The House of Diez Doors

¡Hola! Buenas tardes, y’all.

Now that we’ve finally completed the moving process, I can sit my ass down and try to write something. Until Mollie or Mika decide to help me edit this post. The kit-tens are getting so big! They’re still cute and adorable, except when they’re getting into mischief, and they’ve gotten pretty damn good at that. Mika has shown herself to be the leader when it comes to getting in trouble. That darn kit-ten!!

It’s like my crazy Polish grandmother used to say, “If I had two assholes, yous kids would climb in one to see what was up there!” Those old Pollacks, they had a way with words, not?

Mika and Mollie have been busy exploring their new home, and racing around the rooms playing kit-ten hockey. It’s a game I invented. All you need is two kit-tens and a ping pong ball. It’s seriously fun to watch. I’ll try to take a video one of these days, if I can stop laughing long enough to hold my camera steady.

Or maybe I’ll think of something I was going to do until I got distracted by another thing and forgot to do the first thing. Then I’ll have to quit writing and take care of that dangling thing immediately before I forget that I remembered that I needed to do something. Whatever it might be.

That has happened a lots the last few weeks. And it’s likely to continue for awhile.

And there was this, too: Where did I put the hammer?!? I have five hammers. I’ve used every fucking one of them putting this house together because I couldn’t find the one I was just using. I don’t know if that’s because I’m getting older and can’t rememberate stuff so good anymore, or because I have a very diffuse attention span. It might be both.

But another part of this equation is the sheer size of this place. I’ve posted a lots of pictures of our new house on my Facebook page. Many people have commented that our house looks like unto a resort. Yeah, it really does. But the photos fail to convey the scope of the space, and the layout. I’ve actually called my lovely supermodel wife on her cellphone when we were both in the house to ask her where she was.

I couldn’t find her, and I probably thought she had taken my hammer…

* * * *

We had no idea we’d be moving into the largest house we’ve ever had when we started our home search. Our last house was roughly 2200 square feet. This house is easily twice as large.  In Mexico, anything under a roof is considered indoor living space. Like, you know, a patio. If you use Mexican math, it’s probably closer to 5000 square feet.

I suppose the yard is bigger, too. But 90% of the lot is filled by the house. And the casita. And the swimming pool. Our backyard runs parallel to the first fairway at the Chula Vista Golf Course. It’s the other golf course in the Lakeside Area. The one I’m not a member of.

* * * *

I could say we have a great view of the golf course, but we don’t. There’s kind of a forest growing on the hillside below our house. And there’s a verdant garden growing along the fence line. You actually have to look pretty hard to see the golf course.

There are a couple of downsides to the Chula Vista course. It’s carved out of the side of the mountain, and the fairways run over hill, over dale. That in itself isn’t a deal breaker. There are no golf carts at Chula Vista. If I wanted to walk that much, I’d sell my car.

That’s not gonna happen.

On the bright side, I have found two golf balls in the backyard. I may never have to buy another golf ball…

* * * *

There aren’t many long-term rental houses available in the Lakeside Area this time of year. It’s Snowbird Season! We didn’t think we’d find a new place to live until May or June of next year. Then a kind of funny thing happened. Our friend, Cheryl, alerted us that this house was available. That wasn’t the funny part. Several of our friends had told us about available rental houses they knew of, and suggested we check them out. The funny part is Lea contacted  the property manager, Belva, immediately. Lea never does that. She has to think about stuff for awhile first.

We were the first people to contact Belva, and arranged to take a tour of the place. When we arrived for our walk through, she informed us that ten other couples had contacted her expressing interest in the property. But we had been first; we had dibs.

Belva had a fistful of keys in her hand. And she needed all of them. Two of the three exterior doors in the kitchen were on the same key. All of the other lockable doors, exterior and interior, were on separate keys. And you needed two different keys just to unlock the huge hobbit door that is the grand front entrance, that hardly anyone will ever use.

It’s an old house, probably twenty years older than our first Mexican house. It’s a classic Mexican style gringo mansion. The decor and furnishings were straight out of the 70’s. If The Brady Bunch (El Grupo de Brady en español) had been set in Mexico, this would’ve been their house. An elderly British couple had lived here until they got dead. Their son, Lord Mark, the Duke of San Antonio, inherited the place and has been renting it out as an income property.

This is The House of Ten Doors, not counting the two main gates. One gate leads to the grand main entrance. The really big gate secures the carport. There’s actually thirteen exterior doors here, but the title of this post is an adaptation of the title of the novel, The House of Dies Drear, and I hope at least one of my readers caught that. The number thirteen just wouldn’t work in my title, no matter which language I used. I suppose I could have used Gone With the Wind because the name of our casa is Tara, but that title didn’t make any sense. Not even to me.

“Well, what do you think? If you don’t want it, the next couple I show it to will take it.”  Belva said, after we saw the house. If she was bluffing, I couldn’t spot her tell.

Lea and I had a quick discussion. The place was old. It wasn’t move-in ready. The interior needed to be painted. We’d have to install a water filtration system. And there might be other surprises. It’s an old house…

As renters, that was money we’d be spending on a property that we were never going to purchase.

It had everything we were looking for, plus several things that weren’t on our list. Like, a casita, an attached exterior room that defies conventional description which could easily be converted into a workshop where I could play with my power tools, and it had a solar heated swimming pool.

* * * *

Okay. The Unconventional Room. It’s attached to the back of the north wing of the house, behind the kitchen. You can’t access the room from the inside, you have to go outside to get to it. Seeing how the only entrance to the Unconventional Room is an exterior door, it can be locked.

There were bunk beds in the room when we took our initial tour. Okay, it was a kid’s bedroom suite with a full bath. As an aside, there are four and a half bathrooms here. A bedroom with an attached bath that could be locked. It looked like a seclusion room to me. That’s what I called it until I converted it into my workshop.

* * * *

Back to the discussion Lea and I were having.

The house was huge, certainly much larger than anything we needed. And it had so many goddamn doors! We were going to have to be on double secret alert for the rest of our lives to make sure we didn’t accidentally lose the kit-tens. But it wasn’t any more expensive than our first house. Plus, it came with a maid, and a gardener, and a pool guy, all of which were included in the rent.

A bird in the hand…  Yeah, we took it. Brady Bunch decor and all. It’s probably the only two times in her life that my lovely supermodel wife has made two decisions in less than ten minutes.

* * * *

By the way, Monica is our maid. She’s the best maid we’ve ever had. Miguel is our gardener/pool guy. They are both great at what they do, and we’re fortunate to have them.

* * * *

Our painter, Francisco Siordia Bernini, had all of the interior rooms prepped and painted in less than two weeks, except the kitchen. Lea’s boyfriend and my golf wife painted that room. Thank you for that incredible gift, Todd and Phyllis.

Lord Mark had upgraded the kitchen appliances and had moved the old stove and refrigerator into the casita. In the process, the gas line to the stove in the casita had developed a leak. It took Moses the repairman three visits to fix it.

We moved fifty loads of the smaller household items in our SUV from our old house to our new house over a two week time period, with more help from Todd and Phyllis. The moving crew took five hours to transport the rest of our furniture here.

I spent something like unto fifteen hours setting up my home theater system. It sounds so good!! It was built for this house. It took two days to install the water filtration system. It took the satellite dish guys three visits to get our two TV’s up and running.

The locksmith we hired had to make two trips here to rekey four locks on the kitchen doors and the main entrance to one key. It took us about a week to find the key to unlock the third patio door.

* * * *

That mountain of keys! We threw them in a pile on the dining room table, and every time we needed a key we had to dig through the fucking keys until we found the one key we wanted.

Several years ago I had bought a whole bunch of oversized decorative keys. They look like the skeleton keys the head jailer might carry around in an old prison. I hung a decorative key by every exterior door, and the corresponding key to each door.

Mischief managed.

And then there were the light switches. There are a whole lots of those, too. We had to replace at least fifteen light bulbs, but now we know what what most of the switches operate, and the coolest light switch ever is in the hallway running along the bedrooms. It’s a sensor. The lights turn on and off automatically as you enter and exit the hallway. There are two switches we’ll probably never figure out. For all I know, they might turn on the lights at the neighbor’s house. Or, possibly your house.

* * * *

All in all, it took only nine days for Lea and I to put the new place together. We finished today.

Casa Tara, the House of Ten Doors, looks cool. It also feels cool. Literally. It’s like living in a cavern. The high ceilings and the brick and mortar walls make the interior feel as though it’s air conditioned, which will be very nice in the summer. But it’s actually kind of cold inside this time of year.

There are three gas fireplaces; one in the living room, one in the den, and one in the master bedroom. None of them are functional. Yeah, we need to fix that.  ¡Pronto!

There are hundreds of small jobs still left to do. I’ve completed several of them while I’ve been writing this. It’s one reason why it’s taken me so long to finish. It’s also one reason why I need a workshop.

Pretty soon I can start to get back to playing golf three times a week and doing as little as possible of anything else. I was getting really good at personal energy conservation.

Speaking of golf, Phyllis and I are playing in a tournament tomorrow. I need to visualize my one, true, authentic swing. Maybe I’ll be able to do it once or twice when the spotlight is on me…

* * * *

We’ll be taking reservations at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa soon as the Casita/Guest House is ready. Please call ahead to check availability before showing up at the front gate. Ring the doorbell if you arrive unannounced. It’s a big place. We might not see you otherwise.

Advertisements

Tumbling Dice

Hola, amigos. How’s it going?

I decided to try to write something today. I’m not sure what, so that always adds a degree of difficulty or two to this task. I have a lots of random thoughts rolling around inside of my head. The tricksiest part is putting them all together so they have a modicum of synchronicity.

Whenever I find myself in this dilemma, I tend to begin with updates about what’s been going on in our lives lately. I’m pretty sure that’s all this post is going to end up being, so if you could care less about that, you might as well do something else.

We’re retired. I doubt anything about our lives is all that interesting. But I did discover something cool the other day. The Spanish word for retirement is jubilación.

That’s right baby, jubilation. It sounds even more better gooder in Spanish.

* * * *

Retirement has been the most blissful time of our lives. I’ve said this before, it’s the least stressful time that I can remember. I literally don’t have a schedule, or an agenda, or an itinerary. There are very few things that I have to write on my calendar anymore. If I feel like doing something, I do it. If I don’t, well, there’s always tomorrow. Or next week. Or whenever…

And then two things happened that impacted our stress-free lives.

One, we adopted kit-tens.

This hasn’t increased the stress levels in our lives. Unless they’re attacking my feet, which they do like little furry ninjas. Little Known Fact About Me: my feet are incredibly ticklish. I just about fly through the roof if anyone touches my feet. I’ve had to practice godlike restraint to not punt them halfway across the living room.

Mika and Mollie have been growing up fast. Too fast. At this rate, they’ll be going to college by Christmas. They have adjusted to moving in with us, and they now rule the house. Anyone who has had a cat will know the truth of this statement.

I don’t really remember much about the last time we had kit-tens. It was twenty years ago, and I was still working. Plus, I wasn’t as much of a cat lover then, so I had other things on my mind.

I’ve had a lots of time to observe our kit-tens this time around, and it has been a blast. They were learning how to walk when we brought them home. They’ve graduated from that and are testing out what else they can do now.

I’ve been documenting the progression of kit-ten growth and development with videos on my Facebook page. Kit-tens are simply darlingpreshadorbs! Their antics are so entertaining. If you’re depressed, watch kit-ten videos. You won’t need medications.

Mika and Mollie have become very good at jumping, which is evidently something kit-tens love to do. Because the kit-tens have become so good at jumping, they can now get onto our bed. They join us at night and wrestle for an hour before their batteries die out and they fall asleep. When they wake up in the morning, so do we.

They love to help us, no matter what it is we’re doing. Folding laundry is something they can’t resist. They are absolutely fascinated when I clean out their litter box. They look up at me like they’re asking, What the hell are you doing? We buried that stuff in there!!

That reminds me. I should probably buy another litter box. Soon.

They love to add their perspectives to my blog. And Mika actually posted a picture on my Instagram account last week. The thing that pissed me off about it was she did it faster than I ever have.

The only thing the kit-tens have an aversion to is vacuuming. I vacuum the floors at least once a day now. It’s the only time I don’t have to worry about accidentally stepping on a kit-ten when they come racing out of nowhere to attack my feet.

* * * *

The second thing that happened is we have to move, and that has increased the stress levels in our lives. We’ve looked at several houses so far, but haven’t found anything we’ve fallen in love with.

One was way too small for us. The rest of them were large enough, but… A couple of them were gorgeous, but one was way out of our budget. Another looked like an art museum, but the owner wanted to keep all of her very expensive custom art and furniture in the house.

I would’ve been afraid to sneeze in there. And Lea said she would never feel like she was living in her house.

Another was reasonably close to what we wanted, except it felt like a prison yard, minus the armed guards. And someone had painstakingly painted verses of Scripture on several of the walls, so you could get your mind right with the Lord while you served out your term in solitary.

One was undergoing a major renovation. It’s going to be gorgeous, but that process is going to take several months. Also, the owner wasn’t sure how much he’s going to need for rent to get a return on his investment.

We looked at close to fifty houses before we bought our house in Surprise. I’m hoping we won’t have to repeat that process this time around.

That was more or less because of Lea. She had a detailed wish list of what she needed in a house. Open concept. Huge, modern kitchen. Split floor plan. Master suite with a spacious walk-in closet. A swimming pool.

Our realtor, Cynthia McNicol, understood Lea’s desires, and agreed all of those were requisite.

I’m a guy. Guys essentially live like bears with furniture, and not necessarily nice furniture. The only thing I wanted when we were looking for a house was a three car garage.

“That’s it?” Cynthia asked. If there’s a word that describes something beyond stunned, that’s what Cynthia was. She probably thought I was a moron. “As long as Lea is happy, that’s all I need.”

“Smart man.” Cynthia replied, and her opinion of me changed in a heartbeat. “Happy wife, happy life.”

Exactly. Happy husband–no one cares! They didn’t even bother to come up with a word that rhymes with husband. I didn’t see the house we’re living in before we moved here. I told Lea to find a place she liked and wrap it up.

Our friends here have been keeping an eye or two open, looking for potential houses for us. We got an alert from Cheryl about a house in Chula Vista. It’s a development a couple of miles east of where we live now, on the mountainside. It doesn’t have a scenic view of the lake, but the backyard looks down on the Chula Vista golf course.

I’ve never golfed there, and I doubt that I ever will. The course was carved out the side of the mountain, and there are no golf carts. If I still wanted to march over hill, over dale, and hit the dusty trail, I would have never left the Army.

The Chula Vista house is huge, much larger than our current home. Four bedrooms, four bathrooms. More closets than I’ve ever seen in one house. There’s a swimming pool in the backyard, and a casita. It’s like unto a little apartment where guests you don’t really like can stay if they come to visit.

The best part, it won’t cost more than the house we’re currently in.

We went to see it this morning. Lea loved it. And just like that, our home search ended. We can start moving in on November 1st. That was easier than I thought it would be.

* * * *

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me lately, but something feels amiss. It’s not a physical thing. I don’t feel any worse than I normally do. I’m not battling an infection, or an illness.

Last week was the anniversary of the death of Lea’s mom. I’ve written about that series of events in a previous post. I’m not going to say much about it here, but it was easily the worst week of my life. That could be the cause of my unease. Those ghosts of traumas past. It doesn’t matter where you go, those fuckers will always know where to find you.

There’s a good chance I was emotionally bindsided. Given my relatively stress-free life, I haven’t needed to expend much energy maintaining my defense system. That’s one of the hazards of PTSD. All it takes is one little trigger and things can unravel quickly.

My activity level is down, too. I used to golf three times a week. It’s been more like once a week lately. And it hasn’t been that much fun. The rainy season should be winding down soon… Probably.

When you know what the problem is, you can start working on a solution.

* * * *

If you’re still reading this, thank you. It hasn’t been easy to write, so it probably hasn’t been much fun to read. I may not have much time to write once our moving process kicks off.

But writing about my angst has helped me regain my sense of balance. And finding our next place of residence has removed that uncertainty. Things tend to have a way of working out in life if you don’t panic.

One Simple Thing

Do you remember when the Age of Political Correctness began?

I’m not sure of the exact date and time, and I’m not interested enough to Google® it to find out. The thing is, I’m reasonably sure that political correctness became popular because it was supposed to make our lives simpler and easier. Distill everything down to the least common denominator and we would all be on equal footing.

And then we discovered what a slippery slope political correctness actually was.

It was confusing as hell for me. There are reasons for this, of course. I was raised in a time of political unrest, not correctness. My generation was not going to be silent. We wanted our voices to be heard.

And there was alcohol. I used to drink. A lots. Drunk people tend to lack filters. Almost anything that pops into their heads is likely to come out of their mouths. I like to think that I was a pretty funny guy back when I drank. But I wasn’t always funny, and sometimes I was a real dick.

I could never survive a Congressional investigation into my past, though if I testified that I couldn’t remember a specific event, it would probably be true. Those aren’t the things that would scare me. It’s all the things I do remember. Satan, if he exists, likely held himself to a higher moral standard than I did in my youth.

However, I would be able to state with complete confidence that I have never had sex with a goat.

The Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings have brought the collective sins of our youth into a focus that can only be achieved through an electron microscope, prompting Donald Trump to say this, “It’s a very scary time for young men in America…”

Yes. Equal footing for our sons has been achieved. Now they know how our daughters feel.

Nor was The Donald speaking for all young men. Whether by accident or design, he was referring to young white men. It’s been a scary time for young African-American men since, well, forever.

The thing President Trump found to be the scariest was that “…you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of.” Guilt, I think, is still something that has to be proven. A lots of people have accused me of being an angel, and I know they’re wrong about that.

This latest shitstorm came to light when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct during his confirmation hearings to the Supreme Court. In his defense, Mr. Kavanaugh produced a calendar that didn’t note he had sexually assaulted anyone, and admitted that he liked drinking beer.

One of my female friends pointed out that he never described himself as a raging drunk. Back when I really was a raging drunk, I didn’t describe myself that way either. It’s called denial.

As for not leaving a paper trail of your crimes, that’s simply self-preservation.

Is Mr. Kavanaugh guilty? Did Dr. Blasey Ford make all this stuff up? From my experience, I can tell you when there are two disparate stories, someone is lying.

* * * *

I’ve been thinking about this post, or something like unto it, for a few months now. I still don’t want to write it. There are reasons for that, too. I’m not a political pundit. I will freely admit that I try not to think about the current political situation in the US, or any other country for that matter.

I am probably the last person you want to talk to if you’re seeking clarity about American politics.

Be that as it may, I find that I am distressed by what has been happening in the country of my birth. A lots of people are, on both sides of the divide that currently exists in the American political system.

It is this schism that I find particularly distressing. A house divided against itself cannot stand. A guy named Jesus said that a couple of thousand years ago when he started preaching his message. A guy named Abraham Lincoln repeated it sixteen hundred years later, two years before the beginning of the American Civil War.

Whether this vast political divide is the cause of all the turmoil in my former country, or merely a symptom of something deeper and more insidious would take someone far more discerning than I am to diagnose. But lack of understanding has rarely stopped me from going where I have no business being.

Ready? Here we go.

* * * *

The American political system is composed of two major parties. The Assholes, and the Other Assholes. Some of you may know them as the Republicans and the Democrats. And once upon a time they actually used to work together for the betterment of the country.

I’m not going to offer an in-depth examination of the American political system, but I’ll elaborate this much. The Republicans are the right-wing, conservative party. The Democrats are the left-wing, liberal party. If you need more context than that, read something. Or watch a video on the YouTube®.

I’m not sure when the precise moment that the political chasm that separates the two parties occurred, but as far as I can tell, the only things our elected government officials do now is say some partisan based uncomplimentary things about each other, get together once a year to approve a budget, and the rest of the time they campaign to try to keep their very cushy jobs.

Any time this guy has more credibility than anyone in Congress:

giphy

That’s a problem.

I’m not even sure why the Republicans and the Democrats decided they needed to oppose each other tooth and nail on anything the other party proposes, but instead of seeing each other as their esteemed colleagues from across the aisle, they now view each other as the enemy from the wrong side of the tracks.

One theory I’ve heard about the lack of meaningful dialog between the parties is because the extremism of both parties is too great.

Perhaps that’s true. If you know the answers to any of the questions I’m not going to even try to answer, please feel free to fill in the blanks for all of us. You can comment on this post.

The Extremism Theory holds some water in my bucket of beliefs for one reason. And that reason is the current titular leader of the Republicans. President of the United States and Disgruntled Teenager with a Twitter Account, Donald Trump.

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of The Donald. He has done more in two years to divide the country than anyone has since the birth of rock and roll music. I don’t think President Trump created the Great Political Divide. He simply brought the boundaries into a stark relief, and sharpened the edges.

I call this new status quo The Walmart Intelligentsia v. The People With Brains.

Is he a bad President? I don’t know. Like unto pretty much every President I can remember, people either love him or hate him. And I don’t think it’s the politics or the policies. It’s who you are. If you’re liked as a person, you’ll probably be liked as a President.

Except Jimmy Carter. Great person, lousy President.

I think The Donald is a buffoon. You know who else does? The United Nations. The General Assembly actually interrupted his last speech there to laugh at him. And he wasn’t telling a joke!

There’s no doubt that he’s a narcissist. He makes fun of handicapped people. He disparages anyone who doesn’t agree with him. He’s a misogynist. He fabricates facts and accuses the media of fake news. He’s a schoolyard bully in a suit. In an age of political correctness, he’s everything none of us are supposed to be anymore.

And, he’s the President. How is this even possible?

Donald Trump is essentially the least Presidential acting President since Franklin Pierce. For those of you who don’t know about Pierce, he saw his only surviving son get horrifically killed to death. His son was run over by a train a few weeks before President-elect Pierce was inaugurated. President Pierce spent most of his time in the Oval Office in a drunken stupor.

On the bright side, I haven’t heard any reports about The Donald getting drunk. In my opinion, he’s already unstable enough. That instability has essentially drawn a line in the sand between his supporters, who absolutely love him, and his detractors, who totally despise him.

There is no middle ground here. In a world rife with gray areas, this is vividly black or white. Period.

* * * *

“Let the word go forward from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans…” A guy named John F. Kennedy said that in his inaugural address. What was true then is true now.

The leaders of the current Asshole party and the Other Asshole party are straight outta my generation. We have done some great things in our time, but elevating a pissing contest into some sort of incomprehensible art form? There’s nothing great or even laudable about that.

We must remember, as Franklin Roosevelt so eloquently stated, that “…problems created by man can be solved by man, so long as we pull together toward a common end.” Therefore, it is incumbent upon the generations that have followed us Baby Boomers to vote all of those motherfuckers out of political office as quickly as possible. That’s not a joke.

It’s a call to arms.

To every forgotten male and woman out there who chooses not to vote because they feel their vote won’t make a difference, you are wrong. Your vote makes the only difference.

Distill this problem down to the least common denominator.

It’s a simple thing.

There’s a simple solution.

* * * *

FEMA recently instituted the Presidential Alert system. It’s similar to the state-level systems that let police and local authorities send out AMBER Alerts and weather warnings, except from now on they’ll come from the Commander-in-Chief.

Afterwards, Donald Trump may or may not have tweeted something like unto this: Just sent a message to 300 million people. No one responded. Oh well…

I’m sure I saw this, but I haven’t been able to verify it since. Seeing how President Trump can play it fast and loose with the facts, there’s no reason I can’t do the same. My Twitter account was actually suspended because I used to respond to the President’s tweets. A lots.

Give the people some time, Donny. I’m sure they’ll respond to you soon.

Like, November.

The House We Used To Live In

As some of you are possibly aware, one week ago my lovely supermodel wife and I found out we have to find a new place to live.

Yeah, that kind of sucketh greatly.

We really love the place we’re in. It had everything we were looking for when we decided to move here, and it’s three doors down from Phyllis’ house. Phyllis is my wife’s best friend, and she’s also my golf wife. In terms of location, it was perfect.

We’ll be hard pressed to find a better landlady than Planet Janet, but ultimately this is merely an inconvenience to us. I could tell you the story of how all of this got happened, but it’s a real messy personal disaster for Janet.

You don’t need to know all of the details.

Have you ever seen the movie Young Doctors in Love? It’s a spoof of TV soap operas, like, General Hospital. I’ve seen it a couple of times, and because I worked in the medical field, I thought it was beyond hilarious. You might want to check it out if you don’t have anything else to do.

One of the characters is an elderly Mafia don whose family is in a war with a rival family. He ends up in the hospital, and his oldest son disguises himself as a woman so he can visit his father without, you know, ending up getting killed to death in the process. One of the young doctors starts falling in love with her. Him. Whatever.

The young Mafia don-in-training isn’t exactly ladylike. In fact, he/she swears like two drunken Marines, and one of the catchlines he/she says is, “For various fuckin’ reasons…”

That’s why we have to move. Let’s just leave it at that.

It’s not all bad news. We have at least fifteen months to find another home. We’re meeting with a realtor this morning. Several of our friends are keeping their eyes open for us. And we’re following up on any rental leads in the local publications and social media.

I’m sure we’ll find another suitable abode eventually. I’ll keep you posted.

* * * *

Tenemos gatitas! Pequeños leones de la casa feroz!!

For those of you who aren’t bilateral like I am, that’s Spanish for, We have kit-tens! Ferocious little house lions!!

Mika and Mollie. They’re still adorable. They’ve taken control of the house. And us. The little terrorists, with talons of death. Bare feet are irresistible to kit-tens, and they attack out of nowhere. We’ve learned quickly to watch our steps with kit-tens underfoot. My lower legs look like unto I’ve been skipping through a field of barbwire.

They’re growing so fast! They’re about twice the size they were when we brought them home. They’re running and climbing over everything. It’s been very entertaining, and sometimes exhausting, having them around.

Our veterinarian, Dr. Betty, has seen the kit-tens a couple of times for vaccinations. She has fallen in love with them, too. Her partner, Dr. Gaby, doesn’t think our kit-tens are part Himalayan. She thinks they’re part Siamese. Seminese/Semilayan. It’s all good.

* * * *

The Minnesota Vikings lost again. They got beat by the  Los Angeles Rams, who just might be the best team in the NFL this year. The good news was the Vikings made a game of it, and had a couple of chances to at least tie the game before they ultimately lost. The bad news is the Vikings play the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend and they are the defending world champions.

Yeah. The Vikings are probably going to lose that game, too.

* * * *

Virtual Update: My social media BFF’s have been busy. Grecia is pregnant with her first child. Serena is getting back into shape after her second child. Danessa is getting married next year. Mark’s girlfriend broke up with him and he’s devastated.

I still get random requests from young women who are interested in a serious relationship with my money, but I’m less likely to even acknowledge them anymore.

I guess an old dog really can learn new tricks…

* * * *

We just got back from looking at our second potential new home. It was a nice place. Five bedrooms, four bathrooms. The only thing we didn’t like about it was it lacks any scenic views, but that’s a huge drawback.

The first place we looked at was a cute little place in our current development, but it was way too small for our needs. In one of the most generous offers I’ve ever heard, Phyllis said she’d move into it, and we could rent her house.

It’s hard to render me speechless, but that did.

When it comes to our new home, neither Lea nor I are willing to compromise when it comes to what we want. Neither of us wants to settle for something because we’ll probably end up hating the place, and then we’ll end up moving. Again.

I am not a big fan of moving. Lea isn’t either. It’s one of the many things we have in common.

Well, why don’t you just buy your own place then, you might ask. It’s a valid question. The biggest drawback is the lack of reasonable mortgage financing in Mexico. Some financing is available, but it’s not like the US.

We could probably buy our own place, but it would easily wipe out half of our retirement savings, and neither of us is wild about that. Housing and real estate is one area where it’s cheaper in Mexico doesn’t apply.

Someone figured out a long time ago that all of the gringos here would pay serious cash for beautiful houses to live in. A nice house here would cost us roughly the same as it would in Phoenix.

I’m finding it hard to stay focused on writing. Between the kit-tens jumping on my lap to help me type and checking for housing updates every thirty seconds, I’ve been having more than a little difficulty completing two consecutive sentences.

I’m sure there have been times when I have procrastinated about starting a project. Or finishing something I’ve started. Like this blog.

And even though we have something like unto fifteen months to find another house, neither of us wants this process to take that long. We basically want to find a place in the next fifteen minutes. The reality is that our best chance of finding our next place won’t happen until April or May of next year.

Hey, it is what it is. Patience is a virtue. Breathe in. Breathe out.

That’s what I used to tell my patients.

Looks like I’m back in business.

The Year of the Cat

It’s Sunday. I usually reserve Sundays for watching football. But today, the Minnesota Vikings took the day off. It’s too bad, because they were supposed to play the Buffalo Bills.

Way back in the day, professional football was something a select few guys did for a few months, then went back to their real jobs when the season was over. Nowadays, professional football is a year-round endeavor. For the coaches and players, it’s their only job. It’s not just a job, it’s a career.

From that point of view, there’s no excuse for a football team that’s allegedly this good to look so bad against a team they were supposed to beat by sixteen points. There’s no doubt that there’s a lots of talent on the Vikings roster, but you didn’t see any of it on the field today.

In an upset of epic proportions, the Vikings lost to the Bills, 27-6. The Bills, who lost their first two games this season by a total of fifty five points. I don’t know how to explain this, except it’s possible that the Vikings thought they were already in the Super Bowl. Then their performance is easily explained.

They haven’t looked this bad since the NFC Championship game last year. The only good thing about this game was the new Vikings kicker didn’t miss any field goals. As far as I know, he wasn’t even given the opportunity to attempt one. Anyone who knows anything about sports will tell you there’s a name for good teams that don’t beat bad teams.

Losers.

It’s nothing new for my team. They’ve played like this for as long as I can remember. Look like true Viking warriors one week, then look hungover drag queens the next. It kind of sucks. I am a big fan of professional football, and the Vikings. This NFL season is only three weeks old, and I’m already kind of over it.

If this truly is the Year of the Cat, the Jacksonville Jaguars should win the Super Bowl.

This year’s football roller coaster ride went south in a hurry.  My lovely supermodel fanatic wife was so disgusted she didn’t even yell at the TV once. She just quit watching the game and went out on the patio. I quit watching, too. I changed the channel to the PGA Championship.

Tiger Woods won! It was an amazing comeback for him, and for his sport. He’s clearly the most popular golfer in the world.

I could say something about my golf game, except I don’t have any meaningful updates. I haven’t even been golfing much. It’s been tremendously wet down here, in terms of water. I guess it doesn’t matter who says that line, it still sounds stupid.

* * * *

Year of the Cat is a song by Al Stewart. It got a lots of air time on the radio back in 1976 or so. It’s about a guy who’s taking a guided bus tour through the Middle East. During one stop, he and his fellow tourists go out to look around at a local marketplace. The surroundings remind the guy of scenes he saw in the movie Casablanca.

As he wanders around the bazaar, he sees a beautiful, “mysterious” girl. She’s not a local, but has been living in the area since the Year of the Cat. I guess that’s what makes her so mysterious. She leads him back to her room where they make love for hours, of course. When he wakes up the next morning, he finds that the tour bus is gone. So are his luggage, his clothes and his money.

It’s a very pretty, cautionary song about the hazards of leaving your group when you’re a tourist in a foreign country, apparently.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife and I retired to a foreign country, but I doubt either of us will ever have a misadventure at any of the local bazaars like unto the one outlined above.

Neither of us are in the market for any random hook-ups at this point in time of our lives. The only thing we have been in the market for since we got back from vacation, is a kit-ten. Or two.

We used to have a kit-ten, Samantha. She lived with us for twenty years. Sadly, we had to put her down in February of this year. I figured Lea would last about six months without a cat. I was more or less correct in my timeline. When Lea started her search she said she would be willing to take two kit-tens if they were from the same litter.

I don’t think I predicted that, but I can’t say that I was surprised to hear it.

Lea went to the nearest kit-ten rescue shelter a couple of times after we returned to Mexico and checked out the kit-tens, but she didn’t find the right one. We went to a place called Casa Miau, another cat rescue shelter in Jocotopec, the westernmost town in the Lakeside Area. It’s run by Don and Anita. They own a house in Joco, and rented another house just for their twenty-some-odd rescue cats.

There was only one problem. Anita seemingly didn’t want to part with any of her cats, even though she said all she wanted to do was to find good homes for them, and get her life back.

“I’m here everyday. I had to hire helpers because I can’t keep up with it anymore. That’s Chola. She’s not the right cat for you. That’s Paco. He’s not the right cat for you either. That’s Chance. He’s not going anywhere.”

We didn’t come home with a cat, but we accidentally heard about some orphaned kit-tens while we were at Casa Miau. We had taken a friend of ours named Randy, who has done a lots of animal rescue work, when we went to visit Anita’s herd of cats.

Anita mentioned the kit-tens to Randy because she didn’t have the time nor the energy to take care of any more cats. So Randy went to see the couple who were suddenly raising the three kit-tens whose mother had vanished. And that was how we met Rob and Pat.

They also live in Joco. They’re artists, quite good artists, in my opinion. Roughly eight weeks ago, a stray cat wandered into one of their art studios and decided it would be the perfect place to have her three babies, two females and one male. She would go hunting every day, but always returned to take care of her babies. Until the day she didn’t.

Rob and Pat knew nothing about about being kit-ten foster parents, but Randy did. She taught them how to bottle feed kit-tens, and all the other stuff you need to do when you’re a pet foster parent. Rob and Pat have four or five dogs. They like cats, but didn’t feel they needed more pets. Mostly what they wanted was to find good homes for their orphaned kit-tens.

And that’s how we met Mika and Mollie. They’re sisters, the two females in the litter. It was love at first sight for both Lea and myself. We had to wait nine days before we brought them home, but there was never any question in Lea’s mind whether she had found her new kit-tens or not.

img_20180923_193336.jpg

That’s Mika on the left. She has the cutest little kit-ten face. And that’s Mollie on the right. She’s fuzzier than Mika, and a bit bigger than her sister. The fuzzy fur is the easiest way to tell them apart. They look remarkably similar.

I’m not sure what their mother looked like, but our kit-tens almost look like Himalayans. Maybe they’re Semilayans? Whatever they are, they’re so little, and so cuuuute! They’re maybe eight weeks old at the most. They’re just learning to eat solid food. And run. And jump. And do kit-ten stuff.

They are seriously darlingpreshadorbs!

I’ve never been the parent of small  children. The only thing I’ve ever raised in my life is hell, and it’s probably the last qualification that anyone would look for in a foster parent for anything. Luckily, Lea has raised children, and kit-tens before. I’ve been counting on her expertise to get me through the first few weeks or months until the kit-tens don’t need constant supervision.

My duties so far have been cleaning the litter box and cleaning the floor. I’m okay with this. I have experience in those fields. The other thing I’ve been doing is buying things, like, cat condos, scratching posts and play toys. I think the kit-tens will eventually grow to like the play toys more than they like crumpled wads of paper, or my toes, someday…

I might grow to appreciate their help with writing my blog someday, too. I’ve had to stop writig multiple times today when they’ve climbed on top of my lap to edit what I’ve been writing about them. If I ever get tired of doing this, I might let them take over. They might be better writers than I am.

I will never get tired of watching them play. Kit-tens are kind of like furry, little wind up toys. They run around at manic speed for as long as they can, then sleep for an hour or so. They make me smile like unto a

giphy

A Football Wife

Hey there, sports fans.

Today is Día de la Independencia in Mexico. There’s a band playing in the eventos right below our development. There will probably be a band playing there almost every night from now until Christmas Day.

I call it Fiesta Season. Bands. Cerveza. Music. Más cerveza. Singing. Tequila. Fireworks. It’s basically a four month party. I don’t mind the loud music. Most of the time I think it’s really cool, and it adds to the charm of our retirement lives.

I am not a fan of the fireworks. Mexican fireworks are essentially sky rockets made out of sticks of dynamite. That first one always catches me by surprise, and I always have to check if I shit my pants. After I crawl out from under the bed.

The following explosions aren’t as traumatic. You tend to get used to them. Or you leave.

* * * *

And, another American football season is underway. It’s basically a five month roller coaster ride for most football fans. My lovely supermodel wife is starting to believe it’s true for her. I don’t usually brag about myself much, but I won the Grand Slam of Marriage when I married Lea. Spooky-smart, beautiful, great cook, and she loves football.

I’ve been a Vikings fan since I was a kid. Lea has been a Vikings fan since she married me. She didn’t know anything about football when we got married.

“I wanted to know something about the game, but my dad and my ex-husband wouldn’t explain it to me. They said it was too complicated and I wouldn’t understand.”

Yeah, right.

I didn’t have any problems explaining it to her. Football isn’t that complicated.  It’s not like cricket, which makes no goddamn sense whatsoever. Even people who understand it can’t explain it. Lea has a very good grasp of football. She can hold her own with any guy on the planet when it comes to talking about her team. She can break down a game with the best of them.

Somewhat oddly, I think I become a little less of a fan as each year goes by and my team fails to win the Super Bowl. Again. Plus, I’ve just about had it with the NFL. Between the rule changes and the controversy over the national anthem, I’d give up on the game entirely. Except it’s football, and there’s nothing else like it.

Equally oddly, I think Lea becomes a little more of a fanatic each year. Somehow, balance is maintained, and that’s always a good thing.

Last year the Vikings made it all the way to the NFC Championship game. Some people think they’ll go all the way this year. They have a good team, but making it to the Super Bowl requires far more than just a good team. In every football season there are at least ten good teams, or more, that don’t play in the Super Bowl.

The Vikings had the best defense in the NFL last year. I don’t know what happened over the off season, but there appears to have been a dramatic drop off in their performance from what I’ve seen so far this year.

I have one theory about this, and I’ll get to it a little later.

To enhance their chances of winning it all this year, the Vikings added some key players through free agency and the draft, most notably, Kirk Cousins at quarterback. He might be the missing piece of their championship puzzle.

The Vikings thought they were missing just one puzzle piece before. In the end, they didn’t win the Super Bowl, but the trade they made allowed the Dogass Cowboys to win three of them.

There are a few NFL teams I don’t like. The Patriots. The Steelers. The Eagles. But I hate only one team. If Dallas never won another game, I’d be okay with that.

Elite quarterbacks in the NFL make a ridiculous amount of money. Kirk Cousins signed a three year contract with the Vikings worth $84 million US dollars. That’s something like unto a ga-zillion Mexican pesos.

But football is the ultimate team sport. One guy probably isn’t going to make your team great. I wasn’t convinced this was a personnel move that the Vikings needed to make. Until today. The Vikings played the Green Bay Packers and almost won a game they absolutely should have lost. And the reason they almost won was Kirk Cousins. He completed 35 of 48 pass attempts for 425 yards and four touchdowns.

One of the reasons the Vikings almost lost was because of a guy named Laquon Treadwell. He’s a wide receiver. He was the Vikings number one draft choice in 2016, and signed a four year contract worth almost $10 million. In two years, he’s caught 21 passes for less than 300 yards, and he scored his first NFL touchdown today.

That comes to roughly $476,000 per catch. In football terms, he’s been an absolute bust so far. In football fan terms, he totally sucks. He might have caught his first TD pass today, but he dropped at least four passes and deflected one pass directly to one of the Packers’ defenders for an interception that almost cost his team the game.

I think Lea stopped breathing when that happened. I have never been a fan of Laquon Treadwell, and I’ve been wondering why he’s still on the team for two years.

It was at this precise moment that I kind of fell in love with Kirk Cousins. Laquon looked like he was ready to kill himself, and Kirk came up to him and said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll get ’em next time.”

That was a class move, and was probably worth $10 million all by itself. If Laquon Treadwell ever becomes a decent NFL receiver, he’ll probably owe it to Kirk Cousins.

As it turned out, the final score was a tie. 29-29. And the reason it ended that way was another personnel change. The Vikings released their veteran place kicker and signed a kid from Auburn named Dan Carlson. In football terms, he has a monster leg, and signed a contract worth $728,000 for this year.

Dan missed three field goals today. One attempt was 35 yards, a distance a guy with a monster leg ought to be able to hit even if he only had one leg. Two of his misses were in the overtime period. My lovely and fanatical supermodel wife didn’t take that well.

“You have one fucking job! ONE!!” she screamed at the TV three times today. I don’t think Lea likes any kicker, and she sure as hell doesn’t like Dan Carlson right now. She is just too cute for words as far as I’m concerned.

I’ve come to realize that everyone has a bad day, and this was clearly the worst day of young Mr. Carlson’s life. I’m sure the Vikings will him a chance to redeem himself, but he should realize that NFL stands for Not For Long if you’re a field goal kicker that can’t kick a field goal.

* * * *

Will the Vikings win the Super Bowl this year? Based on what I’ve seen thus far, I don’t think so. On paper, the Vikings have a great defense. But this game isn’t played on paper, and the defense I’ve seen has had moments of greatness, but they have not been consistently great.

Part of this is an attitude thing. The Vikings seem to think their opponents should fear their greatness. If they looked at the tape of the games, they should be able to see that none of their opponents have feared them yet, and they aren’t going to find many teams that do.

Not the way they’re playing right now. So it’s probably a very good thing that the Vikings spent a couple of truckloads of money for a guy who can throw a lots of touchdowns.

My lovely supermodel head coach wife agrees with me on this issue. She is far more anxious about how this year’s team is going to perform than I am, but I have a twenty year head start on her when it comes to being disappointed by the Vikings.

This year’s roller coaster ride is going to be a whole lots worse than last year. I better stock up on my blood pressure medication because I think I’m going to need to double my dose on Sundays.

Mark’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Days

I would like to take this opportunity to apologize.

Creating unnecessary drama isn’t something I normally do. In all honesty, I have a deep-seated aversion to it. I was a pysch nurse. I saw enough of that crap to last me the rest of my life and half of my next life.

Normally, I would’ve kept any personal drama to myself. Well, I probably would’ve shared it with lovely supermodel wife. But this time I went outside of my usual boundaries. I did what any other person living in this day of social media frenzies would do. I shared it with the whole world. And it wasn’t just one overblown incident. There were two.

This is not to say that I have never been a drama queen with multiple pots boiling over. Every alcoholic has that skill listed on their resumé. The fact that this is something I’m no longer invested in makes me smile.

I have a need to explain some of what happened. So, without further ado, put on your hip waders and let’s jump into the swamp and get this over with.

* * * *

Drama #1: A Tale of Two Websites

images (1)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” That is the famous opening line of the novel, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The two cities in question are London and Paris, before and during the French Revolution. It’s a good book. If you haven’t read it, you might want to check it out.

In my case, the two sites are WordPress and Facebook. I write all of my blogs on WordPress, then link them to my Facebook page. The reason for that is simple. Facebook wasn’t designed for bloggers.

Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with your family and friends online. WordPress is an open source website creation tool. It’s probably the easiest and most powerful blogging and website content management system in existence today.

In the past, all of my blog posts on WordPress were more or less automatically posted on to my Facebook page because you can share everything on WordPress with multiple sites, Facebook being only one of them. That was a good thing because something like 80% of the people who read my blog come from Facebook.

On August 1st, Facebook changed their policy regarding linking external sites to your profile page. Basically, you couldn’t do it anymore. I could create another Facebook page. That was the only way I could still post my blog installments to Facebook. It probably wouldn’t have been such a big deal to me if I wasn’t going to lose most of my audience.

Now, I could say I don’t really care if anyone reads my blog, but that would be a profound untruth. All artists want their work to be appreciated by others. If not, there wouldn’t be any reason to create anything.

My initial response to Facebook’s policy change was that I was 80% fucked. I’m not exactly skilled at a lots of computer stuff. I’m the opposite of a computer geek. I’m what most Help Desk Tech guys would call a moron.

What follows is a very condensed version of the events that occurred last Friday.

I stumbled through the easy to follow instructions and created a new Facebook page. Even I thought it seemed pretty simple, at first. Then everything I had done just disappeared, and I found myself back at the starting line again. When I stopped swearing at Mark Zuckerberg, I started all over, though I’m pretty sure I never actually stopped swearing.

When I finished, I announced the creation of new Facebook page on my old Facebook page, and I sent the link to my new page, out into the Cyberworld. I was seriously stunned by the response. I honestly had no idea so many of my friends read my blog.

I don’t get a lots of”Likes.” A few people might make a comment.  If neither of those options are employed, I wouldn’t know anyone had visited my site.

However, thank you, all of you. Your response touched me deeply.

It was somewhere around this point in time that I discovered I hadn’t created just one new Facebook page. I had created two of them.

Little Known Fact About The Facebook Pages I Had Just Created: there doesn’t appear to be any way to delete one of them. I mean, there probably is. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it. Thankfully, there was an option that allowed me to merge my pages.

That actually made me laugh because I’m apparently not the only moron who has made this mistake before and Facebook has had to take this into account.

When I merged my two new Facebook pages I discovered that I couldn’t merge them into the page I just created and announced to the Cyberworld. In addition, all of the content I had loaded onto my second new page had vanished.

It was right about this time that I wished I had never quit drinking.

I was a psych nurse. I’m a very patient man, with humans. Computers, on the other hand, can turn me into an axe murderer in about five seconds.

I suppose frustrated could describe my state of mind at about this point in time, but it doesn’t seem adequate. To make a long story, punctuated with a lots of profanity very short, I eventually created yet another new Facebook page then made yet another announcement to the Cyberworld, then I went to bed.

I’m reasonably confident this installment of my blog will automatically post to my new Facebook page. I really don’t want to contemplate any other outcome.

* * * *

Drama #2: My Idiot Brother

images (4)

The very next day, I had to Unfriend my brother from my Facebook page. I can’t say we were good friends. I’ve had problems being in the same room with him since 2007, and it’s only gotten worse with time.

I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities. I haven’t seen Our Idiot Brother. It’s probably very funny. Conversely, there’s nothing funny about my real life idiot brother. It’s not even a joke that he’s an idiot. It’s just a tragedy.

I’ve contemplated writing about my brother several times, but always found a way to write about anything else. Including nothing. That was a level of Hell I wasn’t willing to enter if there were any other options. I’m still not convinced this is a good idea, but I’m sure he’s saying a whole lots of outrageous things about me.

I want there to be a written rebuttal.

Little Known Fact About IQ Ratings: Way back in the day, Moron and Idiot were actual IQ classifications. According to a model designed by Albert Levine and Julius Marks, a moron had an IQ of 50 to 69. An idiot had an IQ of less than 20.

I have four brothers. John, Tom, Bruce and Bob. My brother in question is John. Like unto all brothers, we were fiercely competitive. Unlike all brothers, that competition became something of an obsession to John.

I wouldn’t discover this until years later, it was after John and I started writing to each other when he was in prison. I kept his letters for a long time, but only because I thought I might have to turn them over to the police one day. I decided to throw them all out when we moved to Mexico.

I could hold on to that poison for only so long.

* * * *

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I come from a long line of suicidal alcoholics. The successful people in my family are the ones who just kept drinking. Historically, we haven’t raised the bar of our expectations very high. But as far as I know, John is the only person in my family tree who has ever been in prison.

Several years ago, John decided to become a meth dealer, and because he wasn’t an especially organized person, he got busted with a shitload of meth one day in 2012. I think he was originally sentenced to twenty years. His sentence was reduced to ten years because, according to John, there were a lots of busted meth dealers, and there wasn’t enough room in prison for all of them. In fact, there were so many meth dealers that John was incarcerated for only three years before he was released.

Yeah, go figure on that.

As a psych nurse, I had counseled a lots of people who were meth addicts. In retrospect, those people at least claimed that they wanted help. I figured if nothing else, I could help my wayward brother find a better path to choose when he got out of the Big House. I wrote him a couple of encouraging letters. Maybe being the  Meth Lord of Morrison County wasn’t the best career move for him…

You might be able to imagine my surprise when John replied that he rather liked being a Meth Lord, but I doubt it. Being a Meth Lord was cool. John had money. He had friends. He had power. He had women lined up outside of his door who would do anything he asked. Anything.

Try not to figure on that one too much. Your brain might explode. Mine almost did.

How much money do you have in the bank? I asked. How many of your friends have come to visit you? How many women are lined up outside of your prison cell? 

They seemed like reasonable questions to me because I was certain the answer to all of those questions was None.

John didn’t think they were reasonable. I think in terms of the war of words that would follow, John fired the first shot. Neither was this our first battle. The real war between us started back 1979 or something.

It’s safe to say that our relationship deteriorated even more about this time. John said a lots of unkind things about me and my holier than thou attitude. I’m pretty sure I called him a Scum Lord. I know I called him quite a few things when I wrote to him after that. But I think I called him this more than anything else: sociopath.

I was a psych nurse. I knew a sociopath when I saw one. And I knew one other thing: there’s no cure for sociopathy.

I’ve met a lots of sociopathic people in my life. They are not nice people. I engaged with them because I had to, but there was one thing I never did with any of them. I never told any of them what I thought they were. It’s one of the things that tends to really piss them off. I will have to admit, by this time I was no longer trying to be therapeutic with my brother. I was trying to hit him with a baseball bat, hoping that I might accidentally get his head out of his ass in the process.

I thought John’s situation would, you know, make him see the error of his ways. I mean, he was in prison! How much lower did he have to go? Amazingly, John didn’t think he’d done anything wrong. He felt he was a victim of the system. And there was more.

Like me, John had been sexually abused by our uncle. Like me, John had chosen self-destructive coping skills. But if you ever want to break out of that cycle, you have to start seeing yourself as something other than a victim. You have to stop blaming someone else and take responsibility for your actions.

That’s what I had to do. I think most people in this kind of situation would agree it’s true. To the best of my knowledge, John hasn’t been able to do that. What I do know is that he told me how I was responsible for fucking up his life because I had an affair with his first wife.

I’ve done a lots of shitty things in my life, but that wasn’t one of them. I told him that. I have no idea why we kept writing to each other, except once we had started venting our hatred of each other we couldn’t stop. It’s like we were seven years old and in the backseat punching each other. And our dad wasn’t there to warn us to knock it off before he had to stop the car.

John wasn’t about to let the facts about anything confuse him. He started flinging accusations at me that I will never understand. His letters actually made me physically ill. I think the only thing he hasn’t accused me of doing is having sex with a goat. The kindest thing I can say is prison gave John’s imagination free rein, and he has a very twisted imagination. The worst thing I can say is my brother should never have been released from prison.

I don’t know if my brother has started using meth again since his release from the slammer, but I do know he’s been drinking, a lots. I’ve talked to him on the phone several times. He was drunk every time. I quit calling him.

By his own admission, he’s been in treatment at least twice since he’s regained his freedom. That’s what he told me, but I have to take into consideration that he could be lying about treatment. If he has entered a recovery program, it hasn’t taken root yet. Much like our present President, he doesn’t seem to know how to tell the truth.

The reason I decided to Unfriend my brother is he threatened to kill me. Again. I’ve lost count of how many times he’s done that.

I’m going to kill you if you ever have the guts to meet me in person, you fucking chickenshit! Have a good day. You’re my brother and I love you…

Yeah, go figure on that one, too.

To be certain, he’ll never get the opportunity to make good on his threat. There’s no way he can find me in Mexico. I’m not sure he’d actually do it if we ever ran into each other again, but I don’t trust him enough to ever want to take the chance.

Goodbye, brother. I hope you find your way. It’s been said that God loves all of His children. You’ve got that going for you if nothing else.

* * * *

In brighter news, we started looking for a new kit-ten or two. We’ve been to a couple of kit-ten rescue shelters. The kit-tens were cute, of course, but Lea didn’t feel she’d made a special connection with any of them. Apparently, that’s very important in the kit-ten choosing process.

And then Lea got these pictures from a fellow cat lover in the Lakeside Area today:

IMG_20180910_211044

They’re so cuuuute!!! They’re sisters. Lea fell in love at first sight. She’s going to meet them tomorrow, and she’s already given them names. Mika and Mollie. I think Lea has found her kit-tens.

* * * *

I, too, have fallen in love. I fell in love with our rental car while we were on vacation. It was an Audi Q7. And what made me fall in love with it was the stereo system. It’s the only reason I buy cars. I test drove the stereo of the Buick Enclave I bought in Arizona. Then I told the salesman to write it up.

“Don’t you want to take it for a test drive first?” he asked. Nope. I just wanted to listen to the stereo. I’ll take it.

It was the easiest sale of his life.

The Q7 is way more car than I’ll ever need here in Mexico. It’s the same size as my Enclave was–roughly the size of a small school bus. But Audi makes a Q5, a somewhat smaller version of the Q7.

images (1)

It’s so cuuuute!! And Audis are made in Mexico. I’ll wait a couple of years until I have to replace my Buick Encore. Our Q7 was white, but I kind of like the red model.

I look good in red.

Back in the Saddle

True rock and roll aficionados will know that Back in the Saddle is song by Aerosmith. Therefore, they might wonder why I chose an album cover by The Doobie Brothers as my featured image for this post.

It’s pretty simple. I couldn’t find any pictures of Aerosmith riding horses. Little Known Fact About Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry: he’s an equestrian, and owns a ranch with several very beautiful horses.

* * * *

How’s it going, eh?

My lovely supermodel wife and I recently returned from a whirlwind vacation/tour of our home state of Minnesota. As much fun as vacations are, it’s always good to be home again. I have to admit I was a little sad to leave Minnesota. It’s a beautiful place, and it’s the only place where people speak Minnesotan.

Much like unto Spanish, speaking Minnesotan correctly involves the inflection of vowel sounds, especially A’s and O’s. It sounds kind of weird if you’re anywhere except the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Yah, real good then.

I could tell you all about our vacation. Back in the day, people would have their vacation pictures developed into slides, then invite all of their friends over for a slide show presentation with commentary provided by the host.

It was even more boring than it sounds, and the only redeeming factor about it was the host always provided free booze.

I posted all of my vacation pictures on my Facebook page, commentary included. You can look at them if you like, but you have to provide your own booze.

It was good to see the old neighborhood again. It was great to see all of our family and friends again. When you’re planning a vacation, twelve days seems like such a long time to be gone from home. Once you’re actually on vacation you realize that you’re only going to be here for twelve days!

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is alive and well, and just as pertinent as ever.

We went a lots of places and got together with a lots of people, but we didn’t get to see all of the places or all of the people. Perhaps next time, people. Or, you could come visit us here.

You probably won’t get killed to death…

* * * *

For those of you who know my lovely supermodel wife, Lea’s wrist surgery appears to have been successful. And that is one of the best suturing jobs I have ever seen. You’re going to need a magnifying glass to see her scar when it heals.

Here’s the best part. Her surgery, including the MRI, cost us less than $3000 US.

Yep. You read that right.

I’m getting back to my everyday retirement routine, which amounts to doing a lots of nothing, taking naps, and thinking about golf. I’ve become very skilled at doing nothing. In fact, I’m not sure what I can actually do anymore. If I needed to find a job again, the only thing I think I could do is portray the inept person at the beginning of infomercials. You know, the guy who can’t open a jar of pickles, or put on his socks.

I’m looking forward to golfing again. It’s still the rainy season here, and it’s been very wet out on the golf course. I’ll continue to look forward to golfing until I get to the first tee. Then I’ll probably wonder why I was looking forward to it so much. Maybe the break will do me good because not doing something for a while always improves your performance the next time you try it.

I’ll find out tomorrow morning. Film at ten.

Case in point regarding my decreasing ability to do anything productful, this installment of my blog. It’s taken me five days to get to this point. Five agonizing fucking days. I can’t remember how many times I’ve started over. If this ever turns into anything, you’ll be thankful that I did. I’m not a great writer, but even I know bad writing when I see it.

Part of my problem is lack of a topic. I’ve successfully written about essentially nothing before, so it’s not my entire problem. Another part of my problem is I haven’t written anything since mid-July. And I think that blog was more or less about tits. Well, that’s the way I remember it.

Maybe I should write another story about boobs…

So, how about that President Trump guy? He’s had a rough week, huh?

I think the person who wrote the Anonymous OpEd in the New York Times should have identified him/herself. It would certainly have added more credibility to the article, and the New York Times took a huge risk publishing it in that manner. Besides, if things are as bad as the shitshow described, why stay there? It’s not like you’re going to fix it.

Seriously. Come clean. Identity yourself. Then quit your job and come to Mexico. I’ll let you stay at our house for at least a couple of weeks.

Then there’s Bob Woodward’s book, Fear: Trump in the White House. Another equally unflattering portrayal of the President. According to The Donald, it’s filled with lies. That makes me laugh out loud. Like Bob Woodward doesn’t have any journalistic credibility.

Sadly, neither of these exposés will change the minds of Trump’s supporters. They don’t read books, or the New York Times. They’re more like The Walmart Journal type of people.

I read an article in the local paper written by a psychotherapist about a new anxiety disorder that he calls TDS: Trump Derangement Syndrome. People wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, terrified that President Trump is going to blow up the planet. Or worse, be re-elected.

And it’s not just Melania who does this. People all over the world allegedly admit to having this disorder.

I’m not a big fan of The Donald, but this seems to be more than a little kooky to me. And I have a suggestion for the people afflicted by TDS. There’s a simple solution. Get off your fat asses and vote in the next election.

Vote. Just do it.

This Week Today

Hola, feliz miércoles. 

I normally have Spanish lessons at this time of day, but Planet Janet has fallen ill, so there’s no class today. She has a stomach bug and should recover soon. We’ll resume muddling through Spanish next week. I’ll try to sprinkle in some español and create the illusion I know what I’m hablando sobre.

I should probably thank Donald Trump for proving my assertion that he has no idea what he’s doing. If there was any doubt, Helsinki took care of that. His fans still love him. That will probably never change

I think they all have Battered Idiot Syndrome.

* * * *

It’s been a busy week here. I should clarify that. We had a busy Monday. There really hasn’t been much of anything else going on in our lives since.

Monday was MRI Day. Lea’s orthopedic specialist thought there was a shadowy area on her x-ray. He ordered an MRI, which will give him the best view of what’s going on with her wrist.

I’ve done some additional Interweb research on wrist pain. It seems there’s something called a ganglion cyst that is a frequent cause of wrist pain, especially in women. The shadowy area on her x-ray might possibly be a cyst. The good news is it’s relatively easy to treat, if that’s truly what it is. We’ll probably know more on Friday after Lea sees the Ortho guy.

Lea had the clinic receptionist here call the imaging clinic in Guadalajara for an appointment. The imaging clinic said she didn’t need one. She could walk right in.

Cool, huh?

So we went to the Imaging Clinic in Guadalajara early Monday morning and arrived about 7:30 AM. Lea drove. I was the Navigator. She says I’m a better navigator than she is, which is probably true. But I think she also likes driving far more than she likes navigating. I don’t mind doing either, and you get to do a lots more sightseeing as a navigator. There’s a lots of sights to see in Guadalajara.

The first thing the imaging clinic staff asked us when we arrived was, “Tienes una cita?” Do you have an appointment?

Yeah, not so cool.

There’s nothing like a language barrier to remind you that you’re living in a foreign country. Between the little Spanish we spoke and the little English the staff understood, we explained that we tried to make an appointment, but we were told to just come in.

The staff was apologetic, and very accommodating. The first available time they had was 1:00 PM. We had several hours to kill, so we asked if we could go spend a bunch of money and come back at 1:00. There’s no word in Spanish for shopping. There are a few ways to say spend money, or buy stuff. But you can’t technically go shopping in Mexico.

There are a lots of stores in Guadalajara, so we went to the Walmart Superstore. The Golf Express Store. And Costco. By a spooky twist of fate, all of those places were within ten miles of the Imaging Clinic, and each other.

Driving in Guadalajara is pretty much like unto driving in any other very large urban area. There’s a lots of traffic and traffic jams, and plenty of crazy drivers. But thanks to the technological wonders of smartphones and Google® Maps, you can get almost anywhere fairly easily, even if you’ve never been there before.

We went to the Walmart Superstore first because it was only place that was open at that time, and bought a few items to kill some time until the golf store opened at 10:00. Well, that’s when it was supposed to open.

Golf is becoming more popular in Mexico, but it’s nowhere near as popular as futbol. The only golf store that popped up on my Interweb search is in a nondescript strip mall in an equally nondescript neighborhood in Guadalajara. Then we waited for half an hour until the owner arrived at 10:30.

It’s Mexico. Time isn’t as important here as it is in the States.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I might need some new clubs. Well, they had a lots of new clubs at Golf Express. Very new, fairly expensive golf clubs. This created a dilemma for me because I have relatively inexpensive golf clubs, and I could’ve bought three sets of used clubs for the one club I eventually decided I probably couldn’t live without.

It’s a Callaway Rogue Hybrid Fairway Wood. I don’t know if it will be the answer to my golfing needs, but it’s so pretty! And then I decided I couldn’t put my brand new, very pretty and expensive club into the old, beat up, cheap-ass golf bag I had purchased at Goodwill several years ago in Arizona. So I bought a new bag for my new golf club.

On the bright side, I won’t look like a homeless golfer anymore.

After stocking up at Costco, we headed back to the clinic. And I got to do some sightseeing. From my point of view, the most impressive things to see in Guadalajara are las señoritas bonitas. 

I doubt I’m the only guy here that thinks some of the latinas are stunningly beautiful. They are obras de arte. God clearly paid a lots of attention to what He was doing when He designed them. He measured everything carefully, and made sure He had all of the necessary ingredients, unlike when He made me and used whatever He had laying around.

These very special creations look like unto angels, and dress like unto porn stars. It’s a very eye catching, head spinning combination.

At any rate, we were sitting at a table outside of Costco after we finished buying stuff. Lea was drinking a soda. I was packing all of the stuff we had purchased into our insulated shopping bags. When I finished, I saw two chicas bonitas walking through the parking lot toward the store.

They were young, of course. And thin, very pretty and shapely. Their long raven hair was flowing behind them in the breeze. They were talking to each other and smiling. They were both wearing skintight outfits that looked like they had come out of a can of spray paint. Form fitting tops, skinny jeans, high heels. One of the angelic chicas was wearing a lightweight, sky blue sweater that appeared to be struggling to contain the talents she had hidden underneath.

If there had been any music playing, I would’ve thought Costco was filming a music video.

I’m not sure why they started running, if you can call the short-strided scurry that women do when they’re wearing heels, but every guy who saw them stopped what he was doing to watch in a kind of awe, and silently offered a prayer of thanks, even if they didn’t believe in God.

I nudged Lea and pointed the girls out to her. She said, “Oh my. Those are real.” as she watched the chicas scurry toward us, bouncing all the way.

unnamed.gif

They were real all right. Real fun.

I might need to go see a chiropractor, preferably in Guadalajara.

The last time we took a day trip there, we went to the Andares Mall. After Lea had made all of her purchases we had lunch at a charming restaurant near the mall called Vincent’s. If you’re ever in Guadalajara, it’s worth checking out. The steak tacos were to die for.

Seated at a table near us were several chicas bonitas. Again, they were all young and ridiculously gorgeous. They were all wearing stylish yoga outfits, like they had just finished working out at the gym. A couple of them had ordered something to eat, but the rest of them were drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. There are very few professions where exercising enough to stay fit, yet drinking and smoking are combined. In fact, I can only think of one.

“I wonder what those girls do for a living?” Lea asked, as if she was eerily thinking along the same train of thought my mind was on. When you’ve been married as long as we have, that kind of thing happens a lots. So I told her.

“They’re strippers. Go ask them if they have any business cards.”

She wouldn’t do that, of course. She doesn’t mind that I enjoy seeing the sights. She even points out a great set of knockers to me on the rare occasion that I don’t see them first, but she has her limits.

As a rule, I tend to not write about anything that requires a lots of research on my part. However, if I were ever planning on writing about the Gentlemen’s Clubs in Guadalajara, I’d be willing to make an exception.

I really think we should go to to Guadalajara more often, like, every day. But I haven’t been able to come up with a reason that Lea will agree to yet.

* * * *

If not for occasions like those above, and updates from my virtual friends, I’d probably be bored into a coma most of the time by now. I’ve been retired for roughly twenty months. After six months, most everything becomes routine. Thankfully, my virtual friends have lives vastly more interesting than mine.

At least two of my virtual friends announced that they are pregnant. One of them is asking for prayers for a daughter. She has two boys already and doesn’t think she could survive having three sons.

Three or four of my virtual friends are on vacation. They’re traveling the world and having a great time.

Several of my virtual friends just started new jobs, and they’re so excited! In six months they’ll be struggling to remember that at one time they really wanted this job. Probably. That’s what usually happened to me.

One of my virtual friends also writes a blog. She’s much more successful than I will ever be at blogging. She has hundreds of people who read what she writes. She just finished her first book, and she just got it published!!

Yeah, I pretty much hate her fucking guts right now.

My virtual friend has become kind of a marketing machine. She sells advertising on her blog site. She always features an image of herself for her posts, and lately she’s started asking this, Do you want to buy this look?

She’s young–early thirties–thin and pretty, of course. All of her outfits look darlingpreshadorbs! She doesn’t look like an angelic pornstar, she just looks like an angel. Everyone seems to agree on that.

There’s one more thing about her. She’s a virgin. She writes about not ever having had sex all the time. I’m thinking a few of the guys who read her blog do so for that reason only. However, she’s also an English major, so she actually knows how to write good. That’s probably why she has hundreds of real fans.

I’ve contemplated adopting her tactics, but there are a couple of mitigating factors. She’s basically everything I’m not. I can’t remember a time when the old, short, fat, bald and myopic look was ever in vogue. I’ve never had anyone ever tell me that I look like an angel. And it’s been a very long time since I was a virgin.

* * * *

I haven’t had any friend requests from kooky young Christian women who want to have a deeply passionate with a benign grandfather figure in over a month. I think the guy living in his parents’ basement in Iowa has decided to move on to easier scam victims. I’m kind of relieved, and kind of disappointed.

They were kind of entertaining. But they were also very predictable.

I’m going to guess they’ll return some day. They’re probably all at conference trying to think up new gimmicks and taglines.

* * * *

There’s a Go-Go tournament at the country club tomorrow. And according to some posts on social media, the world is supposed to end on Friday. If it’s on the Interweb it has to be true, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s next Friday. Either way, I’ll get to use my new golf club at least once before The End.

You know what? I’m going to ask for prayers on the tees for the par three holes. I haven’t had a decent tee shot on either of them since I almost got a hole in one.

I don’t think I can take another six…

Inglorious Basterd

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Inglorious Basterds, (2009), Quentin Tarantino. It’s an alternate history story about an assassination plot on Adolf Hitler that succeeded. In actual history, none of the assassination attempts on Hitler’s life succeeded.

According to history, Hitler committed suicide in Berlin while hiding in his underground bunker on April 30, 1945. According to several of my former patients, Adolf Hitler was alive and well living in a compound somewhere in South America run by the US Government with John F. Kennedy.

That was back in the 1990’s. Given the passage of time, I’m thinking both Hitler and JFK have to have gotten dead by now…

My former patients who spoke of this claimed that they had been kidnapped by an unknown agency of the government, probably the CIA, and taken to the top secret South American compound to participate in a double top secret drug test. Once the testing was over, they were returned to the US, and, of course, no one believed their story afterwards.

You’re going to have to decide which of those two versions of history you want to believe. I find the latter credible simply because more than one stark-raving mad lunatic told me the same story. My question to them was this: Was Elvis in the compound, too?

None of my former patients had seen Elvis, but they had heard he was there at one time. He either escaped or was set free after the government was done experimenting on him.

* * * *

I get a chuckle out of the Facebook posts that compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, mostly because there’s nothing to compare.

The Adolf was a puppet master with a twisted agenda whereas The Donald is merely a puppet who has no idea what the hell he’s doing.

You’re probably wondering where the hell I’m going with this. You’re not the only one. This is either going to be an illuminating and entertaining post, or it’ll end up being the worst thing ever written by anyone.

* * * *

Have you ever heard of The Trolley Problem? It’s a thought experiment in ethics. The general form of the problem is this:

You see a runaway trolley moving toward five tied-up (or otherwise incapacitated) people lying on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever that controls a switch. If you pull the lever, the trolley will be redirected onto a side track and the five people on the main track will be saved. However, there is a single person lying on the side track. You have two choices:

  1. Do nothing and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track.
  2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.

Which is the most ethical choice?

* * * *

There’s a similar problem called the Killing Baby Hitler Test. If you had a time machine, would you go back in time and kill infant Adolf Hitler? This was a question I debated with a few of my co-workers one night when we were bored.

I was working with a couple of nurses, Randy Easter and Russ Bacon. Randy was kind of a spacey dude. Now that I think about it, everyone I’ve ever known named Randy has been kind of spacey.

Randy was the guy who initiated the debate. He was taking a course on Ethics. If I remember correctly I told him, “Personally, I don’t have any ethics or morals, but I’ve always admired people who do.”

Little Known Fact About The Killing Baby Hitler Test: it’s a test designed to figure out how much of a psychopath you are. I’m guessing The Trolley Problem serves much the same purpose.

I’ve previously written about the hazards of time travel to change the course of history. One of my former patients, Forrest Gump’s Smarter Brother, needed a time machine to go back and fix some horrendous deed he had committed in his youth.

I finally convinced FGSB that if he went back in time to fix something, he’d end up creating even worse problems in the future. He decided he didn’t want make things even worse, and finally stopped asking to use the time machine he knew the government had installed in the basement of the Minneapolis VAMC.

If my theory about time travel is correct, we can flush this whole thought experiment down the toilet. If you knew killing Baby Hitler would only result in someone worse than Hitler, why bother?

There are other considerations. Killing Baby Hitler might prevent the Holocaust, but it probably wouldn’t have prevented World War II. And there’s this: Hitler wasn’t the only twisted sister governing a nation at that time. And there’s also this: you’re not going back in time to kill grown up, evil men. You’re going back in time to kill babies.

Apparently, that makes a difference.

* * * *

If you don’t know anything about World War II, you might want to brush up on your history before you read this. If you really want to understand the causes of WWII, you should start by reading about the end of World War I, which was without a doubt the most significant event of the Twentieth Century.

You also have to factor in the rise of Fascism in not only Germany, but in Spain and Italy. You have to consider the imperial designs of the military government of Japan. Plus a shitload of other socioeconomic and cultural factors far too numerous to mention in this hopefully short blog.

When you take all of those things into consideration, killing Baby Hitler probably doesn’t accomplish much of anything. From my point of view at the time of this discussion, if you were willing to go back in time to kill Hitler, why stop there? Why not kill all of the crazy motherfuckers who started the war?

Hitler didn’t rise to power in a vacuum, and he had a bunch of equally unbalanced assholes in his Inner Circle. Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Göring, Martin Bormann, Joseph Goebbels, Rudolf Hess. Any one of those guys were equal to Der Führer in terms of political ambitions and mental instability. Clearly, they needed killing as much as their boss. And that was just the tip of the iceberg in Germany. Seriously. Most of the highest ranking Nazis were batshit crazy.

Japan was an equal dilemma of who do you start killing and how deep do you go? Hideki Tojo was the Supreme Military Leader who started his country on the road to ruin, so he clearly needed to got dead, and probably most of his high command, too. The Japanese weren’t just crazy, they were fanatically crazy.

The Japanese army is responsible for the Nanking Massacre, the Bataan Death March, and a thousand other war crimes and petty misdeameanors. What scale do you use to compare atrocities? Are those events lesser than the Holocaust?

But wait, there’s more.

Benito Mussolini was the fascist dictator of Italy during WWII. He was Hitler’s ally during the war, and that might be reason enough to kill his ass. Beyond that, I’m sure he did some hinky shit to secure power. But I’ve always looked at Mussolini as if he were a caricature. And if he had been stupid enough to start the war, it wouldn’t have lasted a year.

The Italian army in WWII was nothing like the Roman legions of old in terms of fighting ability. I’m not sure the Italian army won a single battle, let alone helped win a global war. A troop of determined Girl Scouts could probably have defeated the Italian army. When the Allies invaded Italy, they didn’t battle Italians. They fought against the Germans.

Therefore, I failed to see the need to enact retroactive birth control on Il Duce. He probably would have self destructed if left to his own devices.

Maybe that makes me less of a psychopath, but I’m not done.

Joseph Stalin was the psychotic despotic leader of Communist USSR, and depending on whom you talk to, he might have been worse than Hitler. So killing him to death certainly fell into my criteria for saving humanity. The fact that he was our ally during WWII shows you just how desperate the situation was.

Stalin’s paranoia is legendary. He saw almost everyone who worked for him as a political rival. His solution to this problem was brutally simple. He had pretty much everyone around him executed. More than once.

There’s a story that one of Stalin’s aides handed him a sheet of paper with a long list of names on it. Stalin looked it over, and put a check mark in the corner, then handed it back to his aide without saying a word.

The aide was too afraid to ask what the check mark meant, so he ordered everyone on the list to be executed. You know, just in cases.

So, yes. I would have killed Baby Stalin, too.

And what about the Allied leaders? Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill had to know that they were dealing with the devil in the form of Joseph Stalin. Does that make them also culpable for his crimes? Shouldn’t they also be considered for time traveling justice? Or was the fact that they were fighting the evil Nazis enough to make blind Justice look the other way?

Why stop with WWII? You have a time machine. You could stop any number of assholes all throughout history. The problem with this problem is it never ends. Once you start down this path you have a seemingly never ending list of sanctioned murders you can commit, all for the sake of preventing others from being killed to death.

* * * *

I’m pretty sure I flunked the Are You A Psychopath Test conducted by my spacey co-worker in the middle of the night almost thirty years ago. Or, I passed it in so many flying colors that I’m an off the chart psychopath of unprecedented depth. If the Minneapolis VAMC really had a time machine in the basement, Randy probably would’ve felt compelled to have me locked up for the good of humanity.

And then I would have had to kill him, too. Probably. I’m not sure I would have actually killed anyone back then. It was just a question we debated to stay awake, and I took the most provocative stance I could. Randy and Russ were stunned by my responses. It was worth it just to see the looks on their faces.

And yet…

Part of me thinks that Young Idealist Me really would have killed all of the baby future Nazis, all of the baby Japanese future fanatics, and Baby Stalin if I had been given the means and the opportunity. The Me that argued for doing it didn’t have any qualms about the details. My only question was how I’d get away with it, even with a time machine.

And, would I be paid for my efforts as the savior of some of humanity. Hey, I was on a fair amount of drugs back then. And I liked to drink. A guy’s gotta make a living.

The reverse is also possible. You could conceivably save the lives of people who would have otherwise been lost. Anne Frank. Mahatma Gandhi. I’d add John F. Kennedy, but he might not have been killed after all…

That scenario is also probably some sort of kooky test designed to figure out some aspect of the human personality. Clearly, there are people who have way too much idle time on their hands…

With age comes wisdom. I hope that’s actually true. I’d answer that question much differently now. And I’d probably be willing to go back in time to prevent Young Me from killing a bunch of babies who would grow up to be responsible for the deaths of millions of people.

Everything happens for a reason.

That’s the only reason I need now to let history stand pat. And now you have a better idea of why I want to stay outside of my mind.

A Day in the Life

I started writing this a couple of days ago. This morning, thanks to the wonders of technology, I lost everything I had written. It’s very frustrating. It’s like unto spending hours talking your date into going to bed with you, and the moment she starts taking off her clothes, her kid walks in and says he needs a glass of water.

Okay. That’s probably a lots worse than losing my blog installment.

I almost decided to quit writing forever, and then I decided to quit acting like a Borderline and quit crying, and get back to work. It’ll be interesting to see how much my fractured mind can remember of the stuff I had already written.

* * * *

The rainy season is in full force here in the Lakeside Area. Las montañas de chino resemble heads of broccoli once again. Everything is green, lush and growing. It’s probably the most beautiful time of the year to be here.

After nine years of living in the Arizona desert, I love watching the storms rumble in. I’m still enchanted by rain. Yep, I’m very easily entertained.

But the rainy season is not without its drawbacks. The roads here essentially become rivers in a heavy downpour, especially on the mountainsides. The cobblestone roads are never in great shape, and rainfall doesn’t do anything to improve their condition. Potholes doesn’t begin to describe some of the craters that have emerged.

The rains also have effected a change on the conditions on the golf course. In the dry season you get a much more friendly roll, if you know what I mean. Even on a bad shot you can get an extra fifty yards. In the rainy season the Velcro grass grows thick and grabs your ball, more or less holding it hostage. Without a ransom demand. I’ve added one or two strokes per hole because the golf course suddenly has something like unto a goalie helping to impede your shots.

Neither my new and improved golf clubs nor my magic golf shoes have been effective tools against the prolific flora spawned by the seasonal Mexican rains. I’ve been a bit dismayed by this. Prior to becoming the epitome of suckdom, I had fired off the three best consecutive rounds of my life. A 45, and back-to-back 48’s. And I almost shot a hole in one. I thought I had figured out this golf thing once and for all.

You know what? I started thinking I was good. Well, at the very least, not as bad as I used to be. I should know better by now. Pride always goeth before a fall.

On Sunday, I worked up a sweat on the driving range. I haven’t been on la platforma de practica in months, but I went out to practice because I’ve pretty much sucked from start to finish the last couple of times I’ve golfed.

The weird thing was most of my shots on the driving range didn’t suck! I was killing it out there. My drives were long, and straight for the most part. My chip shots had arc and trajectory, and landed on or near the green. I actually looked like, you know, I knew what I was fucking doing with a golf club in my hand.

Go figure.

This is apparently a very common problem for most of the retired gringos at the Country Club de Chapala, which probably helps to explain the high volume of alcohol sales in the clubhouse after a round of golf. Everyone I talked to Sunday said that they sucked at golf, too. I think they were trying to tell me to get over it. And possibly to have a beer.

Golf, perhaps more than any other athletic endeavor, requires a tricksy set of skills. Strength, concentration, precision, finesse, and something nebulous called touch. And sometimes you need all of those things, plus luck, just to make one shot.

No wonder golfers drink.

Hell, if I were to ask Tiger Woods, he’d probably say, “Dude, sometimes I suck at golf. And I’m Tiger Woods!”

I’ve started imagining God talking to Jesus, telling Jesus that his earthly ministry was to invent golf and teach everyone in Judea how to play. And this is how Jesus responded: “Oy vey, what do you think I am? Meshugana? Just crucify me and get it over with!”

I went golfing with my golf wife today. If it’s true that misery loves company, we have the market cornered. Phyllis has also been suffering from a golfing slump. Her best shots of late have been coming out of the trees that line some of the fairways. Granted, it takes a pretty lousy shot to get into the trees, but her recovery shots have been nothing short of brilliant.

Where’s there’s a problem, there’s always a solution. Phyllis and I have decided to go to one of the golf shops in Guadalajara. Maybe we’ll buy a couple of more better gooder clubs. It can’t hurt. Right?

I wonder if there’s a Twelve Step program for golf…

* * * *

As an aside, Phyllis and Lea were talking about me the other day, and Phyllis said, “Don’t get me wrong. I love Mark dearly, but sometimes he’s just so oblivious.”

I didn’t dispute Phyllis’ assessment when Lea told me. But I was curious about what she meant by it. “Oh, you’re kind of in your own world, and you’re just so chill.” That’s how Lea interpreted it. And yes, my lovely, super conservative, supermodel wife called me chill. I couldn’t believe it. Lea has gone gangsta. 

The only thing I can think of that’s funnier is listening to Queen Elizabeth rap.

* * * *

The rains have also impacted the population of the hummingbirds that my lovely supermodel wife has taken under her wing, so to speak. Hummingbirds are migratory. Apparently, they aren’t big fans of the rainy season here, so they go somewhere else in July.

We had about four birds at our feeder at the beginning of the year. Then the population jumped to four thousand when Lea’s boyfriend came to visit in April; we hung another feeder. And then it exploded to four hundred million after Todd returned to Idaho in May, and we added a third feeder.

We’re down to maybe forty birds now, and two feeders. Hummingbirds are territorial little bastards. One of them has claimed overlordship of one of the feeders, but he’s not badass enough to control them both. Hence, two feeders. It’s kind of a relief. Even Lea feels that way. It’s kind of a full-time job keeping the feeders filled when the ravaging horde is in town.

* * * *

Speaking of my lovely supermodel wife, Lea mysteriously injured her left wrist a couple of months ago. With a normal injury, you know how you hurt yourself. It hurts like hell for a few days then gradually gets better.

It’s been the reverse for Lea. She woke up with a vague ache in her wrist, and a month later she was in agony. She went to see our doctor, Carlos García Díaz del Castillo. That’s his real name. He’s probably the descendant of a Spanish conquistador. He’s an affable guy. I’m not sure how skilled he is as a doctor, but the people here either love him or hate him, so there’s that.

When Lea went in to see him for the first time about her wrist Dr Garcia ordered a boatload of labs, and he had her wrist x-rayed. As you might know, coming up with a diagnosis is basically a process of ruling shit out until you can rule something in. Injury is the usual suspect in a situation like this, however, there was no identifiable injury. Just in cases, she started wearing a brace on her left wrist to minimize any further aggravation.

Lea’s situation has given me the opportunity to think like a real nurse again, so that’s been kind of fun. Most doctors aren’t interested in hearing what you think is wrong with you, like they’re so goddamn smart or something.

The radiologist who interpreted Lea’s x-rays saw signs of inflammation consistent with a sprain. Dr Garcia hasn’t offered an opinion, other than he doesn’t have any idea what’s going on yet. He seems confident that he’ll figure it out.

He started her on a combination medication of a corticosteroid, an NSAID, and a muscle relaxer. The medication made Lea’s wrist feel a lots better, but the side effects were hell.

Lea couldn’t sleep. She was hyperactive, hyperreflexic, and irritable. She stopped taking it after one week, thank God, and went back to Dr Garcia. El medico Garcia wasn’t pleased with this, but he understood. He switched Lea to a COX-2 inhibitor.

COX-2 inhibitors are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Lea’s lab results showed an elevated SED rate, which indicates an inflammatory process, and a slightly elevated rheumatoid factor. Maybe it was arthritis…

Lea is sixtysomething. She’s going to read this someday, and I’m not in a big hurry to die. Arthritis is commonly associated with aging. In addition, Lea has fractured her left wrist before. Twice, to be exact. Arthritis has a real affinity for joints that have been previously injured.

Little Known Fact About Rheumatoid Arthritis: it’s an autoimmune disease. If you don’t know what that means, look it up on the Interweb. Little Known Fact About My Lovely Supermodel Wife: Lea has Crohn’s Disease. It’s also an autoimmune disease. One autoimmune disease can trigger another. So this possible diagnosis and treatment actually made sense.

There were only two problems. It was only her left wrist. Rheumatoid Arthritis is more of a systematic inflammation. It’s more likely that all of her joints would have hurt. Additionally, Lea’s Crohn’s Disease has remained quiescent. That’s not very probable. And the second thing was the COX-2 inhibitor didn’t work. So, it couldn’t be arthritis.

Lea went back to see Dr Garcia a third time. He put her on a stronger NSAID and an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat malaria. And he gave her a cortisone injection, not in her wrist, in her hip.

I’ve seen crazier things. In cases of extreme psychosis we sometimes administered a drug usually prescribed to treat leprosy. And it worked! I am confused by the injection. I’ve never heard of it being administered like that before.

And then I came up with this brilliant diagnosis. Lea has a bone spur, or bone spurs, in her wrist. It was a localized reaction, and it has gotten progressively worse over time. There’s only one problem with my diagnosis. There were no bone spurs visible on her x-rays.

A CT scan would provide better imaging. An MRI would be even better. And if we need to get one, there are facilities in Guadalajara we could go to. And she made an appointment to see an orthopedic specialist at Dr Garcia’s clinic. Maybe he’ll have a better idea of what’s going on…

* * * *

In a few months I will have been retired for two years. I’ve had ample time to reflect on my career, the good and the bad of it. The few successes I’ve had don’t bring me much joy or satisfaction. The failures I’ve had still make me uncomfortable. A couple of them will haunt me until the day I got dead. Possibly longer.

Can a ghost be haunted? There’s a philosophical question for you.

And I contemplate on my life. If I were intuitive, I could probably have skipped this altogether. But, I’m not, so…

I said earlier that my mind was fractured. That is one of the most truthful things I’ve ever said about myself. It’s probably the biggest reason why I’m so oblivious most of the time. I’m not sure that I live in my own little world. I think I spend a great deal of time making sure I don’t fall into the cracks in my mind.

It’s a fairly chaotic mess in there most of the time.

It’s possible that I’m becoming crazier, and by crazier I mean saner. My thoughts are probably becoming more linear and possibly more logical. I don’t have to try to get into the head of a crazy person to try to figure out the best way to help them anymore. I just have to try to stay out of my head.

My patients used to tell me they thought they were going crazy. And I had an answer for them: Only a sane person questions their sanity. I believe that statement to be true. Really crazy people don’t think there’s anything wrong with them. It’s everyone else that has a problem.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that I had to make life or death decisions on a daily basis, but I was frequently faced with decisions where the safety of others was at stake. Those decisions had to be made quickly and decisively.

The only urgency I feel now is if I’m playing too slowly on the golf course and I let the group behind me play through. My life has become so simple that it astonishes me. I don’t miss my work life, but it’s possible that I’m starting to want more out of my retirement life.

Or maybe I just need new golf clubs.

Grumpy Old Men

It’s a rainy day here in the Lakeside Area. Muy lluvioso. I didn’t really have any plans for today, but it just became the perfect day to write. I’m going to have a lots of water to suck out of our supersized rain gauge once it stops raining.

I’m just hoping I don’t spend five hours rewriting this post after I finish writing it like I did with my last piece. The one thing I have going for me is that I actually know what I want to write about this time.

Believe it or not, that actually helps when you’re writing stuff.

* * * *

Historically, the Franks (Latin: Franci or gens Francorum) were a collection of Germanic peoples and tribes living along the west bank of the Rhine River since the 3rd century or so. Just in cases you didn’t know, the Rhine forms part of the border between France and Germany. And another just in cases, the country of France got its name because of the Franks.

When I was a psych nurse, the Franks were a collection of elderly male patients I cared for during my occasionally illustrious career. There were several of them, and in retrospect, you probably shouldn’t name your kid Frank. It’s seemigly a very popular name for crazy guys. There were a lots of Franks in my career. These are a few of my Most Memorable Frank’s. I could probably write a book about all of them if I ever get tired of writing my blog.

I met most of my Franks at the Minneapolis VAMC. The female nurses I used to work with there thought most of the old guys were cute, but as my buddy and former co-worker, Darrell, used to say, “There’s no such thing as a cute old veteran. I should know. I am one!”

You know what? Darrell was right. He wasn’t cute. I’m an old veteran now. I tend to agree with Darrell. I don’t think I’m all that cute either.

* * * *

Frank Bee was one of my patients at the Minneapolis VAMC. He was an old farmer guy who would check in periodically when he became depressed. He was a mostly quiet, round, little man who liked to hang around the nursing station and talk to the girls, especially the Night Shift nurses.

Part of the reason Frank was depressed was he lost his farm. He got old and he couldn’t keep up with all the stuff farmer guys have to do. And there was another thing. He told us his story one night when he couldn’t sleep.

Way back when Frank was a kid living on the family farm, he was the youngest child in a huge family. He had ten brothers and sisters. You need a lots of hands to get all chores done on the farm, so farmer guys tended to have a lots of kids. And the kids helped work the farm until they were old enough to leave the farm.

Farmer guys might love farming, but most of the time their children didn’t. They’d do anything they had to do to get the hell off the farm, even if it meant going to war in a country they’d never heard of before.

At any rate, young Frank had a pet rooster back on the farm. I didn’t know you could have a pet rooster, but according to old Frank, he and his rooster were inseparable when he was a kid. His rooster followed him around like a dog and they did everything together.

Being the youngest in his family, his older siblings would pick on him from time to time, and if their teasing ever got too physical, Frank’s pet rooster would have his back.

“He would fluff his feathers out and rip out with his spurs. He attacked more than one of my brothers. And at least one of my sisters. That rooster was kind of my guardian angel. He used to meet me at the end of the driveway when I got out of school. He was the only one that was happy to see me…  I would’ve let him sleep with me in my bed at night, but Mama wouldn’t have it.”

And then one day, Frank’s rooster didn’t meet him at the end of the driveway when he got home from school. He went inside to find his beloved pet rooster had been translated into a fried chicken dinner for the family while he was at school.

“You wouldn’t kill one of the hens, because they lay eggs. So if you butchered a chicken, it was always a rooster. But we had lots of roosters. Mama didn’t need to butcher my rooster.”

I can’t remember how or why Frank’s rooster got chosen. Maybe because Frank’s rooster had become too protective of Young Frank. But I do remember that Old Frank had carried a grudge against his mother for the rest of his life.

“I couldn’t eat that night. I loved that rooster, and everyone knew it. I never spoke to my mother again. She knew I loved that rooster. She didn’t have to butcher him.”

* * * *

Frank Dee was the first crazy Frank I met when I started working as a psych nurse. He was one of my patients at AMRTC, the Minnesota State Hospital. You had to be certified crazy by a judge to be there. I’m not sure how long Frank had been there when I started working there, but it was almost as long as I had been alive. I was thirty-one years old at the time.

Frank was bipolar. He was generally a genial guy, except when he wasn’t, and then he was like unto an angry bear. Come to think of it, he kind of looked like a bear. He had a thick beard, and bushy mad scientist eyebrows.  I learned a lots about the mood swings of bipolar people from Frank. Mostly what I learned was to tread carefully around Frank until I found out what mood he was in, and then continue to tread carefully because I never knew when the switch was going to flip.

Before he became committed to AMRTC for the rest of his life, Frank had been a high school football coach, I think. He was probably a teacher, too. He was certainly smart, and he knew a lots of stuff. He was married, and had two young girls under the age of ten. It was during that time in his life that Frank had a manic episode and became psychotic.

Very extremely psychotic.

Due to his illness, Frank began to believe that something terrible was going to happen to his daughters. Something very extremely terrible. They were going to be abducted, raped and murdered. My memory isn’t certain, but it was something along those dire lines. Frank was understandably distraught by this. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t sleep. Nor could he come up with a plan to protect his girls from this terrible fate his mind had convinced him was going to happen.

What Frank finally did is much less understandable. To protect his daughters from being harmed at the hands of malevolent stranger, he stabbed his oldest daughter to death and severely wounded his youngest before he was stopped by his wife.

You get to hear a lots of sad, sometimes tragic stories when you’re a psych nurse. Frank’s story was one of the most tragic tales I would ever hear.

* * * *

Frank Pee was a patient of mine at the MVAMC. He was almost ninety when I met him, and he was one of the few World War I veterans I cared for. Frank was a gentle old man, soft-spoken, and kind to everyone. He would periodically get depressed and come in for a tune up. His wife of seventy-odd years, Eunice, would come to visit him every time he was in the hospital, and she always brought homemade goodies for the nurses to eat.

We liked Frank, but we loved Eunice.

Frank wasn’t a great story teller, but he had a lots of stories to tell. I was his nurse many times. He was a guy you only needed to ask one question to, and he would ramble on through his memories for hours.

Frank was seventeen when he went over to Europe to fight in the Great War.

“I was young, and stupid. All I really wanted to do was get the hell offa my dad’s farm. I never wanted to see another horse or a cow or a pig again for as long as I lived. I thought going to war was going to be, you know, dashing and glamorous, compared to working on the farm.

“Yah, I was wrong about that. There’s nothing glamorous about war. And trench warfare is even worse. It’s nothing but mud, and bugs and rats, and sickness. And artillery bombardments. And fear. And stench. And loneliness. And death. I saw a lot of good young men die, and it turned out that they all died for nothing.

“That was supposed to be the war to end all wars, remember?

“And you know what I thought the worst part was at first? When I got to France, my sergeant found out I worked on a farm. Well, a lot of us boys had. But I was real good with the horses. I could gentle them real easy when they were spooked. And that’s what I did during the war. I took care of the horses.

“The one thing I ran away from home for, I ended up doing in the Army. Life is funny like that, isn’t it?”

After the war, Frank was part of a military exercise pitting horses against machines. The military saw promise in all those newfangled automobiles and trucks. In 1919, the Army staged a cross-country race, animals against machines. Frank was still working with the horses. Despite the frequent mechanical breakdowns and the sorry state of most of the roads, machines easily outperformed horses, and the modern Army was born.

Frank didn’t return to the farm when he got out of the Army. I can’t remember what he did, but I know it wasn’t farming

* * * *

Frank Vee is the last of the Frank’s I’m going to write about today. He was the oldest of all the Franks. He was in his mid-nineties when I met him. He was also a veteran of the Great War, like the previous Frank. But this Frank didn’t have any stories to tell. It wasn’t that he couldn’t speak. He could. But he only said one thing. And he said it at the top of his lungs.

“HELP!!!”

It wasn’t a polite, “Excuse me, but could you help me.” This was much more of a terrified demand. It was as if Frank Vee was being stabbed to death by Frank Dee. It was like Frank had fallen into quicksand and he couldn’t get out. It was like he was being gang raped by the Oakland Raiders. It was that kind of a primal scream.

It was hell to live with. Nurses started calling in sick in record numbers, and no one volunteered to stay for an extra shift. Eight hours of Frank yelling in terror was actually more than anyone could take. No one wanted to go through it for sixteen hours straight.

For at least an entire month, that one very loud word became the mantra of my unit, and the bane of all of our collective existences. We heard Frank scream it almost every thirty seconds for roughly twenty hours a day or more. I’ll give it to Frank. That guy had a lots of stamina.

You try screaming at the top of your lungs for awhile. See how long you last.

It made no difference what we did. Frank shouted that he needed HELP!!! so we did everything we could think of to make sure Frank that knew he was being helped. Maybe he’d stop yelling. But still he yelled and shouted and screamed, even while we were frantically trying to help him. All day, and all night.

We put a radio in his room and played soothing classic music. Frank continued to yell. We put a TV in his room and played movies. I tried to get him to shout, “Stella!” just for a change of pace. We had a nurse sit at the side of Frank’s bed, holding his hand, saying anything comforting she could think of, and Frank still screamed.

I’m pretty sure I suggested we hire strippers to entertain him. Everyone thought I was joking, and laughed. I was serious. It’s a good thing no one took me seriously. My idea probably wouldn’t have worked. But if it had, we would’ve had twenty guys yelling for HELP!!! at the top of their lungs.

We had to admit defeat. There was nothing we could do to help Frank enough to get him to stop yelling for HELP!!!

Well, there was maybe a couple of other things we could’ve done. We could have medicated him into a coma, I suppose. There were certainly a lots of people who argued for it.

His psychiatrist was Dr Bob. He would occasionally order Thorazine 25 mg. (PO) on days when Frank was especially loud, but mostly he said we all had to learn to live with Frank. It was a low dose, but it would knock Frank out for hours, sometimes up to an entire blessed day. Dr Bob refused to order it on a regular basis, or even as a PRN. He didn’t think it was ethical to put Frank into a coma every day.

As much as I found the constant cacophony that was Frank unsettling, I had to admire Dr Bob for not crumbling to the course of action that all of the nurses demand he take.

We searched Frank’s old charts and records, looking for a clue to his distress. We contacted everyone listed in his chart. Maybe they knew something. We talked to the staff at other facilities Frank had been at. Did Frank scream and shout while he was there? Did anything work to make him stop?

Someone told us Frank used to hang around with a guy named John Dillinger, and might have been his driver for a time before Dillinger became Public Enemy #1. One of the Evening Shift nurses was convinced that Frank knew where Dillinger had buried some of the money he had amassed robbing banks, and spent hours trying to get Frank to tell him where it was.

We had the VA Corps of Engineers come to the unit to assess the situation. They attached noise absorbing mats to the walls of Frank’s room. Frank seemingly only yelled louder. After a couple of weeks, I don’t know who was more miserable. The other patients who were on the unit, or the staff.

This was a VA facility. At least seventy-five percent of the patients on my unit had a diagnosis of PTSD. It’s a complicated disorder that can be triggered by any number of external stimuli. And one of those triggers can be noise. Frank triggered every one of the patients on my unit. And at least half of the staff. Including me.

I have a bitch of case of PTSD. It’s gotten better the longer I’ve lived with it. But there’s no cure for PTSD. Sometimes it still catches me by surprise.

The only one who didn’t appear to be miserable during that time was Frank, who contentedly yelled for HELP!!! as loud as he could, no matter what. And the only reason I say contentedly is yelling seemed to be the only thing that made him happy. And yet, he sounded so fucking terrified.

I’ve spent years wondering just what it was that he was so afraid of.

More than one of our patients had a solution for Frank’s constant shouting, “Leave me alone with him for five minutes. I guarantee you he’ll stop yelling.” I don’t think that was an idle statement. A few of those guys probably would’ve snapped Frank’s neck, or smothered him with a pillow, without a second thought.

And don’t think we weren’t tempted. Frank’s verbal onslaught probably could have been construed as cruel and unusual treatment by the Geneva Covention. Too bad we weren’t actually prisoners of war. It just felt like we were. By the third week of Frank’s screaming, a few of the nurses weren’t just thinking about killing Frank anymore. They wanted to kill Dr Bob, too.

We eventually started moving Frank off the unit at night and had one nurse sit with him while he yelled for HELP!!! At least the other patients could get some sleep after that.

Our only hope was finding a place we could send Frank to. Our social workers called every facility they could think of. None of them wanted a guy who screamed for HELP!!! all day and all night.

A few facilities sent case workers to take a look at Frank. They didn’t need to even take a look. All they had to do was hear him for a minute or two. One of them said, “I don’t know how you’ve been able to put up with this, day in and day out. How long has he been here? Man, you’d think he would’ve lost his voice by now…”

That was something we couldn’t understand either. Frank, it seemed, had a superpower. He was The Voice. And nothing could silence him.

All good things must come to an end. So it is with all bad things as well. We eventually transferred Frank to the St Cloud VA for long-term care. They actually had a long-term care unit, and at the precise moment that none of the nurses felt they could endure one more minute of Screaming Frankie Vee, a bed opened up for him at St Cloud.

I’m sure Frank yelled through the entire ambulance ride, and he probably continued to yell for HELP!!! right up to the moment that he got dead. I know we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy so see someone leave my unit as Frank. I’m pretty sure I got drunk for a week.

I still have flashbacks from my time with Frank. I can still hear him screaming if I even think about him.

* * * *

Mad Max was probably one of the most aggravating guys I’ve ever met in my life. I didn’t give him his nickname because he was crazy/mad. Max had a real talent for irritating almost everyone he came into contact with. He made everyone around him mad.

Max was kind of an anal old guy. He was obsessed with neatness, which was unusual for an old veteran guy. Most of them weren’t. But Max wanted everyone to be as obsessed with neatness as he was, and that’s what most everyone found to be really annoying. Max had no sense of tact or decorum when it came to being neat.

He always made his bed. The area around his bed was spotless. If Max had cleaned the rest of the unit, we might have been able to tolerate him easier. But what he tended to do was point out the flaws he saw in everyone and everything else in a form of speech that was more or less incomprehensible, and he spent hours lounging in his bed like unto psychiatric royalty or something.

I don’t know what Max had done for a living, but he had a lots of really nice, stylish clothes, and a really expensive pair of shoes. He was a snappy dresser, no doubt. He was tallish, had a slim, kind of athletic looking build. I didn’t like Max much. I can’t think of anyone that did, but I liked his fashion sense. It’s something I picked up being married to a supermodel.

The main thing about Max that annoyed everyone the most was the way he talked. It was a cross between a whisper and a mumble. I called it a whumble. I probably even charted it that way. As a result of his difficulty saying anything understandable, anyone who actually wanted to know what Max said usually had to say this:

“What?”

And then there was thing: no matter how clearly anyone spoke to Max, no matter how specifically and precisely the words were enunciated, Max always whumbled this in response:

“what?”

I doubt that Max ever misunderstood anything that was said to him. I think he took a kind of sadistic joy in making everyone repeat what they said to him. I’m just guessing, but he might have done simply because everyone had to make him say everything twice because hardly anyone could understand his initial whumble.

Well, there was one more thing, but it only applied to nurses. About every fifteen minutes or so, Max would come up to the nursing station and whumble:

“is it time to eat yet?”

Max could have just finished eating a meal, and he would whumble that question. All of the meals were delivered to the unit by the Dietary Service in a huge stainless steel cart about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. They were cumbersome things to maneuver, and were about as quiet as a tank.

It was a mystery to everyone how Max didn’t weigh five hundred pounds, given his obsession with eating, but there was never any mystery about when meals were served on the unit.

Never.

You might think that Max would be first in line whenever a meal was served. The fucking dietary tank went right passed his room. He watched his goddamn tray roll by his room three times a day, but Max would purposely lay in bed until he received a personal invitation from the staff to dine–the staff he had interrogated all day about when he’d get his next meal–and we would always tell him when the next meal would be served, to which he always responded:

“what?”

Seriously. The guy didn’t know how many times he was almost assaulted by the nurses. Max usually stayed in the hospital for about a month. None of us missed him when he was gone. None of the female nurses thought Max was cute.

My favorite Max memory is the day we had an old drunk guy admitted to the unit, and because he was an old guy, I put him in the same room as Max and the other old guys. Max didn’t whumble when he saw the guy. He actually spoke understandable English when he saw the guy.

“Does this drunk Indian have to be in my room?”

I probably responded the guy was a Native American. Not only that, he was a veteran, and was as deserving of the same level of excellent care as any other patient on the unit. And if Max wanted to be in charge of bed placement, he could go to school, get his nursing degree and take my job. Otherwise, he could just keep his comments to himself. To which he responded:

“what?”

The old drunk Indian guy was a semi-frequent flyer on my unit, and I liked him. Too bad I can’t remember his name anymore. I liked most of the drunk guys, except the asshole drunk guys. After all, the only difference between me and the drunk guys was the side of the nursing station we were on. I knew I’d want someone to be nice to me if I ever ended up as a drunk guy in the hospital, so I was nice to them.

I checked on the old drunk guy frequently, and Max always whumbled something to me, and everyone else in the room, about not liking the drunk Indian guy. Max didn’t think that guy was neat and clean enough to be near him.

And then one of the funniest things I ever saw in my entire life happened.

The old Indian guy might have been drunk when he was admitted, but he wasn’t deaf. He heard every whumbling complaint Max had registered, and he decided to let Max know that he knew.

And that resulted in the second time that Max didn’t whumble. He came running up to the nursing station and said, very clearly, “That guy pissed in my shoes!!”

I went to Max’s room go see what had happened, and sure enough, someone had pissed in Max’s shoes, his very nice, very expensive shoes. All the way to the top of each of them. But that’s the only place he had pissed. There wasn’t a drop of urine on the floor.

“Man, that’s impressive! How the hell did you do that?” I asked Max’s roommate.

“I don’t know how that happened. But I’m an Indian. We never miss when we shoot.”

Max was furious! He kept on not whumbling about his shoes, and what were we going to do about it, and stuff. I carefully carried Max’s shoes to the bathroom, poured out the urine into the toilet and rinsed his shoes out in the sink. And I laughed my ass off the entire time. I had tears running down my cheeks. I laughed so hard I almost pissed my pants. And my shoes. When I thought I had probably rinsed all of the urine of the shoes, I gave them back to Max.

“You should let those dry out before you wear them again.”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to do? That guy pissed in my shoes!”

“He says he doesn’t know how it happened. But if I were you, I’d apologize to him.” I chose my words carefully, and enunciated each and every one of them. “If you keep this up, and you keep making those disparaging remarks about your roommate, someone will probably shit in your shoes the next time.”

To which Max replied:

“what?”

I knew Max understood what I had said. He had never not known what anyone had said to him. His roommate clearly understood what I had said. He had a kind of wry grin on his face, like he wished he had thought of that first. And judging by the look on Max’s face, he knew that too. He kept looking at his shoes as if he were seeing them filled with excrement, then he looked at his smiling roommate, and then he looked back at me. And he stopped whumbling bad things about anyone.

I don’t know if Max ever apologized to his roommate. But he never spoke clearly again. He went back to whumbling about food and saying,

“what?”

But his roommate never had to shit in Max’s shoes. So maybe Max did apologize. He did like those shoes a lots…

All of the nurses loved that old Indian guy after that, even if they didn’t especially like alcoholics. Even Darrell thought what he had done was kind of cute.

* * * *

The Duke of Earl is the last of the old guys I’m going to write about today. Earl was an old farmer guy who returned to the farm after he got out of the Army. He worked the land for as long as he could, then sold the farm and moved into the closest town in rural Northern Minnesota when he retired.

Earl wasn’t a big fan of ‘city living.’ He’d check into the VA every six months or so when staring out the window and yelling at the kids who walked on his lawn got to be too much for him.

Earl was one of those nondescript guys that I probably wouldn’t even remember anymore if it hadn’t been for one encounter I had with him. Earl came in for a tune up, and we sent him back home after a week or two in the hospital. But instead of returning in six months like he usually did, Earl came back in six days.

I was up for the next admission that day, so I went to talk to Earl to find out what had happened. And this was the reason Earl gave me for coming back to hospital so soon:

“My wife is having an affair!”

“Well, you’re, like, eighty years old. How old is your wayward wife?”

“She’s the same age as I am.”

“Okay. Your eighty year old wife is having an affair. Why would you think that?”

“Well, I was here the hospital, you know–“

“Yep. I was here too. Then what happened.”

“Well, when I got home, there it was!”

“There what was?”

“The turnip!”

“I have to ask this, Earl. Where was the turnip?”

“Sitting right there, on the kitchen counter!”

“And then what happened?”

“What the hell do you mean? I already told you what happened!!”

“Yeah, you said your eighty year old wife is having an affair…  Wait a minute, let me get this straight. You think your wife is having an affair… because of a turnip?!?”

“You damn right I do! Wouldn’t you?!?”

You better believe I told my wife that story. She knows better than to leave any turnips just laying around where I can see them.

Variations on a Theme

I’m going to give you advance warning. My thoughts are pretty scattered today. Hence, the photo. Case in point, the title. It’s the second title that popped into my head. I’ve rewritten this installment more after I posted it than anything I’ve written in the last year. My new title vaguely hints at what I’m about to write. And, it’s also the title of a musical arrangement…

I’m going to guess I have a specific something in mind that I want to say. I have at least one sentence I know I’m going to work into the story.

I’m just not sure how I’m going to get there yet.

* * * *

It’s a cloudy day here in the Lakeside Area. The weather app on my lovely supermodel wife’s phone says it’s supposed to rain on and off all day. But this is Mexico. Forget what I said in my last post about the weather being predictable. La clima no siempre sigue las reglas. The weather is about as predictable as a Mexican driver, unless you assume you have no idea what the other guy might do.

Then you’ll be correct every time.

It’s not just the rainy season in Mexico. It’s also the election season, for a few more weeks, I think. I know it’s a big election for a lots of high profile positions. President, governorships, stuff like that. There’s been a lots of campaigning in the Lakeside Area; rallies, informative lunches and brunches, billboards, TV and radio ads, and the megaphone mobiles.

The specially equipped, audio-enhanced vehicles drive around the village blasting political messages like unto the megaphone cop on TV telling the suspect to drop the gun, and come out of the house with your hands up. There’s no escape, you’re surrounded.

All of these messages are directed at the locals who will be voting in the elections. The candidates here all claim that they’re the only hope for a better Mexico, much like any other election in any other part of the world. Unlike other parts of the world, the politicians that actually are the only hope for a better Mexico have as good a chance of getting killed to death as they do of getting elected.

Quite a few candidates want to make Mexico a better place, and the drug cartels are getting nervous. The best way to make Mexico a better place is to get rid of those sons of bitches.

So far, none of the presidential candidates have been killed to death, nor have any of them proposed rounding up all of the American ex-pats and locking us up in internment camps.

See? I told you most of the people here are very polite.

* * * *

We are still supporting half of Mexico’s hummingbird population with the three feeders in our backyard. Lea calls them her babies. It’s so cute! It’s kind of fun to watch one hundred million hummingbirds in action. They buzz all around our patio from early dawn to dusk.

I have a memory. It happened at least twenty years ago. Lea and I were driving to Ettrick, WI to see our in-laws, Bill and Leslie Pfaff. I can’t remember if Andy, their troubled teenage mutant miniature horse was still alive or not. I’ve written about him before. You can look him up in my archives if you’re interested.

I remember it was winter. It might have even been Christmas. At any rate, the road we were driving on tended to follow the Mississippi River. The river was mostly frozen over, but somewhere around Winona, MN there were several vast open spaces dotting the ice. And around these open water spaces, hundreds of bald eagles had congregated.

Some of the eagles were flying lazily/gracefully in the gray sky, circling the open water. Others were sitting on the ice, starkly outlined near the open water. More were perched in the leafless oak and maple trees lining either side of the road.

It was breathtakingly beautiful and cool.

Seeing one eagle, in my opinion, is an event. Seeing hundreds of eagles at once is like unto seeing a dragon. It’s one of my favorite best all time memories.

* * * *

My praying mantis, Ferngully, has gone missing. I knew I should have taken a picture of her! Now I won’t be able to make one of those Missing/Reward Offered posters…  I guess that’s one of the hazards of having an insect for a pet.

I’m pretty sure my mantis decided to leave our patio because of Victor. He’s our exterminator guy, and he sprayed the patio the other day. Actually, he sprayed the entire house and the front and backyard, too.

Victor uses a combination of garlic, cayenne pepper and vinegar solution to get rid of insects, and it certainly seems to have worked on them.

Oddly enough, it also worked on squirrels. There have been zero squirrels eating the plants on our patio since Victor was here. They would scamper across the stone wall in our backyard, but they wouldn’t come into the yard. It seems that squirrels hate cayenne pepper even more than I hate squirrels. You can buy cayenne pepper by the ton down here for next to nothing. I sprinkled that stuff on all of my plants, and on the top of the stone wall.

I have seen zero squirrels since.

However, if this interdict ever stops working, El Walmart merely moved their display case of air rifles. I found it the other day when we were shopping there. That made me smile.

Mischief managed, for now. And, Plan B is still an option, you know, just in cases.

* * * *

It’s only through hindsight that we’re able to see where most of the paths we’ve chosen in life have taken us. Maybe some of you are able to visualize this without hindsight. I never have. I’m not that intuitive. I’ve always needed time and perspective to understand these things.

I need to do that even with simple things, like movies. Therefore, it’s a good thing I didn’t become a film critic. It would take me thirty years to write a decent review. Who needs to read a movie review three decades after the fact?

Take, for instance, Star Wars®. I’ve written about at least one of the movies before, but I have a plot twist that you probably haven’t considered this time.

I’m a big fan of the franchise. There are a lots of us. Some of the superfans know all about the Star Wars® universe, and are able to see plot holes and continuity lapses as they occur. It has taken me forty years to figure out that The Force isn’t anywhere near as cool as it was originally portrayed.

See? I told you I wasn’t very intuitive.

Obi-Wan Kenobi introduced all of us to The Force this way: “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

Not only that, it was the source of power for the Jedi Knights, and all of the spooky stuff they could do. Move objects, influence thoughts and behavior…  You know, things that here in the real world only women can do when they use a certain tone of voice.

Yet for all of the vaunted power of The Force, the Jedi appeared to be unable to figure out who their real enemy was until they openly revealed themselves. Count Dooku. Emperor Palpatine/Darth Sidious. They remained hidden from the sight of the Jedi until they chose not to be.

If The Force binds everything together, you’d think an adept Master trained in its use would have been able to discern another someone trying to, you know, un-bind everything with it.

Apparently not.

Nor was it true when Obi-Wan said this, “You can’t win, Vader. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”

Yeah, that didn’t happen. Obi-Wan got dead and essentially became a bodiless entity that occasionally reminded Luke to “…use The Force!” And that appears to be the extent of his lame-ass unimaginable power.

Finally, there was this: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

Obi-Wan uses that Jedi mind trick on a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers to make them go away and then gives this explanation: “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”

Big deal. You know what else can have a strong influence on the weak-minded?

EVERYTHING.

Seriously. Why else do we call stupid people stupid? Because they’ll believe fucking anything! Go ahead, try it. You’d be surprised how easy it works.

And that revelation led me to believe that Donald Trump must somehow be a twisted Jedi.

images

Darth Ignoramus. As kooky as it sounds, it’s the best explanation for his Presidency I’ve been able to come up with.

Lookin’ Out My Backdoor

Hey. How’s it going?

It’s been warm here in the Lakeside Area, like, low to mid 90’s warm. As the locals say, muchos calor! Lea and I lived in Phoenix before we moved here. That, was hot. The temperature can climb to 120° there. Even if it’s a dry heat, as Arizonans claim, it still feels like unto being in an oven.

One of my former patients at Aurora Behavioral Health sustained second degree burns from laying down on the sidewalk in the dead of summer. In the interest of full disclosure, the police made him lay on the sidewalk after they put handcuffs on him. I can’t remember all of the details, but even if he was guilty of whatever the cops busted him for, laying him down on a sidewalk hot enough to fry an egg seems a bit extreme to me.

The rainy season should start soon, and the temperature will drop back into the 80’s. We had a false start to our seasonal rains. It rained for about a week a couple of weeks ago. Las montañas de chino started greening up, and then the rains stopped. The Chinese Mountains don’t quite look like heads of broccoli yet, but they don’t look like unto a wasteland anymore either.

The rain here is kind of monsoonal, and kind of not. It’ll rain here almost every night until roughly October. Yeah, it usually rains at night, and only sometimes during the day. Even the rain is polite here. I’ve never lived any place before where rain was so seasonal. And predictable.

Arizona has a monsoon season, but it’s not a monsoon like the monsoons in India where it rains day and night for months on end. An Arizona monsoon is a monster storm of wind and dust that pops up, followed by torrential rain, then the storm abates and dies. Consecutive days of rain in Arizona are a rarity.

The only downside to the rainy season is I have to suck all of the water out of the pool we don’t use every time it rains. It’s basically a really big rain gauge. Rain water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, and I’m not a big fan of mosquitoes, so the water must go.

However, it’s not like I don’t have the time. I have a shop-vac. It’s not a big deal, and I like the way the pool looks afterwards. It’s the cleanest vacant pool you’ve ever seen.

And, well, you get kind of tired of the rain after awhile. I know Lea does. This will be our second rainy season. I’ll have to pay more attention to how I feel about the rain this year.

* * * *

My golf game remains a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. I shot the best nine hole round of my life few weeks ago, 45. Then I followed it up with a 54. I haven’t come close to equaling my best score since. It’s kind of frustrating, but that’s golf.

images

I’ve gotten better at the Big Three aspects of golf. Most of my drives are things of beauty. I’m getting better at chipping. I’ve had a lots of almost great shots. They would’ve been really great if they had only gone in the hole. I can actually hit a ball that rolls very close to the pin at least half of the time now. And I’m getting better at putting. Most of the some of the time.

It’s those times when my shots aren’t beautiful or almost great that are killing me, and I have at least ten of those in every round I play. Every goddamn stroke in golf counts, even the ones that suck. The trick, according to everyone in the know, is to put all three of those pieces together.

Drive. Chip. Putt. It’s a simple game.

Unless your game is more like this: Drive. Chip, chip. Putt, putt, putt. Oh well. It’ll keep me focused on something besides getting old and fat and bald-er. I have to believe that I’ll continue to improve, and all of those things will fall into place one of these days. Or months. Or years.

* * * *

IMG_20180606_124822140_HDR~2

We have a ga-jillion hummingbirds at our feeders! They arrived en masse at about 10:00 AM last Saturday morning. We started out the year with about four hummers. When Todd came down to visit, that number jumped up to around one hundred, and Lea happily hung a second feeder on the patio.

On Saturday, we hung a third feeder because there was a cloud of ten to twenty hummingbirds swirling around each feeder, waiting to get a chance to drink. And it’s like that all day. A voracious herd of hummingbirds can empty a feeder in about two hours. Keeping our feeders full and all of our hummingbirds happy has become kind of a full-time job.

Our feeders have six ports for the birds to drink from, and when their numbers are vast, the hummingbirds are actually pretty good at taking turns and sharing. When there’s only a few, one bird tends to become a monopolist, and will chase all of the other birds away.

We had one of those before Saturday. Lea named him King. He perched himself on the edge of my hammock, close to his feeder, and he guarded it with ferocity. When Lea hung the second feeder, he tried to keep all the others away from that one, too. That lasted about an hour.

He still sits on my hammock, but there’s nothing ferocious about him now. He actually looks kind of depressed. I’m wondering if I need to put him on suicide precautions.

Lea made a special trip to El Walmart yesterday, just to buy a half a ton of sugar. It’s a good thing that sugar is inexpensive here…

* * * *

Lea has her hummingbirds back, and I have a praying mantis living on my fern on the patio. I call her Ferngully because, you know, she lives on a fern. 

I think she’s a girl. She was less than an inch long when I discovered her. She’s about twice that size now. I catch bugs and stick them between the leaves of her fern frond. Sometimes she eats them. Others she won’t touch.

Who knew that bugs were picky eaters?

I can’t really say Ferngully is my pet. She doesn’t come when I call her, and she doesn’t know any tricks, unless you think hanging upside-down on a leaf is a trick. She’s very good at doing that.

I want to train her to walk on leash…

* * * *

Not everything on the patio is peaceful and serene. There’s the squirrels. The Spanish word for squirrel is ardilla. I have a different name for them. Pinche hijos de putas.

I hate squirrels more than I hate any other animal on this planet. They’re essentially rats with fluffy tails, and if not for that fluffy tail, no one would think they’re cute. Squirrels are agents of evil. In the Bible it says that Satan is disguised as an angel of light, and so it is with squirrels.

We had hundreds of squirrels in our neighborhood when we lived in Minneapolis. They lived in our trees, and frolicked in the yard. They chewed their way into our neighbors’ house and caused them thousand of dollars worth of damage.

I wanted to buy a machine gun and kill all of the squirrels after that, but my lovely supermodel wife vetoed my idea. She thought they were cute. You what else Lea thought was cute? Flower gardens. She wanted gardens with lots of flowers, so I became a gardener. I removed half a ton of grass from our backyard. I bought a lots of flowers, and our backyard looked like unto a picture postcard.

It was darlingpreshadorbs!

And then one day, for no particular reason, the squirrels decided to dig up all of Lea’s begonias. “Kill them! Kill them all!” my lovely but pissed off supermodel wife hissed. I bought a Red Ryder Pump Action Carbine BB Gun®, and commenced to start to begin to kill every squirrel that entered my yard.

images

I gave my air rifle a name. Ol’ Squirrelkiller. I set up a sniper’s nest from the window of our bedroom, and I got really good at shooting squirrels. I killed hundreds of them over the years. But there’s this one thing about squirrels: for every squirrel you kill, there are seemingly two more that move in to replace it.

Just before we moved to Phoenix, I gave Ol’ Squirrelkiller to my neighbor, Lyle, so he could kill all of the squirrels in his yard. I didn’t miss my air rifle when we lived in Arizona because there were no squirrels in our neighborhood. But I miss it now.

There’s a rule of thumb for gringos in Mexico. If you see something you want, or you think you’ll ever need, buy it. It won’t be there the next time, and you’ll never find anything like unto it again.

When we first moved here, El Walmart used to sell air rifles. I wasn’t at war with squirrels back then, but I still wanted to buy one, you know, just in cases. Once again, my lovely supermodel wife vetoed my idea because she thought it was foolish to buy an air rifle I didn’t know I was going to need until about a year and half later.

A week ago, I went to El Walmart to specifically buy my Mexican Viejo Asesino de Ardilla, but El Pinche Walmart no longer sells air rifles.

Madre de Dios!!

We don’t have hundreds of squirrels here. I think we only have two, maybe four at the most. And as much as I hate squirrels, I didn’t want to kill them until they started eating the plants on my patio. When we moved here we started decorating the patio. We bought a lots of ceramic pots and soil, and we bought a lots of plants to put in the pots.

One of the plants I bought was a greenish-yellowish vine with medium huge leaves. It loved its new home, and it grew like a weed, except it was a lots prettier than a weed. It was absolutely gorgeous last year.

FB_IMG_1528461945712

This year, it looks like unto Charlie Brown’s forlorn Christmas tree because the fucking squirrels have eaten every leaf off of it. Repeatedly. As Bugs Bunny used to say, Of course you realize, this means war!

Seeing how I may never find another air rifle, I may have to build one of these:

unnamed

I can bombard the house Seigfried and Roy is building below our house with squirrels.

My war with squirrels isn’t the only war that’s being waged in our backyard.

* * * *

We live in a development called Lomas del Lago, Hills of the Lake. The guy who started building here is a guy I call Seigfried and Roy. He’s an ancient German guy who has more money than Croesus. His name is Seigfried. I added the, and Roy.

Seigfried and Roy were a once famous duo of magicians and entertainers in Las Vegas who became known for their appearances with white lions and white tigers. Until Roy was, you know, accidentally almost killed to death by one of their tigers.

siegfried_roy_tiger_1_r_0

Just in cases you’ve never heard of Croesus, he was the king of ancient Lydia, and is generally accredited with minting the first true gold coins.

images (1)

Seeing how he more or less invented money, he had more of it than anyone else in the world. Hence, the term.

Earlier this year, Seigfried and Roy started to construct a house below our house. We weren’t too happy about that, so we mentioned it to our landlady, Planet Janet.

She was something way beyond furious when she heard that.

According to Janet, she had a verbal agreement with Seigfried and Roy. He wouldn’t build anything on that lot, and she wouldn’t have him killed. I’m not sure if those were the exact terms they had agreed to, but they had an agreement of some sort.

Despite their agreement, Seigfried and Roy decided to build a house in the lot more or less right below our house. While the new house won’t completely destroy our scenic view of the lake, it certainly won’t do anything to enhance it.

IMG_20180606_124657632_HDR~2

And the only way the occupants of the new house below us will be able to see their scenic view of the lake is by hanging out on their mirador. That will totally destroy any privacy we have when we hang out on our patio, and we spend a lots of time on our patio.

Everyone in our development has a mirador. It’s basically an outdoor lounging area on the roof, like unto a balcony. We have a mirador on our roof that we never use. Our patio is huge, and shaded, and you don’t have to climb any stairs to get to it.

Planet Janet has one of the best attorneys in the Lakeside Area on retainer. He has a couple of legal orders to cease and desist any and all construction on the house below us, which have accomplished absolutely nothing thus far. The consensus is that Seigfried and Roy has bribed pretty much every public official in the state of Jalisco, and half of their cousins for good measure.

Janet and her attorney are optimistic that they will eventually find someone that hasn’t been bribed, and at the very least they’ll be able to obtain some monetary compensation from Seigfried and Roy for obstructing the one time scenic view that our house used to offer. At the most, they might have the house taken down.

All of that remains to be seen. No matter what happens, we’re not planning on going anywhere. We love this house. We love this place. We love this time we have here together.

As Duke Leto Atreides once said, “Here I am, here I remain!” So, watch out squirrels. I have resources you’ll never be able to imagine because you’re just a rodent with a fluffy tail, not a highly trained assassin with years of military experience in taking dental x-rays.

Stop eating my plants. Or else!

Weekend Update

Happy Royal Wedding Weekend!

To commemorate the occasion, I did absolutely nothing. Many of my virtual and real friends got up early to watch all the festivities. They’re all girls, of course. Seemingly, there’s something about marrying a prince that makes girls go more than a little crazy. It’s probably all of those animated Disney® movies…

You could take a guy with the name of Dork Numbskull. No woman in her right mind would want to be caught dead with him, let alone become Mrs. Dork Numbskull. But put Prince in front of his name, and women will stand in line for a chance to go out with him.

Yeah, it don’t get it either.

My fascination with the British royal family pretty much ends with Elizabeth I, and she died in 1603. Seeing how the first Queen Elizabeth never had children, I’m not sure the current royal family is even related to her by anything save position. In fact, I’m not sure Elizabeth II is even human. What is she, like, 190 years old? I think she went to high school with Prince Tut.

And Prince Charles has to be the most disappointed man on Earth. He’s gone from thinking, When I become king to Will I ever be king? Seriously, he’ll probably got dead before his robotic mum does. He may go down in history as the only King of England who was never the King of England.

All the same, I wish the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joy and happiness. It doesn’t seem that being a member of the royal family comes with much of that.

* * * *

There hasn’t been a whole lots of anything going on around here since my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend went back to Idaho. We crammed a lots of stuff into the time he was here, and as much as I like Todd, it’s also nice to resume my usual boring lifestyle once more.

Not there hasn’t been anything happening in my world. There was another school shooting back in the States. As terrible as this is going to sound, I felt absolutely nothing when I heard about it.

Nothing.

I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised. No sadness, no outrage. It’s like unto the part of me that died a little each time this has happened finally got dead from dying a thousand tiny deaths.

Two of my FB friends had babies. Congratulations, Kara and Cassandra. One of my friends is still massively pregnant, and I thought she’d be the first one to give birth.

Weekend Update update: My third pregnant FB friend just gave birth this Sunday morning. Congratulations, Serena!

One of my FB nurse friends just got engaged, and she is thrilled. Congratulations, Ally. I’m sure you’ll be just as beautiful as Meghan on your wedding day.

We had an elegant celebration of Brother Al’s 80th birthday last week. Almost all of our friends were there, and his kids came down for the party. Brother Al is a distant relative of William the Conqueror and the current British royal family. Be that as it may, he didn’t receive an invitation to the Royal Wedding.

Such is life…

I’ve been doing some online therapy with a friend of mine who has been struggling with PTSD, panic attacks and anxiety. I’m trying to help her find a bit of balance. She’ll probably be okay if she ever starts believing in herself. People in this type of situation tend to discount all of their strengths, when in reality they’re just about the strongest people that ever lived.

You need to remember that.

A few weeks ago, I got a friend request from a young woman who lives in Madrid, Spain. I’ve grown very leery of accepting random requests, but she was also a friend of a guy I went to high school with, so her request wasn’t completely random. As a result, I figured she probably wasn’t a nutcase, like unto most of the women who send me requests.

About two weeks ago, she sent me a message. We exchanged a few bits of information, and then out of the blue, she asked me to send her a picture of my penis. I’ve never had anyone ask me to do that before. Back when I was a nurse, when faced with an unusual request, I always asked what is called a clarifying question.

So, let me get this straight. You want me to help you escape from the hospital, is that right? So, you think your wife is having an affair because of a turnip?

That’s a story I might have to tell someday…

Anyhow, that’s what I did with this young woman. So, let me get this straight. You want me to send you a dick pick? Yep. That’s what she wanted alright.

I sent her a picture of Donald Trump.

And she had the nerve to Unfriend me!

* * * *

Some might think that a boring life would be a fate worse than death. It’s not. I was a psychiatric nurse. I’ve had enough excitement to last me a couple of lifetimes. I could come back in my next life as a mushroom and probably still feel overly stimulated sometimes.

Someone once described being a combat fighter pilot as hours of boredom with moments of sheer terror. That’s kind of what being a psych nurse is like, minus the hours of boredom.

In fairness, it wasn’t all terror either. It was actually quite a bit of fun. That’s probably why I loved my job as much as I did. When I first started writing my blog, all of my stories were about psych nursing. I had a lots of stories to tell. Nowadays, I rarely think about my work life. Hardly anyone asks me anything about mental illness or taking care of crazy people, even if they’re just asking for, you know, a friend.

It’s okay. It’s part of the pattern. Unless thinking about your old job is all you do once you retire. Then you should probably go back to work. You’re clearly not ready for this step.

* * * *

Life. One thing happened after another, and before we knew it, we were dead.

That’s a line from the National Lampoon magazine, which was hands down the greatest satirical publication, ever. I first read that line when I was seventeen years old, and I probably laughed for a month. I no longer laugh when I think of that line, but I don’t dispute it.

There’s far more truth to it than the average person can appreciate.

I heard a theory that when we die, the light at the end of the tunnel is the light in a hospital room where we are reborn to a new life. The reason we are born crying is because we remember everything from our previous life, and we’re grieving because we died and we’ve lost everything. As we grow, we forget our previous life and focus on our current life.

But patches of memory remain, and those memories create deja vu.

It’s an intriguing theory. I’ll try to remember it in my next life. I’m not sure I’ve ever had something happen and thought I’d seen that in a previous life. I’ve had plenty of things happen more than once in this life, but I’m not sure that’s deja vu anymore. That’s just the pattern repeating itself, which it has to do, or it can’t be a pattern.

Life and death are subjects you can ponder for a lifetime and still be totally confused by them. Life no longer confuses me, mostly because I’ve stopped spending a lots of time thinking about it. And death is one of those things you can’t truly understand until it happens to you.

At this point, I’m just hoping in my next life that I don’t have to repeat the same mistakes I made in this life. That’s a deja vu that needs to become a jamais vu. Otherwise, I think I really would prefer to be a mushroom.

And I think I’d like a break in between lives. A few hundred thousand years to do some planning, come up with some goals, maybe even learn something. Stuff like that. Maybe there will be more planets to choose from by then, and one of them might be worth checking out.

If I wait long enough, I might be able to figure out a way to start my life out being retired…

Mexico

Hey, loyal reader. How’s it going? I hope all is well with you.

I’m a bit more focused of late, I think. It’s hard to tell with me, even for me. I’ve actually been busy for the last week, so I haven’t had as much time to idly ponder the vicissitudes of life. Or kumquats. I haven’t even been thinking about golf!

I played golf last Saturday with Todd and Phyllis, and I shot the best round of golf I’ve had in probably twenty years. So, I figure I just have to keep doing whatever it was I did on Saturday and in a couple of years I probably won’t suck at golf as much as I do now.

It may not sound like much of a plan, but that’s pretty elaborate for me.

Todd is my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, and he’s back in town. I should probably qualify that statement. Todd and Lea have known each other since junior high. And as Lea pointed out, if I can have three wives, there’s no reason why she can’t have one boyfriend.

Todd and Lea have been good friends for something like unto forty-five years. They never dated each other, which might be one reason why they’re still very good friends. At any rate, Todd came down to visit us last year, and we all had a blast. I told him he was welcome back anytime.

Todd has been here for a week, and he’s staying for at least one more. Lea and Phyllis have a lots of fun things planned for Todd while he’s here. Todd and I are ready to jump into action whenever Lea or Phyllis tell us we’re going somewhere. In the meantime, we watch the NHL playoffs in the evening and talk about Guy Stuff.

It’s something I don’t get to do much of anymore, so that’s been a lots of fun.

Todd lives in Northern Idaho. He’s almost a Canadian, eh. The weather in the Lakeside area has been a welcome change for him from the everlasting winter of 2018. It was 28° in Idaho last Wednesday, the day he arrived. It was 82° here.

Todd has been smiling a lots for the last week.

He brought a lots of goodies from the States. Stuff for Lea. Stuff for Phyllis. And he brought me a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit, which performs perfectly, and balance has been restored to the Force once more. My stereo actually sounds better than it did before.

And there’s one more thing Todd brought back to Mexico. Hummingbirds. We had thousands of hummingbirds at this time last year. My lovely supermodel wife loves hummingbirds. We were refilling two feeders three times a day. Lea thought she was going to spend all of our savings on sugar to feed her hummingbirds.

Then, one day last year, for no apparent reason, damn near all of the birds vanished. We were down to maybe four birds for several months, and my lovely supermodel wife was bummed to the max. But when Todd returned, so did the hummingbirds. We’ve had hundreds of them at our feeders for the last few days.

Todd isn’t the only one who has been smiling a lots of late.

* * * *

In 1975, James Taylor sang a song about Mexico. Maybe you remember it. I do. It was called Mexico. Imagine that. It got a lots of radio play back in the day. I played it on my new and improved stereo system the other day. Unlike Sweet Baby James, in 1975 I wasn’t thinking about Mexico. I wasn’t planning on ever moving here, or remotely contemplating even visiting the place. I don’t think I was even planning on doing either of those things as recently as 2015, and yet, here I am.

Someone at the golf course explained it this way, “Ajijic calls to certain people, and if you’re meant to be here, everything just falls into place for you.”

That was certainly the case for my lovely supermodel wife and I. The opposite appears to be equally true. We’ve met a few people whom Ajijic didn’t call, but decided to move here anyway. They hated it here and are leaving or have already left. Those people are the exception, not the rule. I almost wish Ajijic would stop talking to strangers, but she is a very friendly village…

Mexico is both more and less than what I originally thought it would be, not that I had much of an idea of what it would be like before we visited here the first time. It’s much more diverse than I imagined it would be in population, culture and landscape. It’s a melange of color, music and gastronomic delights. Mexico is like unto the Minnesota State Fair, except it’s like that everyday here.

The image I chose to illustrate this installment is an accurate depiction of the festival life here. Mexico can party with the best of them, and with a style and class that is truly second to none.

But if you think this is going to be a promotional essay on why you should move here, it’s not. You shouldn’t move here. Don’t even come to visit. The roads are terrible. The weather sucks. Everyone speaks an incomprehensible language and they hate foreigners.

Stay wherever it is you are. You’re better off there.

* * * *

We’ve been showing Todd around the Lakeside area, going out to eat at some of the fine dining establishments. You know, actually getting out of the house. I’ve been posting a lots of pictures of the places we’ve visited and the restaurants we’ve patronized on my Facebook page. As a result, I’ve accidentally become a local Google Maps guide, and my photos have been viewed almost a quarter of a million times.

Yes. It’s true. I’m kind of a big deal. Kind of. Maybe.

Being virtually famous hasn’t changed me in the least. I’m still the same self-absorbed, superficially introspective mystic that I’ve always been. That’s because being virtually famous is essentially the same thing as not being famous at all. I don’t have crowds of adoring fans. I don’t have to wear a disguise if I decide to go into the village. I have yet to sign so much as even one autograph!

I should probably thank Social Media for making me the semi-legendary non-sensation that I’ve become, but why?

I’m sure I spend more time on Facebook than I need, but a few of my virtual friends are massively pregnant, and will probably deliver any day now. I wouldn’t normally describe a pregnant woman that way, but I don’t think any of them read my blog. Not on a regular basis anyhow. If I’m wrong, I’ll probably find out very soon…

One of my work daughters and all time favorite people just got married. Congratulations to Nancy and Jake. She was radiant on her wedding day. And that dress…  Holy mutha!

A couple of my friends and former co-workers are going to nursing school. They’ll make excellent nurses once they graduate. I’m happy for them.

I’m becoming less tolerant of the posts I’m willing to be exposed to on my FB page, and I’ve been making the really annoying people disappear. Too much drama. Too much use of the word nigga. I really can’t handle that shit. My generation grew up during the Civil Rights movement. It was a time when a whole lots of people were willing to risk their lives because they were sick and tired of being called that name. It was a traumatic time for my generation and the entire country.

It’s sad to say, but I don’t think some young people now are aware of that fact. And if they are, they don’t seem to care. I find that thought to be even more disturbing than my original disturbing thought.

Be that as it may, I haven’t had this many best friends that I’m never speaking to again since I was in grade school. Given the times we live in, I’m not sure if that’s weird or just the way things are now…

* * * *

For reasons that I will never understand, I’m still semi-popular with single, unemployed, seemingly clueless, attractive young ‘Christian’ women of high moral standards who want to have a deeply personal relationship with a married grandfather figure that they’ve never met before. I hear it’s because of the hat I’m wearing in my profile picture.

I’ve become convinced that all of these girls are actually the same person because their stories are all the same. Seriously. Their parents are dead. Their last boyfriend cheated on them, and they just quit their job because their boss was sexually harassing them.

I don’t believe in coincidences, so I’m pretty sure one person is behind all of this, and that person is really a thirty-eight year old guy named Stewart who lives in his parents’ basement in Dubuque. He probably doesn’t have anything better to do. After all, it’s Iowa.

I’m from Minnesota. When we don’t have anything better to do, we make fun of Iowa…

* * * *

Perhaps you’ve noticed this: Life is a series of routines that change somewhat from day to day, year to year, decade to decade. School routine. Work routine. Weekend routine. Marriage routine.

Like it or not, we are creatures of habit. We find comfort in familiarity. We might complain about the monotony of our daily rituals, but deep down inside we’re not dismayed by them. We tend to like our routines, most of the time. Some of the nurses I used to work with actually worshipped them. Those nurses tended to work on the Night Shift.

“How was your day?” My lovely supermodel wife and I had that conversation almost every day for almost thirty years. It’s something we rarely have to discuss anymore because we spend pretty much every day together, so there’s not a lots of mystery regarding what either one of us are doing at any given time. It’s a good thing that we still like each other.

I’m sure I’ve fallen into a daily routine even in retirement. Granted, it’s much less regimented than it was when I was working. And that was mostly because of work. Employers are so unreasonable sometimes. They hire you, and then they expect you to show up and do your job, like, every day!

Almost everything I do now is dependent on whether I want to do it or not. I’ve never been my own boss before, so I’m really liking this new approach to doing stuff or not. I’m married, so, technically, I may still not be my own boss. Spanish lessons and doctor appointments are just about the only things I  go to no matter how I feel about them.

I’m not sure if learning a new language is ever easy. I have never been a slow learner before, but I am when it comes to Spanish. I took three years of French in high school, and I’m not sure I would’ve been able to speak to a French person and be understood, even back then.

I’ve been living in Mexico for roughly a year and a half. I can speak about ten sentences in Spanish now, and I have a buttload of random Spanish words bouncing around inside of my head. I’m getting to the point where I’m forgetting words in two languages. I’m becoming Byelingual.

Like unto my golf game, I figure the whole Spanish thing will fall into place if I don’t try to force it. Everything clicks at it’s appointed time. And if Ajijic called me here, it did so for a reason.

Perhaps someday that reason will be revealed. Hopefully, not in Spanish…  If someone comes up to me and starts rattling off a torrent of Spanish, and that happens more often than I like, I still get that Deer in the Headlights look in my eyes. But now I can tell them, in perfect Spanish, that I have no idea what the hell they’re talking about, which is probably kind of confusing to the person talking to me, now that I think about it.

Oh well, we’re at least on the same level then.

For good or for ill, I’m in Mexico for the long haul. I’m planning on leaving here the day after I die. And even then, I might hang around for awhile. There’s a huge City of the Dead in Mexico. The only downside I can see is you have to got dead to live there. Other than that, it looks like a nice place. I could live there, I think.

Unless you have to be able to speak more than ten sentences of Spanish in order to be admitted…

I hope I don’t have to discover the admission criteria anytime too soon. I’m kind of loving it here right now.

Idle Musings of a Rambling Mind

I’ve been thinking about writing something for awhile. However, I’ve been having one major problem. I can’t stay focused on any one thing long enough to form two cohesive paragraphs. I’ve lost track of how many posts I’ve started, deleted, and started again.

Is it possible? Could I be a distracted geezer?

I have to consider the possibility, but it’s not like I have a lots of stuff on my mind. Back when I was a psych nurse, I had a lots of stuff flying through my head. Did I sign off all the meds I passed? Why do they call them woodchucks? Don’t forget to order labs on the Clozaril patients tomorrow…  Who came up with the word kumquat? 

Maybe that’s part of the problem. I live an essentially stress free life now. I no longer have to wonder about much of anything, though I do still think about kumquats from time to time.

Seeing how I’ve been unable to focus on anything in specific, I’m reduced to trying to write about nothing in general. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I’ve been told it’s something I’m quite good at. I hope that holds true today. And probably the next time, too.

* * * *

There has been one thing that’s been on my mind, and that one thing is golf. Which, in retrospect, shows how narrow my focus of thought has become. I seem to have hit an impasse regarding improving my game. My score has been more or less stuck in the mid-fifties for several months, which is roughly twenty over par.

Twenty over par is the score of a bad golfer, and even though I know I suck at golf, I am not a bad golfer. And, yes, I’m aware of the contradictory nature of that sentence.

I watched The Masters Tournament last week. I wish I could golf as bad as Tiger Woods. One of the commentators said something about the mental aspect of golf. As Yogi Berra once said, “Half of this game is ninety percent mental.” The commentator said something very much like unto that about becoming a better golfer. The answer, it seems, lies hidden somewhere in my head.

My fundamentals are improving. I need to focus my mind. I’m still unsure about what that entails. I’m trying to remember what my dad used to tell me back when we used to play golf.

“Get your goddamn head out of your ass, McOffspring!”

Well, it’s a start…  I’m sure he said other things, too. I’ll have to think about it a bit more.

* * * *

When Phyllis and I were golfing last week, our caddy kept talking about my clubs. I’m used to having people make fun of my clubs. So I assumed he was also making fun of them, except he was doing it in Spanish, and that was something new.

Our caddy is a Mexican guy named Salvador Allende Ribiera del Lago Hernandez. He’s tall and lanky, with teeth like a mule. As with many Mexicans, his age is hard to determine. He’s somewhere between fifty and one hundred and fifty years old.

Salvador was our caddy the first time we played here. Phyllis almost killed him with one of her shots. I almost killed him twice. Despite our attempts on his life, Salvador continues to willingly caddy for us. He actually seems to like us, and I make sure I say hi to him and shake his hand every time I see him.

I get a kick out of Salvador. He tends to talk to himself a lots in broken English and fluent Spanish while he caddies. Maybe he hears voices(?). It’s possible his voices are telling him how much we suck, and he’s defending us. I’m just guessing. I know enough Spanish to know he’s talking about our shots, but not enough to understand all of the context.

At any rate, Salvador kept saying something to me about “two clubs” last week. And the next time we golfed, I found out what he meant. He had two golf clubs that had been made in the 21st Century. And he presented them to me.

“Try. Try the clubs. You like, you keep.”

I couldn’t believe it. They were beautiful clubs. Callaways. Metal woods. They weren’t brand new, but either one of them would’ve originally cost more than all of my antique clubs combined.  All of my woods are so old they’re actually made of wood. So I put the clubs in my bag and tried to figure out how to say, Thanks, but no thanks, in Spanish.

I played the first two holes using my antique clubs, then Phyllis pulled me aside and told me to try Salvador’s clubs.

“What do you have to lose? Give ’em a try. You might actually like them.”

So I grabbed the oversized driver that looks like a clown’s golf club. It’s called a Big Bertha, but I gave it a new name: The Terminator.

My drive went one hundred yards farther than I have ever hit a golf ball. I was so happy I think I might have humped Salvador’s leg. And Phyllis spent the rest of the game smiling that I Told You So smile of hers.

At the end of our round, I asked Salvador how much he wanted for his clubs.

“For you, señor, nothing. I give to you.”

What a guy! But I couldn’t let him just give me his clubs, so I gave him one thousand pesos for his caddying services. The usual and customary fee for a caddy is around one hundred and fifty pesos. 

I have no idea how or where Salvador acquired the clubs, but he seemed pretty happy with the fact that he had given me two golf clubs that I liked, and that I had given him the best tip he’s ever had caddying for gringos.

Then another unexpected thing happened. Phyllis looked at my antique clubs and said, “You know, I have another set of clubs. They’re a man’s set, and they have to be newer than yours. Five hundred pesos.”

I know that sounds like a lots of money, but it’s roughly twenty-five bucks.

My antique golf clubs were made in the early 1960’s. John F. Kennedy was President when they were new. They’re almost as old as I am. Phyllis’ other clubs are probably from the 1980’s. And like many people my age, I love the Eighties. It’s the last time we remember being young.

I now have what essentially amounts to a new set of golf clubs that are considerably younger than me for about seventy-five bucks. And none of my woods are actually made of wood anymore.

For the longest time I’ve resisted embracing any new technology. Computers. Cellphones. CD’s. DVD’s. Mobile devices. Golf clubs. And once I finally took the plunge, I’ve always ended up wondering why I fought such a pointless battle against something I actually like and seemingly makes my life easier.

It’s probably an old guy, old school thing, even though I know was doing it long before I became officially old. Resist change at all costs, even though it’s the only constant in life. Therefore, there’s no logical explanation for it. Much like life itself.

* * * *

And now, on to the random thoughts that have been occupying my mind:

If humans are the most advanced species on this planet, why are we the only ones that need toilet paper? And what would a real bear do if you gave it a roll of Charmin®?

What’s the opposite of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?

Advertisers use a lots of rock and roll songs to promote their products. Maybe rock bands should start writing songs about the things we buy. Orajel is the Answer. My Mercedes. Pass the Polygrip. It’d probably make life easier for all of us.

What the hell is a kumquat? It sounds pornographic…

Do you ever make up nonsense lyrics to songs? There’s one group you can’t do that to. America. Remember A Horse With No Name? The lyrics are so inane that anything nonsensical you come up with makes more sense than the original lyrics. Go ahead, try it.

We’ve been living in the End of Times ever since the death and resurrection of Jesus. I wonder how much longer that will go on?

* * * *

I could probably ramble on for a few more hours about random thoughts in my head, but they’re too ethereal for even me to keep track of. Yesterday’s profundity is today’s mystery. It’s like unto a kiss in dream. Did that really happen? It seemed real.

Now that I’ve gotten some of my idle thoughts out of my head, maybe I can focus on something that isn’t quite so…frivolous. Maybe. Only time will tell.

How do you say kumquat in Spanish?

My Right Foot

For those of you who read my last post, I have an update. For those of you that didn’t, I had purchased a defective component for my stereo system and had been trying to get some sort of resolution of my problem through the Customer Support team at Best Buy®.

I had talked to a couple of the support people on the phone early in March, and while they were polite and friendly, they weren’t able to do anything to rectify my problem. So I sent several emails to the executive members of the Customer Support team. And nothing happened until March 10th when I received an email from one member of the Executive Resolution Team assuring me that I was a revered and extremely valuable customer. And then nothing happened. Again.

Yesterday, I sent another email to Best Buy®, and I finally contacted the one person I had initially resisted contacting.

Mr. Herbert Joly, the CEO.

I outlined all of my conversations with the Customer Support team, verbal and written, and asked Mr. Joly if he’d be kind enough to, you know, kind of light a small to medium sized fire under a few asses and get someone to do something to resolve my problem in a bit more timely manner, like, this year.

I told Mr. Joly that I had been a nurse, so I had a very basic understanding of customer service. I likened my experience with his company to having one of my patients ask me for a couple of Tylenol for pain, then me responding, “I’m sorry, revered and extremely valuable customer. If you could check back with me in six to eight months, I might be able to help you.”

This morning, I received a telephone call from Mr. Eleazar Kovalov, the guy who had assured me that I was revered and extremely valuable. He said that he was going to send me a refund check in the amount of $81.96. In his mind, it was the easiest, quickest resolution, and this thing had clearly been stretched out too long already. And he informed me that I would receive my check in ten days.

But wait, there’s more. My lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend is coming here to visit at the end of April, and he’s going to bring me a new wireless rear speaker unit.

You can breathe easily once more, Jane. Balance has been restored to The Force, at least as far as this situation goes.

And one last thing. I sent another email to Mr. Joly thanking him for his assistance.

However, there always has to be something else that gets messed up, creating a different imbalance, otherwise my life would be perfect. It would appear there’s a plan in place to make sure that never happens.

* * * *

I’ve mentioned my affection for movies and music in previous posts. Little Known Fact About My Blog: many of the titles of the posts I write are also song or movie titles. Or at the very least, a play on words that reflects a song or movie title.

Coming up with a catchy title is the most critical part of the writing process. Well, it is for me. Suppose that Erich Maria Remarque wanted to write a sequel to All Quiet on the Western Front. He’d need another catchy title to grab his readers’ attention.

I’d suggest this: Still Pretty Quiet on the Western Front. 

Mr. Remarque will have to figure out the rest…

* * * *

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie, My Left Foot, 1989, Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s the story of Christy Brown. He was an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, and the only part of his body he could control was his left foot. About a week ago, my right foot started bothering me and it steadily got worse until it became the only part of my body that I couldn’t control.

I’m fairly used to having at least one part of my body bother me on a daily basis, so I wasn’t too concerned about my newest pain issue. It wasn’t too bad. Most of the time. Unless I was golfing.

Until yesterday.

I went to my weekly golf lesson with my buddy, Tom. By the way, my golf coaches are reasonably satisfied with the mechanical improvement in my swing. I still have a bunch of stuff to figure out, but as they say, it’s job security for them.

My golf lesson is a group lesson. A bunch of old, white gringos gather on the driving range and hit golf balls while Romero and Cesar critique our swings and stuff. Yesterday, I hit golf balls for about an hour. And that’s all I did. I didn’t practice putting. I didn’t run laps around the golf course, or do any push ups. To be honest, none of us do any of those things. Most of the old gringos hit golf balls, then go drink beer in the club house afterwards.

My right foot was aching on a medium-ish scale when I arrived at the golf course, but by the time I got home I could hardly place any weight on my wildly throbbing foot. On a scale of one to ten, my pain was a nine. It climbed to thirteen if I tried to walk.

I’m not a doctor. I’ve never even played one on TV, but I once was a very good nurse. So I decided to diagnose myself.

Okay. I need to document a couple of disclaimers. First, and foremost, do not try this at home. I am a highly trained healthcare professional with decades of experience at speaking very complex medical terminology.

Second, and secondmost, do not, under any circumstances, ever ask me to diagnose you. I’ll tell you that you have cancer.

Okay. Let us begin.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Nurses: whenever something goes wrong with our bodies, we automatically assume the worst. We know all of the terrible things that can go wrong. Therefore, I immediately came to the conclusion that I had somehow stepped on a landmine.

Little Known Fact About Medical Diagnoses: finding the correct diagnosis can be a very complicated and tricksy thing. It’s basically a process of ruling out shit until only one thing can be ruled in. Unless there’s more than one thing…  Seeing how I hadn’t actually stepped on a landmine, it was easy to rule this out. The only thing about this diagnosis that was remotely accurate was it conveyed the level of pain I was in.

So I moved on to the next most probable scenario. I had stepped in a bear trap. Again, fairly easy to rule out because there aren’t any wild bears in Mexico, and even if there are, there aren’t any living in the Lakeside area, so there aren’t any bear traps to accidentally step in.

Trauma would certainly be a good cause of the pain I’ve been experiencing. But I’m pretty sure I’d remember injuring myself, and I have no recollection of doing anything to fold, spindle or otherwise mutilate my right foot.

Back when I was drinking myself to death, I would wake up in the morning with multiple areas that ached with pain. And the first thing that popped into my head was, Did I jump out of a car on the highway again?

Once I got through the impossible possibilities it was on to the less improbable possibilities.

* * * *

Gout.

Gout is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone, but is more common in older males. Like, well, me. It’s characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.

It is precisely that part of my right foot that has been screaming in something like unto agony.

Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate in your joints, causing inflammation and intense pain. Urate crystals can form when you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.

Okay. I just had a bunch of labs done last week, and none of my lab values were abnormal. While gout isn’t as ridiculous of a diagnosis as landmines or bear traps, it still doesn’t appear to be very probable.

If you’re experiencing a gout flare up, urate crystals accumulate in all of your joints, not just your big toe. I have varying degrees of arthritis in my back, shoulders and knees. And also in my hips, ankles and hands. Yet none of those joints are screaming in pain. The only thing that is gout-ish about my symptoms is the point of origin of my pain.

I might not be able to completely rule out gout, but neither can I completely rule it in. There’s a couple of more possibilities.

* * * *

Bunions.

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It forms when your big toe pushes against your next toe, forcing the joint of your big toe to get bigger and stick out. Bunions can also hurt like hell.

Little Known Fact About My Right Foot: it has a bunion. It’s not a big bunion, and as far as I know it has never caused me this much discomfort before. So whatever it is that has gone wrong with my foot, it probably isn’t the bunion’s fault.

My right foot hurts almost as bad as my first kidney stone did, which made me think that maybe I was passing another kidney stone, except this one is leaving my body via the big toe on my right foot. As intriguing as this idea is, I drink a lots of water now, mostly because I never want to have another kidney stone. Even in my foot.

I’m pretty sure I can rule out my bunion. And a pedal/plantar renal calculus.

See? I told you I knew a lots of fancy-sounding words. And then I remembered something that sounds uber-fancy.

* * * *

Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of foot pain. It involves an inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes, the plantar fascia. Hence, the name. Plantar fasciitis typically causes a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near the heel.

However, my heel is the only part of my right foot that doesn’t hurt. The rest of it fucking hurts like unto two goddamn hells. It feels like I’m walking on razor blades while dropping a bowling ball on my foot.

I have a very high pain tolerance, but this has been beyond my ability to effectively cope with, so I did what any logical guy in my position would do. I begged my lovely supermodel wife to amputate my right foot with my power miter saw. She said no, which wasn’t all that surprising. She would probably tell you that she spends one-third of her time saying no to things I suggest.

Perhaps A Little Known Fact About Plantar Fasciitis And Nurses: nurses are at a high risk level of developing plantar fasciitis because they spend long hours on their feet walking on hard surfaces. Several nurses I know have had it. Their descriptions of their symptoms are what made me think PF was the root cause of my aching foot.

Like unto almost every disease process, there are multiple factors involved in contracting and/or developing PF, and I have almost none of them. I don’t exercise. I sure as hell don’t run. I’m not obese. I’m not working as a nurse anymore. Still, there’s one possible indication that applies to me.

Shoes.

Wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause PF. I recently bought a new pair of Skechers® golf shoes. I absolutely love Skechers®. I have five pairs of their shoes. They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. That said, I’m not sure why I bought new golf shoes. I didn’t need them. I already have two pairs of golf shoes. My new shoes are a bright neon green. You need sunglasses just to look at them. I never buy stuff like unto that.

My new golf shoes are the most expensive shoes I’ve ever purchased, but they’re just a bit too big for my feets. My feets slip and slide, just a little, inside my new shoes when I’m walking downhill. Otherwise, I don’t really notice any issues with my golf shoes. Maybe, just maybe, they might have some culpability in the current status of my right foot.

And then there’s this: the recommended treatments for PF have made my right foot feel better. Rest. Ice packs. Motrin. Stretching exercises. Elevation.

Something I found interesting is one of treatments for plantar fasciitis is ESWT.  Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy. It’s what my urologist did to break up two of my kidney stones.

I’ll probably spend the next few days doing those things, minus the ESWT, and not much else. My right foot actually feels pretty decent right now. I hope it works. I’m going golfing on Sunday.

If the shoe fits…  In my case, it’s the opposite. At this point, I’m not sure I’ll ever wear my amazing Technicolor golf shoes again.

Perhaps A Little Known Fact About Me And Shoes: I rarely wear shoes around the house. I prefer being barefoot. So this makes the case against my flamboyant golf shoes that much stronger. My feet have been seen associating with them more than any of my other shoes.

* * * *

And there you have it. We have explored several possibilities. Some of them even made sense. What we ended up with is Non-traumatic Non-traditional Delayed Onset Pseudo-Goutal Plantar-Facio Bunionitis with Possible Idiopathic Displaced Renal Calculus Syndrome.

Ta-da!!!

If I had gone to see my doctor back in the States, that diagnosis would probably have cost me a few hundred dollars. In Mexico, it would’ve been seiscientos pesos. Roughly thirty bucks.

I love Mexico.

Does anyone want a pair of Technicolor golf shoes? Sunglasses not included.

Keep the Customer Satisfied

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been playing a lots of golf. I don’t think I’ve gotten any better, but I haven’t gotten any worse. Golf, as I like to say, is like being in love with someone who doesn’t love you back.

If you’ve dated more than one person in your life, you might have dated someone like unto this. That kind of crazy person who gave you incredible thrills and lots of laughs one day, and then treated you like a homeless person with Ebola the next.

I have yet to meet anyone who plays golf that disagrees with my analogy.

I’ve been getting some positive feedback from the people I’ve been playing with lately, and that’s been a bit of fun.

“You have the most beautiful swing.” 

I heard that about a month ago when I played in my first Go-Go tournament. I finally started listening to my golf coaches, well, some of the most of the time at least. I’ve slowed down my backswing, so I sometimes make better contact with the ball I’m trying to hit. When it all comes together the results are are very gratifying. And, apparently, very pretty and graceful.

I still lack consistency, and I may never achieve that. I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to get more better gooder. I asked my doctor to write a prescription that would improve my golf game.

He wrote me a prescription for Haldol.

I think the only thing that would help me improve would be to play more golf, and I’m not sure I want to make that kind of commitment to something that loves me not in return. Too bad I just can’t download a program from The Matrix. Then I’d be able to golf, and karate the hell out of bad guys at the same time.

“You’re the most relaxed golfer I’ve ever seen.” 

That was from yesterday at the Amigo Tournament. The team we played against was impressed by my equanimity and casual, Zen-like coolness. I attribute that to being a psych nurse for three decades. My affect rarely changes. I look about the same whether I hit a drive twenty feet or sink a twenty foot putt. And I did both of those things yesterday.

However, I’m not sure I want a bunch of people down here knowing that I used to be a nurse because they’ll start showing me body parts and asking me if I’ve ever seen anything like this before. So this is what I told the team we played against yesterday:

“It’s the heroin.”

* * * *

If you know me personally, you know I love four things above all others in this world. My lovely supermodel wife and her darling daughters. My Sleep Number® bed. The heated seats in my Buick Encore. And my stereo system.

Well, maybe you didn’t know all of that. I don’t like getting overly emotional about anything, and bursting into tears talking about my bed…  Well, it’s kind of awkward and embarrassing.

I have an awesome stereo system. I have eight sets of speakers, and two subwoofers. It’s a beast. That might seem like a lot, but I had fifteen sets of speakers when we lived in Minneapolis. That one was a beast on stereo steroids.

When I got drunk and cranked up the tunes back then, my whole block was rocking. I don’t do either of those things anymore. My neighbors here will never know how good they’ve got it.

I’m not sure how many CD’s I own. A couple of hundred at least. Everything from ABBA to ZZ Top. Classical to Classic Rock. Some Country Western. Jazz. Blues. I think I even have one Rap CD.

Given my deep and abiding love of music, I should have been a rock star. I probably would’ve gotten dead years ago if I had become a rock star, so it’s probably not the worst thing that didn’t happen to me.

The biggest reason I didn’t become a rock star is I don’t play any musical instruments. Not even the tambourine. Luckily for me I can play the stereo, and it has all the other instruments in it.

Back in Minneapolis, I must have run a half a mile of speaker wire throughout our cute little bungalow house. But when we moved to Surprise my lovely supermodel wife didn’t to see any wiring. So I went to the nearest Best Buy® and bought a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit.

I didn’t have to run a bunch of wires throughout the house. My wife was happy. I had surround sound for my home theater system. Life was good.

We moved to Mexico seventeen months ago. About two months ago my Rocketfish unit died to death. And that’s when my troubles, if they can be called that, began.

There are Best Buy® stores in Guadalajara, three of them to be exact. However, the Rocketfish unit I want is only available in the US. So I ordered a replacement unit on the Best Buy® website and had it shipped to some friends in Arizona. My golf wife, Phyllis, picked it up when she went there earlier this month, and gave it to me last Saturday.

I hooked it up, and nothing happened. The sender unit was defective, and I was essentially screwed.

I decided to call the Best Customer Support Team. I had a very nice conversation with Cindy in Virginia. However, given the fact that I live in Mexico, there wasn’t much she could do.

So I wondered if someone higher up on the Chain of Command might be able to do something that Cindy couldn’t. You know, like, the CEO. So I Googled him. The CEO of Best Buy® is Hubert Joly. And I found a website with the contact information of every executive officer in the Best Buy® Corporation.

Any guesses what I did next? This is the email I sent to Trish Walker, President of Services:

Dear Trish,                  

I hope you’re having a good day. I thought about writing to Mr. Joly, but I decided he’d probably send my email to you and ask you to look into it. So here goes…                       

A brief back story. About ten years ago, I bought a Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit from one of your Best Buy stores in Arizona. About a year ago we moved to Mexico, and about two months ago my Rocketfish unit died.

I really liked the product, so I went to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara, but it seems these units are only available in the US. So I ordered a replacement unit online from a Best Buy store in West McAllen, TX in early February, and had it shipped to a friend in Arizona. Another friend picked it up and brought it to Mexico. I got it today.

Order Number: BBY01-805530149954. The price was $81.96.                             

That’s when I discovered the unit I had ordered was defective. The sender unit wouldn’t send a signal to the receiving unit. Therefore, my rear speakers still don’t work.

I am a huge stereo buff. Words do not suffice to describe my disappointment. In addition, I lived in Minnesota for thirty years, and am an avid Vikings fan. Unless you’re not. Then I can be flexible. I have no shame in trying to resolve this matter without having to fly back to the US.

I called the number listed on your website and talked to Stu in the Geek Squad Support team. He gathered information, then passed me on to Cindy, whom I must have spent at least an hour talking with.                                                                                               

It seems Best Buy has a deadline of fifteen days to return a defective online product, so in my case that time period expired before I ever actually received the product. Cindy suggested I return the item to the store in McAllen. That’s about 1200 miles from here.

I asked Cindy if it was possible to send another Rocketfish speaker kit to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara. And if that had been possible, this email would simply be a lot of praise for your Support Team in general, and Cindy in specific. And I would care less about the piece of junk I just bought, as long as I could get a unit that worked.

Alas, I guess that’s not possible.                                                                                           

Then Cindy gave me the number to the Rocketfish Support Team. She said the product was under warranty, and the manufacturer should honor that.

Alas, I guess that’s not possible either.

I talked to Ed at Rocketfish, who told me it was his birthday. Twice. I wished him a Happy Birthday three times, then he transferred me to the department that was supposed to help me. Her name was Cassandra. She essentially said there was nothing she or anyone else at Rocketfish could or would do, warranty or not, then asked if she could help me with anything else.

I actually had to laugh at that.

And that’s the end of my story. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to surprise me by doing something to try to fix this, but not so surprising that I have a heart attack.If  you need additional information you can respond to this email or you can call me on my US number: (623) 234-xxxx.

Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

* * * *

Have you ever watched The Good Doctor? It’s about this autistic young man who becomes a surgeon. And he has a very…unique…speech pattern. Both of the people I talked to at Rocketfish sounded like that. I don’t know if that’s how they really talk, or if Rocketfish has voice altering technology in play.

This is the number for Rocketfish Customer Support: 1-800-620-2790. If you’re really bored, you can call them and check for yourself. Tell them I said hi.
* * * *
I didn’t hear back from Ms. Walker. So I sent an email to Sarah Labbé, Senior Executive Resolution Specialist. With a title like unto that, you know shit is going to get done. I received no response from her either. But I did receive a response from Mr Zar Kovalov, Best Buy Corporate, Executive Resolution Team.
Hello Mark!
 
I am truly sorry that this has been such a frustrating process! Emphatically, perception is reality! It does matter how you feel!
 
I am sending you my direct contact information ( which is below). This the highest level of escalation. So always feel free to contact me if there are any questions, problems or concerns.
 
In sincerity – You are a Revered, and extremely Valued Customer!

My response:

Dear Zar,
 
Thank you for following up on my email. Clearly, the easiest thing to do would’ve been to ignore it. I’m not sure there will be much you can do to resolve this matter, but I’m glad you’re willing to discuss it. 
 
In addition, I don’t think I’ve ever been viewed as a revered anything before. I kind of like the sound of that. Given the fact that I live in Mexico, I’m not sure what solutions are available. I’m going to offer some possibilities. You can decide if any of them are feasible.
 
From my point of view, the easiest solution is to ship a replacement Rocketfish Universal Wireless Rear Speaker Kit to one of the Best Buy stores in Guadalajara, preferably the one at the Gallerias Mall. It’s about fifty miles from where I live. I don’t even care if I have to pay shipping and handling and pay for the replacement unit. 
 
I just want my sound system to work the way I want it to again. If you are able to do that, my problem is essentially solved, provided the replacement unit works.
 
Option #2: I’ll be traveling to the States in August. With your approval, I could return the defective unit I bought at one of your stores in Minnesota and then pay the difference on a new unit which I would bring back to Mexico. It’s a longer wait for me, but I’m a patient man. End result, my problem is solved and you become revered to me.
 
Those are the two solutions I have. My wife says if you can’t send me a replacement unit, could you at least refund my money. This is how single-minded I am. I hadn’t even thought about that. 
I hope you have a good day, and I look forward to hearing from you at your convenience. 
 
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
 
* * * *
And that’s as far as this has gotten. Stay tuned to this channel for updates, if any, as they occur.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

It’s been a quiet week here in the Lakeside area. My golf wife, Phyllis, is in Phoenix, so it’s even quieter than usual. She’ll be back on Friday, so maybe we can get a couple of rounds in before she takes off on her next adventure.

Thank God I have Facebook to keep my life interesting.

One of my real friends is getting married in about a month. She’s been having wedding showers, and she’s really happy and excited! I used to work with her. She was one of the best nurses I ever worked with, but I won’t be going to her wedding. She’s getting married in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, which is almost impossible to get to from where we live in Mexico.

Seriously. If we took the bus, it’d take three days to get there. If we drove, it’d be about a fourteen hour drive. Neither my lovely supermodel wife nor I have any desire to spend that much time in a car on Mexican roads.

The easiest way to get there from here is to fly to Phoenix, then drive back down into Mexico to go to the wedding. Then we’d have to drive back up to Phoenix to fly back to Guadalajara. At any rate, it’s too complicated and too expensive for us this year. I waited until the last possible minute to call her to let her know we weren’t coming. I think she took it better than I did.

Back when I was a nurse, if I needed some extra cash all I had to do was pick up an extra shift or two. Now that I’m retired, I suppose I could pick up an extra shift of doing nothing, but I don’t get paid anything extra for it…

Another one of my real friends just broke off her engagement. I think she found out her fiance cheated on her. On the bright side, I won’t have to call her to tell her I won’t be coming to her wedding…

Yes, it is all about me.

That’s actually kind of funny because this blog is probably the only area in my life where my opinion is actually a factor.

Two of my virtual friends are traveling in Africa. One is in Nigeria, the other is in Ghana. Well, they were my virtual friends. They asked me to send them money, and I had to say no to them. I did what any good virtual friend would do, and wished them the best of success. And I added I’d say a prayer for them. Neither of them were very pleased with my response, so I suggested they learn how to speak Swahili.

I haven’t heard from either of them since.

One of my virtual friends is a nursing student who was possibly being evicted from her apartment. She also wanted money from me, and I haven’t heard from her either ever since I told her no.

One of my virtual friends is working in the Ukraine. His wife died from cancer, and his daughter is in school in England. We probably aren’t virtual friends anymore either because he wanted me to buy him an iTunes card so he could talk to his daughter, and I don’t do that either.

Why not? You can buy them at any store all over the world! he replied. So I pointed out to him there were probably a lots of stores in the Ukraine. He could buy one himself.

I’m pretty much immune to these kinds of requests from people I don’t actually know. I was a psych nurse. I’ve heard every sob story known to man. And woman. Twice. And there was a very interesting thing I learned about people. People lie, or at the very least, distort the truth all the time.

As a result, I tend not to believe anything my virtual friends tell me until it can be corroborated by a second party. We used to do that all the time in Psychiatry. We were like unto cops. We would call family members, employers, landlords, roommates… Seeing how I can’t easily do that now, I’m probably not a very good virtual friend to have if you actually need any help.

Another one of my virtual friends got dead. She was about ten years younger than me. She has a daughter who is probably twelve or thirteen years old. Alicia worked at a healthcare facility on an Indian reservation in Montana. She was being treated for a heart condition, and had been posting about all of her frustrations regarding her treatment and how lousy she felt, and how she just wanted to feel better and live her life again.

Vaya con Dios, Alicia. I hope you’re finally at peace.

* * * *

We put our kit-ten down a couple of weeks ago. Her advanced age finally caught up with her, so we asked Dr Betty if she would make a house call. We didn’t want to put Samantha through any more stress than necessary. Dr Betty graciously agreed.

That was a very sad day.

I think we’re getting used to the fact that we don’t have a kit-ten anymore. I cleared out Sam’s office, removing her litter box, food bowls and water fountain. But we still look for her, and Lea misses her, especially at night.

Like a lots of cats, Sam slept in our bed. She would cuddle up next to Lea and rest her head on Lea’s arm like unto a pillow. She would purr contentedly and they would sleep like that all night.

Back when Lea used to travel for work, Sam would sleep in bed with me, but she never rested her head on my arm. We were friends, but we weren’t that close.

I sat on the couch next to wife the other day. I hadn’t done that since we moved to Mexico. Sam had essentially claimed the other cushion of the sofa as hers. Maybe one of these days I’ll remember there’s no longer a cat sleeping on the couch and sit there again someday.

We won’t have to share our food with the cat anymore, and Lea won’t have to wonder if what she’s cooking is something kit-tens will like. We won’t have to make sure we bring something home for Sam if we go out to eat.

We’ve talked about getting another cat. Lea even went to the Cat Orphanage in Ajijic last week to look at cats. She’s not ready for another kit-ten yet. Probably later this year, maybe in October. That’s my prediction.

* * * *

I know I react differently to death than normal people do. Part of the reason for that is what I did for a living. Nurses have to deal with death more frequently than most people do on a daily basis.

Yeah, you kind of get used to it in a way.

This is not to say that I haven’t been deeply affected by losing someone in my life. I have been a total emotional basketcase because of a loss for extended periods of time. Like, you know, a decade or more. The extravagance of my reactions has given me reason to question my sanity more than once.

Another part of the reason is my Christian beliefs. If we’re all going to resurrected someday, then I’ll see all of my dead family members and friends again eventually. And then I can tell them how pissed I was at them for dying. In all honesty, I still want to kick my mom’s ass for dying the way she did.

But mostly, I think it’s the whole grieving process. I fucking hate it. And that’s the most honest reason I can give you.

I’m not comfortable feeling uncomfortable. It just doesn’t work for me anymore. I’m not sure if it ever worked for me, but I know enough about me to know I’m a total wuss when it comes to being overly emotional about…anything. I can work through all five steps in the Grief and Loss process in about twenty minutes. And then I’m done.

Be that as it may, I still miss Samantha. I see her sometimes out of the corner of my eye. But it’s not her. It’s something else, and that sucks.

Last night when we were going to bed, I turned off the lights in the living room. And I found myself in front of Sam’s cushion on the couch. I reached down to pet her, and there she was, lifting her head, craning her neck so I would scratch the right part of her ears. And she purred contentedly.

She seemed to be happy and healthy once more. That made me smile.

Vaya con Dios, Samantha Rachel. You really were the best kit-ten buddy ever. I hope there are a lots of lizards to chase in Kit-ten Heaven. And maybe I’ll see you again someday, too.

Tears in Heaven

There was yet another mass shooting in a school in Florida the other day. Or as they say in America, “Sounds like a typical Wednesday.”

I wrote about the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and I’m pretty sure I said it wouldn’t be the last shooting, and therefore, not the last time I’d have to address this issue. Unfortunately. I’m not a prophet, but it didn’t take any special ability to be able to predict that.

There’s been the usual show of outrage and support on social media. There’s a renewed call for the banning of all assault weapons in the US, something I believe should have happened at least ten years ago.

One of my friends posted pictures of US Senators offering “prayers and support” for the victims and their families of the shooting in Florida. And she also posted how much money those Senators accepted from the NRA.

It was hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Another friend posted a picture of a check she wrote for the re-election campaign for one of the Senators. The dollar amount was “thoughts and prayers.”

I loved that.

* * * *

Words do not suffice to express how tired I am of hearing about these events. Or how tired I am of hearing the arguments of the pro-gun lobbyists. Yes, they have the right to own firearms. Yes, they have the right to express their opinion.

But the victims and their families have rights, too. The latest mass shooting silenced seventeen voices forever. So let’s take what I hope will be my last examination of this issue.

I do not blame our current President for what happened in Florida. Mass shootings have been around longer than Trump. And if something isn’t done to change the current status, they’ll be around long after he’s gone.

If you want to know where I stand on this position, read my previous post on this subject, Viva Las Vegas. I tried to be somewhat balanced then. Today, I am over that.

This shit needs to end. Now.

* * * *

Teachers should be armed to protect our children

Yes. That’s an actual solution.

Right now, school funding is so poor that schools can’t provide pencils and notebooks to their students. A box of one hundred #2 pencils costs about ten bucks. A six pack of two hundred page spiral notebooks costs about twelve bucks.

One Glock .9 mm handgun costs about six hundred dollars. Let’s say for the purpose of this argument there are five million teachers in America. It would cost three billion dollars just to arm all of the teachers. That doesn’t include safety training, marksmanship, or any other special training they would need. Or ammunition.

Who’s going to pick up the tab for that?

I pick the NRA. If nothing else, it would decrease the amount of money they have to buy our politicians.

One of my friends suggested that school sports budgets be used to pay for arming the teachers. Why not? Everyone knows that no one has ever learned anything by playing any sport.

Sports serve no purpose. They have never created any opportunities for anyone. That’s why no sports stars ever came from a background of abject poverty. Everyone knows athletes are nothing but a bunch of pampered narcissistic morons.

So yes, let’s rape our scholastic sports programs. And while we’re at it, we might as well get rid of band and music, speech and debate, and every other extracurricular activity currently in our schools. Let’s get rid of all that crap and put that money where it will do the most good by giving our teachers handguns.

When I was a psych nurse, I witnessed many acts of workplace violence. I can’t remember how many times someone said we should be issued guns so we could safely do our jobs.

This was my response:

“Because if they gave nurses guns, we would use them.”

And I have no doubt some teachers would do the same thing. I’m pretty sure that several of my teachers wished they could’ve shot me.

There’s another popular solution on social media. America has a shitload of unemployed combat veterans. Let’s hire them as security guards for our schools!

Sure. Why not? Because nothing says freedom like having an armed guard watch you. And this is seemingly the big issue for the pro-gun argument. Infringements on their civil rights.

News flash! Your civil rights have been infringed since way before 9-11. The government was finally transparent about what they were doing after the World Trade Center was blown up.

So go ahead. Create a police state. Just finish the job and get it over with. Do whatever it is you need to do so you can still play with your precious fucking guns.

* * * *

Mass shootings aren’t the problem. They’re a symptom of a bigger problem.

The obvious answer as to what the bigger problem is is the moral and social decay of American society. My question is this: Has America really fallen that far off the map?

All of the American people I know, both here and back in the States, are decent people who would go out of their way to help someone in need. I have yet to see anyone actually applaud the fact that people are being killed to death by the dozens on an alarmingly frequent basis. This is hardly the indication of a country that has lost its moral compass.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s true. You can’t perform a heart transplant on a societal level. You cannot tranfuse a new ethos into a culture. If this argument is true, there’s nothing that be done to make America great again. And nothing should be done. In fact, America should be euthanized, and the sooner the better.

This is a conversation I had today with one of my virtual friends who thinks society is the problem:

VF: I see more value in addressing the actual issues surrounding problems in society as opposed to unnecessarily limiting our options.

Me: Don’t stop now, you’re on a roll. How would you address the actual issues?

VF: Individually, with reason and logic. A good understanding of the Constitution….

I’ve been trying like hell not to say this, but the people who promote this argument sound like Donald Trump to me. They identity a vague and nebulous problem. They tap dance around it, and when you ask them how to fix it they have no fucking idea.

I’ve come to the conclusion that this argument is nothing more than a diversion, nothing more than an attempt to distract us from the real issue. And that issue is all about people being killed by automatic assault weapons.

If someone tries to pull this crap on you, kick them in the balls as hard as you can.

* * * *

If someone gets a DUI, do we blame the car or the driver?

Yet another misdirection play aimed to befuddle and confuse.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a concentrated effort to get people to stop drinking and driving. And there’s a simple reason for that. Drunk driving used to be something like unto a goddamn epidemic.

I got a DUI in 1980, I think. My BAL was .28, almost three times the legal limit of .10. I didn’t go to jail. My fine was $400. Four months later, I got my driver’s license back.

You could check this out. My generation, and my parents generation–we drove drunk all the time! And then around 1980 or so, MADD was founded was founded by by a woman in California named Candy Lightner. And why was she against drunk driving? Her daughter had been killed. By a drunk driver.

Thanks to Candy Lightner and the organization she founded, the legal blood alcohol limit for a DUI is now .08. If I were to get a DUI today under the same circumstances, I would probably be in jail for one year. My fine would be at least $3000, and my license would be suspended for at least one year.

Drink responsibly

Do you really think the companies that make alcoholic beverages actually care how you drink? Sure they do. That’s why they encourage you to buy so much beer. And vodka. And rum.

Dilly-dilly on that for a moment.

Corporations have only one overriding concern. Making money, and a lots of it. But they’ve come up with some creative advertising to foster the illusion that they actually care about people and social causes. So please drink responsibly so you can continue to buy more Bud Light®. We don’t want you to start having to go to any Twelve Step meetings.

And here’s the biggest flaw in the DUI argument. No one who gets a DUI is proud of it. Everyone I know who was involved in an automobile accident after drinking regrets it. Everyone I know who was responsible for killing someone when they were drunk– Man, if there was just one thing I could do over in my life…

It’s something you never get over.

As for the guys who open fire on a group of people for no rational reason, not one of them has ever apologized for their actions.

Drunk drivers don’t get behind the wheel because they want to kill as many people as they possibly can. On the contrary, they’re praying they make it home safely, without hurting anyone or anything.

Guys armed with automatic assault weapons on whatever day of the week it happens to be, in whichever state they happen to be in, have no other purpose in mind.

This week it was a Wednesday. In Florida.

We can’t know when or where it will be next week, or the week after that, but we’re pretty sure it’ll happen again. And it will continue to happen. Until something is done to change it.

* * * *

I have one solution that I haven’t heard anyone else offer up yet. And it’s so simple you’re going to slap yourself for not thinking of it.

We should just ban schools.

Listen, the kids in school now are all idiots anyhow. They don’t actually need to know anything. They can Google it, or look it all up on the Wikipedia and the YouTube if they need to figure something out. They don’t need to go to school for that!

No schools, no more school shootings.

I can’t believe the NRA hasn’t suggested this to Congress yet.

Virtu-ality

I once heard this bit of advice when I was interested in becoming a rich and famous writer.

Write what you know.

Unfortunately, I didn’t follow that advice at the time, and it may be at least one reason why I became neither rich nor famous as an author. I’ve probably gotten better at following that advice. Most of my blog posts have been about things that I know. Psychiatric nursing. Getting drunk. Doing stupid stuff…  However, I doubt I’ll ever become rich or famous no matter how many Rules of Writing I follow.

The most important thing, according to the people in the know, was to just keep writing. Just in cases you were wondering…

I’ve had a lots of time to ponder the wisdom of those words, but I think you actually have to be a good writer in order to achieve fame and fortune.

I doubt I’ll  ever attempt to write another novel. I’m content with an occasional post in my blog. And is there such a thing as a rich and famous blogger? I suppose it’s possible, but only because I believe almost anything is possible.

I have a lots of time to ponder life; its many facets and mysteries. I get a lots of different points of view from my friends on social media.

One of the things I started pondering recently came from a post on Facebook from one of my friends:

Is it just me, or are people getting stupider?

Technology is a wonderful thing, but with so much knowledge and information available at our fingertips, maybe we are getting stupider. Well, not my generation. The ones that followed us.

I’m pretty sure every generation thinks they’re the only cool generation. The preceding generation is over the hill. The following generation doesn’t have a clue. And there may be some truth to that.

And then again, maybe my generation is responsible for producing a couple of generations of moronheads. They may not know shit, but they are technological wizards when it comes to finding what they want/need to know.

There’s an app for that.

That bit of advertising genius was aimed at Generations X, Y and Z. Not at me or my generation. We’re still trying to figure out if the Snapchamp is cute or creepy.

* * * *

I used to belong to a lots of groups on Facebook, but I’ve bailed on almost all of them. I found myself getting annoyed by the things the stupid people in the groups posted. It’s one of transitions you go through when you retire.

I used to belong to a Classic Movie group. I like classic movies. I thought there might be some valuable insights posted by other classic movie fans. I was wrong. This was one of the insightful posts from that group:

What’s your favorite Doris Day movie? I like Pillow Talk

There were literally thousands of posts like unto that, just change the name of the actor, and the movie.

But this post still has me scratching what’s left of the hair on my head:

I love Robert Redford. I love all of his movies! My favorite is Paul Newman!!

unnamed

That was pretty much my reaction, too. I’m no longer a member of that group.

* * * *

The Winter Olympics started a few days ago. I love the Olympics, too. So I became a member of the Official Winter Olympics Facebook page last Friday. And then I waited for the Opening Ceremony on come on at 8:00 PM.

While I waited, I read posts from my fellow lovers of the Olympics. There were a lots of posts like unto this:

Hello from Seattle! Go Team USA! Where are you and who do you want to win?

And I was okay with that. I mean, it’s the Olympics. Of course you’re going to root for your country. Who doesn’t? I responded that I was in Mexico, rooting for the Mexican Bobsled/Curling/ Ski Team.

Someone from Nigeria posted that she was proud of the Nigerian Bobsled team, the first African bobsled team in history. And a guy from the US responded, I think Jamaica was first.

And I responded, Yes, the African nation of Jamaica!

I could feel the Sands of Stupididity starting to flow into the hourglass, and then it happened, at 4:00 PM. Someone posted this:

I can’t find the Olympics on my TV! Am I missing something?

My first response was this: Yes! Your fucking brain! But I toned it down and said this instead: Yes, the Olympics.

And then I bailed on that group, too.

If there’s a message in this post, it’s this:

Never underestimate the power of stupidity

* * * *

I spend a lots of time on Facebook. I’m retired. Time is a resource that I have in abundance. I keep up with all of my virtual friends; their triumphs, their heartaches.

A couple of them just got married. A couple more of them are pregnant. One of them might be going to prison for some things she did several years ago when she was strung out on drugs.

When I read her post, the first thing I thought was, There but for the grace of God…

I’ve become much more selective about the people I send Friend Requests to. I haven’t had anyone ask me if I want to see naked pictures of them or sex chat in months. But I have been getting requests for something else.

Money. Or an iTunes card, whatever that is. I’ve only given serious thought to sending money to someone once, but I actually knew her, and she’s a sweet girl. I’ve never seriously considered sending money to someone I’ve never met.

And there’s one other thing some of my virtual friends are looking for:

A relationship.

Yeah, I don’t get it either. I’m not sure I could ever admit I met my wife on Facebook. I know online dating sites have become very popular, but I’m not sure I would ever use one.

And the thing I don’t get the most is Why me? I mean, there’s nothing on my Facebook profile that indicates that I would be interested in dating anyone. Maybe I should have a few people look at it, just to make sure…

This is an amalgamation of several conversations I’ve had over the last six months or so. I doubt any of them have been this long or detailed.

Random Girl: Hi  where are you from

Me: That information is on my profile page. If you don’t mind my asking, why did you send me a friend request?

Random Girl: Im looking for a serious relationship with a serious man.

Me: Sorry. I can’t help you. I’m not a serious man. You can ask around. I’m probably the least serious man on the planet.

Random Girl: lol your funny

Me: It’s you’re, not your…

Random Girl: what ever I want to meet you

Me: Are you on drugs?

Random Girl: no when can we meet

Me: Let me ask my wife. She doesn’t think that’s a good idea.

Random Girl: your married

Me: It’s you’re, not your… Yes, I’m very married. My wife is a supermodel. You would’ve known that if you had read my profile page.

Random Girl: thats okay. I still want to meet you send me a picture

Me: No. There’s a picture of me on my profile page

Random Girl: okay your really handsome

Me: It’s you’re, not your. That’s not my real picture. I look hideous. I was blown up by a bomb during the war.

Random Girl: you were in the war which one

Me: All of them since the American Civil War. I was almost killed at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Random Girl: okay I still want to meet you

Me: No, you don’t. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in 1863. Besides, I live in Mexico. You’d hate it here.

Random Girl: Ive never been to mexico do you live on the beach

Me: No, I don’t live on the beach. I live in the mountains. It’s boring here, you’d hate it here after twenty minutes. Besides, I’m probably old enough to be your father.

Random Girl: how old are you

Me: I’m 62. How old are you?

Random Girl: Im 28 age isn’t important

Me: Jesus! I’m old enough to be your grandfather! The only people who say that are stupid young people!

Random Girl: lol I don’t like boys my age  I want a mature man who will treat me nice like you

Me: You don’t even know me! I could be a serial killer!

Random Girl: lol what do you do in mexico

Me: I just told you, I’m a serial killer. Why else would I be in Mexico?

Random Girl: I dont think youd hurt me

Me: That’s what the last three girls like you said. I’m running out of room in my backyard

Random Girl: for what

Me: To bury bodies

Random Girl: okay when can I come see you

Me: You can’t. I’m married. And if I don’t kill you, my wife will.

Random Girl: why would you’re wife want to kill me

Me: It’s your, not you’re. She’s a serial killer, too. That’s why we make such a cute couple.

Random Girl: but I want to take care of you

Me: I weigh five hundred pounds. I haven’t had a bath in a week. You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into.

Random Girl: its okay

Me: Oh, that’s different. I just shit my pants. How long will it take you to get here?

So far no one has hung in there after that line, no matter how much they said they wanted to meet me.

Youth-in-Asia

It’s been cold here in the Lakeside area this week. And for those of you who live in Northern climes, I get it. This isn’t really cold. -30°F. That’s cold!

But cold is a relative term, and 57°F with overcast skies and a cool wind down here feels like the onset of the next Ice Age. The Mexican locals dress like Minnesotans in January. Big down-filled parkas. Winter hats and caps. Scarves wrapped around their faces. Gloves. And if you ask them, they will tell you they’re fucking freezing to death.

Ten years in Phoenix has effected the way my body reacts to and adjusts to the weather. I haven’t broken out my winter parka and scarf yet, but my reaction for the last couple of days has been to turn on the gas fireplace, camp out in the living room, and try to stay warm.

That’s not entirely true. I went golfing on Monday with my golf wife. Phyllis and I decided we don’t need wind and cold to impact our game. We’re bad enough on good days. And I went to my golf lesson with Tom yesterday. It was even colder and windier, and even less fun.

It’s supposed to be back up in the 70’s next week, and that will be a welcome change. And everyone can talk about how they survived the Winter from Hell in Ajijic. According to people in the know, this has been the coldest winter in recorded history in the Lakeside area.

* * * *

Euthanasia is one of those words that doesn’t mean anything close to the way it sounds. It sounds like you’re talking about children in China. Or anywhere else in the Oriental East.

Just in cases you don’t know what euthanasia means, here’s the definition: Euthanasia (from Greek: εὐθανασία; “good death”: εὖ, eu; “well” or “good” – θάνατος, thanatos; “death”) is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering.

It’s kind of like the Spanish word disfruta. In English, the prefix dis is associated with bad things. Dis-ease. Dis-tress. In English slang, if you diss someone, you’re saying not very good things about them.

In Spanish, the word for fruit is fruta. So if you try to Spanglish the hell out of the word disfruta you come up with bad fruit. And you’d be totally wrong because it means enjoy. 

Yeah, go figure.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. Given my style, that’s a good question to ask. The central figure in the beginning of this story is our very old kit-ten, Samantha. Sam is going to be twenty years old in April. We’ve had Sam in our house for roughly one-third of our lives. She has survived three moves with us.

Like unto most any creature of advanced age, Sam isn’t doing as good as she did when she was younger. She used to run and frolic and hunt lizards. Now, she mostly sleeps and eats, and goes back to sleep. She had a couple of days when she couldn’t keep food or  water down, and that was very disconcerting. She has arthritis in her hips, and when she moves she does so slowly and deliberately.

I’m not sure, but I think she’s developed a cataract in her right eye, and she’s probably developing some degree of deafness as well. Maybe she can still hear as well as she ever did, but she simply cares less about what people are saying.

Who knows? She’s a cat, and cats are, well, mystical.

I don’t know if it’s her limited mobility, or possible vision problems, or something else entirely; but Sam has developed some issues when she uses the litter box over the last month or so. The biggest problem is she doesn’t appear to be actually using her litter box. I think she’s still trying, but she’s developed some serious accuracy problems.

I have a couple of plastic mats in front of the litter box that generally gather and corral her errant urine, and we have ceramic tile floors, so clean up is a breeze. I used to be a nurse. I’ve cleaned up a lots of urine and other body fluids in my lifetime. Still, it’s not a task I can say I relish doing, no matter how much I love our kit-ten.

As a result, my lovely supermodel wife and I have had several End of Life conversations about her beloved kit-ten. These are not easy conversations. Lea really loves her kit-ten, and she always starts crying. I really hate seeing her cry. We’ve had to say farewell to other kit-tens, and those were painful events.

When the day finally comes that we have to put our kit-ten down, that will be a very sad day in our household. On the bright side, that day will not be today. Sam only vomitated once today. She’s still having trouble in the litter box, and I’ve come to the conclusion that’s probably not going to get any better, not that any of her other problems are likely to improve either…

I think Lea has decided to take Sam to our veterinarian, Dr Betty, tomorrow to get her opinion on Sam. Dr Betty is a cute young Mexican woman. She looks like she’s thirteen years old, and barely stands five feet tall. I like standing near her because even I look like a giant compared to her. I’m going to go to the vet, too. Just in cases…

* * * *

When it comes to End of Life decisions, we have much better options with our pets than we have with ourselves. Lea and I have had this conversation, and several variations on it a few times. We’re not interested in the quantity of our lives, only the quality. Lea has often told me she doesn’t care about living to be one hundred. I’m not sure I’ve told her this, but there are days when I’m not sure I want to live another ten years.

You might think that odd, seeing how I’m retired and living in paradise with a supermodel, but it’s a vast improvement over the days when I did didn’t want to live another ten minutes.

Living Wills and Advanced Directives are legal documents where you can outline what types of medical treatments and interventions you would like in the event that you become incapacitated and can’t tell anyone that you don’t want to be placed on a respirator. Or that you don’t want any heroic measures taken to save your life.

My lovely supermodel wife and I have Living Wills in both the US and in Mexico. All we want is comfort meds to control pain. And that’s it. No CPR. No intubation. Nothing. Nada.

But you can’t request that a lethal combination of drugs be given to you when the quantity of your life exceeds the quality of it. And that’s where our pets have us beat all to hell. Their lives can be ended for humane reasons.

When it comes to our pets, we have the option of essentially putting them out of their misery and ending their suffering, an option that we, as people, do not have.

Pets can be euthanized.

* * * *

My youngest daughter, Abigail, once told me a story about her friend and his hamster. The average lifespan of a hamster is somewhere around two years, give or take six months to a year. So I’m guessing Herbie the hamster was around two years old, roughly, when her friend approached his dad one Sunday morning. And for some context, the kid was probably nine years old.

“Dad, something’s wrong with Herbie! We have to take him to the vet right away!”

Well,  it was only a hamster…  I mean, who takes a hamster to the vet? Hamsters are like unto goldfish, with fur. When they die, you flush the old one down the toilet and you buy a new one. And it was Sunday. The Vikings game was going to start any minute.

So dad did some quick thinking and explained the concept of Life and Death to his son, and the fact that the veterinarian’s office was closed, and emergency veterinarian services are very expensive.

“I think we need to do the humane thing, son.”

The humane thing dad came up with was gassing his son’s hamster. He pulled a kettle out of the cupboard, blew out the pilot light on one side of the stove top, placed Herbie under the kettle on one of the unlit burners, and turned on the gas.

“Are you sure Herbie’s not going to suffer?” the kid asked.

“No, he won’t suffer. In fact, this is how the vet would do it…” And he went into a detailed explanation of oxygen, carbon monoxide, hemoglobin and maybe even Krebs Cycle. That last part is something I vaguely remember from nursing school. It might have something to do with this topic, but don’t quote me on that.

Dad might have had the right idea to humanely terminate Herbie. He might have even been incredibly kind while he carefully described how death in the absence of oxygen occurs. But he was very stupid about one thing.

He forgot to blow out the pilot light on the other side of the stove top.

So, while dad was patiently and compassionately going through his explanation, gas fumes were traveling across the top of the stove to the burning pilot light. When they became concentrated enough…

You know what happens when propane gas fumes hit an open flame, don’t you?

There was a small explosion on the stove top. The kettle flew to the ceiling with a BANG! then clattered across the floor, followed by the shape of a hamster with patches of fur on fire flying through the air. Herbie the Flaming Hamster landed on the floor right in front of dear old dad, and he did what any guy would do when he sees a hamster on fire on his kitchen floor.

He stomped on the hamster.

Well, that reflexive reaction put the flames out. It also killed Herbie, if he hadn’t already died to death from being old, then gassed, kind of exploded, and sort of set on fire.

Okay. This might not be the best example of humane euthanasia for a pet. However, I thought this was one of the funniest true stories I’ve ever heard in my life, and it popped into my mind as I was writing.

I tend to go where my Muse takes me when I write. This is probably the only story I’ve written lately that I’ve given any thought to for more than half an hour, actually giving my Muse an opportunity for input. I should probably be more mindful when I write. A couple of my latest posts are incomplete because I forgot to write half the things I wanted to. Maybe I’ll go back and finish them someday…

I can only speak for myself, but I like the results much better when I listen to my Muse. Or Muses. Seeing how this may turn out to be tragic, Melpomene will be involved. But it’s also kind of funny, so let’s give Thalia a warm round of applause.

* * * *

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I have wanted to be a prophet for quite some time. And you also know it’s something I’ve essentially failed to achieve. So I doubt that I could predict the exact circumstances surrounding my death even if I wanted to.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t stop me from speculating about them.

I used to read the obituaries when I was a psych nurse, mostly to see if any of my former patients had died. Especially the ones I didn’t like very much.

There were a lots of people that died from an “unexpected heart attack.” Does anyone ever expect to die from a heart attack on any given day? And if you expected a heart attack, wouldn’t you do something to prevent it?

“Hey! Do you want to go golfing?”

“Okay, but we better go early. I’m planning on having a heart attack around two o’clock today…”

A lots of people died after a “courageous battle with cancer.” You won’t be able to say that about me. Nope. That sonuvabitch pretty much gave up when he found out he had cancer, and just surrendered to his fate. No chemo. No radiation. No surgery. He just wanted morphine.

In the event that the quality of my diminishes greatly before the quantity of it does, I’ve come up with a scenario to effect an humane end for my life. It involves my two darling daughters, Gwendolyn and Abigail, and a dog costume. And it goes something like unto this:

Gwen and Abi will come down here to Mexico, dress me in the dog costume, then take me to the veterinarian’s office.

“Buenos dias, I’m Doctor Ramirez. How can I help you ladies today?”

Abi: “It’s our dad, I mean, dog.”

Gwen: “Yes. Our dog is very old, and he’s in a lot of pain. He needs to be put down.”

Abi: “We thought about doing it ourselves, but I don’t think the stove top is big enough.”

Gwen: “And we don’t have a kettle big enough.”

Abi: “And we might accidentally blow up the house.”

Gwen: “And we really don’t want to do that…”

Abi: “It’s a rental house. The landlord probably wouldn’t appreciate that.”

Dr Ramirez: “I see, I think. How old is your dog?”

Abi: “He’s, like, eighty…”

Gwen: “In dog years.”

Dr Ramirez: “Yes, of course. He is old, then. What sort of symptoms is he having?”

Abi: “Well, he isn’t eating.”

Gwen: “He mostly sleeps a lot. And he’s incontinent. Can dogs be incontinent?”

Abi: “He doesn’t enjoy any of the things he used to do anymore. He doesn’t even watch football.”

Dr Ramirez: “Your dog watches football?”

Abi: “He used to watch it…with our dad…”

Gwen: “Back when he watched football. They did a lot of stuff together.”

Dr Ramirez: “Okay, can I see your dog? This doesn’t look like a dog! This looks like a man in a dog costume!”

Abi and Gwen: “No! He’s really a dog! He’s really old! And sick. He used to look better when he was younger! He really did!”

Abi: “And he spent so much time with our dad, they kind of started looking like each other, maybe.”

Dr Ramirez: “Well, yes. I have seen this before. Dogs and their owners can be very similar sometimes…  What’s your…dog’s…name?

Abi and Gwen: “Mark.”

Dr Ramirez: “This is a very strange name for a dog.”

Abi: “Well, he…has a cleft palate!”

Gwen: “Yes! And that’s the noise he made when he barked!”

Abi: “So that’s what we called him. Back when he used to bark…”

Gwen: “Yeah, he doesn’t even enjoy barking anymore.”

Abi: “He’s really old, and sick.”

Dr Ramirez: “Yes, and he needs to be put down. I get it. What kind of…dog…is he? I’ve been a vet for thirty years, and I have never seen a dog like this before.”

Abi: “Well, he’s Irish, so maybe Irish Setter?”

Dr Ramirez: “That is not an Irish Setter, I can assure you.”

Gwen: “No, he’s more of a mixed breed, right? He isn’t very big, so maybe he’s more of a Cocker Spaniel…”

Abi: “Those weiner dogs are short, too. Maybe he’s part weiner dog…”

Gwen: “Labrador?”

Abi: “Beagle?”

Gwen: “Collie?”

Abi: “Poodle?”

Gwen and Dr Ramirez: “What?!?”

Abi: “Well, everything is part poodle now, right?”

Gwen: “So, he’s an Irishcockerweiner…labra-boodle.”

Abi: “Probably.”

Dr Ramirez: “Okay! Let’s go into the exam room.”

Abi: “Come on, daddy, I mean, doggie. Get up on the table!”

Gwen: “You can do it, dad! I mean, boy. Good boy!”

Abi: “Oh! And he used to be an alcoholic, so you might have to double the meds when you put him down.”

Gwen: “Yes! He might have a greater tolerance! We don’t want to take any chances.”

Dr Ramirez: “Your dog…was an alcoholic?”

Abi: “Well, kind of…”

Gwen: “Um, yeah. He used to drink beer with our dad…”

Abi: “And watch football.”

Gwen: “You know, before he became old.”

Abi: “And sick.”

Gwen: “And stuff.”

Abi: “Okay. Let’s get this over with. Goodbye, da–doggie.”

Gwen: “Goodbye! We love you and we’ll miss you!”

Abi: “You were the best Irishcocker–  Oh, fuck it! You were the best golldarn dog we ever had. Vaya con Dios!

* * * *

And that’s how I’d like to go. As if I were in a skit by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. It would only be fitting.

🎼Turn Out the Lights,🎶 the Party’s Over🎵

Hey there, sports fans.

I went to my first golf lesson today. My instructors were…impressed. Kind of. But I think what impressed them most was how bad I was at times.

“Señor, you have two swings. One swing is muy bonito. One swing is no muy bonito.”

They’re so polite here. It’s actually kind of cute. Well, they didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. What I’m not sure of is where my ugly swing came from.

However I acquired it, acquire it I did. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get rid of it. Hopefully, the lessons will help with that. The lessons cost 75 pesos, around four bucks. Life here so incredibly… economical. Among other things.

Last week, my golf wife, Phyllis, came up with a plan for world golf domination. Now that we’re both members of the Chapala Country Club, were going to play nine holes on Monday. I take golf lessons on Tuesday, she goes on Wednesday. Play nine holes on Thursday, and eighteen holes on Saturday.

We’ll see how that goes. My scores right now vary anywhere from the low fifties to the low sixties for nine holes, depending on how many times I utilize my very ugly swing, I suppose.

If I actually get any better at golf, you’ll be the next to know.

* * * *

Well, in case you weren’t aware, the Minnesota Vikings ended their run to the Super Bowl last Sunday by playing their worst game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Final score: 38-7. The Eagles scored 38 points, not the Vikings.

It wasn’t the best way to finish what had been a pretty remarkable season for them. The Vikings scored on their first drive, and that was probably a good thing. I don’t think they came close to scoring for the reminder of the game.

On the bright side, it wasn’t a nail biter/heartbreaker kind of loss. You know, where the game was tied and Philly scored late to win. This game was probably over before halftime. Vikings fans had a lots of time to come to terms with the fact that their team was going to get its ass kicked. Soundly.

That part does kind of suck. If only the best teams make it to the playoffs, how does a really good team get beat by 31 points?

Good question. Watching the game, I noticed a couple of things. The Vikings were out of position on most of the plays in that game, and the Eagles weren’t. Minnesota couldn’t do much right, and Philly didn’t do much wrong.

It’s rare, but sometimes it happens, and you never want to be the on the wrong side of that equation, especially in the playoffs. I look at it as good incentive for the Vikings next year. That loss is going to stick with them a long time. Far longer than it will with me.

I’m not a football player, or a coach. I just love watching the games.

My lovely supermodel wife and I used to attend Vikings games when we lived in Minneapolis. The Metrodome was five miles from our house. We went to one of their games when we lived in Arizona. University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Cardinals, was eight miles from our house.

By the way, the Vikings clobbered the Cardinals that day. By the start of the fourth quarter, almost all of the Cardinals fans had left. When we walked out of the stadium at the end of game, it was all Vikings fans.

That memory still makes me smile.

* * * *

Being a sports fan in Minnesota isn’t easy. Minnesota has at least four men’s professional sports teams. The Vikings in football. The Twins in baseball. The Wild in hockey. And Timberwolves in basketball.

Additionally, Minnesota has a professional soccer team, I think. I suppose I could look on the Interweb and find out, but I’ve never been a big soccer fan. It is very popular here in Mexico, so maybe I’ll start watching it. Someday.

And, Minnesota also has a professional women’s basketball team. The Lynx.

Professional sports are a big deal not just in the US, but worldwide. If you doubt this, take a look at the salaries some professional athletes make. They’re outrageous! Be that as it may, it’s part of the world we created.  And without the presence of these teams, Minnesota would essentially be, you know, Iowa.

Minnesota sports teams have historically let their fans down. Not just once. A lots of times. All of them.

It’s so bad that all of the Minnesota teams have nicknames denoting their high level of mediocrity. The Vikings/Viqueens. The  Twins/Twinkies. The Timberwolves/Timberpups. The Wild/Mild.

I outlined the Vikings history of falling apart in the playoffs in my last post, and I don’t have the heart to repeat it again. If you’re at all interested, you can read about them there, or on the Wikipedia.

* * * *

The Minnesota Twins were a small market, mediocre team for a good part of their history. They did make it to the postseason a couple of times in the Sixties and Seventies, but they lost in the ACLS at least twice. But then there was a magical three year period from 1989 to 1991. The Twins won two World Series, beating National League teams from St Louis and Atlanta.

The Twins haven’t performed all that well in any of their subsequent postseason appearances. They haven’t been back to World  Series since. Be that as it may, the Twins have given all of Minnesota something we don’t have to be athletically embarrassed about, and for that, I will always love the Twins, even if I’m not a big baseball fan.

I always thought baseball was kind of boring, especially on TV. Lea and I went to several Twins games back when they were really good. The Metrodome wasn’t the best venue for baseball. It probably wasn’t all that great for football, to be honest. I was very happy when the Dome was destroyed and both the Twins and the Vikings now have new stadiums.

We’re planning a trip back to Minnesota later this year. I definitely want to see the new stadiums. I’ve heard they’re both beautiful.

* * * *

The Minnesota Wild, our professional hockey team, has a history much like unto the Vikings. They play good hockey, sometimes even great hockey, during the regular season. Once the playoffs begin, they become mediocre at best. I don’t think they’ve ever made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.

I like hockey, but I’ve never been a huge hockey fan. It’s fast paced, and the puck goes about two hundred miles an hour. You really have to keep your eyes open to follow the game. There’s one strange thing about Canadian TV. We can see every Vikings game here in Mexico, but the Wild are almost always blacked out for some strange reason. If not for that kooky fact, I might be a much bigger hockey fan now.

I don’t watch much baseball or basketball. I might watch more if either the Twins or the Wolves were broadcasted by Canadian TV, but they aren’t. And there’s my lovely supermodel wife. While she does love football, she doesn’t love all sports equally.

I’d probably watch any sporting event, even knitting, if it was in an arena…

Lea and I used to go to hockey games when we lived in Minneapolis, and in Surprise. Arizona also has a hockey team, the Coyotes. Their arena is across the parking lot from University of Phoenix Stadium. I think I loved hockey fans far more than I loved hockey. Those guys were fucking hilarious.

Minnesota used to have a different hockey team, the North Stars. Much like the Wild, they tended to fall apart in the postseason, until they moved to Dallas and finally won the Stanley Cup. However, by then they were no longer a Minnesota team.

* * * *

The Timberwolves are the NBA team. They were a very bad basketball team until roughly 1997, when they made it to the playoffs several times, but never advanced to the NBA Finals. Ever.

They have a good, young team now. They might become a force to reckon with. Someday. Hopefully, soon.

I used to take my nephew, Michael, to Timberwolves games. He liked basketball, and their arena was maybe seven miles from our house. I can’t remember how many games we went to together, but I never saw the Wolves win a game in person.

Minnesota used to have another basketball team. From 1947 to 1959, the Minneapolis Lakers were a great basketball team. They were the one of the best teams ever in the NBA, and because they were so good they clearly didn’t belong in Minnesota, and they moved to Los Angeles. Where they have continued to be a very good basketball team.

The bastards.

* * * *

The Lynx are without a doubt the most successful current professional sports team, male or female, in all of Minnesota. The Lynx have qualified for the WNBA playoffs nine times. With four championships, the Lynx are tied with the Houston Comets for the most titles in WNBA history, and they have won more Western Conference championships than any other franchise.

Those gals are good, so they’ll probably move to New York. Or Florida. Or anywhere but Minnesota soon.

* * * *

Yah, and that’s about it from here regarding the Minnesota sports scene. The Vikings can practice their golf games, much like me, until August when their season starts again. Maybe they’ll win it all next year.

Basketball and hockey seasons are in full swing. I have no idea how either the Wild or the Timberwolves are doing. If either of them make it to the playoffs, I’ll probably watch their games, and cheer for them.

Baseball season probably starts in a couple of months. The Twins had a pretty good team last year. They might make some noise this year.

The Lynx will probably win their conference, and they might win another championship.

You never know. This might be the year for one of those teams, but they are Minnesota teams. And almost every sports season in Minnesota ends with these words:

There’s always next year…

Divine Intervention

Hola, amigos.

I’d apologize for not writing more often, but I have no regrets about not writing, so I won’t. I hate receiving insincere apologies, so I hate giving them, too. I’ve been busy working on my golf swing with my golf wife. Judging by our scores, we’ll both be busy refining that aspect of our games for awhile.

If you thought this story was going to be about the miraculous hole in one I shot the last time I played, you’re going to be disappointed. Not as disappointed as I was, but still…

I’m not sure why I love doing something I’m so mediocre at, but life is full of mysteries. Golf is but one of them. I might feel the same way about bowling, but there aren’t any bowling alleys here, so I can’t fall in love with bowling.

I broke down and joined the Chapala Country Club a couple of weeks ago. I was spending roughly the amount of my monthly dues there anyhow, so it seemed like the thing to do.

I hear membership has its privileges, but I have no idea what they might be. I got a membership packet when I joined, but I haven’t read it. I figure if there’s something important, Phyllis will tell me. Phyllis is my golf wife, and she reads instructions.

And there’s our Spanish lessons. I think I’m picking up Spanish about as quickly as I’m improving in golf.

There are basically three types of gringos here. The ones who spoke Spanish before they got here. The ones who have no intention of learning Spanish, and act like fools when they go to the Telmex® office. And then there’s the ones like us who feel they have an obligation to learn the language of their new home.

We’re probably the minority of those three.

Poco y pinche poco. It’s a slow process, and frustrating at times. But it’s not like I have all that much on my schedule anymore. And the money we pay to learn Spanish is donated to help pay medical expenses for needy children.

As Lea says, at least someone is getting something out it.

* * * *

How’s everyone doing?

Life is still pretty sweet down here south of the border. It’s been chilly enough for us to use the fireplace, but seeing how someone who reads this might have actually frozen their ass off this winter, I’m not going to make too big a deal about the weather.

I’m still not sure how we ended up here when we did, so I tend to attribute wondrous things I can’t understand to God. If I didn’t believe in God I might attribute them to our cat, but I’ve never seen her do anything I could remotely call miraculous, so that’s too much of a stretch even for me.

I’m not sure I’ve ever outlined the chain of events that led us here in my blog. I’ve told the story a lots of times, and I’m too lazy to go back and read through my previous posts to find out…

I’m pretty sure all of this started when we moved from Minnesota to Arizona in 2007. My lovely supermodel wife became Phyllis’ boss. Phyllis, as in my current golf wife, Phyllis. Lea and Phyllis worked together for several years and eventually became good friends. In 2012, Phyllis and her husband, Max, were getting ready to retire. They were thinking about North or South Carolina because they were big NASCAR fans, and there’s a lots of race tracks in that part of the country.

Max has a brother, Rick. Rick was living in Ajijic, and he suggested Max and Phyllis come check the place out before they moved to either of the Carolinas. And that was the end of that plan. Max fell in love with Mexico. When Phyllis returned to work, she put in her notice, and my wife just about had a heart attack. Six weeks later, Max and Phyllis jumped in their car, and their retirement days began.

And that was almost the end of this story, except Phyllis sent Lea an email at work long after she moved away, I think it was 2014. A lots had happened in a couple years. Max had died. Phyllis missed her friend, and really wanted Lea to come visit her. After multiple invitations, we decided to check the place out in September of 2015, and flew to Guadalajara.

Phyllis had a little party for us while we were visiting. We met all of her best friends, and we listened to the promotional speeches they gave about why we should move to Mexico. We liked the Lakeside area. It was as pretty as a picture. However, at that time, neither of us were thinking about retiring, not for several years at least. And neither of us had even remotely considered retiring in Mexico. But it was certainly something to consider.

And then a whole lots of kooky things happened in rapid succession. In February of 2016, Lea’s company went through a major reorganization, and Lea found out she was going to be reorganized out of her job.

Just. Like. That.

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication. Please clear out all of your personal belongings by the end of business today.

Lea called her daughter, Gwen, who just happens to be our financial planner, and Gwen crunched some numbers. Gwen told her mother based on our savings and our Social Security income, Lea didn’t need to work anymore if she didn’t want to. And by virtue of that fact, neither did I. That memory still makes me smile.

It was at that precise moment that moving to Mexico started looking like a very real possibility.

Lea called Phyllis and they would have a lots of conversations over the next several months. Phyllis was instrumental in helping us navigate the obstacles of moving to a foreign country. Additionally, our landlord, Planet Janet, and all of Phyllis’ friends have been a great resource in assisting us in our transition. We haven’t had to face most of the pitfalls many expats run into when they move here.

Getting back to my story, we put our dream house in Surprise on the market and sold it in seven days.

Lea flew to Mexico and found a very spacious rental house three doors down from Casa del Phyllis. And she met Janet, who has become one of my favorite people.

The Mexican Moving Company came and packed up all our stuff, and headed south.

We rented a condo about five miles from the hospital I worked at and stayed there for three months until I retired at the end of September. Our furniture was waiting for us in our house when we arrived.

Everything that happened in this process fell into place so neatly. If we had planned it for years, it still wouldn’t have happened so perfectly. It was that slick.

Some might say it was nothing more than a series of coincidences. But I tend not to believe in coincidence. I’m more of an everything happens for a reason kind of guy. Besides, it’s more romantic when there’s a reason.

And that’s how we ended up in Mexico. I had a vague feeling something devastating was going to happen, you know, like unto a natural disaster. The Yellowstone Supervolcano was going to explode. That’s why we needed to get out of the US as quickly as we did.

Yeah, that didn’t happen. See? Still not a prophet…

Also, the fact that nothing terrible happened has left me wondering why we needed to get here so quickly. Well, Trump was elected President…  And however tragic I might view his election, it still wouldn’t have added up to anything equalling imminent danger to myself or Lea.

I’m not complaining about being here. I’m merely curious about the why.

Lea says that God is blessing us with this time together because we worked hard and we’ve been granted some peace and relaxation time.

It makes more sense than the volcano thing…

* * * *

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that almost everyone that believes in God has a Divine intervention story, and if it weren’t for God, they wouldn’t be here right now. We have, all of us believers, certainly prayed for divine intervention for any number of reasons.

Health. Illness. Love. Relationships. Life. Death.

The Bible is full of stories about God interceding for his people. There’s a lots of stories about prayers being answered by God and lives being changed for generations. I might write more about those someday. I spend more time thinking about that kind of stuff than anything else.

Lea’s not a big fan of my spiritual/ religious ramblings. She thinks it makes me appear, you know, crazy.

When I was a nurse, I used to pray for my patients. I used to pray for personal patience, understanding, and wisdom. When I was drunk I used to pray for a life changing intervention. Or death. And then I realized that’s one prayer that will always be granted, eventually.

It just never happens at the moment that you’re praying for it.

I see a lots of divine intervention in my sobriety. I doubt it’s an achievement I could have done on my own. Something greater than myself or my addiction came into play, and without that, I shudder to think what my life would be like now.

You can think what you like. For me, God saved my life, though I often wonder why He chose to do so.

* * * *

If you know me personally, or follow me on Facebook, you know my lovely supermodel wife and I are Minnesota Vikings fans. The Vikings had a very good season and are in the playoffs this year.

If you know anything about the Vikings history, you know the Vikings haven’t had the best results in playoffs. I have drowned many gridiron sorrows back in my drinking days, and celebrated scores of regular season wins. The Vikings have been to the NFC Championship game ten times. They’ve been NFC Champions four times. In their four Super Bowl appearances, they’ve come away with exactly zero Lombardi Trophies.

Divine intervention hasn’t been on the Vikings side in the playoffs. Miraculous plays always happened to the other team. But all that changed last Sunday night when the Vikings came from behind to beat the New Orleans Saints by scoring a 61 yard touchdown with ten seconds left on the clock.

The Vikings played a perfect first half, scoring seventeen points and shutting out the Saints. The Vikings defense was stellar, intercepting Drew Brees twice and keeping two of the best running backs in the game out of the end zone.

The second half was another story. The Saints scored twenty four points. The Vikings only six, and with twenty five seconds left in the game, the Vikings were down by one, and their season was about to end.

Lea and I were devastated. I was trying to figure out if we had enough medications to successfully overdose.

And then came the Minneapolis Miracle.

images (1)

For once, God decided to favor the Vikings. For a brief moment, Jesus wore a Vikings uniform, and as Stefon Diggs trotted into the end zone, there was surprise and disbelief, then jubilation! Even the players couldn’t believe what happened. You can Google® it if you haven’t seen it. It really was incredible. And beautiful.

On Sunday, the Vikings play the Eagles for the NFC Championship. The winner goes to the Super Bowl, which will be played in Minneapolis this year. The Vikings might be the first NFL team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.

It could happen. Hopefully, they won’t need any miracles to beat the Eagles because there were at least three miracles involved in the winning touchdown play last Sunday. It was kind of an Angels in the Outfield thing. Seriously.

I’m not sure how much more miracles they have left.

I don’t know how much God has to do with the outcomes of football games. Personally, I’d think he’d have bigger fish to fry. But if God truly orchestrated a miracle or three to beat the Saints, then please keep the miracles coming for two more games.

I’ve never prayed for something as trivial as a football victory before. Like I said, I think God has better things to do, but I’m going to pray for not one, but two more wins for the Vikings this season. Let there be any number of miracles, and let the Vikings win just one Super Bowl, before I die.

Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us. Just because the Vikings had a great season this year doesn’t mean they’ll have an equally impressive season next year.

I’m not getting any younger, so they might as well do it now.