Bat neighbors

MOST EVERY morning, after café, bagels and Philly cream cheese, lite, I wash the dishes and step out to the downstairs terraza to sweep. This is especially necessary in Springtime because the season creates plenty of dust.

broomIn July or August the terraza may be awash with blown-in rainwater, but that’s not an issue in Springtime, which is a time of dust. And bats.

This morning I arrived out on the terraza, took a look to my right and there on one of the wooden shelves was an ample supply of dry bat shit, guano they call it.

My gaze traveled upward to the red clay roof tiles, which is where the bats hang out during the day in Springtime but summer too.

I know they’re up there, but I’ve never seen them up there, just the proof — there on the shelf — of their presence. And if you’re on the terraza around dusk, you’ll spot them flying out and high on their nightly dining expeditions. However, they do it so quickly you can’t see where they start from, specifically, their hangar. No matter. The guano spills the beans.

Getting a brush, I flipped the little turds to the floor where they were included in the sweep.

We once found a bat hanging from the ceiling fixture in the downtown Casita’s back bedroom, just above the bed. He couldn’t have been there long because the bed was still unsullied by, well, you know. My lovely wife had gone to the Casita alone, and I quickly received a phone call informing me, hysterically, that “something” was hanging from the light fixture.

What is it? I inquired. She did not know, she responded. Some sort of beast.

I hurried to the Casita — about 15 minutes from the Hacienda — and immediately saw what it was. Nothing confusing about it. Women are funny.

I got a shoe box, donned a pair of leather gloves, and “encouraged” the little bugger to move into the box, which he did with little fuss. For lack of any other solution, I tossed him into a grassy area nearby. I hope everything turned out well for him, though I doubt it did.

How did he get into the Casita? I scratched my noodle, figuratively speaking, for the next few hours. It’s a modern construction, well sealed, and I was puzzled. Later, downtown on the plaza, sitting at a sidewalk table with a hot espresso, it hit me. The chimney! Well, duh.

There’s a small, non-functioning fireplace in the living room.

The next morning, I went to the roof and closed the opening with screen.

Problem solved.

The anniversary

patios

I’VE HAD THREE wives, and yesterday the third and best helped me celebrate our 13th anniversary, which is far longer than I was hitched to the previous two brides, though I actually lived with No. 2 for more time — 19 years — and I’m now striving to crack that record.

To mark the occasion, we had a nice lunch downtown, walked around our 500-year-old Colonial burg, then took a ride out in the countryside. Here are some highlights from the day.

The top shot is self-explanatory. That’s the sort of town in which we live. It’s old.

Then we hopped into the Honda, heading to the countryside. On the outskirts of town, we spotted this ice cream parlor, which is not too far from where we live. It’s a fairly recent addition to the neighborhood. What’s a celebration without ice cream? We stopped and ordered.

nieve

Sitting at an outdoor table by the highway and railroad track, we enjoyed the lovely day. The sky was blue, the air was cool, the company was spectacular, and the ice cream was good.

cupsMine was not actually ice cream. It was lemon ice. My child bride ordered that dark stuff that looks like crap in a cup, but she liked it.

After that, we took a trip along a little-traveled route abutting our high-mountain lake. I should have taken another photo because it’s a spectacular ride, but I didn’t.

Then we came home. We’re not big party people. Thirteenth anniversary has a certain ominous ring to it, which is why some hotels skip the 13th floor. But when you think about it a moment, you realize that the 13th anniversary actually marks the end of the 13th year and the beginning of the 14th. If there was cause for concern, it was a year ago.

ship

Yesterday evening, like most all evenings, we watched a movie on Netflix, supped on a nice salad and went to bed around 11ish. Passing through the living room, I saw this sailing ship that sits on a table. It’s a symbol of my continuing voyage to God knows where.

The young organizer

THIS RECENTLY discovered video shows the young Barry, in his mid-30s, delivering a talk on his book Dreams from My Father. It’s long, almost an hour, but well worth the watch.

It’s very revealing. It shows how very smooth the man is.  Of course, he’s long had a reputation for eloquence, something I utterly fail to see. I find him quite wooden. But here, not being president or even running for office, he’s more natural.

His racial conflicts are clear. A perceptive observer easily concludes that he’s not comfortable with having white grandparents. He obviously identifies with his black half, not the white. I have a theory about mixed-race people, especially when the two sides are such stark contrasts. My belief is that these people have a big bunch of inner turmoil.

Everybody wants to belong to a tribe, to feel they have “their people.” It’s our nature. This can be manifested in many areas, occupationally, economically, educationally, nationally and, of course, racially, perhaps the most blatant, certainly the most visually obvious.

My tribe is white Southern American Gothic, subset of educated and above-average smarts.

What is Barry’s tribe? Hawaiian, Indonesian, black, white, American, Kansan, Chicagoan? He seems not to know, but for whatever reason, he’s chosen the black tribe which comes with loads of baggage, especially in the United States.

This confusion led Barry into radicalism. He refers in the video to a man named Frank in Hawaii “who schooled me.” Frank, it turns out, was Frank Marshall Davis, an angry, black, journalist, poet and labor activist and, according to some, a communist. At least the FBI kept an official eye on him.

Barry’s life, as we all know but many choose to ignore, has lots of links to unsavory, left-wing, sometimes violent, extremists: Davis, Ayers, Alinsky, Wright, et al.

America these days is awash in racial and sexual conflict and adolescent attitudes. As America anguishes ad nauseam about who is racist and who is not, who is sexist and who is not, who is anti-gay and who is not, the shrinking world beyond its borders spins increasingly out of control.

This will end badly.

I’m reading Dinesh D’Souza’s informative book America: Imagine a World Without Her. Let’s look briefly at two words that D’Souza focuses on: guilt and theft.

America feels guilty about its slavery days.* This was the primary reason Barry was elected twice to the presidency. His economic policies are based on the leftist notion of theft. Wealth is a zero-sum proposition. The successful have what they have due to its being stolen from the less successful.

Thus, redistribution, “fairness” and the infamous “You didn’t build that remark.

To these people, wealth is not created. It is simply stolen. Indeed, Barry’s conflicted worldview runs counter to liberal democracy, wealth-creating capitalism, and liberty.

The video is an hour well spent. He’s mighty smooth.

* * * *

* Slavery has existed through most of history across wide swaths of the Earth, and it still exists today, especially in the Middle East and Africa. It was hardly a phenomenon restricted to the American South or even to white owners. Indeed, 19th century American slavery was enabled by African blacks who captured and sold rival Africans.

Never a sailor man

shipI’VE NEVER BEEN on a sailboat.

Oh, I’ve stood on one tied to a dock in the same way I’ve been on a cruise ship tied to a dock in San Juan. But out on the open waters, sails deployed and speeding along?

I’ve never done that.

Strange, since I’ve been on planes — myself at the stick — motorcycles, hot-air balloons, gliders, cars, trucks, trains, buses, you name it, but never on a sailboat in spite of being raised in Florida.

SterlingThough I’ve never been on a sailboat, I have a favorite sailor: Sterling Hayden.

Hayden was a reluctant movie star, often broke, and a full-blown eccentric. He made movies entirely to finance his sailing. He became a movie star because he was a very good actor, a born ham, and because he was so freaking handsome.

HaydenNot only was Hayden an actor, he was a very good writer. He wrote an autobiography named Wanderer and a novel named Voyage. Both are excellent.

But more than anything, he was a sailor who wandered the world. I admire that.

And I’ve never even been out on a sailboat. What’s wrong with me?

* * * *

(Hayden’s eccentricity increased with age. Here’s an interesting video. Notice the car he arrives in. He died in 1986 at age 70.)

Bits of existence

goodies

MY LOVELY WIFE, as some of you know, bakes and sells pastries most every Saturday afternoon on the main plaza downtown. This has been going on for more than four years. Her stuff is really good.

Street sales are common in Mexico, and tourists are warned away from it, primarily because there is no government quality control, the sort the Gringos love to impose on small merchants above the Rio Bravo. That sort of “quality control” results in few street sales up in that part of the world.

And a generally more boring urban environment.

Their loss. When is the last time you saw something like this on a street in Terre Haute?

By the way, I’ve been buying street food here for 15 years with little problem.

And that includes seafood.

* * * *

Let’s mosey on now to another topic. Again, as some of you know, we own what I call a downtown Casita. When my mother died in January of 2009, I inherited a bit of cash, and we used most of it to buy the downtown Casita. It’s “downtown” because it’s just a 10-minute walk from the main plaza downtown, not to be confused with the plaza near the Hacienda.

The downtown plaza is big, beautiful and famous. Our neighborhood plaza is also big and beautiful but not famous at all. We have this neighborhood plaza and its abutting church because the neighborhood used to be a separate town. But no more.

We have been devoured, municipally speaking. Many years ago, when we were a separate town, we had a nickname. The Village of the Damned. That’s a story for some other day.

The purpose of purchasing the downtown Casita over five years ago was less than fixed. It just seemed like a good idea at the time, and real estate is usually a good investment. Not always, of course, as has been demonstrated in recent years in the United States. Sometimes you get hosed.

We furnished the downtown Casita beautifully, as is our custom, and it sat vacant most always for the first three or so years. We passed by every week to tidy up, water the plants, and a maid did a better cleaning once a month. In the beginning, we spent an occasional night there.

A couple of years ago we began renting it to tourists for brief stays. That does not happen often, and it still sits vacant most of the time. Many people remain afraid of Mexico, which is arrant nonsense.

And now we’ve arrived at the reason for mentioning all this. It’s renovation time! Yes, we’ve hired the same crew that constructed the pastry workshop a couple of months ago at the Hacienda, and they will give the Casita a facelift. It was getting a little tatty around some edges.

Most of the work will be painting, but other things will be done too. It will take a couple of weeks, we’ve been told, which means it will take a month. That’s how stuff works here.

Here’s how the Casita looked a few years ago, nice and fresh, and soon it will look that way again. If any of you want a nice vacation home, I’ll rent it to you, perhaps with a special “Moon Discount.” It’s not really a casita. It’s a two-bedroom condo with off-street parking.

Looks a bit like Greece, doesn’t it?

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100_0279

Feminism takes it on the chin

soldierTHE MARINE CORPS, due to silly, perilous, namby-pamby political correctness, was strong-armed into letting the ladies enter its infantry officer course.

The results are in: Drum roll. All failed.

This is excellent news. I thought the Marines would simply dumb down the course to show how fair and touchy-feely they are. But no. It appears they applied the same standards as the men have long faced. Given that, the results were a no-brainer.

Women do not belong in the Marine Corps infantry, nor in the Army infantry. We are not all equal. The Army infantry, lamentably, does have women, and my heart goes out to their male companions. I pray for their survival. And this changes nothing.

American society continues its swirl down the drain of its dark destiny.

Caribbean memories

window

OLD MEN’S MINDS tend to wander, and they usually wander in reverse, which is to say memories as opposed to plans or anticipations. This morning my crusty cranium conjured up memories of Puerto Rico where I once lived. I’m here to share photos, yet again.

We’ll start at the top, a shot taken out the bedroom window of the tiny penthouse where I lived with an Argentine girl of 20 whom I called, then and now, the Argentine Firecracker. I rescued her from a sleazy San Juan bar, and she reformed herself rather nicely.

Had I chosen to reproduce these photos in their original, faded, 1970s colors, you could more easily spot her fire-engine-red panties there on the right end of the pillow.

Red is always a spectacular color for panties.

eats

AND HERE above is a shot from the balcony of an apartment on Mango Street that I shared at another time with a Brooklyn woman. That’s her on the beach just below. What always comes to mind on seeing that restaurant photo, where the crowd stands, is Johnny Nash singing “I can see clearly now” on the jukebox down there where we often ate chicken and rice.

Puerto Ricans make great chicken and rice.

The Brooklyn woman and I shared space and time during the first of my two stays in San Juan. When I moved back to New Orleans after five months, she packed her bags and her damn cat and followed me, uninvited. Sometimes I had that effect on women. It was the devil getting rid of her, but I wish her well, even today. She clearly did not see that I was not a keeper in those days.

But now I am.

brooklyn

JUST BELOW is the aforementioned Argentine Firecracker, hair blowing in the constant sea breeze of the penthouse digs. She was a part of my second San Juan adventure, which is to say she followed the Brooklyn woman about 18 months later. And she lasted longer.

firecracker

THOSE OF YOU who’ve read along for most of the decade I’ve been blabbering hereabouts may have seen these photos and read similar words, but new folks appear now and then. This will be fresh for them. And I enjoy my Caribbean memories.

* * * *

(Johnny Nash sings I Can See Clearly Now, a great song.)

Felipe goes green!

green

HAVING LOST ITS raison d’être, the gas-fueled water heater sits silent out back.

Even its pilot light has gone dark.

After four-plus years of wanting to go green (well, save cash, actually), we have a solar water heater that really works. Our first solar heater, some readers may recall, sat on the roof for about four years doing pretty much squat, occasionally squirting some tepid H2O.

But since that first set of panels was only connected to the gas heater — the theory being that it reduces the gas used to heat water — it did not have any practical effect on us personally.

We still enjoyed hot showers.

But I knew the solar panels were doing little because I’d climb the circular stairway to the roof now and then to open a valve to find tepid water coming out most every time.

That first heater, manufactured by Rotoplas, one of the biggest names in Mexican plumbing, had a 10-year warranty. Finally, I got off my lazy keister and returned to the hardware store where the Rotoplas had been purchased. I expected one of two responses:

1. Warranty? Ha!

2. Okay, but the warranty will be pro-rated. You’ll get 60 percent of your cash back.

Option No. 1 is common down here.

Imagine my shock when Rotoplas picked up the old heater and returned 100 percent of the purchase price, 10,000 pesos, about 665 American dollars these days. I used that money to buy another solar heater, a different brand, Solemex. Never heard of it. The Solemex cost 6,000 pesos, about 400 dollars, but I paid about 1,000 pesos to have it installed.

The Solemex did not work either.

The water it produced was blazing hot. It just did not deliver the water to the faucets in the Hacienda. Oh, it sputtered out some hot water now and then. On rare occasion, it even worked well. Sometimes no water at all came out of the showerhead. Nada.

You might imagine my irritation.

We even installed an inline pressure pump. The poor pressure remained the same.

But, to make a short story even shorter, the problem was not the solar heater. It was that the plumber who installed it was clueless. After returning twice, he finally figured it out, and now it works like gangbusters. We are hot and green!

The Solemex is connected directly into the house, not to the gas water heater.

A friend down the highway has installed a massive array of solar panels on his roof to generate electricity. He does not do solar water, but his electricity bill has mostly disappeared.

Maybe one day I’ll go green with electricity too. I feel like a hippie tree-hugger.

Heater
The new Solemex!

 

Dios and doctors

church

I’M SITTING ON a hard pew in the main cathedral of the state capital. Instead of praying or even reading the Bible, I’m waiting and occasionally reading Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs on my Kindle. That fellow in the pew ahead of me is probably praying enough for the both of us.

God and doctors. That’s the theme for today. God because, well, look where I am, surrounded by religious trappings as only the Catholics can do it. I enjoy sitting here. Wish I had a cushion, however, for my skinny butt. Doctors, because my wife is visiting one right now.

Allow me to rub it in some more, to those of you who live outside Mexico, poor darlings, trapped by “free,” socialist, medical schemes in both Canada and, now, Barry’s America.

My child bride was unfortunate enough to have two medical crises at the same time, neither life-threatening but both physically unpleasant. It began on Monday, so we phoned Specialist No. 1 in the nearby state capital and easily made an appointment for the following day at 10 a.m.

Monday night, problem No. 2 erupted, so as we were driving to the state capital Tuesday morning, we phoned Specialist No. 2 and easily made an appointment for 11:30, 90 minutes later.

Can you do that where you live? Heck no.

While she was at the office of Specialist No. 1, I walked the four blocks to this cathedral. Yes, I’m not actually sitting there at this moment. Luckily, she finished in time for us to drive to Specialist No. 2, whose office is in the annex of the Star Médica hospital, a great Mexican chain.

Both issues were handily resolved, and we paid the reasonable charges in cash.

And that, mis amigos, is how health care should be handled.

Efficiently, intelligently, affordably.