Less than a tithe

This is our neighborhood church. Built, I’m guessing, in the 1500s.

WE USUALLY don’t answer the doorbell because it’s often passing kids goofing around or someone selling something we don’t want. And it’s almost a two-block round trip from inside the house to the front gate and back. That more than anything.

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A Catholic spell

I come from country people who were never anything but Baptists or Methodists that I know of.

In spite of that, I was deposited in a Catholic school for kindergarten and First Grade in Albany, Georgia, about 10,000 years ago. My mother did it because it had the best reputation in town, education-wise.

My sister was sentenced there too. My sister had imagination, however, or maybe it was just childish ignorance. She came home one day and announced that she’d changed the Holy Water, freshened it up with stuff from the tap.

Neither the priest nor the nuns ever noticed, which tells me that Holy Water’s fame is overstated somewhat.

My mother, before enrolling me, made the nuns promise they wouldn’t try to turn me into a Catholic, and they did so promise because, one imagines, our money looked green.

However, one day I came home with the report that, after having misbehaved in some way, I was made to kneel on rice before a painting of the Virgin and beg forgiveness.

Mother took me out of the school at that point, and I left Catholicism forever if you don’t count that my second ex-wife is a recovering Catholic, and Mexico is full of Catholics.

My child bride does not seem to be a Catholic, but the environment rubs off. Her father was an atheist and her evil stepmother, after father died too young, became a Jehovah’s Witness, one of those pests at your front door.

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Speaking of doorbells

As I was saying, we rarely respond to the doorbell here at the Hacienda unless we are expecting someone.

But my child bride was toiling in her pastry workshop the other day when the doorbell rang — it rings both out there and here in the house — and since there was little walking involved, she opened the little speakeasy portal in the steel gate.

Two ladies were there, and they were not pesky Jehovah’s Witnesses, but Catholics on a collecting mission.

You see our neighborhood church up top? It is very old, and it’s in bad condition. We were informed that City Hall has agreed to chip in a percentage for a much-needed restoration, but residents here in our poor barrio have to pony up too.

We were being asked to pony up, so we ponied.

We learned that the amount one is asked to contribute is based on how well-off you look. In our hardscrabble neighborhood, we look quite well-off, so we were asked for 1,000 pesos.

We paid for the sake of architecture.

I think the Vatican should pay for the entire restoration, but it doesn’t seem that Headquarters pays us much mind.

I hope enough money is raised because I like the church. I see it every weekday morning during our exercise walk. I’ve rarely been inside, but I hear singing at times, and I see funerals and weddings there. All part of the tapestry hereabouts.

Birthday boys

New Image

TODAY IS MY father’s birthday. Flag Day in the United States. That’s how I remember it.

I think about my father a lot even though I did not like him. In spite of that, we were very similar. About the only difference between us was that I like to travel. He loathed it.

Other than that, we were clones. That’s him in the photo, which was taken in an Atlanta farmers’ market in the late 1980s.

I never called him Dad or Father or anything like that. I called him Charles because that was his name. I don’t know why I did that. I never called my mother Mom or anything of that sort either. I called her Dee, a nickname.

My sister did call him Daddy.

Charles was a newspaper editor, as was I. He retired from full-time newspapering when he was just 49, having fallen into some money when his mother-in-law died.

He became a haiku poet, and became quite famous in the small world of haiku poetry. He died in 1991 of a heart attack at 75, just three years older than I will soon be.

He would have been 101 years old today.

He had his good points. He was a lifelong liberal of the classical variety, as am I.* One wonders what he would have thought of Donald Trump. Today is Trump’s birthday too. He’s 70.

New Image
Florida beach, 1960. Charles on left, me in the middle.

(The bottom photo was sent to me about three years ago by the fellow on the right, John Zimmerman, a good boyhood friend who went on to fly tankers over Vietnam and later became an airline captain. He’s retired now.)

* Classic liberals are very different from today’s “progressive liberal”  collectivists of the Democrat Party.

Cash from abroad


EVERY FRIDAY this long line forms outside the ATM of the Santander bank. Often the line goes halfway down the block before it disappears around the corner.

This is a relatively new scene, starting about two months ago. I have a theory. These people are withdrawing cash that was deposited by relatives above the Rio Bravo.

They are a motley bunch from the lower economic regions. Young, for the most part, with a good percentage, mostly male, to whom the adjective cholo would apply. Bandannas, sunglasses, hoodies, pants drooping low.

They’re not just from our town because many come in minibuses from outlying villages. The minibuses bring them, wait, and then return them to the sticks.

The good thing about this for me is that the long line usually attracts a churro vendor who hawks his goodies out of a basket. Churros go real good with café Americano negro.

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(Where’s Waldo? Just barely noticeable in the shot above is the subject of another photo.)

The dilemma


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.


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.