The orchid peach

AND ONWARD we slog through the overly warm afternoons and evenings of May.

Praying for rain.

But there are fun distractions. One is the orchid peach. It’s my own invention.

Here’s the recipe: Take one peach tree. Any tree will do, but I use peach. It’s out there.

Tie orchid bases to the peach tree. That’s Step Two. Patience is Step Three. Most of the year, they just hang there, but in Springtime they bloom.

These orchids grow wild in the area, attaching themselves to trees — they’re parasites — and in Springtime, vendors walk the streets and stand beside highways, selling them.

I try to purchase at least one a year.

They can grow high, making it difficult to grab them. Once, a couple of years ago, a tall part of a tree on our main plaza broke off and thundered to the sidewalk. Nobody was hurt.

But the hunk of tree lying on the sidewalk was chockablock with blooming orchids. People went at them like a pack of wolves. I happened by after most of the orchids were plucked.


This year I purchased yellow, a first. All the previous orchids on my peach tree had been pink. You like a little variety in your orchids, color-wise.

The blooms in the photo look a little weary. That’s because they first erupted weeks ago, and they’re just about pooped out for this season. You can see my new yellow one.

The orchid peach. My own invention.

Patent Pending. Or not.

Free speech or not?

ALTHOUGH ISIS initially claimed the two attackers at the Mohammed cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, were their guys, it turned out not to be the case. They were just a couple of independent Mohammedan zealots.

That, however, in no way changes the truth of what Bill Whittle is saying, bless his heart.

Zapata Tales, revisited

THOSE WHO HAVE passed through this corner of Mexican cyberspace for more than three years will remember its previous incarnation, The Zapata Tales.

That old boy is gone now, offline, but I took a peek recently and found some photos and other items I will share — reissue — today. Some things are worth repeating.

Let us start with a post, the final one, from The Tales. It was also where the title of this website originated — The Unseen Moon, which came to me out of the blue even though I have since seen it used elsewhere.

* * * *

The Old Wolf

It had rained most of the night, but not now, so he stood quietly so not to waken his mate. He left the cave to trot the short distance to the overlook. Clouds were clearing and he sat on his haunches and viewed the incredible distance, the morning valley below and the faraway mountains.

They had left the old home because Homo erectus became more of a worry down in the valley. Now they lived in a different cave that was very high and well hidden. Homo erectus was no threat here.

They lived in peace, eating the occasional rodent and rabbit that were becoming more difficult to catch. He was not as quick as before and gray covered his snout. One fang ached now and then.

His mate, whom he loved so, had caught a burr in a back paw. She never got it out, and it festered. He did all the running now, and sometimes he came back to the cave breathing heavily.

wolf-8978911But with a rabbit. He would always have a rabbit or something like that. It had to be done if they were to eat and continue.

There had been pups over the years. Those were very happy times, the little ones climbing over his chest and biting his ears. He loved that. But they had gone.

They had found their own mates and walked far away.

This cliff edge where he sat now was a favored spot.  At night he saw the moon, and he howled at it. He didn’t know why he did that. He only knew that he had to, that it was absolutely required.

How would the moon hang in the sky without his songs?

He thought about how he had met his mate so many years ago. They were young together, and they played among the trees farther down the valley. One day she smelled like a ripe pine nut, and they got married in the bushes. She had never given him anything but joy.

* * * *

The years had passed. The pups. Hunting and being hunted by Homo erectus. Fresh mountain summers and cold winters of snow, which were the hardest times. But most times were good. Few were bad.

In both the first cave far below and this new higher home, distant from Homo erectus, they had slept all those nights atop brown leaves with their bodies touching. Their spirit of love had never waned, and it was warming in the winter, cooling in summer.

* * * *

As he sat this morning on the cliff watching the clouds disperse and the sun rising over the distant damp crests, he thought of these things as he did more and more in recent weeks.

And his fang ached.

He stood with a deep sigh and walked toward the cave entrance. His mate would be awake by now, waiting. But she was not. She lay where he had left her. He drew near and nudged her with his old nose.

The cave was quiet. He heard spiders climbing the walls. A hollow sound crept from the farther depths where they had never dared to walk, deep in the cavern. His heart grew chill. His love had died.

He sat and stared at her. He inhaled deeply. He turned to look at the cave entrance where there was more light. After an hour he stood and walked back to the overlook. It was a brilliant morning.

He asked the unseen moon: What am I going to do?

* * * *


Let’s turn to photos now. This is my wife looking at our lake from a very high point about six years ago. I like the woman. I like the lake. I like the mountains. I like the nation, warts and all.

A corner downtown.
A street downtown.
A clay bowl.
A clay bowl.

My first year below the Rio Bravo, before I married, before I built the Hacienda, I drove alone in my shiny new Chevy hatchback to Querétaro. Passing an art shop, I saw this bowl through the window. I bought it.

Today it sits in the Hacienda living room, full of Hershey’s Kisses. You wanna kiss. You know where to find one.

Feet in the hammock.

Years back, I used to spend hours, reading, dozing, daydreaming, marveling, in the hammock on the upstairs terraza. Now I almost never do that. Don’t know precisely why. The hammock is still there.

Cloudy mountains.
Cloudy mountains.

This is not far from our house. We see this every weekday morning when we do our power walk around the neighborhood plaza. Sometimes there are clouds, sometimes not.


A few years back, we had a new cistern dug. I went spelunking with a camera.

* * * *

The Zapata Tales  had a column running down the right side, particularly interesting remarks culled from readers’ comments. I put them there for two reasons: 1. They made me feel good. 2. They were a lure to new readers who might have just glanced about and departed.

Here are just a few:

You never cease to amuse and amaze me.

Pretentious dolt!

You have brought so much joy and a little irritation.

You disgust me (a paraphrase).

Wise, wry writing from a beautiful place.

What a nice piece of heaven you share.

You’re like a drunk uncle.

You’re a right-wing wacko.

God, you are hysterical!

You are a treasure on the electron highway.

There were many more, but you get the idea. I rarely get those types of comments on The Unseen Moon. Not quite sure why. I have mentioned that my mind has changed. One reader, on hearing that confession, suggested seriously that I seek medical help due to senile dementia or perhaps impending lunacy. I have yet to do that.

The Tales  were more lyrical and romantic thanThe Moon.  Life settles down. The Tales  were referenced in Carl Franz’s People’s Guide to Mexico, the tour book popular with hippies who eat brown rice and drink goat’s milk.

* * * *

Remains of monster maguey.
Remains of monster maguey.

I planted this maguey when it was quite tiny. It grew. And grew. And grew. I had to get rid of it. These two fellows first cut the fronds off, leaving the base, which was unearthed and toted away.

I’ll never make that mistake again.


A street in the neighborhood. I could tell you who lives here, but then I’d have to kill you.

Scene inside the Hacienda.
Scene inside the Hacienda.
Local beauty parlor.

* * * *

The Zapata Tales ran for six years. The Unseen Moon has shone for three. The daily readership count is about the same. The former focused on my life in Mexico, the latter, not so much.

Things change. Minds change. I doubt I will seek psychological help. What’s the point?

Old wolves don’t need no stinkin’ shrinks.

I hope you enjoyed the lupine Tale and photos.

It’s going to be a wonderful day.

The caliph’s demise

Aasiq Ali al abizz had four wives.

They were aged 14, 15, 16 and 17. He always maintained his wife list in that order. As each aged one year, the 14-year-old slot was refilled, and the one reaching her 18th birthday was retired.

Retirement for the oldest went like this: She was stoned, chopped up into little pieces, sautéed in leftover olive oil, mixed with diced dates and mashed pomegranates and fed to ravenous pigs.

This retirement was, naturally, not revealed to the wives beforehand.

He liked surprises.

Aasiq Ali al abizz was 83 years old and not as fit as he once was, back when he had 32 wives, but even then the retirement process was the same, and so were the ages. There simply were eight wives in each age slot.

camelThe Prophet, of course, promised 72 virgins after death, but Aasiq Ali al abizz was an impatient man, so he enjoyed a new virgin every year, knowing that on his death he would have plenty more.

Aasiq Ali al abizz’s stretch of desert, that which he called his kingdom, by pure luck, abutted the Land of the Jews. On weekends he would lob SA-N-3 Goblet missiles over the border.

Aasiq Ali al abizz bought these from the Russians.

He did this for the pure joy of it, and to please the Prophet. Perhaps a few extra virgins would await him over the rainbow.

Virgin gravy.

He kept the missile fire to a minimum because it was best not to stir the Jews up excessively. They were very tough customers.

But Aasiq Ali al abizz knew Obama had his back.

All told, Aasiq Ali al abizz led a sweet life. Between the four wives and weekend missiles to the Jews, he oversaw his camel flock, his 18 oases, his tents, his rugs, the stonings of other men’s wives, and daily feasts of hurmah, tuffah, dajaj, lahem kharouf and the occasional samak.

But one day he died.

On that day he was naked atop his eldest bride on a massive rug of multicolors just 24 hours before her 18th birthday, and he was relishing the thought of her impending retirement celebration.

Suddenly, he opened his eyes on the far side. Instead of dozens of virgins and dripping honey, he saw nothing. All was black, but there was a sound.

It was the sound of desert wolves, and they were coming closer.

In the darkness, something snarled and bit deep into his leg.

It was no virgin.