The outback

The swept Outback.

AUSTRALIA HAS its Outback, and so do we.

It’s out back of the Hacienda. You get there via the back gate. The principal entrance is a block away on a parallel street. I hardly ever come out this way.

There is an annual exception. I come out in late May to sweep my sidewalk and even a part of the street on my side. Yes, it’s my sidewalk because I paid to have it built two years ago.

Stone and concrete.

For most of our time here, it was a very long strip of extremely high weeds. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, and had the sidewalk installed. Now I have pride of ownership.

Late May is the time for the yearly sweep because in early June the rains begin, and if there’s dirt on the street it becomes mud that stays out there till October.

This is only the second annual sweep, and it’s a first for me because last year I hired my nephew, then 13, the lad once known hereabouts as The Young Vaquero.

Watching him “sweep” was amazing. Imagine you handed a broom to a chimpanzee. The Vaquero had no idea what to do with a broom. No one had never taught him.

No clue about dustpans either.

When he was 9 or 10, we were at a carnival, and I paid so he could shoot a toy rifle at targets. However, he had no more idea how to hold a rifle than how to grip a broom.

He’s 14 now and will want a driver’s license in a few more years. I advise you to stay off the highways. He has a bicycle he never uses. He has a skateboard he never uses. He  received a toy drone for Christmas. It sits in a closet.

He has a computer tablet, and he plays games all day.

I thought of him as I swept the Outback, and I imagine I will always think of him when I sweep out there. I sweep well. I don’t recall anyone teaching me. I assumed it was innate.

I wield a mean floor buffer too, but I learned that in the Air Force. It was not a skill I learned willingly.

A thousand words

Russia’s man, Putin, front bike.


Netanyahu, Israel's man.
Netanyahu, a few years back, Israel’s man.


Mohammed’s men, locked and loaded.


America’s  man, Barry.


Israel's women.
Israel’s women.


Mohammed's women.
Mohammed’s women.


America's ladies.
America’s women.

A GALLUP POLL indicates that 24 percent of Americans consider themselves liberals while 40 percent label themselves conservatives. One assumes the other 36 percent are playing with their iPads and feeling superior for being “independent.”


Joseph Street

Adan and Agate’s first home, for they were young, was on Joseph Street just south of Saint Charles.

It was a tiny apartment carved out of a clapboard building by clever carpenters, an add-on and it showed. There was, however, a porch where the puppy lived.

Agate was a dog person, so she came with a puppy which was not Adan’s preferred lifestyle, but there was the puppy in any event, pooping everywhere.

A Joseph Street plus was the proximity of Langenstein’s supermarket just a block and a half away. A source of real coonass dining.

Though they had not been married long, Agate was already with child. And Adan had a job as a secretary at a battery factory situated in the Free Trade Zone abutting the Mississippi River.

He rode every cool winter morning from the apartment a couple of miles to the battery factory on a bicycle with ape-hanger handlebars. He had bought the bike cheap somewhere. Cash was scarce.

The battery factory had hired him as secretary because, for some reason unknown to Adan to this day, there were bathroom facilities only for men in their area of the Free Trade Zone.

But he did not last long there because he was a misfit.

And Joseph Street did not last long either. Adan and Agate found another apartment, larger, but also carved from a big building, on Dryades Street not far from the corner of Napoleon and Saint Charles.

streetcarProximity to Saint Charles was a plus due to the streetcar that ran that avenue. The bike with the ape-hanger bars was poorly suited for two persons especially when one was pregnant.

And one day they were three. A beautiful baby was born.

They named her Amoretta.

By that time, Adan was selling insurance, and the bicycle had been stolen from the front yard of the apartment on Dryades Street.

Yes, it was a multicultural neighborhood.

All of this transpired nearly half a century ago. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent, as they say.

Adan, long divorced from Agate, passed by the apartment on Joseph Street eight or so years ago. The porch had been sliced off. No puppies in residence.

Many things had changed.

But Langenstein’s was still there. Coonass dining never dies.