Soaked morning in mourning

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Our barrio church.

IT RAINED LIKE a motheroo last night. I awoke at 2:30 to the pounding of horizontal water, thunder and my child bride closing the bedroom window.

The rainy season got off to a spotty start about 10 days ago. It blew in big-time one evening, then rained two or three times more. Then nothing for six or so days. Till last night.

I went back to sleep, but awoke about an hour later to the near silence of a calm sprinkle. I got up to open the bedroom window again. Then back to dreamland. It was easy. The air was cool.

Just before 7, I opened my eyes to a gray dawn through the window and the gonging church bell on the plaza 1.5 blocks away.

Someone had died. Death is marked here in the barrio by a slow, dismal gong that continues for hours, often all night long, and it’s done manually. A guy is up there in the bell tower pulling the rope about once every 10 seconds.

Not an enviable task.

Sitting down at the dining room table for bagels and cream cheese at 8, I saw the downstairs veranda under a lake, water that had blown in from the storm. The upstairs terraza had a lake too, but a far more modest one, so I decided right then to install at least one more canvas curtain up there, closing four of the five sides.

The sort of storm we got last night, blowing so much water into the two terrazas, is rare. Last summer it only happened two or three times during the daily, five-month monsoon.

Less rare is a neighbor’s death and the slow gonging of the announcement.

Not being a Catholic, nor even much of a barrio participant, I will not get a gong when I die. That’s too bad. I would like that sort of sendoff, especially if accompanied by lightning, thunder and flooding tears from heaven.

Drama and death suit one another.

I wonder if it will rain again today.

27 thoughts on “Soaked morning in mourning

  1. Felipe: The bells eventually become background. Where you have the rainy season, we have lawnmower season. Lawnmowing here, as I’ve mentioned before, is a sport. We’re in twice-a-week right now, and no two neighbours can mow on the same day, so it’s all day, every day. They love their five-acre lawns and John Deere mowers.

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    1. Kris: The bells become background? I think that depends on your proximity to them. I actually like hearing the death bells here. Well, apart from what it implies. Somebody croaked. No two of your neighbors can mow on the same day? Is that a legal requirement by nosy Canadian government?


      1. Felipe: No, my friend, it means that rather than two mowing at the same time, as soon as one stops, another begins, so there is never a moment’s peace.

        It seems to me that lately you have been looking for reasons to take digs at me, so this will be my last comment for a while.


        1. Kris: I reread my previous comment to you. I see nothing even remotely resembling a dig at you unless one considers “nosy Canadian government” a dig at you instead of a dig at the Canadian government. which it was.

          As for recently taking digs at you, the only one I can think of is my off-the-chart wonderment that you think Cuba is better than Russia or even China. I continue rolling my eyeballs at that one. Well, head off and rest for a while. I’ll be here when you get back with open arms. Love & besos!


  2. You will get a gong when you’ve reached your expiration date. All your widow has to do is ask. Well, the ask should probably be accompanied by a Diego and a Hidalgo. While mourners may rend their clothes at any time during the year, the odds of a heavenly sendoff are more likely if your demise does not take place during the dry season.


    1. Ms. Shoes: So all she has to do is ask? No contributions to the Vatican or Hail Marys?

      I doubt she’ll ask, however. Maybe I should put it into my will. But wait, I have no will because I own nothing here. It’s all hers already.


              1. Didn’t seem all that cryptic to me, especially after she repeated it. But the dry season comment left me wondering.


  3. Sheesh, both you an Cotton are maudlin today, and dealing with the Reaper in yer own way! Don’t need the heavens to cry or Nature’s pyrotechnics when I die, but just “play the drums slowly, and play the pipes lowly” when I go. The Fury’s said it best in the “Green fields of France,” so have a listen when you get a chance.


  4. Strange that you should mention church bells. For several months, when I hear church bells, I get the feeling of pulling the rope. I know it takes a hard pull, then as the swing passes the midpoint, you have to release the rope and let it go to the end of the swing, then pull hard again. I don’t even remember the small Episcopal church I attended as a kid as having a church bell, but from somewhere it is embedded in my memory. It can’t be from watching movies, as my mother did not allow us to go to many movies. And ringing church bells isn’t something you do at any time just for the fun of it. And no, it wasn’t done when somebody died; only on Sunday mornings.


  5. We once went to a burial in El Grullo, Jalisco. The deceased was a friend who was a fanatical, born-again Christian. We had had numerous intense debates on religion over the years. El Grullo lies between two mountain ranges of the Sierra Madre Sur. As we pulled onto the highway for the drive home to Guadalajara, storm clouds formed over the range to the west and an intense lightning storm erupted. My wife considered it to be a heaven-sent sendoff. I just thought it was a pretty cool coincidence.


  6. My husband, as a boy, had the duty of ringing the noonday bell (Angelus bell) at his rural Catholic church years ago, when it was rung manually. One day he mistakenly rang 15 minutes early and all the farmer neighbors who were in the field stopped their work to come in for lunch. When lunch was found not to be ready 15 minutes early, husband was fired.


  7. Death comes for all of us eventually. How we accept it is up to us. I told my wife that I did not want a religious funeral. I haven’t been to church since 1962. Nor have I paid my tithing since then. I must owe a ton of money.

    I told my wife to figure up a total of the money I had made since 1962, and write a check for ten per cent of that amount. Then just before they close the casket, put the check into my hand. I will give it to God when I see him.

    Actually, it will not be a casket since all I want is the cheap cremation, but instead it will be a very overpriced cardboard box. I told my wife to scatter my ashes in Wild Cat Canyon. It used to be so pretty, but since the forest fire, it is all ashes. She says that Wild Cat Canyon is too far, but she will scatter my ashes on East Van Buren, here in Phoenix. Those girls can have me then.


    1. Señor Gill: I like your death plan. It is imaginative. And you made me look up Van Buren Street there in Phoenix. It has quite a history, including the State Insane Asylum. I imagine the girls to whom you refer are hookers.

      Yes, let them have you. You’ll have that bank check in hand. It will go a long way.


  8. Yes, I used to work at the State Hospital. La Casa Verde, it is called. Actually, I worked at a prison on the hospital grounds. Back then, it took forever to get a background check. Despite having worked nine years at another state agency, it took months to get clearance. In that time, I went in and out of the place flashing my City of Phoenix library card.

    I finally got a job elsewhere in the same agency. Thank God!


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