The Bells

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably noticed something. For a guy living in paradise with a supermodel wife, I tend to complain about a lots of stuff. Yeah, it’s weird, but there’s little doubt that I live the life of Riley.

Unless you’re a geezer like unto me and others in my generation, you might not have any idea what that phrase means. Basically, it means a carefree, peaceful, easy life. The phrase came into common usage around the time of World War I. And  it turns out that it probably refers to the life of a real person–Willy Reilly– who lived in Sligo, Ireland during the late 1800’s.

Yeah, who knew?

In hipster lingo this phrase most likely translates into Easy Peasy Mac and Cheesey. Possibly. I wouldn’t really know. I’m at the age where talking hip probably means you’re talking about your hip replacement.

In my defense, if I didn’t have anything to complain about, I probably wouldn’t have anything to write about. No one wants to hear about how much better your life is than theirs is all the time. And I don’t care how great your life is, mine beats yours every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Besides, complaining is a time honored pastime of retired people. It’s probably a force of habit. We did it all the time. We used to complain about our jobs, our annoying know-it-all bosses, and our fucking annoying idiot co-workers. So there’s that. Habits are hard to break.

Granted, I have less to complain about than probably anyone else I know, including my lovely supermodel wife. After all, she is married to me. I’ve stated that my sole purpose in life is to keep her happy. But I think my unstated purpose is to also drive her a little bit crazy from time to time.

There was that fan thing…

We don’t have air conditioning at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We don’t really need it. But a couple of months ago Lea decided she wanted a fan for the bedroom because the hottest month of the year in the Lakeside Area is May. She thought if we waited until May to buy a fan, there wouldn’t be any fans for sale when we needed one. That’s kind of how things work down here.

Walmart had a veritable mountain of fans available in March. All I had to do was buy one fan that would help keep the bedroom cool at night. There was nothing all that complicated about my mission. I knew which fan Lea would buy if she had done the smart thing and gone to the store herself. I even put her fan in my shopping cart. 

And then I saw it.

An industrial strength, turbo-charged fan with a hemi engine. And that’s the fan I bought. It’s a thing of beauty as far as fans go. It has three speeds: Gale Force Wind, Category 2 Hurricane, and Blown Away. I had a feeling I had made a mistake when I was assembling it. It kind of sounded like unto a jet airplane taxiing down the runway when I turned on. 

Yep. Lea hated it.

Well, it wasn’t a total loss. I moved it out to the North Wing of the patio. From there, it directs a reasonably manageable stream of air toward the South Wing of the patio. Lea spends a lots of time out there. I thought it would help cool the patio down in the heat of the afternoon. The best result has been that Lea doesn’t hate it out there.

I bought a second fan for the bedroom, the one I had originally planned on buying, and it works perfectly. I really should pay more attention to that little voice in my head that tells me when I’m about to do something stupid…

* * * *

If you’re a Game of Thrones aficionado, you’ll understand the title of this post. If you’re not, go away. You have no business being here.

Speaking only for myself, I think HBO made a huge mistake when they filmed only six episodes for the final season. There’s just too much stuff to try to distill down that quickly.

It’s like trying to celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and everyone’s birthdays over one weekend. It can be done, but it’s probably not pretty.

* * * *

“Here. Open this gift.”

“What holiday is it?”

“I don’t know. I don’t even care. Look at the wrapping paper.”

“But this isn’t for me. It has someone else’s name on it!”

“Oh well, now it’s yours. Shut up and open your goddamn present, or I’ll cut you open from belly button to brisket.”

* * * *

The Bells is the title of Episode 5 of the final season. It was the climactic battle in the war for the Iron Throne, the seat of power in Westeros that everyone with a claim to has staked their lives on.

When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die. There is no middle ground.

Truer words were never spoken. The series has gone from dozens of main characters to a handful. Maybe less. Almost everyone, both good and bad, have been killed to death. Some of them more than once.

There’s one episode left, roughly eighty minutes of opportunity for the producers to kill off two or three of the remaining characters who have somehow avoided getting beheaded, stabbed, shot, executed, poisoned, assassinated, or burned to a crisp until now.

And there was plenty of that in the last episode.

There was only one small, tiny, insignificant detail. It wasn’t supposed to work out that way. It was a given that some people would have to got dead. Queen Daenerys Targaryen had assembled all of her remaining armies outside of King’s Landing, the seat of ultimate power in Westeros, to battle the armies of her remaining enemies, Queen Cercei Lannister and King Euron Greyjoy.

The Good Guys would storm the city. The Bad Guys would see that they had no hope of victory. They would surrender, lay down their arms, and ring the bells. And a whole lots of bloodshed could be avoided. That was the plan.

Queen Daenerys had always said that she wanted to change the world, to actually make it a better place. She wanted to end slavery, oppression, and tyranny. It’s the reason why everyone fell in love with her. That was her fucking mission statement!

But then a funny thing happened on her way to the top. She was betrayed multiple times, most recently by Cercei Lannister, the lying-ass bitch currently sitting on the Iron Throne. Cercei promised to send her armies north to fight against the Night King and his horde of zombie warriors.

She didn’t.

Ser Jorah Mormont, trusted counselor and body guard to Good Queen Daenerys, was indirectly killed to death by Evil Queen Cercei’s treachery when he fell during the Battle of Winterfell. To add insult to injury, Evil Queen Cercei publicly executed Good Queen Daenerys’ other trusted advisor, the sweet and beautiful Missandei of Naath. That happened right after Evil Queen Cercei and Even More Eviler King Euron killed Daenerys’ second dragon to death.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dani threatened to kill one of her few remaining advisors if he fucked up one more time. Then she had another of her advisors executed because he really fucked up one more time. And then her boyfriend told her that he loved her, but he couldn’t have sex with her anymore. Probably because he’s her nephew.

So it was a very different Daenerys that we saw Sunday night. She was more than a little emotionally unbalanced as she went into what she called The Last War. She climbed onto the back of her one remaining dragon.

And. It. Was. On.

I’ve had mixed emotions over just about every episode this season, but this one was probably the worst for me. And just about every other fan on the planet.

Daenerys single-dragonedly destroyed an entire fleet of ships and most of the sailors aboard them. She destroyed the main gates of the King’s Landing, killing most of the army defending those gates, then barbecued all of the defenders on the walls and ramparts. So much for the pivotal role the highly vaunted Golden Company would play in this story. That was probably the most disappointing part of this episode.

Once the gates had been breached, the rest of the city’s defenders surrendered. The bells started ringing…

And, Daenerys didn’t care. She and her dragon systematically destroyed the city block by block, then she destroyed the castle. Neither did most of her invading armies. They slaughtered everyone they saw. Soldier, civilian, man, woman and child.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent people died in the process.

There is some good news in this. For once, Jon Snow didn’t need to be rescued during a battle he commanded. And some very non-innocent people finally got killed to death. Euron Greyjoy, Qyburn, and The Mountain all got the deaths they needed. Cersei probably got dead, too, but maybe not. Lea thinks she somehow survived having ten tons of brick fall on her, so we’ll see. But her death was certainly not the death she deserved.

But now the big question is this: Did Daenerys simply vent a considerable amount of repressed anger and rage at her enemies when she went combustible, or did she go one step beyond batshit crazy when she ignited an entire city on the back of her fire-breathing dragon?

The producers have certainly been pushing her character in that direction, which is really disappointing. How can you trust someone who says, Trust me. I won’t kick you in balls. And then kicks you in the balls. Really hard.

If that’s the case, someone will have to kill Evil Queen Daenerys to death to ensure that she doesn’t become the one thing she started out meaning to destroy. And she would potentially be worse than any of the tyrants she threw down when she was struggling to reach the pinnacle of power. A psychobitch with PMS, and the last living dragon. And someone will probably have to kill that goddamn dragon, too.

Eighty minutes. It’s not a terribly long time. How much can happen? In this case, next Sunday night, everything is on the line. A lots of right things have to happen, and they seemingly have to happen in rapid succession. The producers only have one chance to get it right. So, you know, no pressure.

And they all lived happily ever after…

Yeah, definitely not going to happen.

Some of them lived, and it wasn’t the most ludicrous ending we’ve ever seen.

Speaking only for myself, and eighteen million other people, that seems to be the best we can hope for right now…

I Don’t Want to Complain, But…

Just in cases you were wondering, I’m totally loving being a retired guy. I find it almost impossible to find anything about my life that isn’t great. My lovely supermodel wife and I have been trying to avoid using the P word.

Perfect.

It’s been our experience that saying stuff like that will inevitably incur the wrath of the gods, and then things won’t be perfect anymore.

I’ve been staying busy doing anything but writing for awhile. I built a golldarn thing that ended up being more of a really stout shelf than a golldarn thing. I still have the materials for a golldarn thing, and I may build one someday, but I have to replace my drill/power screwdriver first.

I’ve been doing a lots of small maintenance jobs around the house. I lavish attention on my plants on the patio. They’re looking good, and most of the plants we inherited from Planet Janet are looking better. The jade plants are even starting to look better, and they were in terrible shape when we moved in.

I bought a hammock for the frame that looks like unto a Viking longship, and I’ve been practicing getting in and out of it so I don’t look like a complete idiot on the offhand chance someone comes down to visit us.

And we bought a very darlingpreshadorbs table and chairs for the patio for the same reason. It’s a work of art. Seriously. The chairs are all signed by  the artist that painted them. I wonder if he’s a famous guy, like Van Gogh…  If we keep this up, we’re going to need a much bigger patio…

I’ve been practicing my golf swing. I’m going golfing for the first time in eight or nine years next Friday with Phyllis, Tom and Cheryl. I’ve never been a great golfer, so I don’t have to worry too much about sucking. That’s pretty much a given, and if I needed something to complain about, I’ll probably have it after about ten minutes of golf…

And even though I don’t have an actual story in mind, I decided it was time to write something, lest I forget how to do it altogether, and I end up with a permanent case of writer’s block.

I have no Muse for this story. It’s more of a status update on our lives than an actual story.

* * * *

In the interest of fair and balanced reporting, we have had a few bumps in the road since we’ve moved to Mexico. Literally, and figuratively. Literally, the roads are nothing but bumps. The roads here were probably built during the time of the Roman Empire, using the same materials the Romans would’ve used.

The village of Ajijic has been here for about six hundred years. It has more history than any other place we’ve ever lived. There’s only one paved road in the Lakeside area, the carretera. It’s the major thoroughfare in the area. It’s a two lane highway that quickly becomes clogged with traffic during the weekend and any major holiday.

Take, for example, Easter. The village of Ajijic hosts a live Passion Play each year. Thousands of people come to see it. If you have no desire to fight the crowds, your best bet is to stay at home, which is what we did. Last week was pretty damn crazy/crowded here. It was worse than Snowbird season, and most of those people had just departed, returning to the Great White North for the summer.

If anything like unto a serious natural or unnatural disaster happens here, you’d better be the first person out of town, otherwise, you may as well stay home. You won’t be going anywhere…

Everyone complains about traffic, it’s an universal complaint, no matter where you live. So even if you don’t have anything else to complain about, you’ll always have that. Or the weather. Although the weather here is extremely hard to complain about. It’s, well, pretty much per–

It’s okay.

But some people have a deep and abiding love of complaining. Back when I was a nurse, I knew a lots of people that loved to bitch and moan, and not all of them were patients. Some of the nurses I knew seemingly thought it was part of their job description.

Even here, in Heaven on Earth, there are people who look for things to complain about. I think they go through withdrawal, and they’ll jump on the most insignificant thing they can find, simply because they don’t have anything else to complain about. Lea and I got to meet a couple of these types of people a few weeks ago, and the issue at hand was the placement of our satellite dish.

We subscribed to Shaw Direct when we moved here. There are no cable companies in the Lakeside area. I don’t know if there are any cable companies in all of Mexico. Shaw is a Canadian television company, so we get a lots of Canadian shows, plus a few American networks. I’ve learned a lots about Canadia in the last several months, eh.

Beauty.

And like unto everyone else that lives in our development, we had our satellite dish placed on our roof. I mean, it seemed like the best place to put it…

The guy that lives two houses west of us on the other side of the street filed a complaint with the owner of the house we’re renting about our dish, but he didn’t say anything about it until six months after we had it installed. Six fucking months! This guy told Planet Janet that our dish was obstructing his scenic view, and he wanted our dish moved.

There’s a backstory to this. Planet Janet and her husband, Don Padrino del Basura, used to live in Casa del Selva. (That’s the really cool name of our house. It means House of the Forest, or something like unto that.) About fifteen years ago, the guy that complained about our dish got into some sort of an argument with Don and Janet, and he hadn’t spoken to either of them since. Until we moved in and had a satellite dish placed on our roof.

I contacted the guy who installed our dish, Michael E. Merryman. He’s a darling man, and sur’n he’s Irish. He came over, and we went up on the roof to survey the scene, and scouted out possible placement options, and he said wherever we moved it on the roof, someone would be able to see it, and they might object to its new position.

Our satellite dish is about four feet in diameter. It’s a good sized dish, no doubt. However, I’m not sure how much of an obstruction it would’ve posed to the guy living two houses west of us. It would certainly impact the view of the people living directly behind us, but they didn’t have any complaints that I’m aware of.

Michael couldn’t believe this had actually become an issue, and why did it take six months for someone to complain about?!?

Yeah, that was a good question.

Michael asked me to call him once we figured out where we wanted to put it, and he’d send his crew out to move it. And he added that we should make the guy who complained pay for having it moved. See? I told you he was a darling man. And although I liked the idea of making the guy two doors down pay for moving our dish, we decided not to do that.

Planet Janet came over, and Lea and I went up on the roof with her to survey the scene.  We looked everything over, and started brainstorming possible options for a new place for our satellite dish.

Yes, it would be visible no matter where it was on the roof. Lea and Planet Janet thought a good place would be on the western wall of our house, or possibly the southwestern part of the wall, right above my bathroom window.

I made this observation: the only place we could put our dish that it wouldn’t obstruct anyone’s view was way down by the bodega on the western side of our backyard, just off of our terraced patio.

“Then it’ll obstruct our view.” Lea replied.

The guy who registered the complaint happened to be outside, so we invited him to come up on the roof and give us his opinion. He told me he wasn’t trying to create any problems. I told him it was a little late for that. From my point of view, if he really didn’t want to create any problems, all he had to do was keep his mouth shut. And just for the record, the complaining guy has two satellite dishes on the roof of his house.

Be that as it may, he was reasonably pleased with our possible solutions and said any of them would be fine with him.

When we finished our negotiations on the roof, I decided I better check with the guy who lives next to us to make sure he didn’t have any objections to our possible placement solutions. Having a satellite dish on our roof didn’t impact his view of the world in the least. However, if we moved it to the wall next to his house, it might, and I didn’t want to have to move it a third time.

It’s probably a good thing I decided to talk to my neighbor because he turned out to be an asshole, and he didn’t want our dish on a wall that faced his house, whether he could see it or not.

“It wasn’t here when we left for the summer, and no one told me it was going to be there when we got back.”

He actually said that. Like we were supposed to contact him in Canadia to get his permission to install our satellite dish. For a moment, I thought about killing him…

To wrap this story up, our neighbor was okay with placing our dish down by the bodega, and that’s where it sits now, hidden from the view of all of our neighbors. And there is peace in our development once more.

* * * *

There was one other less than perfect event, and concerned our kit-ten, Samantha. About nine days ago, Lea and Sam went outside in the early morning hours. It was still dark. Sam, being a cat, decided to go look for things to chase in the bushes. She used to be really good at chasing things, but it’s something she rarely does anymore now that she’s old. She’s something like unto eighty years old in human years.

On this morning, Sam encountered what Lea thinks was another cat, and there was muchos hissing and howling in the bushes. Whatever it was that Sam had encountered had fled by the time Lea ran down into the yard, and it took another forty minutes for Sam to calm down enough to let Lea examine her.

Sam was clearly in pain. She limped when she walked, and every movement she made was done at great cost. We decided to take our kit-ten to see the vet.

Good news, no major injuries were discovered, but Sam was clearly in a lots of pain. The vet gave Sam an injection of a low dose of morphine, and Sam looked a whole lots better by the time we got her home.

Bad news, morphine is a narcotic, and one of the side effects of morphine can be constipation. After three days of no cat poop in the litter box, we decided to take our kit-ten back to the vet.

It turns out that feline constipation is more prevalent of a problem than one might think. The vet gave Sam an enema. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. About an hour later, Sam pooped, and we took her home. She’s pretty much back to her old self again, and I doubt Lea will ever let her kit-ten explore the yard in the dark again.

* * * *

You may not know this about me, but I love music. I have a few hundred CD’s, and I downloaded a ton of songs onto our PC. And the only reason I ever got a smartphone was because you can download music onto it.

And it was easy to do. Just plug your phone into your computer, pick the songs you want to load and Click! It was so simple, even I could do it!

And then we moved to Mexico, and I had to buy a Mexican cellphone. My Mexican cellphone and my American computer wouldn’t interface, and I couldn’t directly download any of my music onto my new mobile device.

I had to set up a Music Manager application on my computer through my Google Play® account, and download every single song, all seven thousand of them. It took eight days.

As the songs downloaded to Google Play®, they were then wirelessly transferred to my Mexican cellphone. I’ve spent the last eight days going through the seemingly endless list of songs, deleting the songs I didn’t want on my phone, and keeping the roughly one thousand songs I wanted to keep on my playlist.

My lovely supermodel wife thinks I am totally insane.

She may be right about that.

However, I have a playlist that is pretty much perfect for my life, and I don’t care who knows it. If you ever have about eighty hours that aren’t scheduled with other things to do, you could come down and listen to it. But you’d probably hate it here.

You could lay in the hammock, in the equatorial sunshine, and try to not look like an idiot getting out of it. The weather is…okay…at best. There are only a few thousand amazing places to eat, and you wouldn’t believe the prices. You do have to pay cash for almost everything, so you’ll  have to adjust to carrying a lots of  Monopoly® money. The Mexican people are incredibly friendly and polite, and they don’t care how badly you butcher their language. They simply appreciate that you make the attempt to learn Espanish.

It’s a lots to get used to, and not everyone is up to the task.  But the roads and the traffic, that’ll be the last straw.