Premature optimism

Dark clouds seen Sunday from the Downtown Casita’s roof.

In yesterday’s post I said it had not rained in a few days, and maybe that meant the monsoon has departed for this year. It’s always risky to say such stuff because the universe will smite you.

It poured last night.

Since we have tenants arriving at the Downtown Casita next weekend, we visited the condo to do some cleaning, primarily washing the enormous skylight over the stairwell. The skylight covers the entire stairwell, and it had not been washed in many months. It’s a nice opportunity to visit the roof and see the spectacular view.

That was late yesterday.

Some of our neighbors have constructed covered patios on their roofs to take advantage of the view and the space. We have not done that. We would if we lived there, but we don’t live there.

This condo, which we bought in 2010 with money I inherited from my mother, has been a mixed bag. We had no intention of renting it when we bought it. It was purchased as an investment, nothing more, but after a couple of years of its just sitting there, all pretty and nice, we decided to rent it to tourists on AirBnB.

That’s become a burden because it all falls on me. The tenants are invariably English speakers, and my bride is not. Plus, I’m more a stickler for details in the host department while she’s more, well, Mexican. The condo has a 100% five-star rating from guests.

And that is on me.

I wonder if it will rain today. It’s gray outside.

The good times

This morning around 10.* Sunshine!

The monsoon starts here in June, and then it rains every single solitary day till about now. It normally tapers off in October, but I remember one year that it rained on October 1, and that was it. It was a happy month. The Goddess had smiled.

But sometimes she manifests a mean streak, and rains on the cemeteries on the Night of the Dead, November, disproving the existence of a Goddess with our best interests at heart.

It seems to be tapering off now, and maybe it’s ended. Hard to know. But it was a beautiful day yesterday, and this morning dawned in the same way. See the photo above. I planted that pole cactus years ago when it was a pipsqueak. Now it’s about to bump the drainpipe above. Just two of them, the others are farther out.

Yes, the rains are winding down, and it seems the pandemic is following suit, which is no great shock. Pandemics historically last one to two years. In Mexico we had a spike last winter, the first wave, and another in August when it spiked even higher.

But now it’s way down. An ending pandemic will distress the Democrats above the Rio Bravo, a happy thought.

Another indication that life is returning to normal is that we have tenants arriving Sunday for a two-week stay in our Downtown Casita, the first time since 2019. We had a number of reservations last year, but they all canceled due to the hysteria.

In any event, I am wearying of renting the place due to the effort involved and the fact we do not depend on that income. It’s pure gravy. To that end, I have spiked the rent waaay up. If I have to be bothered with tenants, let ’em pay!

But for people I like — perhaps you, for instance — they can come and stay a week or two for nuttin’. Free.

Well, you might leave a tip for Marta the Maid.

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The best month

October has long been my favorite month. When I lived in America, it was my favorite month because that’s when it got cool and nice after the sweltering summers of Texas. That’s not a big factor here because it’s always cool. It’s my fav month now due to the end of the monsoon rains. In any event, I love October.

Sitting on the printer.

Thirty years ago, I started a personal tradition. Every October, I purchased a small pumpkin and placed it atop my computer terminal at The Houston Chronicle.

I still do that today, but it has to sit atop my printer because my H-P All-in-One PC has no “top.”

Life goes on. For how much longer, nobody knows.

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*In December, all that grass and even more will be removed and replaced with stone and concrete. Oh, boy!

Memories of Kenner

This is not Kenner, but take away the plants, and you have a good idea.

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I’m in the middle of a memoir written by a woman who was raised by a couple of crazy parents in Long Island, New York. She’s now in her late 30s, an actress and writer living in New York City.

Her father was a packrat, a hoarder of gargantuan proportions, and her mother was someone who put up with that while also contributing to the mountain of mess.

I’m only in the middle of the book, so I don’t know how it all turns out. I did flip to the end to read “About the Author,” which is how I know what she’s doing these days.

She spent her childhood in two homes. The first burned down. The family moved to a second, and swiftly turned it into a garbage dump like the first, complete with rats and rotting pipes and nowhere to comfortably sit due to mounds of trash.

The book is titled Coming Clean. Get it?

The book brought back memories of my first wife and her family. They were not packrats, but I do recall an engine block in the middle of the living room at one point. The house was a shack in the woods in Kenner, Louisiana, which is a western suburb of New Orleans.

The issue was not hoarding. It was alcoholism, specifically that of my first father-in-law, a freelance carpenter who was the nicest guy in the world when he was sober.

When he wasn’t sober, it was another matter, along the lines of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hyde only appeared to his wife and kids. Even when drunk, other people still saw Jekyll, a friendly fellow.

But he terrorized his immediate family for years.

His name was Durward and, if memory serves, he built the shack in which they lived. It sat on brick pilings and was in dreadful condition. There were gobs of grease on the kitchen ceiling, and while sitting on the throne in the bathroom, you could look straight down through a hole in the rotting floor to the dirt below the house.

It made for an unsettling squat.

Late in life, Durward — everyone called him Buddy — went on the wagon, spending his later years sober. He was an excellent artist to boot. While I was a member of the clan, Buddy drove an old car, something like a 1948 DeSoto, with a shot undercarriage and sagging upholstery. It provided a rollicking ride.

In spite of the troubles, my first wife was very close to her family, and most every Sunday for the five-plus years we were married we drove to Kenner to sit at the kitchen table for hours with coffee, shooting the fat. No, make that the breeze because the fat hung on the ceiling.

I grew very weary of the endless Sundays there. I wonder if we might still be together except for that. Probably not.

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Unfortunate choices

While my first father-in-law was problematical in one way, the second was a problem in another. He was schizophrenic, often housed in mental facilities. This, of course, had its effect on my second wife, which had an effect on our marriage. How not?

I married both women knowing of their past. Would a normal person have done that? Maybe there’s something wrong with me.

I wrote recently of my third wife’s family. Here too are problems but not the sort that will break us up.

I pray not. I’m too old to start over.

Black history month

A black Indian girl. Who knew?

It’s Black History Month in the United Kingdom, but not in the United States and Canada where Black History Month is February, so black history is celebrated not once but twice! How wonderful!

Intelligent people wonder, however, why there is no White History Month, a Brown History Month or an Asian History Month. Where’s the equality, the diversity, the fairness?

It’s because blacks were slaves, you dunce, and merit special attention. But wait! All races have been slaves and all points of the globe have been involved in slavery, up to this very day.

The brilliant Simon Webb, who is an Englishman, has been “celebrating” black history this month with a long series of his perceptive videos regarding the topic.

Here he addresses the current state of descendants of black slaves who were shipped to India. The cutie in the video is one of them. Is Black History Month celebrated in India? Do Indian blacks want reparation cash? Are they disgruntled? Is there an Indian branch of BLM?

None of the above.

They are simply living their lives as other Indians do.

“White Europeans and Americans must somehow be encouraging the victim mentality.”

— Simon Webb