees.

booksMarty was an adopted Yankee. She fled the Confederacy in her 20s and only returned to visit. She and Grace lived in Philadelphia for many years. Then they retired and moved to Deer Isle, Maine, which really is an island. They bought a small, white, clapboard home and never left.

My second ex-wife and I vacationed in Montreal once in the 1980s. While there, we rented a car and drove to visit Marty & Grace in the white, clapboard house. It was my first and last time in Deer Isle. We ate lobsters.

They were a very interesting pair, though I can tell you that I never really liked Grace. There was something defiant about her, not a rare quality in lesbians. I far preferred Marty, who was always upbeat. Of all my relatives, and there have never been many, Marty was most like me, or perhaps the other way around.

She was adventuresome. She took flying lessons but never got the license. I did. She worked in universities and for the American Friends Service Committee, chaperoning young people, exchange students, to and from Europe. Grace worked at the Philadelphia Library until she retired. She was also a noted Emily Dickinson scholar.

Her — apparently quite valuable — collection of Emily Dickinson books is being donated to Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Longtime readers of this website and its predecessors will have noticed the quote of Emily Dickinson in the right-side column. Grace had nothing to do with this. Pure coincidence.

Grace was in her late 80s when she died. About a decade ago, she began losing her mind. I don’t recall ever hearing an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Perhaps it was a garden-variety dementia. When she became too much for Marty to care for alone in the white, clapboard house, she was moved into a nursing home.

She ceased to even recognize Marty.

On Christmas eve of last year, Marty died in bed in the white, clapboard house. During the earlier years of her “retirement,” she had been a professional binder of rare books.

Grace has now met Emily Dickinson in person, and Marty is binding books for the angels.

I am a jerk

I HAVE BEEN dubbed a jerk. And not for the first time. I have also been called an a-hole.

jerk

Felipe?

A collectivist blogger down on the sweaty Mexican coast took issue with my calling Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a perennial, left-wing, Mexican presidential candidate — who never can quite manage to win and gets very indignant when he does not — a semi-literate demagogue.

Let’s look at the two elements of my accusation. Start with demagogue. My Cambridge Online Dictionary defines the word thusly:

A political leader who wins support by exciting people’s emotions rather than giving them reasons.

López Obrador, better known by his initials AMLO, certainly qualifies. Were he to actually win one day, he would be Mexico’s Hugo Chávez, just without the beret and military training.

I have never listened to AMLO more than a few seconds, but my child bride has. She says he butchers Spanish in the style of a country bumpkin, so there you have the semi-literate.

For pointing this out, I have been labeled a jerk. Again, not for the first time. And a few years back, I referred here to a woman who favors Obama as “a left-winger.” I do not consider left-winger any more an epithet than I consider right-winger an epithet. I openly confess that I am a right-winger, which means conservative.

These are political stances, not cuss words.

That acquaintance, who has red hair and perhaps speaks before sufficient thought at times, fired off an email, calling me an a-hole. I shorten the word because The Unseen Moon is a family website, plus I value decorum.

We live in sad times. Our political life is highly polarized, and those on the extremes are very prone to name-calling. And that — as their mothers might point out — reflects badly on them. Tilting to the conservative side, I naturally believe those on the left are more guilty of name calling than we on the right.

We, of course, are the traditionalists, the conservatives and, for the most part, we dodge potty talk. We tend to offer rational arguments or religious faith  for our beliefs instead of epithets. Of course, we have nothing in our valise like that colossal, all-encompassing, catch-all, mouth rocket so loved by the left: Racist!

Yes, we live in troubling, sad — and rude — times.

The dilemma

ranchito2014

IF YOU GET into the Honda, stick it in reverse, back up till the car’s butt-side is sitting midway inside the opposite carport (The Nissan must be gone), look out the driver’s window, this is what you’ll see. It’s long been one of my favorite Hacienda shots, and this is not the first time I have photographed it.

I remain surprised at the greenery hereabouts since this is not the coastal tropics of Mexico. We sit high in the mountains in the middle of the country. Fruit off those banana trees are not edible, but the trees thrive and lend a romantic, sultry air. The house is just over 11 years old. We designed and built it.

THE DILEMMA

We have no children. Who will get this place after we are Promoted to Glory? This dilemma ultimately, of course, will be my child bride’s. Being 16 years her senior, the probability of my exiting first are overwhelming.

She has lots of Mexican relatives, of course — they all have lots of relatives — but many are, in my opinion, of highly questionable character. I have no will. Don’t need one because I own nothing. This house, the casita downtown and the condo in Mexico City are all in my child bride’s name. Same for the two cars. And financial resources in my name automatically go to her. So — got no Last Will & Testament.

She does have one, however, and we made it out years ago. Everything goes to her sister here in town. But that sister needs this place like she needs another cigarette in her mouth or another Coca-Cola in her hand. Plus, that sister is not a giving, loving soul. In short, I want this changed. But to who?

A top contender is a niece, about 30, who recently married a very good guy. Said niece already has two sons from previous “relationships,” and the idea that she’s the top contender tells you quite a bit about the other relatives. The marriage is only about 18 months old, and the jury is out on whether she will pull it off with this great guy that fell into her lap. I try to stay optimistic, though in truth I am not.

Another contender, who’s only 11 now, the adopted son of the above-mentioned sister, likely will be well set due to his mother’s many properties, places she inherited by pure luck. We favor this young fellow, but all the others could use a windfall far more than he could.

There are others too. Nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers. What likely will happen is that a number will be thrown into the pot, and the properties will have to be sold to split the spoils. I won’t care because I’ll be playing a harp or, even better, enjoying my 72 virgins. That will require converting to Mohammedanism at the very last moment.

It could get tricky.

Mexico has a Last Will and Testament Sale every September when the lawyers do them for half-price. We’ll be taking advantage of that in six weeks. To include yourself, send your name and vitals.

Peaches and the slow life

peaches

These are the actual peaches on the Hacienda tree.

THIS DAY dawned perfectly — cool, almost completely blue above, and stunning sunshine. This being the rainy season, we often do not dawn sunny, but today we did.

You’ve heard of slow cooking. Well, one of us (not the other) lives a slow life here at the Hacienda. This means nothing much gets done most days, and life tastes better for it. Some people thrive on activity. I am married to one of those people. Others thrive on the slow life. That’s the one she is married to.

But let’s move on to peaches. The peach tree in the yard is loaded. They are starting to drop on the grass, which I do not appreciate because it requires action, the antithesis of the slow life. If anyone in the area wants to pass by the Hacienda, you may have as many peaches as you can tote. Free.

I have a ladder. No charge for its use.

Have to contact me first because we do not answer the bell if we’re not expecting someone. Since the front gate is almost a block from the house, you can see how knee-jerk responding to a doorbell is also the antithesis of the slow life. Be warned, however, that these are not nice Georgia peaches.

To me, they are crappy peaches. They are to nice Georgia peaches what my bananas are to a fine crop from a banana republic. Poor excuses. But they are free. My child bride eats them and declares them passable. She has also eaten grasshopper tacos. Just so you know. Maybe you could make a peach pie.

There is also a pear tree, which is full, and the pears are pretty good. Take a few. The sour orange bush is loaded, and sour oranges serve some purpose, I am told. Take a few of them too.

Now pardon me. It’s time for a nap.

Night designs

 Night art

WHEN NATURE calls at 3 a.m. or so, I throw back the cotton sheet and woolen blanket. Yes, a blanket because, even in July, it’s cold here at night, so cold we keep the bedroom windows shut. Only the bathroom window, this small one you see, is kept open, a sort of air conditioner.

I stand and walk across the hall directly into the bathroom where I am treated to night designs. Whether the little window is open or closed, and sometimes it is shut due to the cold, the designs are there, waiting like on a gallery wall, backlit by the big light atop a pole on the other side of the street, far away.

Datura leaves.

So I sit. I sigh. I stand. I head back to the bedroom, giving one final glance at the night designs.

Night art — brought to me by serendipity.

The summer scene

WE’RE WELL into summer, and every year or two I like to take a photo from the upstairs terraza to show changes in the Hacienda compound.* One shot, years back, showed a place in progress, rather bare.

But this is 2014’s scene, fully developed:

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And looking down to the left. The nopal tree is at least 13 feet tall, and the bananas are even higher. On the far side of the ochre wall is the sex motel:

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Now doing a full turn to the right, out toward the back. That angled tile roof behind the red wall is relatively new. That’s where I keep the lawn mower and garden gear:

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Abel, the deadpan neighbor who cuts the grass every Saturday morning, had done just that about an hour before the photos were taken. I planted 95 percent of what you see with my own grubby fingers.

I like living here. You really can’t beat it.

* * * *

* Yes, compound. I like to think I’m kinda like the Kennedys. Or the Bushes of Kennebunkport.

Joke’s on you, Gringos!

mexican

IT WAS OBVIOUS that Mexico was making little effort to keep illegals out of the United States, but who knew they were officially encouraging it? Not me.

According to a news story this week, Enrique Peña Nieto, the handsome president of Mexico, and Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala, held a news conference(!) to announce plans to make it even easier  for Central Americans to pass through Mexico on their trek to your town!

Special assistance and financial aid will be given to minors hunting a sweet life in “El Norte,” which is what we often call Gringolandia — where you rich Gringos live. This is a smart move on Mexico’s part because, compared to Central America, Mexico is a big step up and might be viewed as a final destination. Don’t want that.

So what do we do? We smooth the trail, give them some money and a train-roof ride to the Texas border.

Barry could quickly put a stop with the National Guard to the flood of illegals crossing the border. He has no problem doing other things unilaterally, but he ignores this invasion.

You elected yourself a real piece of work, amigos. Better bone up on your Spanish.

You’re gonna get a lot more multicultural.

* * * *

For more on the news conference, click here.

Express

Heading to a barrio near you!

Mexico, 1935

HERE IS an interesting video. It is, as the headline has already revealed, Mexico in 1935, a tour from the border taken by a couple of Gringos in a Chrysler of the era. I never knew those old cars were so sturdy.

If you just want to see the tour and avoid the introductory babble, start at about the four-minute mark. In the latter half of the video the intrepid travelers go to a bullfight in Mexico City’s Plaza México, the biggest bullring in the world, then and now. The two of us went to a bullfight there a few years ago. I wrote about it. It was my first bullfight and, I imagine, my last. I do not object on moral grounds, just not my type of thing.

And then they visit Teotihuacán, the pre-Aztec ruins north of Mexico City. My then-intended took me there in 2002, not long after we met. It was very hot. I was not young, even then. I purchased a bottle of water and climbed to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun to make an impression on the young woman. Almost killed me.

I got a chuckle out of one video moment. It’s common to hear Gringos oooh and ahhh over how friendly the locals are. The narrator repeats this myth as the camera pans across four or five Mexican men scowling at the lens.

It’s a fun and interesting video, even if you are not fortunate enough to live here.