FROM CITY TO FARM or I'VE GOT THE COCK, NOW WHAT .... Ramblings political, humourous, opinionated and/or creative writing from a man in flux


My Balls

Ok, so for the first time in thirty years, I cooked a turkey.  Why is it that the smallest turkeys available seem to weight 8 tonnes??  and you know what that means:  left-over turkey for the rest of the millenium.  I decided to experiment with uses for left-over turkey and, having horrible memories of home-made turkey soup from my childhood, I decided to forgo the boil-the-bones approach and ground up the meat.  Then I ground up some left-over ham.  And some raw pork pieces that ponged a bit but didn't seem poisonous.  Add some Chinese "five spice", an egg or two, some dry bread and stale crackers and voila!    Depending on your level of masochism, sit or stand to make the goop into balls. And because we basically don't have a hope in hell of telling when they are cooked, make little balls.  Then (deep-)fry them until they are dead.  I mean crispy.  Then throw some flour and shite together to make a gravy.  Serve with aplomb.  They are not going to taste like turkey - in fact they are guaranteed to taste like almost nothing you have ever eaten before.

Ok, así que por la primera vez en treinta años, he cocinado un pavo. ¿Por qué es que los más pequeños disponibles parecen pavos de peso de 8 toneladas? y ustedes saben lo que eso significa:  el pavo sobrante para el resto del milenio. Me decidí a experimentar con el uso derestos de pavo y, con horribles recuerdos de sopa casera de pavo de mi infancia, he decidido renunciar a la ebullición-los-huesos y  he molido la carne. Entonces anadir un poco de jamón sobrante. Y algunas piezas de carne de cerdo cruda que fue disputada un poco, pero no parece venenoso. Agregue un poco de chino "cinco especias", un huevo o dos, un poco de pan seco y galletas rancio y ¡voilá! Dependiendo de su nivel de masoquismo, sentado o de pie para hacer el pegote en bolas. Y debido a que básicamente no tienen una esperanza en el infierno de contar cuando se cocinado, hacen pequenos bolitas. Entonces (profundas) se fríen hasta que estén muertos. Quiero decir que estén crujientes. A continuación, echar un poco de harina y unas mierda para hacer una salsa. Servir con aplomo. Ellos no van a sabor a pavo - de hecho, se les garantiza a gusto como casi nada de lo que han comido antes.


2011 09 08

Cat news!  Bruce and Muttney have reached detente!  Shadow and Bruce have reached detente!  Shadow would rather that Muttney cease to exist but occasionally forgets to try to hiss him to death.  If this is to be the usual state of affairs, some of us are going to be really unhappy.

Last Friday was Cele's birthday - 28! - and we were unable to host a dinner for her because of compromising events.  The cleaning lady comes Tuesdays and Fridays, so the house was sparkling.   She taught me how to make mole this time as well as cleaning.  Tuesday night the kids came over to celebrate her day:  Cele, her husband Fernando, Saint Paul and Miguel.  I made a herbed pork roast in my pressure cooker and risotto with shrimp and tomato.  Desert was peaches warmed in butter, vanilla and brown sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon and cream.  Gary cobbled together a big enough table, draped it and made it all look pretty.  Everyone had a good time and ate lots of food and laughed a lot.  We are still washing up.  I wonder where I was on my 28th birthday...

Speaking of birthdays and dates with which to mark the passage of time ...  Gary and I will have been together for 10 years December 4th.  Bruce is 14 or 15, Shadow is 12, Muttney is 7.  We are in the usual state of health, Gary is fine and my knee is being a pain.  We are discussing how and when to go back north to get the truck across the border and have a couple of ideas that seem to make sense.  What we actually end up doing is anybody's guess.  Muttney has decided that his bed is the bathroom sink, which he fills completely and inconveniently.

We are going to look at hand-made wooden furniture this afternoon.  And that is all the excitement we have for this post.  It is rather nice to be retired - Tuesday was the most stress we've had in two weeks.



2011 09 02

We went out for supper the other night with Saint Paul, a new-to-us restaurant near downtown.  I'm fine but the G-man has the usual symptoms of food-borne illness.  Unlike the cats, boyfriends don't give any warning before they vomit on your feet.  Speaking of cats, hissing and spitting are no longer at fever pitch, but detente has not yet been reached.

Now where did I get to ...

Trip Two to the border

Our Intrepid Travellers left the Nogales motel with mostly functioning air-conditioning and in relative calm.  They reached the border crossing, and did the routine with American Customs, then paid the toll to drive to and arrive at Mexican Customs.  This is actually when the lack of import sticker screwed things up.  So, he paid the toll to drive to and arrive at the American border, where he did the routine with the bike and the door and the cat and the door and the bike  and the cat (in that order) and then crossed back to the US side.  Much conversation with yours truly ensued, and we decided that returning to the scene of the actual crime would maybe possibly in some way be better easier smoother or at least cooler than continuing to muck about in Nogales.

Trip Three to the border at Agua Prieta

After much searching the previous night, G had located a lot of paper proving that the vehicle to which the sticker had been attached was no longer in Mexico, and was in fact no longer his.  (California had impounded it for various reasons.)  This, to our minds, should smooth the cancellation of the previous sticker and the issuance of the new.  Somewhere along the 114 miles from Nogales to Douglas, the pump and or the clutch on the air-conditioning ceased functioning.  What else is new?  The border crossing did not involve American Customs (I don't know why the same at Nogales did involve the US agents) so he proceeded to Banjercito with his papers to discover that yes, it looks like this will be sufficient to cancel the sticker.  So, you need to send it with these forms to Ciudad Mexico and in three months you will get confirmation that the sticker has been cancelled.  At no time in this conversation did G get the impression that a little cash under the table would smooth the process.  We are intrinsically honest and don't really know enough Spanish to offer a bribe nor to read the signals requesting one in the first place, so this whole Corrupt Mexico thing seems to be mierda del toro to us.  Therefore, our Intrepid Traveller gathers his papers,  reaches the American border, goes through the routine with unloading the bicycle etc. and re-enters Douglas irritated and not relishing the prospect of spending more time baking in the autumn desert heat spending money we can't really afford on food and motels.  More conversations with yours truly and we have a plan.

Precis:  I have an appointment in Oakland to see the quack, and will return to Guadalajara on August 26th.  Gary can find a place to store the truck, get himself and the cat on a flight to meet me, and then we will bus home together.  All, of course, does not go as planned.  I get to Guadalajara and discover that G&M will not be flying because the airline doesn't like the carrier.  He gets a new carriers, gets on the flight the next day and we catch a ride home with The Doctors, all as previously described.  I think.  I write this shite and then promptly forget it, so if this is news, let me know and I will tell you alllll about it.

So we are back home.  He found a place to keep the truck safe for a small fee each month, so we are not unduly worried about The Bloody Possessions.  We are without the things that I have been missing, but we are home safely and in (relatively) good health.  The cat thing will sort itself out.  The plan for trying the border one more time will come together when it comes together, and we will (or he will) fly/ride/float back to the US and re-attempt the penetration of Mexico.  As usual, I think that whatever we have planned will change before we return to Zamora, but hopefully our household goods will return to Zamora with us next time, whatever the changes to the plan may entail.

I'm exhausted just thinking about all this shite.



2011 09 01

Does anyone have an opinion on how irritating it would be to have ads on these pages?  After some threshold, I would get paid.  Real money.  It is tempting.  Opine away, please.


2011 08 31

Guarded warfare continues, although Shadow has decided that his Two-legger allies are to be tolerated and that Bruce is his bosom buddy once more.  Oh goody, cat hair in the sheets once again.  We are hoping that the situation continues to improve and that detente is reached among the herd in short order.

Where were we?  Oh right, Las Vegas.  Did you know that the name means 'fertile lowland' or 'meadow'?, actually the plural thereof, but you can manage that on your own.   Kind of obvious to anyone who has visited Las Vegas that the name is a joke.  Anyway, brand-new tyres, 114F, no air-conditioning and our intrepid travellers hit the road.  Leaving Las Vegas is always more fun than entering Las Vegas, in my humble opinion.  The sense of relief ...  The road rapidly takes one to the Hoover Dam, over which one drives.  On a two-lane road, with millions of tourists.  The fun in that is not immediately apparent.  However, the scenery is fun, sand-coloured rock hills surrounding sand-coloured concrete dam with a lot of blue water off to one side and a precipitous fall to the other.  The G and the Mutt suffered the heat for many miles until the belt on the fan for the air broke.  Changing the belt required a step-tool, padding on the hot radiator and still resulted in a third-degree burn on Gary's arm.  Finally reached Phoenix, where G thought they might find somewhere cool to hang out until evening.  This proved harder than he had anticipated, but they survived until cooler temps and then got to our friends' place in Tucson.  Our chums made them welcome, and happened to know a mechanic who, for a reasonable fee, did what he could to repair the air.  Oooo, that rhymes!  He also did something else to the truck that I can't recall, and things were looking up for the remainder of the trip.  After a few days' rest and recuperation, they were once again on the road, heading for Nogales Arizona/Sonora.  At 114F.  With the windows open the interior temperature was probably only 130F.

There were a couple of snags that we expected to complicate the crossing, so G was prepared to spend some time sorting some bureaucratic shite in Nogales.  The first of these is called 'menaje de casa', which is either required or not required or being phased out.  It is a list of everything that is being imported into Mexico, with serial numbers and ages of the articles and maybe cubic size of container but maybe not and is required to be in quadruplicate, translated into Spanish, and approved by the Mexican consulate.  This G duly wrote up and translated and printed and copied and submitted.  The Consulate added its stamp of approval and a cover letter.

Trip One to the border

Under the current American state of permanent paranoia, American customs agents stopped G at the border, asked all the usual asinine questions and then made him exit the vehicle, remove the bicycle from its rack at the back door, unlock the truck and then wait 'over there'.  They opened the door.  They gazed in awe at the solid wall of things that greeted them.  They conferred briefly with themselves and then waved him away.  G closed the door, mounted the bicycle, caught the cat, got in the cab and proceeded into the almost Mexico zone that exists between the two countries.  There was a man standing in the middle of the road, leaving G the option of running him down or stopping.  He chose to stop, which in retrospect he might change.  No uniform, no identification, no proof that the man was what he claimed to be:  'working with' Mexican Customs.  He instructed our hot and tired Intrepidness that he would have to drive 12 kilometres along this road, where Unidentified Stranger and his partner would meet him and deal with the rest of the process of entering the country.  Twelve kms and 88 pesos toll later, the G pulls up to a parking area and gets out to talk to these guys.  At 114F.  With no shade.  They glanced at the approved menaje.  They said:  380.00 US fee, please.   They then escorted G to Aduanas, where G continued through the identification process, the wait around and see process, the I don't know what to say process and the maybe this maybe that process.  During one of these mysterious goings-on, the Customs agent discovered that the Consulate had used the legislation that applies to Mexicans returning to live in Mexico, not foreigners moving to live in Mexico and refused to accept the menaje without alteration.  Meanwhile ...

Problem Two.  There are some strict rules about importing a vehicle into Mexico.  Drugs, slaves I mean illegal emigrants, guns, bombs, gangsters and prostitutes cross the border with impunity, but if a foreigner manages to leave Mexico without returning the Temporary Vehicle Import sticker, all hell ensues.  At 114F.  With no shade. Guess who left Mexico without returning his sticker three years before?  The Unidentified offered to fix the problem for $600US and three days.  Banjercito, the company that actually is responsible for the issuance and control of said stickers said well, no, maybe, sometimes, in the future, or maybe never.  How the Unidentified intended to deal with this in three days remains unknown, as by this point, the G-man had decided that this was nuts.  He returned to the truck, paid 88 pesos to drive the 12 kms back to American Customs.  Usual asinine questions, park over there, remove bicycle, open door,  take cat and go wait in there because we are using dogs. At 114F.  With no shade.   Sniff, stare at wall of things, talk amongst themselves, and wave G back to the truck.  Close door, mount bicycle, enter truck and the G is back on the road to a motel on the Arizona side.  Next day, visit Consulate, get proper wording on paper.  Be really fed-up with treatment at Nogales crossing and decide to drive to Douglas Arizona/Agua Prieta Sonora, where the problem sticker was issued in the first place.

Stay tuned!  Coming Soon!  Will our Intrepidness really get across the Border?  Trip Two next time!


2011 08 30

So, we got to Zamora the end of May, and suffered through the heat with lousy creeping lung crud, and then actually started to feel human.  There was a bit of a deadline in returning to California to move the truck, as the registration was valid only until the end of August.  About July 12, we attempted to get the G-man his Michoacan driver's licence, but the bureaucunt in the office insisted that she could do nothing without his birth certificate.  Americans hardly ever carry this document, and their bloody passports state that the carrier was born in State, USA.  Not sufficient for Bureaucunt. This put us a day late for the flight reservations, but Volaris offers a flexibility option for a small fee, and we had availed ourselves of same.  Our Santo Paul drove us to Guadalajara aeroport and we dropped off the G-man in plenty of time to catch his flight.  However, the staff didn't understand the flexibility thing and refused to let him on the plane.  After much yakking and phone calling and shortening of temper, he was finally on-board a flight to Oakland - arriving three hours later than expected by our friends there.  That worked out because our Fox is a bit of a saint herself.  G spent some time with her and running around the Bay Area, and then headed north to the truck.

We had hired a neighbour, supposedly well-versed in the maintenance of diesel engines,  to get it prepped and ready for the road. We paid the pendejo to change the oil and fix anything that needed fixing and get it to the storage place G had arranged.  He assured us that he had done so.  Well, he is a liar.  And a cheat.  And an alcoholic.  However, the G-man collected the cat and finally got the truck started and on the road.  The first time he turned it off there was someone close to jump it back to life.  The second time he turned it off, he had to call the AAA.  The third time he turned it off was in the parking lot of Costco, where he bought a new battery.  End of that problem.  However, the air-conditioning didn't, and I don't remember everything else it couldn't, so the first leg of the journey was a little uncomfortable, but not that bad.  The poor old thing (I mean the truck) climbed the 7,000-foot range between California and Nevada very slowly, but the poor old thing (I mean my husband) managed to get it to limp into Nevada.  He got a couple days' rest in Carson City for two reasons:  the tyres and the heat.  As you may realise, as one descends from the heights, the ambient temperature increases - to 104F and higher in this case.  In August.  In the desert.  Without air-conditioning.  The G-man thought the cat was going to die, he was so hot he was panting and throwing-up any water he drank.  The G-man thought he was going to sweat to death.  He finally drove, to grossly misuse the term, into the parking-lot of a casino, encased the cat and hit the cold inside air.  Muttney was so grateful to be cool he didn't make a sound.

After recuperating (and losing $2.00), he walked outside to see the truck leaning to one side.  Upon inspection, the tyres revealed their true inner selves:  if you've ever wondered if steel-belted radials actually have steel in, they do.  And it ain't pretty.  About $1,200.00 and several hours at 114F later, all six of the tyres were back in fighting form and the passengers were in Las Vegas, TKO'd.  More resting in cheap motels ensued because by this time the G-man was not only frustrated, he had a sinus infection.  Muttney likes air-conditioned motel rooms.  Many calls back and forth to his Medicine Man in California, and the G-man had antibiotics and a better temper.

And here we leave our intrepid travellers to rest and regain their composures.  And I can therefore call the next instalment 'leaving las vegas' ha ha ha



2011 08 29

Well, things have been rather interesting lately.  I went to Oakland for a week and saw my (girl)friends and ate sushi and generally did not much.  It was great fun and thanks to the Fox for the roof and NP Val and her husband for the fun dinner and lift to the airport.  The flight was delayed because the Volaris staff doesn't know how to count.  After sitting in the plane for 45 minutes, they called roll - 92 passengers and they couldn't sort whatever their problem was in any other way.  Flying Elementary School is now in session.  We finally got to Guadalajara at 07:50 without incident - no-one got sent to the Principal's office - and interestingly enough, arrived "on time".  I take it that they meant the flight was actually 3 hours 50 minutes as planned, rather than that we got there at 06:50 as scheduled.  G was supposed to be on a flight from Hermosillo with the cat, arriving in Gdl at noon of the same day.  His aeroport staff didn't like the carrier, so he spent the day trying to find a carrier that they would accept and caught the flight the next day.  I spent the night with my friends in Gdl, met him at the aeroport and we caught a ride home with my Doctors, who were in Gdl for classes.  We are tired and very glad to finally be here.  There will be a return to Arizona in the near future to actually get our shit to Zamora, but some of us need to rest up a bit first.

The cats are another story.  They lived together for three years in California, and then apart for three years with Bruce and Shadow here in Zamora.  Now that Muttney is in the house, we have spitting and hissing and hurt feelings all 'round, and it is a pain in the ass for the two-leggers in the place.  Second day of guarded warfare - I hope they get their shit sorted soon, this pussy-footing around is boring.  They slink about the place in a crouch with their hackles up expecting to be ambushed at any second.  Shadow has a fabulous growl, though.  Unfortunately, he uses it at everyone, regardless of former amiable associations.  Felis e mobile, music by Verdi.

That is about it for now, the saga of getting the truck from California to Arizona will wait for another day.  Have to go buy food for the hissers now.


(Non-opera people:  fickle is the cat)


2011 08 08

Hello, we're back up and writing.  Or blathering, depending on your opinion of what I write.  We have moved to a new house about 4 doors down from the first one.  It is three bedrooms, so we have room for visitors as well as a room for the computer/work shop/whatever.  They are a little smaller than the two in the other house, but we like the colours of this one much better.  I still hate the kitchen, it is a little smaller than the other, or at least feels it because there is a wall between it and the living room.  Gary is in Arizona with our truck, getting all arranged to cross the border and drive down here.  I am trying to arrange what is already here, and even though I am capable of organisation, it is not all that much fun so I end up doing other stuff, like cooking, instead.  I don't have time to share all the gory details right now, I need to get some things done.  More pearls of wisdom to follow.  I originally typed 'pears' which actually suits me better.



2011 07 25

No tengo acceso a Internet en la nueva casa, no sé por cuánto tiempo.  I don't have internet access in the new house yet, I don't know when it will be installed.



I was looking for some of the old newsletters that I thought I had transferred from the other site, but these three are the only ones I have on my computer.  Other than that, I have nothing to say because I am exhausted.  The washing machine is in California, the dirty clothes are here and the situation in the town is not promising:  we have driven past one and only one sign saying 'lavendaria' but the business appears to never be open.

In the soi-disant backyard there is a concrete sink with built-in washboard and running water, and I have been washing our clothing the old-fashioned way.  When I hurt myself falling on the rocks at El Rancho, the local contingent of aunts volunteered to do my laundry for me.  When I told them that I could manage because we had a washing machine, they tut-tutted and informed that the laundry would not be as clean, done in a machine.  Well, I don't know about that, but I know now why they all have shoulders like an american line-backer.

Health news is about the same:  post-nasal deluge in me, hacking cough in G.  We are tired of feeling ill, let me tell you.  The weather is a treat, the cats are a treat, it is a treat to have a roof over our heads and food to eat.  All is well in our little corner of the world



2008 08 03

La doctora at our local clinic has served her time, and was released this Thursday.  We have established the Wednesday Evening English Discussion, Roxana and I, and the Doctor and the Nurse have been attending.  I think for the tequila, but that is a different matter. This Wednesday, we had a little going-away celebration, with many kinds of tequila, and Roxana's brother made shrimp ceviche.  The clinic closes around 18:00 (six), so they were planning on being here soon thereafter.  The clouds started to really build up around 17:00 (an hour earlier than closing), and by 18:30 (half-hour past closing), it was raining so hard I couldn't see the driveway from the pasillo. All the rain that hadn't fallen in the previous three days fell in the course of an hour or so.  We had a good time anyway, until 02:00 (8 hours past closing) but managed to speak absolutely no English.  I keep having trouble with the endings, all those verbs changing all the time really seems to twist my tongue.  Our arithmetic is impeccable, though.

We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?

Friday evening, we all went to a concert by a quartet called, I think, Treintanos, in Zamora, in rain almost as ferocious as Wednesday's. The Doctor's boyfriend and a friend of his, whose name translates as 'Cross', the which he looked, performed a set in the middle of the concert.  Music from many South and Central American countries was performed, and I really enjoyed most of it.  I don't much care for the sound of wooden pipes, which featured in many songs, but particularly enjoyed the songs from Chile.  I didn't, claro, understand the joke song let alone a lot of the intervening palaver, but the rest of the crowd had a good laugh.  We met more of the Doctor's friends, both of whom are utterly charming, if unilingual.  Well, Paul (accent on the 'u' which I can't find – Odin I loathe Miscreant-osoft Word!) speaks French and Italian, but, as I've become utterly unspeakable lately, we restricted ourselves to Spanish.  I found out later that this was the first ever performance of the Boyfriend and Cross, which could explain why Cruz looked a little sombre. They were all very talented, and the Boyfriend has lips to die for.

Damn, it's the Richard Claydermann hour on the PA again.

The next day, Paul and two-thirds of the WEEDs (no Nurse) drove to Uruapan where Paul was to conduct some exotic-sounding seminar.  Well, exotic to me because I didn't quite translate some of the words. Uruapan is a million-and-a-half people, thereabouts, built in the bottom of a steep valley.  It is very old, with narrow streets and
some very interesting buildings.  We had coffee in a building which would have been quite usual in Tudor England.  Unfortunately, the city has Los Angeles' air, so one doesn't particularly want to spend a long time there.  It has a beautiful national park within the urban gloom, flora and fauna allowed to behave as though humans didn't exist.
There is an awful lot of water running in channels and rivers and creeks everywhere, including a quite spectacular waterfall.  The air is cool and fresh because of it, and there are many beautiful trees and flowers.  Unfortunately, it is also very, very popular, so there were hordes of cameras with people attached everywhere one looked. Our route to Uruapan included many old, and in some cases incredibly ugly, towns and villages with spectacular vistas into the surrounding mountains.  It also seemed to be through the corn-producing region of Mexico, as everywhere one looked was corn in various stages of growth. I do mean everywhere, by the way.  On our return, we stopped in a town (Pachuco??)  which seems to be the centre of the guitar-producing region of the state.  A festival was/is in progress, and there is a museum of guitars that is simple but fascinating.  Around and in the
plaza were many booths of traditional hand-made products, from clay jars and plates to guitars and wooden jewellery to extremely intricate needlework and cut-work.  I love the colours in the traditional pallette, and there was a guitar I'd love to have made from the most beautiful of woods.  An exhausting but very satisfying trip,
especially as we'd all had about three hours of sleep the night before.

The livestock are all well and happy, bounding or flapping according to physiology around the place in evidently high spirits.  The chicklet is feathered except for her head.  Adam and Eve regularly ingest a bit of grain from my hand.  Miss Kate is still being a good candidate for stewing.  The other avian populations have shrunk drastically, although many restful minutes have been spent watching various members in the bird-bath.  I haven't managed to replace the lawnmower blade yet, but Adam and Eve are doing a credible job of keeping a lot of it under control.  The neighbours have been ignoring me, except for the little hoodlums who come by demanding water.  I usually acquiesce, but I occasionally enjoy the look of shock on their faces when I refuse.  Don't they have homes?  mothers? water of their own?  The cute goatherd has been less in evidence as various otherwise useless boy-children have been herding the flock up to the pasture. Various equines and bovines have produced off-spring, who are very charming and inquisitive on their sojourns up and down the street. Encounters with blood-sucking parasites have abated somewhat, and other forms of uninvited guests have been appearing less, as well.  It
ain't 'cause it's drier and colder, let me tell you.  Paul told a long joke about satellite television and various nationalities, but I didn't understand the punch-line.  There are scrabbly footsteps in my bathroom roof, so one wonders what creature is producing them.  I'm sure-as-hell not going up there to find out.  I saw what appeared to
be a fat, hairy tail-less squirrel scurry across the drive the other day; fortunately or un-, the Canine Contingent were tethered so that I could leave.  The lizards are everywhere and growing bigger but not slower.  There are many trumpet-vine type flowers around in many pastel colours, and some very vibrant morning glories are  crawling up the other vines near the east pasillo.   I have seven or so tomatoes thriving in a pot; everything that went into the ground has croaked. The peppers that resurrected themselves in one of the 'empty' pots are looking quite edible.  A light-bulb in an unused fixture high up in the kitchen committed suicide just now with a resounding crash.

An elderly man and his wife were dining at a restaurant. After the man received his food, he carefully cut his portion in half, and poured exactly half of his drink into another cup. Then he gave these to his wife. Their waitress noticed that the old lady was not eating her half and said, "That's so sweet that you share the meal, but why aren't you eating?" The old lady said:  "I'm waiting for the teeth!"

And that's about it for this week!   Have a good one, everyone.



2008 07 09

El Rancho has been a positive beehive of activity this week. I happily admit that I don’t know weeds from trees, so, when the growth got about knee-high, I started ripping out anything that had a flower I didn’t like or which out-numbered the other green things by three-to-one. It’s a method, okay, so get off my back. Speaking of which, mine is killing me. As are my knees, elbows, neck and hips from kneeling, crawling, digging, grunting, swearing, pulling and avoiding obnoxious snakes and insects. I don’t know how anyone can purport to actually like gardening. It’s physically dangerous, dirty and just generally bloody hard work. And, as I really don’t know which ones we want to cherish and which we want to eliminate, a guessing game.

Gone with the Wind over the Neighbour’s Goat Pen

The weather has been … changeable. The late afternoon/early evening usually produces a storm, with thunder and lightning and wind and dropping temperatures. Unfortunately, the wind is predominantly from Over the Neighbour’s Goat Pen. Now, the little dears that wander up the road to pasture and back down the road to water, shitting copiously as they go, are quite fun to watch. Well, not that I have much choice, as the only way to shut up the barking Spawn is to hold his collar as they pass. They don’t seem to stink much, to my non-canine olfactory system, and some of them are cute, pretty or have interesting appendages. Horns, people, horns! Many different colours and sizes and attitudes to the barking Spawn, and the adult goatherds are friendly. Not much expansion to my vocabulary, mind; I’ve mastered ‘good day’ and ‘good afternoon’ in Spanish, thank you. However, collected masses of goat shit are unpleasant to smell (understatement as literary device). Pigs are worse, of course, so I should be relatively thankful they don’t raise those, but still, the coolness comes with a price. A pungent, acidy, putrid, offensive, gagging stench of a price, to be exact. Unfortunately, the wind from the other direction is over the cow shit, so as much as I appreciate the coolness, I’m really terribly glad to have sleep apnea and a CPAP to filter out most of it. Oh stop me: w-w-when the w-w-w-ind blows over the cow shit, I’ll be stuffing plastic up my nose …

Some further amusement is garnered by observing the newest additions to the family. Adam and Eve are calming nicely; Eve doesn’t run away when I approach and Adam loves to have his chin scratched, at least until she goes into estrus, and then all bets are off. The vegetation is being trimmed in very interesting patterns. They have a Lamb Smorgasbord of choice, and make interesting decisions: let’s eat the front lawn for breakfast, have a little cud chew, then eat around the palm trees and have a little cud chew near the chicken coop and then for dessert, let’s eat the lower leaves of some of those pretty trees and have a little cud chew. They are missing their flock, though. When the goats parade, bells jingling and babies lowing, they set up a bawling that initially brought me running because I thought they were being molested by the dogs or something. Don’t let anyone tell you that sheep are stupid: Adam has learned that the low retaining wall between the back forty and the bits closer to the house gives him a leg up in reaching the top of the wall along the road. It appears to be a good place to have a little cud chew – the other day, he got up there, folded his little legs under himself and had a little nap. Eve is such a little lady, she stays on the ground, mewling plaintively. They are quite delightful, actually. Their new house is progressing nicely, walls are rising on the foundations the men built and cemented. It is an amazing process to watch because it is all being done manually. The guys mix the cement by hand, they dug the trenches by hand, they placed, shaped and cemented the rocks by hand; in short, they are working their asses off in some very warm temperatures in ways that North Americans couldn’t. I could sit and watch all day, were there some shade.

I am pleased to be able to report that we still have one chick alive. I haven’t yet figured out how the Corleone cross got the first one, but I’ve tried to keep strategically placed obstacles in place at likely locations in order to prevent a repeat. The Black Beauty is being put upon a little – how typical! just because she’s a hen of colour, she’s being driven from the feed by Miss Kate. Whom, by the way, is much more protective of the remaining chick than she was before the Horrible Fate of the first. The Barred Rocks are growing individual personalities along with their increasing sizes, and one of the lightest-coloured will eat out of a cup in my hand. Some Orioles – one male, two not – have been cavorting in the bird-bath and trees, which pleases me greatly as they are such beautiful colours. Smaller than the Audubon’s, they are swift and graceful in flight. But how greedy - two females. Today I saw the largest butterfly I’ve ever seen: yellow and black tigerly stripes, so I’ll bet its name has tiger in, with a wing-span as big as my spread hand. Incredibly graceful, floating from flower to flower, and very pretty, too. I accidentally discovered that we have fire-flies, to which I’m not sure I’ve had much exposure. I managed to coat myself with enough repellent repellent (that is not a misprint) that I could stand to be out on the pasillo (paseo?  I still don't know so this will do) at dusk, and there they were. And then they weren’t. And then they were. Quite dizzying, actually. The clouds were black, serving to highlight the lights quite nicely. That funny lightning that just kind-of generally lights up an area of sky occurred too, so I don’t think it was the wine that made it all seem so magical. I have been having friendly if incomprehensible conversations with Leonardo and horse, and getting all the gossip about the goat-keeping neighbours, for whom he appears to tend goats. Unfortunately, the neighbours have chosen a particularly bilious shade of teal-pus-green with which to paint parts of their house and their gate; obviously a bunch of straight people. The cute goatherd shaved off his beard and is now much cuter with a Latin film-villain/lover moustache. As I was sitting and watching the fire-flies, it got fully dark and the night-scented jasmine stunk up the entire yard. Lovely, absolutely lovely.

I thought of something as I was struggling with the weeds that would have been delightfully amusing and clever to include in this edition, but it blew off on the Goat Wind. Oh well, it may return as I get more senile.

As Yet Unnamed

British health care is totally free to Britons; Canadian is only slightly free to Canadians. Britain is on the other side of the big puddle of the Atlantic Ocean; Canada is only across a theoretical line in the dirt and the smaller puddle(s) of the Great Lakes. And yes, those pretty pieces of coloured paper that say “legal tender of Canada” on are in fact legal tender in the whole damn country, even Quebec. Five dollar a gallon gasoline serves you right for supporting the American automobile industry.

Buddhist thought of the day: "He who crushes the great 'I am' conceit finds, indeed, happiness supreme." This is a most difficult task to complete. We are taught from birth: "I am a girl or boy, white or black, thin or not, smart or dull, et cetera". What we should focus on is: "I am one with the divine nature” and stop dividing ourselves into sub-groups that are made up of concepts that don't really exist.

I have to go smell the jasmine now. Have a good one, everyone.



2008 06 22

An alert Canadian reader (not the oxymoron it appears to be) informs that the trews (and jodhpurs) worn by the arsey empy are in fact dark blue, not black. Not having been that close to one, who the hell can tell? However, in the interest of accuracy, we are corrected.

I am sort-of being stalked. The Virgin Queen, whose real name is Luis something-or-the-other and who lives in Rincon Grande, has been hanging about at unlikely times and, for example, standing in the neighbour’s field and watching me shower. I hope he got a thrill; I didn’t. It may not be necessary, but I want it perfectly clear to any of you who had doubts that I have not touched the little prick, have no intention of touching the little prick and have been boning up on my sexual Spanish for the theoretical interview with the Policia, should the little prick get creative. He has not been around in several days now, but my sisters were CGIT whose motto is ‘be prepared’.

As Yet Unnamed

Canada is, as you alert readers are aware, the second largest political entity on Earth. It is divided into nine provinces, three territories and Those Damned French-Canadian Separatists. Each province, territory and TDF-CS has a head of government called a premier. As an aside, this designation usually has little to do with Hollywood movies. Each of these political divisions houses many different political ideologies, except for Alberta, which has only one and Saskatchewan, whose name is larger than its population. The main political parties are: the NDP  National Democratic Party, which is really socialist); the Liberal party (which is slightly less socialist), the Bloc Quebecois (which is totally socialist if you’re a French separatist), the Conservative party (which is totally reactionary but still far to the left of the US Democrats) and some minor parties, with names like the Hippopotamus Party or something, which usually have the success of Ralph Nader in winning seats. No-one really knows what actually goes on in the Territories or Labrador, except that they have snow, oil reserves and really big mosquitoes, not necessarily in that order. Most of the provinces have a judicial system consisting of ascending levels of courts culminating in the Supreme Court of each province. These are overseen by the Supreme Court of Canada, which also regularly over-rules the reactionary rulings of the Supreme Court of Alberta. The oversight of the Supreme Court of Canada is what keeps the place working toward some degree of social equality. Canada also has a Senate, which is where politicians go when they die. HRH Queen Elizabeth II is the official Head of State of Canada. The official representatives of the Queen of Canada (doesn’t that have a nice ring?), and therefore the Heads of (various) State(s), are the Governor General of Canada, who does virtually nothing but drink cocktails and, in the incumbent, listen to reggae; and the Lieutenants-Governor (pronounced lefTENant, by the way) in each of the provinces, who act like the US Supreme Court and rubber-stamp whatever gets put in front of him/her. The territories, always needing to be different, have Commissioners instead, but their function is the same. Bills passed by the parliament and senate do not become law until the Governor General has given them royal assent. The Governor General does a bunch of rubber-stamping and invites the leader of the political party with the most support in the House of Commons to form a government. We wish the current idiot had RSVPed no. The Governor General also delivers the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of each parliamentary session, which is why he/she is usually an announcer from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Our elections always have a party which receives the majority of the votes cast (usually 12), so there is never any doubt as to the Will of the Pipple. And there you have it, exercised franchise in action.* Unfortunately, this has not been as amusing as I’d like, but I’m too tired to do anything about it.

Sample of what it was like around the family dinner table: “Woohoo! Two chicks!! That's very cool. And I'm thinking not too bad for a rookie (I mean Miss Kate, not you..... at least, I think that's who I mean....)”

The Canine Contingent continues to miss the lizards, who are growing larger in noticeable increments. The Official Rancho Chicks are progressing well, starting to feather in a bit and eating well. They are so adorable! The new members of the Coop are settling in well as well, appearing to have doubled in size during the last week. Miss Kate is proving to be a very competent mother, and John has finished moulting, mostly, and is looks quite fine. Unfortunately, he’s in good voice, too. We are positively inundated with ants, there are mounds of excavated 
earth every couple of feet everywhere one looks. I’ve tried a new poison; I’ll let you know how it goes. The Unknown Vegetables are blooming lovely yellow cup-like things, and the seventy tomato seeds that I mistakenly germinated have reduced themselves to about a dozen in the transplant process. Many interesting and unusual bugs have put in an appearance, primarily to fly about a bit and then die, from the look of it. The cute goat-herd has confused the hell out of me: I asked him how much it would cost to buy two youngish goats and he made a peculiar gesture at his side that could be interpreted either as “a hug” or as “a bushel of dinero”. Storms have been at a minimum this week, so I’ve been forced to water things. One of the decorative plates on the outside wall 
committed suicide the other night by leaping to the patio. A young man on a horse named Leonardo has been asking me to give him one of the large sombreros (sombreri??) the owners have hung on the computer bedroom wall, the which I have refused. However, we did have lemon water and a 2.5 hour Spanish chat, which was good practice for me and something of an education for him. My acquisition of really badly-made mosquito netting has, in fact, reduced the incidence of nocturnal feeding upon my person, a relief in many ways. The neighbour’s attempt at piling layers of rock on the road as paving have washed down the actually-paved bits in the rains, making the entire hillside a massive mudslide. Muchas gracias, I say. I have to go gaze at my navel, now.

How surprising, another Sunday.


* the act of voting is called exercising one’s franchise, for those of 
you needing a translation of that joke.


2011 06 15

I rather hesitate to relate this story, but I think you are all adults and can handle it.  And I don't think I shall suffer any repercussions.  Astute readers will remember that three local hoodlums came calling when I lived on the Ranch, and that I thwarted an effort to break into the main house.  I think they were responsible for poisoning the last three dogs, which in my books is a cardinal sin, too.  Well, what goes around...

During about a year after I left,  houses were broken into and things went missing.  One of the pendejos responsible  - for the break-ins after I left and the attempted break-in at the Ranch - was found dead, but the other two carried on.  Until about a year later, when, stark naked,  they were whipped many times around the zocalo by men wielding boards with nails in.  They were refused treatment at the local clinic, and have not been seen around since.  I think they got off lightly, but here's the rub:  it was not the police who administered punishment, it was the state-wide narco-familia, La Familia.

This group, whose name I don't want to use to often during this tale, is an interesting mix of contradictions: they present themselves as being devout members of the Church;  they act as the police force in the small towns in the state; they dumped 25 dead people into an abandoned mine; they sell hard drugs to 10-year-olds; they probably have more money than the national government; they kill and/or assassinate police officers and federal agents.  So you see the dilemma:  I applaud the result but abhor the method.  People in Quiringuicharo generally have very little. They are inter-related in the extreme, they help one another with everything and they mainly focus on getting through life as best they can.  Family members, often in the US 'under the radar', send home what they can, which is often not a lot but is more than they could earn here.  To have these evil little bastards breaking into homes and stealing what little the residents - probably their relatives - have, is more offensive to me than the more anonymous crime in places like LA.  Some crime should be punished and the situation causing the rest of them should be remedied.  There is more of a social network here than in the US, so people can get some subsistence money, and are entitled to medical care because they were born here.  Families will pull together - which is probably where the name of the narcos comes from.

The situation reeks of vigilante justice, but the fact that these three tried to break into the house I was calling home deeply offended me, and I can't whole-heartedly condemn the instrument of retribution.  What do you think?


2011 06 13

Well, we’re still recuperating from the virus, but the rains have started so we’re not as miserable as we were.  We are getting accustomed to the house and the neighbours, the routines of life in a hot country.  We are so lucky in our friends, they have all been an immeasurable help, as well as a lot of fun.

Speaking of which, I am no longer a Catholic virgin.  Yes, I have actually set foot inside a Catholic church and lived to tell the tale!  My doctors, Celeste and Fernando, got married on Saturday.  They were beautiful.  I didn’t understand a lot of the mass, and the bits that I did understand offended my egalitarian/feminist principles, but all this stuff is important to the Kids, and therefore requires some degree of (feigned) respect on my part.

The church was hot as hell.  It was full of people, some of whom were familiar to me from my last sojourn here.  It was fun to see them, but my virus has settled in my larynx and I couldn’t talk so much as croak.  The bride wore a white gown, quite simple, with black accents, such as the laces up the back of the bustier and in her hair.  It was pretty.  The groom, of course, was in a black suit.  The parents of the nuptial couple were in long gowns or suits,  gender appropriately, and looked very happy with the whole thing.  The rest of the attendees ran the gamut from formal gowns to mini-skirts a la puta to jeans.  Paul sang as part of the service, and did a beautiful job, especially considering that his throat was sore.  I was surprised to hear such a lovely voice, actually, because when he sings along in the car, it ain’t quite so tuneful as one might like.  As I get deafer, of course, slight variations in pitch no longer seem so apparent to me.

The mass was …  interminable.  All that bobbing up and down and talking back to the  priest.  Speaking of whom, he is a trained singer, and performed ‘Ave Maria (Schubert) during the ceremony, and immediately afterward, some Spanish high-range thing that I didn’t recognise.  The Voice was more baritone than tenor, but he got the high notes easily if quietly, and was very pleasant to listen to.  This is apparently not the norm, for priests to sing so much.  I thought pride was a Catholic sin??  The accompaniment was a choir of 7 women, an organ and a violinist who suffers from the same affliction as I - he was noticeably out of tune.  Cele and Fernando entered and exited to the Mendelssohn, but it was recorded badly - and why was it recorded with an organist in house?  The choir and the priest had occasional disagreements about pitch as well, methinks the priest was correct.

We adjourned to a local hotel for the reception, and suffered massively from heat and noise, I mean music.  The windows did not open, and the air-conditioning only affected half the room, so my table was dripping sweat most of the time.  The food was interesting if unidentifiable.  The band consisted of two men, a keyboard and a computer - and 8 million decibels of amplification.  I couldn’t talk in the first place, and with all that, I couldn’t hear either.  Gary had decided to stay home as he was coughing non-stop and didn’t want to interrupt the service, which turns out to have been absolutely unnecessary.  I was disappointed to not be able to introduce him to the acquaintances at my table.  Poor Cele and Fernando - the bride-and-groom first dance was to recorded music, played so loudly the speakers were blathering, and went on for 7 minutes.  Then the parents of the groom danced with them, then the parents of the bride, all for another 6 minutes.  Need I mention that my 29 year old friends don’t actually know how to waltz?  13 minutes of shuffling around while being video-taped is my idea of a good time, how about you?  I made my escape - I mean departure - about 23:30, after the bride threw the bouquet.  It was, all in all, an interesting experience, if one that I will hope to never have to repeat.

The other exciting trip this last week was to Morelia to finish getting Gary’s visa in order.  Enrique drove us, which turned out to be the best of all possible worlds.  In the first place, I wanted someone with us who is fluent in both English and Spanish and in the second, familiar with Morelia -  we would have been completely fucked without him.  The first address we had was the wrong office, and the right office was far enough away that it took us a little while to find it.  Directions in Mexico consist of drive that way until you see X, then turn right and keep driving until you find what you’re looking for.  Try telling that to a bus driver in broken Spanish.  It was hot.  It was crowded.  It is impossible to find street addresses.  People drive as though they are headed to an emergency, and frankly, in many cases, they are - of their own making.  The ‘proper’ office closes for the day at 13:00, and we arrived at 12:33.  We made it, G has the proper paperwork to complete, and then we have to return to Morelia.  I hope Enrique is going to be available to navigate the currents, I don’t have any idea where in the hell we ended up.

Well, that about covers it.  I have to go get a cell phone that works - the one I have has no Spanish language option and I can’t figure out how to dial international calls - and pay the internet bill.  Have good week!



2011 06 08

Some pictures and info about our town:


2011 06 07

Part Two

So, after a couple of days' sleep, we started to surface for short periods, interacting on some level and with various degrees of success with our friends/housemates pro tem who looked after the cats whilst we were gone.  Lovely people, we are so lucky to have met a quintet of 20-somethings who think we're pretty cool for old shits.  They didn't sign up for two years of cat-sitting, of course, but things do move more slowly in Mexico ...  harrumph.

Speaking of cats, we have acquired a rare and special article of clothing:  the Bripper.  Bruce wanders over and flops himself upon one's feet and falls asleep.  Living slippers!  internal temp of 107!  in the fucking summer south of the Tropic of Cancer or Capricorn or whatever we is.  You realise, of course, that when we lived in the Cesspits and the average temps were 30F the Bripper was under the down comforter with his nose in his paws.  No wonder they were worshipped by the ancient Egyptians.

Gary is thrilled.  We have had two little thunderstorms in the last week, and he was missing them living in California.  I like them 'cause they drop the temperature a bit.  The cats ignore them, which is kind of surprising as Bruce was a stray and has been traditionally frightened of noise, including people he has met a million times but with whom he doesn't live.

The neighbourhood is a mix of newer and older houses, well-maintained for the most part and very quiet, which is a nice change from living on the Ranch.  We have a tiny patch of dirt supporting a two-fronded palm of about my height.  Gary is hoping to cultivate some of the veg we are not going to easily find here - different kinds of tomatoes, melons, whatever.  I say more power to him, as long as I can eat what he grows, I'll be happy.  There is also a concrete 'backyard', in which we will locate the laundry and the large fridge when they get here.  We have two bedrooms on one side of the house, the living room and kitchen on the other, with the Bog in between the bedroom and kitchen.  The humidity and temperature of the bog are a constant  44C regardless of ambient temps in the rest of the place.  It is about a metre wide, and the toilet is equipped with a plastic split seat which happily sticks to one's arse from the sweat thereon.  the shower enclosure is 10 m. square, which is a delight, and the shower head is so high up the wall I can almost reach it.  I can see the installers on ladders up there putting it in - it ain't a pretty picture.

We are slowly recuperating, the lung crud (thanks, Arlene) gradually vacating the premises.  We went out with our friend Paul last evening, who kindly took us shopping, and then we went to supper at a restaurant called La Poblanita.  A lot of good food for three - for $30 US.  The drawback with restaurants in Mexico generally is that they all have large televisions, loud and intrusive.  I suppose it makes a change from US restaurants, where the patrons are loud and intrusive ...

I have to go stick my head in the refrigerator now.



2011 06 05

Journey to the Centre of Mexico, part one

We have touched down in Zamora de Hidalgo, Michoacan.  Finally.  Some of you may know how difficult it has been to get to this point, but here are some high-lights anyway.  Gary was forced to retire about the same week that the mortgage increased by 63 per cent.  $2000 mortgage payment from $800 cheque = the kind of financing that only Banks that are Too Big to Fail get away with, so there went the house.  This was an emotional blow and took some time to deal with.   As in three bloody years.  And it came to dirt at the end, as the former friends with whom Gary had been staying decided that it was time to plant a "cash crop" on the land we were infesting, and pulled some dirty tricks to get G moved out of their yard.  It worked to our advantage, as we actually got moved, but it was rude and unnecessary.  And the Vicious Asp Queen has succeeded once more in ending Princess K's friendship with someone not of her choosing.  And may it bring them both the joy they deserve.

So, after working without sleep for two days, we had the moving truck packed up and the help of a stranger who wandered by in the night and wanted to look at the stuff we were putting in the dumpster.  He turned out to be a real treasure, did Craig, and we are eternally grateful.  He helped pack and clean up and drove us 100 miles or so to the train station in Emeryville, which is sort of Oakland for those who don't know.  We had decided that we had to relax a bit before we got on a plane, and there is a train from somewhere up in Washington that runs down the coast to Los Angeles - The
Coast Starlighter.  It was a reasonable price, and we thought that 13 hours gently swaying to the rhythm of the rails would do the trick.

We eventually relaxed, but the bloody train station was a nightmare.  I had (still have)  a bad chest cold, and could hardly breathe and walk at the same time, and the train stops with the engine at the door from the station.  We were riding steerage, about a half-mile from the front of the train.  No porters.  Hot.  No breath.  Many bags.  I had to stop and gasp near one of the doors to a sleeper and the attendant at the doorway said:  why didn't you arrange ahead of time for baggage assistance?   She shut up after I looked at her and I limped the rest of the way to our car.  It was better in LA, they called ahead and arranged baggage help.  We got on the shuttle from Union Station to LAX, went through the bullshit with bags and 'security' and finally got on the plane and collapsed.  flight was okay, but by the time we got to Guadalajara, the cold had hit Gary and we were both miserable.  We don't have a lot of money, but the thought of several more hours in buses trying to get from GDL to Zamora was beyond us, so we splurged on a taxi.  We then spent two days in bed.

Thus endeth part one.  Pardon spelling mistakes, I'm sick and it's hot.



2011 05 15

Well, that was way overly optimistic.  We're still in California, but slowly getting (1) healthier and (2) packed.  Que sera, sera.  I'll keep you posted


2011 01 18 - Leaving on a ... slow RAV4

We are finally on the road!!  As of Thursday, January 19th, our spotty internet access is going to be non-existent.  We will get back in touch as soon as possible, but it could be a couple of weeks.  Por fin, estamos en el camino!  A partir del jueves, 19 de enero, el accesso a internet irregular va a ser inexistente.  Pondremos en contacto tan pronto como sea posible, pero podría ser un par de semanas.


About Me

recently retired to southern Mexico from Canada