The Waiting Game

Waiting Game is a hit song by the English pop group, Swing Out Sister. Rumor has it that Swing Out Sister was the only thing the members could agree on when they were trying to come up with a name for their group, and all of them agreed that they hated it.

SOS has had a number of hit songs over the years: Breakout, Surrender, Twilight World, and my personal favorite, Am I the Same Girl?

The answer is: Yes I am, yes I am. Just in cases you were wondering.

Their songs have catchy melodies. And Corinne Drewery has some serious pipes. I have several of their songs in various playlists. You can find their videos on the YouTube® if you’re interested. Or bored, which is highly probable.

My lovely supermodel wife was so bored yesterday that she washed both of our cars. It’s something she hasn’t done in more than a decade.

* * * *

How’s it going out there in Quarantine Land? Today is the 175th day of the month of April. Yeah, that is what it feels like. And I actually like staying at home. Vehicles equipped with loudspeakers have been cruising the streets here in the Lakeside Area broadcasting messages in English and Spanish, telling everyone to stay at home. But if you must leave your home, you better have a facemask on to avoid infection, fines, and death.

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Have a nice day! ¡Que tengas un buen dia!

Lea made masks for us a couple of weeks ago. She said they were easy to construct, and she was happy to do it. Good thing. We might be using them for the rest of the year. Maybe longer, you know, like, the rest of our lives.

The world has changed, has it not? And when this whole Coronavirus thing ends, it will not return to the way it used to be. I don’t think any of us can yet see the full impact this is going to make, but I have a feeling that it’s going to be significant.

I was skeptical about the Coronavirus initially. I thought everyone was overreacting when they started talking about social distancing, isolating at home, quarantine precautions, and cancelling every interesting sporting event on the planet until further notice.

I’m no longer skeptical, but I am bummed out that March Madness, the Masters, and, yes, every other sporting event for this year has been cancelled, postponed, or will be rescheduled for a much later date. Even the Summer Olympics!

Many of the articles I’ve read talk about extending the precautions, not shortening them or, God forbid, ending them. I’m sure this will all end someday, but I’m no longer sure that it will end soon.

We’ve been planning a trip back to the States. We were originally hoping for April. Then we were shooting for May. It’s starting to look like June, but it might not happen until July or August the way things are going.

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These advertisements sum up the current state of affairs very succinctly

A couple of our friends were planning on coming down to visit us this year. Maybe they’ll be able to get here by September, but possibly, not until next year…

* * * *

One of the things you have to adjust to when you retire is suddenly having a lots of idle time on your hands. I guess some of you could think of this time as a preview of what your retirement life will be like. If you find you’re not enjoying it much, do yourself a favor and start rethinking your plans for the future now.

Todd, Lea and I have been trying to keep ourselves busy with various projects and hobbies. Todd has been working on several goldarn things in the workshop. I know because he’s been using a variety of power tools.

Lea has reading books on her Kindle®. A lots of books. And she instituted Operation Opossum. She feeds the herd of opossums that stroll through our backyard at night. Fortunately, opossums eat almost anything, so they’re easy to feed. She even named two of them: Ollie and Opie.

If you want to know anything about opossums, ask Lea. She’s probably read two books about them by now.

* * * *

Todd created Operation Oranges for Orioles. He started by hanging oranges in the tree where Lea has her hummingbird feeder. That worked great, until the goddamn squirrels started devouring the oranges.

So we built a small wooden platform and put it in the triangle garden at the far end of the swimming pool. The birds are happy. The squirrels don’t dare come that far into the yard.

Mischief managed.

* * * *

Todd and Lea have been cooking their asses off in the kitchen. Let me tell you something, it is hell having to be quarantined with two chefs!

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The Swedish Chef and Christy Turlington. She really does look like Lea

Kind of by accident, I started listening to cooking shows on TV. I’ve listened to all the home improvement shows multiple times, and I was getting bored with them. I don’t actually do any home improvement, so it’s not like I needed to master any of the things they do. I don’t actually cook either, but Lea and Todd started watching the cooking shows. And they say things, like, Ooh! That looks like that would be fun to make!

Maybe it wasn’t an accident…

* * * *

I’ve been making sure everything is clean and tidy, and running smoothly here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We’ve had a couple of issues with the pool. All I have to do is call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, and let him know something needs to be repaired, and he takes care of everything else.

The solar heater for the pool seems to be about as reliable as the LG refrigerator we used to have. It’s been repaired once already this year, and needs to be repaired again. The guy who installed it, and already repaired it, is supposed to be here today. We’ll see if he actually shows up. Then we’ll see how long it takes to get the heater running again. And finally, we’ll see how long this repair will last…

We’ve been hanging out on the patio a lot lately, and seeing how we’ve all been spending so much time out there, Todd and I put our heads and resources together, and we constructed a stereo system on the patio to listen to music while we do stuff outside.

I had an Aiwa® receiver/CD player, but no speakers. Then Todd remembered he had a big box with two sets of Sony® speakers and a subwoofer, somewhere. All we had to do was figure out where he put them.

We did. The patio stereo sounds pretty damn good, but I think we need at least two more speakers to make it perfect. Four would be better, but I’ll settle for two. Todd hasn’t had anything to say about my idea because Lea thinks I’m out of my fucking mind, and he, wisely, doesn’t want to do anything to piss her off.

* * * *

For me, this quarantine experience has been like unto Retirement 2.0. I have idle time that I can’t fill with any of the activities I used to do because I had nothing else to do. Like, golf. My golf course closed at the beginning of April. It will reopen again when the lockdown ends, whenever that might be.

I’ve had to resort to gardening to fill the hours until we’re given the green light to resume our lives again. I’ve written about my experiences with gardening before. In short, it involved drinking beer and playing in the dirt.

Now, it’s just playing in the dirt. And it’s become a bit of an obsession for me. It started innocently enough. I repotted a few plants on the patio because I hadn’t paid enough attention to them and they were more or less dead.

That’s on me. I never should have ignored my responsibilities for my plants. Our maid, Monica, waters the plants when she cleans the patio, but I think she’s kind of hit or miss when it comes to watering. Her main focus is cleaning.

I’ve got my mind right now. I’m refocused, and I won’t falter in my duties again. I replanted the patio plants that weren’t completely dead in the backyard gardens, and it all went downhill from there. I spent all of last weekend working in the gardens, which was just about the stupidest thing I could do.

My back and my right knee filed for divorce from me on Monday.

* * * *

My back has been a major pain in my… back… for about the last week. Normally, it’s my lower back that bothers me. Now, it’s almost my entire spine from the third thoracic vertebrae my to my sacrum and coccyx.

I can’t sit for more than a few minutes. And moving around doesn’t always do much of anything to decrease my level of pain. I eat Motrin for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It helps, but nothing makes the pain completely go away. Swinging a golf club appears to have been doing my back far more good than I realized.

I’ve been working on this post for five days because I can only write one or two paragraphs at a time, and then I have to take a break. If I’m fortunate, I might finish it sometime this week.

* * * *

Okay, back to gardening…  I’m not a master gardener. I’m more of a Chance the Gardener — from the Jerzy Kosiński novel, Being There. It was also made into a movie starring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine.

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If you’re not interested in reading the novel, you can watch the movie. I love it

For those of you that don’t know, Chance was the original Forrest Gump. They’re both slow-witted, kind-hearted guys, and they both unwittingly influence everything that goes on around them. I resemble two of those three attributes.

I’m not a smart man, but I know a couple of things about playing in the dirt. Annual flowering plants are a quick way to add a lots of color to your garden. If you buy mature plants. And in a temperate climate, there’s a good chance these plants will automatically reseed themselves from year to year.

Further proof that I’m neither smart, nor a master gardener: I didn’t buy plants. I bought a bunch of packets of seeds. I’ve had some impressive results with marigold  and delphinium seeds down here, so I figured I’d have equal success with other flower seeds. All you have to do is sow them and abracadabra!

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See? I told you

I don’t know what kind of flower seeds I bought. The descriptions were in Spanish, and I was too lazy to translate the words. But the pictures showed pretty flowers. And that’s what I wanted. Pretty flowers with a lots of splashes of colors.

I picked three prime spots in the gardens, and I call them prime because other flowers were already growing around them. I cleared the areas, carefully planted my seeds, and watered them daily for a week. And not one flower sprouted. It’s probably closing in on two weeks as I write this, and I still haven’t seen anything that looks like unto a fucking flower shooting up out of the ground in those areas.

Todd says it’s possible they’ll sprout later this year, or even weirder, next year. I don’t doubt that he’s right, he knows far more about this stuff than I do. However, marigold seeds do not behave thusly. You throw them in the ground and they start growing immediately! All I know is that I’m incredibly bummed out right now.

Seeing no need to make any special preparation for my remaining seed packets, I picked a neglected corner of the gardens where nothing was growing – not even weeds – and dumped all of my remaining seeds on the ground, and watered it periodically.

I ended up with two hundred flower sprouts growing in about a ten inch by ten inch area. Yeah, of course that method worked. So, yes, I had amazing success, but no one needs that many flowers growing in a small area in a part of the garden that no one can see without a map and a pair of binoculars.

That’s how I ended up working in the garden for the entire weekend. I spent hours moving random groups of baby plants to multiple areas throughout the gardens. And I water the gardens daily. In a few months, maybe more, our gardens are going to look better than they ever have since we moved in. Maybe better than they ever have, period.

* * * *

Another thing we don’t do is go out to eat at any of the fabulous restaurants here in the Lakeside Area. We did that once after the Coronavirus precautions went into place. Our youngest daughter, Abigail, grounded us. On social media. From Minnesota.

* * * *

Social media has been both a blessing and a curse for me during this time. It’s been a blessing because I can stay connected to everyone that doesn’t hang out with me here in the living room. It’s been a curse because not all news is good news.

* * * *

Our very good friend from Arizona, Nikki Scheidecker, had a stroke last week. That came as a huge, unpleasant surprise to everyone that knows her. She’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met, and she’s only 45. It was described as a minor stroke, but she spent the better part of a week in ICU on IV medications trying to get her blood pressure under control.

I’m not a real nurse, but this doesn’t sound like a minor stroke to me.

Her husband, Justin, has been sending out daily updates on her status via Facebook. She was moved out of ICU today, and now her rehab can begin. We wish you the best of success, Nikki. And know that you are in our thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery.

* * * *

The other Curse of Social Media has been all of the political posts. I’ve been trying to decide how deep I want to wade into the mud, slime and ooze in this post. I just took a shower, and I’m loathe to get dirty again.

I don’t post a whole lots of political posts, but if I see something funny, I’ll probably share it. I’m not a political expert, I see myself as more of a political dilettante. I despise Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham. And all the rest of the Republicans. But I’m not in love with the Democrats by any means. I think both political parties suck ass, and all of the current members of Congress need to be sent packing.

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I found this newsflash to be especially outrageous, and shared it on the Facebook

The average American household lives paycheck to paycheck. The $1200 stimulus checks that some families will receive is a drop in the bucket compared to what they really need to keep their heads above water if they are unable to earn a living during this crisis.

If you make more than $99,000 to $198,000, depending on how you file your taxes, you’re not even eligible for a stimulus check. Unless you happen to be one of the above noted select number of millionaires.

President Trump fired the man who was supposed to oversee the disbursement of stimulus funds. And he has gone on record saying that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent.

* * * *

I foolishly thought that something The Donald did would have to backfire with his supporters. I figured this would be the something that even they couldn’t ignore.

I was wrong.

Donald Trump owns his supporters; heart and mind, body and soul. He could take a shit on their living room floor, and they would have it hermetically sealed and preserved to proudly display on their mantle. And their friends would be envious.

His hold on his supporters is bulletproof against logic, facts, and the truth because there is only one arbiter of the truth. Donald Trump. And EVERYONE else is lying. I don’t know what he put in his Kool-Aid, but that stuff is 100 proof.

Today, The Donald suggested injecting disinfectants into your veins as a possible treatment for COVID-19. This is his quote: “…And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.”

Roll up your sleeves and bend over, bitches. Trump supporters, you can jump to the front of the line. We don’t mind. After all, this is your boy talking here, and he can do no wrong.

I can’t wait to see how Dr. Donald’s Miracle Treatment works on you.

* * * *

There ended up being a fair amount of discussion on my Facebook post, both pro and con. And then the personal attacks began from the Trump supporters. It’s what their hero does all the time, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same.

One guy chimed in that I live in a shithole country, and I should just keep my mouth shut. He’s never been to Mexico, but he’s heard a lots of stories…

A couple of people wondered if I was going to get a stimulus check. The answer is no, there are people who need the money far more than I do, like, a forty thousand millionaires who need to keep making payments on their McMansions, and their vacation homes in the Hamptons. And they have car payments on their BMW’s and Mercedes.

Someone suggested that I was jealous. Nice try, but I live in a gringo mansion in the middle of Paradise, that came equipped with a gardener and a maid. And I pay less for all of that a month than you do for the house you live in that doesn’t have a support staff.

I covet nothing. I have nothing to be jealous of.

I understand the need and the hardships that people are going through. We’ve made donations to more than one of the local food banks, as well as more than one of the local organizations that are trying to help all of the people that have been unable to provide for their families because they can’t work right now.

Hey Jealousy, can you say the same?

That same person added that some Mercedes and BMW vehicles are made in the USA. They’re probably made in China, too. What’s your point? Our Buick Encore was made in South Korea. It doesn’t mean, or even prove anything.

* * * *

Pop Quiz!

Pick the American car company because you want to Buy American:

A.) Toyota

B.) Mercedes

C.) Chevrolet

D.) BMW

Please take the quiz and leave a comment. I’ll post the results.

* * * *

And then the guy that suggested I was jealous implied that I was having sex with our maid. This guy has been a friend of mine since the 1970’s. We’re probably still friends, but it’s not the same anymore. I doubt it ever will be.

So, well done, my friend. You successfully defended a man who wouldn’t cross the street to piss on you if you were on fire. And he sure as hell wouldn’t let you be a member of any of his country clubs.

Big deal! I don’t play golf, so I don’t care!

No, you probably don’t. And once again, you’ve missed my point entirely.

I’m a guy. I might forget that you hit me below the belt, Bill. But I will never forgive you for doing it.

¡Que tengas un buen dia, pinche culero!

La Cuarentena

How’s everyone surviving the mandated isolation precautions?

When this all started I had no idea if this pandemic thing was serious or not. I’ve gotten past that. COVID-19 is a particularly nasty form of viral pneumonia. I had pnuemonia way, way back when I was a kid. It almost killed me to death way back then. I’m not in a hurry to press my luck a second time with that shit.

I’ve seen people die from a cytokine storm before. It’s a terrible way to die.

But in an attempt to provide some balance in this exercise, there are worse things than contracting COVID-19. You could be a Trump supporter. People that have been infected with the Coronavirus appear to have at least a 98% chance of recovering and getting better.

* * * *

In terms of complying with the Stay at Home orders we’ve all been dealing with, I’m the kind of guy that if you tell me I can’t do something, I’m going to try to find a way to do it anyway. I’ve talked to a few people down here who also struggled with this when the pandemic precautions were first instituted.

You have to learn to pick your battles.

That was probably the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn in my life. Russ Bacon, one of my friends and co-workers at the MVAMC told me that. Several times. Just in cases you are also someone that has had trouble with this, I’m going to give you some advice that you can ignore, much like I did for a long time:

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You’re only one person, not the US military. And even they pick their battles

* * * *

I hope you’re all doing well and haven’t gone completely batshit crazy being stuck at home with the people you love most. Yeah, those annoying assholes. A lots of my real friends and virtual friends have been complaining about being bored to death while they’ve been stuck at home on social media. I’d like to take this opportunity to remind them of something: To the best of my knowledge, you can’t actually die to death from boredom.

The entire world has essentially become the Hotel California. On the bright side, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live in Iowa, now you know. And remember this, sooner or later the quarantine will end and a day will come when you wish you were still being told to stay the fuck at home.

That’s kind of how life works.

* * * *

Aside from my golf course closing for the entire month of April, my life hasn’t really been affected all that much by the government lockdown. I’m retired. I get paid to do nothing. And I’ve discovered that I’m really pretty damn good at it. If I could do my life over, this would be my dream job.

That said, it is nice to get out of the house every now and then. Yesterday, we all took a trip to the golf course so Todd and I could retrieve our golf clubs. Lea drove our new car. She loves to drive, and she probably needed to get out of the house more than any of us, if only for an hour.

Todd and I might want to practice chipping in the backyard or something seeing how we can’t play golf right now. We’re either going to end up really good at chipping, or we’re going to be replacing a few windows. Maybe both…

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Hey, Rocky! Watch me pull a rabbit out of my–sonuvabitch!!!

On the way back from the golf course we stopped at Soriana. It’s like unto the Mexican version of Walmart. We needed a few groceries. And stuff. Todd and Lea knew what they were looking for because they do all the cooking. I wandered through the aisles purposelessly while they shopped because I didn’t need anything.

I spent ten minutes seriously perusing everything in the Barbie® aisle. And I wasn’t even stoned! Or planning on buying a Barbie® doll.

* * * *

Despite my earlier stated aversion to work, even I can’t sit on my ass all day. I’ve been busy doing stuff here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. I thought I had completed all of the things on my To-Do list a couple of weeks ago, but then I remembered all of the things I had procrastinated on doing for so long that I had forgotten all about them.

They were things that involved climbing a ladder. I can’t say that I’m afraid of heights, but I’m a lots less comfortable with them as I’ve gotten older. And I should clarify this statement. I don’t have any problems climbing a ladder. It’s the descent part that I seem to have problems with.

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I’ve taken more than one misstep on a ladder in my lifetime. Based on my personal research on this, it’s true what they say. The falling part isn’t that bad. It’s the sudden impact at the end that fucks you up.

I don’t think I’ve ever broken any bones falling off of a ladder, but my right knee cringes every time it even sees a ladder. Thankfully, almost everything involving a ladder has been sorted out for now, so my right knee can relax for awhile.

* * * *

I’ve been doing a little gardening over the last couple of weeks. I used to do a lots of gardening back when we lived in Minneapolis. My lovely supermodel wife loves gardens, but she hates gardening. She asked me to put some flower gardens in the backyard for her, so I became a gardener.

Our gardens in Minnesota looked great.

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See? I told you

I attribute that to the secret formula I had developed for successful gardening:

Step 1.) Buy some plants and flowers and stuff.

Step 2.) Open a beer and start drinking.

Step 3.) Dig holes in the garden and plant flowers and stuff until you run out of things to plant. Or beer.

Gardening back then was probably a lots more fun than it is now, which is one reason why I only do a little gardening now. That, and anything that involves me having to get on my knees is a very time sensitive undertaking. That’s the primary reason I only do a little gardening.

* * * *

I started doing some housework last Saturday because we told Monica, our maid, to take a few weeks off until all this Coronavirus stuff settles down. She’s still getting paid, so you don’t have to worry about that.

It didn’t seem fair that we should just wait for her to return to work before the house was ever cleaned again. Besides, we have two kit-tens, and they shed hair like unto an elm tree dropping its leaves in October. Last week, I vacuumed up enough cat hair to knit two sweaters. It wasn’t as bad this week, and there’s a reason for that.

Unlike my dad, I have no problem doing housework. My mom had eight kids. She put us to work doing chores around the house as soon as we could walk. And I think it’s important to have a division of labor in a modern relationship. No woman ever shot her husband while he was doing the dishes. Or vacuuming the floors. It’s probably saved my life more than once.

I vacuumed the entire house last Saturday. It took me two hours. I’m very thorough when I clean. I’m even more thorough than Monica, and she’s the best housekeeper we’ve ever had. It’s a byproduct of being a nurse, and working in the OR for a couple of years.

I use all of the attachments on our Dyson® when I vacuum. I move furniture. I remove all the cushions on our couches and suck up all the crumbs and stuff that collect under them. That’s why there wasn’t as much cat hair this week. I’m sometimes capable of an incredible single-mindedness of purpose, especially if I’m wielding a vacuum cleaner.

Today, I vacuumed the floors again, and Todd followed along behind me and mopped them. All of the floors are clean and the whole house smells like lavender. My lovely supermodel wife had had a few reservations about living with two guys when Todd moved in with us. But between cooking and cleaning, Lea says she thinks she’ll keep both of us around for awhile.

And no, we can’t come over to clean your house next week. I mean, we could, but we’re not supposed to leave the house…   I find doing these mindless kind of tasks is good for me. It gives me something to do while my brain, and my Muses, sort out what they want to write about.

That’s one of the downsides to being a writer. You never stop thinking about writing.

I’ve been trying to write my blog, but I haven’t felt all that inspired to write lately, even though I haven’t had much of anything else to do. It’s taken me about a week to get this far with this installation. That’s because I have been very inspired to delete everything I’ve written and start all over several times already. I’m not disappointed with this one so far, so I might actually post it when I’m done.

* * * *

One of the things that I did earlier this week when I got bored was I downloaded a bunch of CD’s onto our laptop and updated my music collection.

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I love music, but I have an intense dislike for our laptop. I should probably start spending some quality time with it. You know, get to know it better, become buddies with it; something like unto that.

I say that for a couple of reasons. One, it took me a few hours to figure out how to upload the CD’s I had ripped to the Windows Media Player® to my Google® Music account because I haven’t done it in a couple of years. And then I had to remember how to transfer the songs I wanted to all of my mobile devices. If I did that kind of stuff more often, I wouldn’t get as frustrated with it.

And it just occurred to me that it’d probably make writing my blog a helluvalot easier if I typed it on the laptop. I’m not sure if I thought of that or if someone just inserted that thought into my head because I’m evidently too goddamn stupid to think of it myself.

I’ll have to give this thought more thought…

I write almost everything on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2®. I used to use my phone, so as hard as it might be to imagine, this is actually an improvement. I’ve gotten used to it over time, and it’s not like I have a deadline with any of the things I write.

At any rate, when I finally got all of the songs ripped, uploaded, downloaded, and transferred, I decided to create a few playlists to suit the four or five moods that I apparently still have.

One classical music playlist. Two rock and roll playlists; one male, one female. One country music playlist, all women. And one easy listening playlist, both male and female artists, with music you’d play at 3:00 AM when you’re coming down from an acid trip and you don’t want to fall off the ladder. Or wake up the neighbors.

I’m listening to the Guys That Rock playlist as I sit on the patio by the pool and slowly type this. Todd is floating in the pool. Lea is sitting to my right playing games on her Samsung Galaxy Tab E®.

Our backyard runs parallel to the first fairway of the Chula Vista Golf Course. A small forest of old growth trees lines the hillside of the golf course. They keep most of the errant golf balls fired in our direction out of our yard. By accident or design, the trees have also turned our backyard into kind of a bird sanctuary.

Lea feeds the violet crowned hummingbirds. We don’t have the hordes of hummingbirds we used to have at our last house, but we have enough of them to keep her happy. Todd puts out oranges for the altamira and summer orioles, and the blue mockingbirds. Vermillion flycatchers and pink house finches flit from tree to tree in a flash of color. If I remember, I’ll try to get some pictures. 

* * * *

Evening is falling here in the Lakeside Area. The rufous backed robins are chirping in the trees, signaling the end of another day. When it gets darker, the nightjars and the whip-poor-wills will add their lilting calls to the night.

In the dead of night I can hear owls hooting in the trees, but I’ve never seen an owl in Mexico. Maybe that’s a good thing. In Native American folklore, owls are a symbol of impending death…

In the morning, the great kiskadees will erupt in raucous chorus impelling you to wake up and get out of bed because a new day has dawned and it’s time to get moving. Now!! I guess they didn’t get the memo that everyone is sheltering at home, and no one needs to be in a rush to move from the bedroom to the living room…

So stay safe, and stay home. This, too, shall pass.

And if you can’t stay home because you work in an essential business, all I can say is Thank You for the service you’re providing. And to my friends and former co-workers in the healthcare profession, we owe you a debt that cannot be repaid.

And if any of you need a vacation after the dust settles, contact me. We have plenty of room, and a pool. And stuff.

And you can choose which playlist you want to listen to…

From A Million Miles

From a Million Miles is a technopop/electronic dance song by the Australian trio Single Gun Theory. I’m not a big fan of the genre, but I do have that song on one of my playlists. If you don’t have anything else to do, you can listen to it on The YouTube®.

It’s kind of a catchy song. And the title more or less sums up how living in a foreign country can sometimes feel when you miss your family and friends. And stuff…

 * * * *

How’s everybody doing? I hope you’ve all been able to stock up on toilet paper, bottled water, and hand sanitizer so you don’t get killed to death by the Coronavirus. We’re safe here in Mexico because we drink Corona® beer. It contains all the antibodies you need to develop immunity to the pandemic that’s wreaking havoc everywhere else on the planet.

Honestly, I have no idea what’s really going on out there in the real world. I don’t watch the news. Social media seems to be the most effective way to spread misinformation. Ever.

I figure most of us will survive this latest crisis, much like we’ve survived everything else that was supposed to destroy the world. Or we won’t. And life will go on.

The bottom line is this: there’s a bunch of rich, white, seventy year old men in America with dementia and intransigent political alliances, and they are going to fix everything.

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What could possibly go wrong?

* * * *

I am seriously embarrassed by the current state of American politics, and if you aren’t, you should be. Even if you’re not an American. I’ve come to the conclusion that the current system of government isn’t just broken, it’s FUBAR. For those of you that are unaware, it’s a military acronym that means: Fucked Up Beyond All Repair.

I’d like to be able to blame Donald Trump and his political sycophants for destroying the country of my birth, but all they did was drive the final stake in its heart.

It’s no secret that I dislike President Trump. He has taken being a hypocrite to a whole ‘nother level. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, or principles that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie their stated beliefs.

The Donald is more of a triplocrit. And here’s how he does it: 1.) He says or does something outrageous. 2.) He denies that he did or said anything. 3.) He smugly admits to doing/saying that which he had previously denied, but says it’s not a big deal. Or it’s not illegal. Or what are you going to do about it. Or something…

I haven’t been following his antics as closely ever since my Twitter account was permanently suspended last year. I still get updates from my friends on Facebook about what The Donald has been up to. Okay, they despise Trump, too. So they never have anything good to say about him. 

Trump, if nothing else, has clearly defined the lines of divisiveness that separate the two major American political parties. He probably used a Sharpie®…

The People With Brains, my name for the people that oppose Trump, are absolutely mystified how the Walmart Intelligensia, my name for the people that worship Trump, can be so taken in by this two-bit charlatan.

There might be an explanation in the Bible: “…they look but do not see, and they listen, but do not hear nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:13.

But one line in the Bible can be used to support almost any argument.

“They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31. I could claim that this bit of scripture prophesied the Philadelphia Eagles beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2018.

God, if He had anything to do with Donald Trump being elected, is clearly working in mysterious ways because that’s apparently the only way He knows how to work. And if this is going to be one of His lessons for humanity, there are going to be a whole lots of dunces facing the corner wearing funny hats when this is over.

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As I’ve said before, guys are not typically known for their profound thoughts. Guys are simple creatures. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. That’s a guy thought. If it is broken and you can’t fix it, it’s time to get a new goldarn thing. That is also a deeply profound guy thought.

It’ll probably require another American revolution to fix this goddamn goldarn mess of a thing, but that political/socioeconomic battle won’t be fought until long after I’m dead.

I tried to warn the Millennials, but they haven’t heard me yet. It’s time to vote every fucking member of Congress from my generation out of office, and put them out to pasture where they belong.

I’m not going to tell you little bastards that again.

* * * *

One of the best things about living in Mexico is we don’t have to watch or listen to any American political ads if we don’t want to. We did have to endure Canadian political ads last year. Yep. They were annoying, too.

I love living here. The climate is temperate. The people here are genuinely sweet. The food is amazing! The cost of living is doubly amazing!! We live in a beautiful gringo mansion that we wouldn’t be able to afford back the States. I get to hang out with the love of my life and enjoy spending this blessed time of our lives together. And we have kit-tens!!

Some of my Facebook friends have told me they are fascinated by my decision to live in Mexico. Well, if they’re that interested, I hope they start reading my blog. That’s right, Ryan McKenzie, I’m talking to you.

He was my first boss at Aurora Behavioral Health in Glendale, AZ. I accepted the job because of him. He was highly regarded and recommended by my co-workers at St. Luke’s Hospital in Phoenix. I decided to find a new job after my first work wife, Deb Goral, left the Evening shift and started working Days. It wasn’t as much fun without her, so I decided to move on.

Ryan is the Program Director of the SAGE Unit now. That’s the Gero/Psych unit I worked on at Banner Del Webb Medical Center in Surprise, AZ. As one of the doctors I worked with at Del Webb told me when I left there, “It’s a small world in Psychiatry here in Phoenix. We’ll probably run into each other again.”

He was right about that. I worked with him again at Aurora.

* * * *

If you’re one of the seven people that have ever read any of my blogs, you might have noticed that I changed the title of my page. I originally started writing about my career as a psych nurse, and I called it Reflections. As time has progressed, I’ve been less reflective about my nursing career and more reactive to just about anything. I’m all over the spectrum with what I write now.

If I can’t think of anything else to write about, I tend to ramble on about living in Mexico, so I decided to add that to the title to emphasize it a bit more. I don’t want to give anyone the wrong idea about what they’re going to find here.

* * * *

As much as I love living here, life in Mexico isn’t without its challenges. Case in point, the fireplace in our living room.

In my last post, I mentioned we were shopping for a gas insert for the fireplace in the living room. We have three fireplaces here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. They all have gas lines installed, but none of them have the requisite inserts that make them functionable.

We found an insert at Baja Grills, and Lea was able to negotiate a sweet deal on it with Kat. It was one of those Just Between Two Supermodels Things…  Lea bought the insert for less than five hundred bucks, which is about half of what you’d usually pay for one down here.

However, before we bought it Lea wanted to know if the gas line to the fireplace actually worked. I suppose I could have just turned one on, you know, to check. But I don’t like playing with gas, so I decided to call our property manager, Jaime Mendoza.

And there was this: I thought Lea was being ridiculous because the gas lines were already in place! And who would be stupid enough to run a gas line to the fireplace and not hook it up to the propane tank???

So, I talked to Jaime, and he talked to Lord Mark. He’s the guy that owns the house we’re renting. They were both pretty sure all the fireplaces worked because Lord Mark’s parents had burned wood fires in all of them. When I asked again about the gas lines, Jaime couldn’t think of any reason why they wouldn’t work.

Based on that information we bought the insert, but when the guy came to install it we discovered that none of the gas lines to any of the fireplaces worked. At some point in time in the past, the original gas line had been replaced with a new and improved gas line. But the new line ran from the propane tank to the water heater for the bathrooms in the North Wing of the house.

And the fucking fireplaces had not been reconnected!!!

The installer from Baja Grills was a Mexican guy named Saul. He took one look at how the new line had been installed, and said, “Fucking Mexico.” And then he said, “It takes a Mexican to fix a Mexican problem.”

l love that because truer words have never been spoken.

Saul gave us an estimate to run a new gas line from the propane tank to the living room fireplace. Fourteen thousand pesos. That’s roughly equivalent to $700 US. It’s not a huge amount of money, but it’s more than Lea or I wanted to spend on a house that we don’t own.

So I talked to Jaime again, and he came over to eyeball the situation for himself. Jaime said he didn’t know about the replacement gas line. And if Lord Mark had known about it, he had forgotten all about it. And Jaime had had the same thought I did. He couldn’t imagine the gas lines not working either.

However, Lord Mark thought it was important that the living room fireplace actually worked like a fireplace, so he agreed to pay for the installation of a new gas line. And it would be much cheaper than the estimate Saul had given us. “I think that guy gave you a gringo-face price.”

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I had never heard that term before, but I don’t doubt that it’s true, too

It took Tacho, our general fix-it guy, two days to hook up the new gas line. Tacho loves working here because I let him use any of my tools that he needs, and I always tip him well for his services.

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And there you have it

One working fireplace! I don’t know if Lord Mark would’ve been willing to run new gas lines to all the fireplaces here. I doubt we’d ever use the other two, and we love it here, so we don’t want to create any undue expenses for stuff we don’t want or need.

We painted the fireplace in the master bedroom to make it pop! Seriously, you wouldn’t have known it was even there before we added the accent color to the chimney. They both turned out great and we’ll probably never have to mess with either of them again.

* * * *

Mexico. The land where things that you think will be easy to do or find end up being Herculean labors of frustration. And things that you think are going to be almost impossible to accomplish end up being easier than tying your shoes.

That’s what happened when we found this house. And when we needed to get a new car. Lea and I are changing our living status in Mexico from temporary to permanent this year, and once we do that we are required by law to drive a Mexican plated car. 

In order to be legally registered and licensed in Mexico, every car has to have been manufactured in Mexico, Canada, or the United States. I think it’s part of the NAFTA treaty, or whatever it’s called now. Our American made Buick Encore was actually assembled in South Korea. We couldn’t get it licensed here even we we wanted to.

Buying a car in Mexico isn’t the same as buying a car in the States. Prices for almost everything in the States are fixed, except cars. You can negotiate the sales price of the vehicle you want, and salesmen will literally kiss your feet if means getting a sale. In Mexico, a lots of prices are flexible, except cars. The dealer has one price, and if you don’t like it, well, that’s too bad for you.

On the bright side, cars are about 40% cheaper in Mexico than they are in the States. Yep, you read that correctly. The car we’re thinking about buying will cost us roughly $18,000 US.

In America, no one pays cash at a dealership. Cars are financed, and you have a monthly car payment for years. In Mexico, financing is something they’re still trying to figure out. If you really want to buy a decent car, you better be able to pay cash for it when you go to the dealership.

And, you should have a reputable mechanic look over any car you want to buy here because not everything is as advertised. Odometer readings are often changed to reflect lower mileage, so if nothing else, there’s always that. Additionally, cars that have damaged by floods in the US are frequently shipped to Mexico to be sold. So there’s that, too.

We hired a local guy named Antonio Regalado to find a new car for us. He owns and runs a business called R &R Car Sales and Rentals to help gringos find good cars, and comes highly recommended by everyone we know that has done business with him. He’s kind of a mercenary car salesman — he doesn’t work for any dealership — but he works with a few of them and they usually pay his fees for hooking up gringos looking for cars with dealerships that have a lots of cars to sell.

Antonio does all the talking to the salesmen, the managers, and anyone else who might be involved in the sale at the dealership. And he kept us updated on everything that was happening.

We met with him Monday for about half an hour at his office, and told him what we were looking for. We gave him a list of the options we wanted and the year, make, and model of the SUV’s we were interested in. Half an hour later, we had a list of six SUV’s to choose from, along with Antonio’s perspective on which was the best buy.

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These are our top two choices

The first is a 2017 Kia Sportage GT. It has 45,000 kilometers. The GT package means it has a bigger engine and comes with a fair amount of bells and whistles. The second is a 2018 Nissan X-Trail. It has 59,000 kilometers and it has almost every bell and whistle available for that model. And it’s red.

Antonio drove us to Guadalajara today to the dealership to take a closer look at both of them. Personally, the only thing I care about in my automobiles is that they have a great sound system, which makes me the least qualified person on the planet when it comes to buying a car. So it’s a good thing I have people around me who know what the hell they’re doing.

This process has transpired a helluvalot faster than any of us thought it would. I thought it would take a couple of weeks at least, not two days! Our financial planner didn’t think it would happen this quickly either, so she has had to scramble to get us the funds we need to buy Lea’s new dream car. 

There’s an unwritten rule for shopping in Mexico: If you find something you like, buy it. It won’t be there the next time. We’ve failed to do that enough times that we don’t question it anymore. Lea loves the X-Trail. And it has a Bose® stereo sound system. Done deal.

And here’s where the really weird part comes in. Before a Mexican dealership can sell you a car, the Mexican government requires that you have to prove you actually live in Mexico. And proof of residency, according to the government, is a utility bill. An electric bill. Telephone, TV, or Internet. All you need is a bill with your name on it, and you could buy a whole fleet of cars if you wanted to.

We don’t own the house we’re living in. None of the utility bills we pay have our names on them. We have a signed copy of the rental contract, but the Mexican government doesn’t recognize it as legal proof of residency. They don’t recognize driver’s licenses either.

Yeah, go figure on that!

Seeing how we live here, but don’t have the required documents of proof, we’re trying to figure out how to make this work. A bank statement will suffice, but first we have to open an account in a Mexican bank, then wait until we receive our first bank statement. This being Mexico, and assuming that will be an easy thing, it could take months for that to happen.

But we do have an Antonio. And as everyone knows, it takes a Mexican to fix a Mexican problem.

Q & A

It’s been a busy year so far at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We’ve had illnesses, cancer scares, and various and sundry other medical issues that needed treatment.

I  had the Mexico City Flu, and a couple of precancerous lesions by my right eye that were removed in January. At the same time, our roommate, Todd, had a Shingles outbreak around his right eye. It took about three weeks, but that has resolved, so things are getting back to normal for both of us again.

Our kit-tens, Mollie and Mika, are doing great. Mollie is helping me type right now, so this could take a while. Kit-tens are apparently immune to the flu. And Shingles. They’re still the cutest kit-tens ever.

* * * *

We’ve had visitors in February. Our beautiful and talented oldest daughter, Gwen, and her husband, John, were here for a week. While they were here, we had a major plumbing problem with the kitchen sink. It started leaking. And then it stopped draining.

I can usually fix most simple plumbing leaks on my own, but this is Mexico. I’m not sure if there are any construction codes in Mexico, and if there are, they’re probably viewed in the same manner that traffic laws are. They’re more like unto suggestions than anything else.

The pipes under the kitchen sink are a perfect example of that.

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The plumbing looks something like unto this…

So I called Jaime Mendoza, our property manager, and he called Tacho, our general fix-it guy. Tacho looked at the weird configuration of pipes and started swearing in Spanish.

“Now you know why I wanted you here.” I said.

It took Tacho two weeks to fix the leak because he would fix one leak, and another one would mysteriously appear. After the first week, we were pretty sure that dynamite would be the best solution because houses in Mexico are made of concrete. But Tacho preserved, and he eventually fixed all of the leaks and cleared out the huge clog from somewhere under the kitchen floor without having to resort to explosives.

* * * *

We also had a couple of issues with our swimming pool. The solar heater stopped heating, and there was a leak in one of the pumps. Those problems took closer to a month to fix because the replacement parts had to be ordered from Guadalajara, and then the repairmen had to be reminded that they had to come back to install the new parts, even though they had the parts that needed to be installed.

There was a defective valve in the solar heater. Once that was replaced, it worked better than it ever has. Our solar heater isn’t the top of the line model, so we ordered five solar heating lilly pads to augment the heater from a guy named Rodrigo. He owns a garden store that sells a lots of pool equipment. We’re going to pick them up later today. The total cost on those is less than $50 US.

And the leaking pump was sorted out with a new gasket.

Mischief. Managed.

* * * *

The heat shields on my propane grill needed to be replaced because they had more or less disintegrated in the eleven years that I’ve been using it. Finding replacement parts for your grill isn’t a big deal in the States. It’s a huge deal in Mexico. The easiest way to replace the three heat shields here seemed to be to buy a new propane grill, and while a lots of things are way less expensive in Mexico, propane grills aren’t one of them.

And then I met Ed and Kat. Ed is grizzled-looking gringo who kind of retired down here, but still wants to work for some unfathomable reason. Kat may or may not be Ed’s wife. She’s a very attractive Latina, probably thirty years younger than Ed. She has really big eyes, so she’s a lots of fun to talk to.

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I love the Google Image Search!

Ed opened a shop called Baja Grills that sells propane grills and smokers. And fishing bait and supplies. And hot tubs. And fireplace inserts. And stuff…  He didn’t have the replacement heat shields I needed, so he made new ones for me. They probably cost me $60 US. 

Winter in the Lakeside Area lasts about a month — from the middle of December to the middle of January. It doesn’t get freezing-ass cold here, but there’s about a ten degree difference between the outside temperature and the temperature inside of the cavernous gringo mansion we’re renting.

It’s colder inside of our house than it is outside. We have three gas fireplaces at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa, but none of them have the requisite inserts that make them functionable. Probably because propane fireplace inserts are outrageously expensive down here, too. 

We have three portable propane heaters that we use during the coldest month of Winter. But one of Ed and Kat’s fireplace inserts might work perfectly in our living room fireplace. Lea and I are going to go take a closer look at it later today…  It’ll all depend on what kind of deal we can get.

* * * *

And there’s been golf. Todd and I play at least three times a week, sometimes more often depending on how we feel. So far, we tend to take turns having reasonably decent rounds of golf. Last Sunday, we played 36 holes of golf. I beat Todd by three strokes on the front nine with an 89. We both shot 88 on the second 18.

Yesterday, we both sucked.

I started playing golf back in my thirties because it was the only way I could talk with my dad. He loved to play golf, and he was a wicked good golfer. My favorite part about golf back then was I could drink beer and smoke cigarettes while I golfed. And there was that whole hitting the shit out of a little white ball thing…

The more I golf, the less it resembles what I thought it was in my youth. “Good golfers hit the ball as hard as they can. Great golfers hit the ball as hard as they need to.” I can’t remember who said that, but he was right. I would add this: Good golfers have a strategy. Great golfers are able to execute it. 

Golf is like unto playing chess with an opponent that never moves any of its pieces. Hitting the shit out of a little white ball has become the least important part of my game anymore.

Strategy was something I had no concept of until I started playing in the Go-Go tournaments at my country club. Go-Go is like unto regular golf, except with a twist. Or two. And that’s where all the strategy comes into play. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dave Naisby and Bill Merrell. They’re the guys that organize and coordinate the Go-Go tournaments at the Country Club de Chapala.

I can’t say they’ve made me a good golfer, but I suck a whole lots less than I did three years ago.

And then there’s that whole balance thing. I need to be physically relaxed when I hit a golf ball because my fucked up back can take only so much abuse. If my swing isn’t relaxed and fluid, I’m going to be in for a long and very painful day. But my mind has to be laser-focused because half of this game is 90% mental. And trust me when I say this: I can be too relaxed when I golf sometimes, and that’s not good.

It’s an odd set of contradictions that I have to manage every time I pick up a golf club. Sometimes it works very well. And those are the days that keep me coming back for more abuse.

It’s kind of like being a psych nurse, except the pay is worse. But you meet way fewer assholes.

* * * *

I’ve spent a few days trying to imagine this post as a question and answer piece about my nursing career. Or just a question and answer thing about anything. There’s one major obstacle to this concept. No one ever asks me anything about being a nurse. Come to think of it, they don’t ask me about much of anything else either.

So if I’m going to do this, it’s going to be all my imagination.

There’s one compelling reason for me to go down this road. A couple of my former patients have been on my mind lately. And I’ve learned not to ignore those things when they happen.

* * * *

What was the most heartbreaking thing that happened when you were a nurse?

The suicides. I was a psych nurse for thirty years. I couldn’t tell you how many of the people I had a role in caring for killed themselves after they were discharged from the hospital. There were dozens of them. In 1990, twelve Vietnam veterans at the MVAMC took their lives in one month.

I remember my first patient who took his life at the Minnesota State Hospital in Anoka. He drowned himself in the Rum River. I remember the last one, too. He was at St. Luke’s in Phoenix. He had had a stroke, and the day before he was discharged he met with everyone on the evening shift to thank them and say goodbye. He shot himself two days later.

And I vividly remember each of the five patients that killed themselves while they were still in the hospital. Those are things you never forget, no matter how much you try. If I exclude the suicides, there’s one person who jumps to the top of the list. That said, I probably have a hundred stories similar to hers.

* * * *

Her name was Audrey. I met her at the Minneapolis VAMC. She was a sweet woman in her forties. She was admitted for depression, and if I remember correctly, a lengthy list of somatic complaints. She was a cancer survivor, so one possibility was her cancer had returned.

As I’ve said before, diagnosing is essentially a process of ruling out all of the things that aren’t wrong with you until your doctor figures out what’s left. The first thing her doctor did was order a full body CT scan.

One of the great things about working at the VA was the ease of doing consults with other specialty clinics. Sometimes the consulting physicians would come to the unit, but usually we had to transport our patients to the various departments, then return them to the unit when their consult was done. 

I was transporting Audrey in a wheelchair to Radiology for her CT Scan. And she told me this story:

“I remember when this began. I had just turned 30 when the pain started. I went to see a doctor. Hell, I went to a lot of doctors. And none of them could find anything wrong with me. One of them said my pain was a figment of my imagination. You know, like I was crazy. After awhile, my friends all started thinking I was crazy. It went on for months. After about a year, even I started thinking I was crazy.

“It was so frustrating. There was nothing wrong with me, but the pain was unbearable. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t have a life. All I did was go from one doctor to the next, only to hear the same fucking thing: All your tests have come back negative. We can’t find anything physically wrong with you…

“And then I was diagnosed with cancer, and this is going to sound really crazy, but I almost felt happy! I think I cried genuine tears of joy when I heard that! I was so relieved because it wasn’t just all in my head. There really was something wrong with me! I wasn’t crazy!! That’s just so fucked up, isn’t it?”

I couldn’t answer her. She looked back over her shoulder to see if I was still there. I was trying unsuccessfully to choke back my tears. 

* * * *

What’s the weirdest thing you saw in your nursing career?

There’s a lots of competition for this one. Lesbian encounters in the night. Guys accidentally getting foreign objects stuck up their asses. Guys jamming foreign objects into their penises. The list goes on. And on…  But the hands down winner has to be the guy that drove his girlfriend from Arizona to Michigan. It doesn’t sound that weird, except she was dead for most of the trip.

I don’t have any other stories like unto this one.

Her name was Christine. She was 31 years old, and was a frequent flyer at Aurora Behavioral Health in Glendale, AZ. She was a dual diagnosis patient, meaning on top of her psychiatric issues she was also chemically dependent. In layman’s terms, Christine was a trainwreck. She was one of the most exhausting patients I’ve ever met, and I wasn’t her nurse. Now that I think about it, she wasn’t even on my unit, and I probably spent more time interacting with her than I did with all of my patients combined. 

Christine lives forever in my Top Five Patients From Hell List.

In June of 2014, Christine was discharged from the hospital. She was picked up by Ray, her 62 year old boyfriend, and Ray’s 93 year old mother. We cheerfully waved goodbye as they all climbed into Ray’s van and headed off to Michigan. We prayed that they all made it there safely and never returned to Arizona again. Ever.

Christine probably accidentally overdosed on her discharge medications by swallowing the entire contents of a bottle of OxyContin on purpose, and then died to death somewhere in Oklahoma. See? I told you she was a trainwreck.

And then the weird part happened. Rather than stop and report what happened to the police, Ray put a pair of sunglasses on her face, placed a teddy bear on her lap, and kept on driving.

Across hot and humid Oklahoma to steamy Missouri, through sweltering Indiana into Illinois — you get the picture– stopping only for gas, fast food and bathroom breaks until he made it to Michigan. And then Ray decided to notify the police that something had happened to his girlfriend. It didn’t take the police long to figure out what was wrong because Christine’s body had begun to decompose. 

Police chose not to press any charges against Ray. Or his mother.

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This is Ray. The story of his road trip made National News. You could look it up on the Google…

* * * *

When I first envisioned this post, I had imagined a lots more questions and a few more stories. And then I realized most of my stories bear a lots of similarities to each other, so there’s that.

It might explain why no one asks me a lots of questions.

Skin Deep

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” ~ Margaret Wolfe Hungerford

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.” ~ Mark Edward Rowen

“Love between the ugly is the most beautiful love of all.” ~ Todd Rundgren

* * * *

I went to see a dermatologist for the first time in my life last week. I’m a guy, and guys think about their skin about as often as they think about making a souffle. I was in high school the first time I ever had any appreciation for skin. Even then, it wasn’t my skin that I appreciated. That skin belonged my girlfriend, and what I appreciated most was that she let me touch it.

Women have silken skin, mostly because they think about it all the time and go through great pains to enhance their skin. In 2018, worldwide sales of skin care and other beauty products was in excess of $300 billion. There’s a simple reason for this. Life, if you live long enough, will make you old. But no one wants to look old.

Depending on the study you look at, genetics plays a huge factor in whether or not you have great skin. Or maybe it doesn’t. But it does play a huge part in determining what color your skin is.

I’m not going to elaborate on skin color. I know as much about being non-white as I do about rocket surgery, which is clearly nothing at all. My Muses might have something to say about it someday, but they never submit any of their ideas to me for pre-approval.

* * * *

Possible Little Known Fact About Skin: Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and is the major component of the integumentary system. This system plays multiple roles in maintaining homeostasis.

All body systems work in an interconnected manner to control the internal conditions essential to the function of the body. Your skin is your body’s first line of defense against infection, temperature change, and other challenges to internal balance and equilibrium. 

There’s a reason for that. Your skin is primarily an external organ. Because it’s on the outside of your body, it’s exposed to a plethora of natural and unnatural environmental conditions.

Sun. Wind. Cold. Heat. Biting insects. Bears. Bullets. Paper cuts.

If not for your skin, you probably wouldn’t survive any of them.

* * * *

This is all really cool and stuff, dude. But aren’t you going to tell us why you went to see a dermatologist? I mean, it kind of seemed like that’s where you were headed with this, weren’t you?

Um, yeah. I probably was. So, thanks for getting me back on track.

Right around Christmas, I developed a crusty patch of skin in my right eyebrow. Just about the time I was on vacation from being retired and came down with the Mexico City flu, it started itching. I’m a nurse, so I have an impressive array of ointments for just about everything. I put a dab of this on it, then a dollop of that. And a strange thing happened. The itch didn’t go away. It got worse.

That’s when I became convinced that I had skin cancer.

* * * *

Nurses have a vast array of superpowers, not the least of which is the ability to put up with an endless supply of bullshit from doctors and patients simultaneously. Nurses are poised to assume the worst about almost anything. So when something goes wrong with our bodies we tend to think we’re going to got dead.

Granted, we’re not always correct with our diagnosis of imminent death, but doctors aren’t always correct either when they tell you there’s nothing seriously wrong with you, so there’s that.

I think this penchant for assuming the worst thing has something to do with nursing school. Being a nursing student makes you almost totally paranoid. Not everyone is designed to be a nurse, so a good portion of nursing school seems to be designed to cull out those individuals. When everyone really is out to get you, it’s not paranoia. It’s just good thinking.

Before you become a nurse you might have a vague idea about some of the things that can go wrong with your body and kill you to death. However, by the time you graduate and become a nurse, you have an extensive knowledge of not only deadly infectious diseases, but a few hundred other killer conditions and fatal processes that you didn’t even know existed. And one of the things we learn is almost every killer disease or ailment starts out looking or feeling like something totally harmless and innocuous.

Nurses are trained to be compassionate and caring. We tend to identify closely with whatever our patients are experiencing. Almost everyone I went to school with was convinced they had whatever their patients had. When I was going through my OB/GYN rotation, I was pretty sure I was pregnant.

* * * *

I actually told that to one of my instructors. Not my OB/GYN instructor. That was Sister Mary Hitler, and we weren’t that close. It might have been Kathy Ohman. She once told me that I intimidated the hell out of her, so I felt very comfortable around her. She told me her theory about the caring, compassionate nature of nursing students. And then she said this:

“Almost every one of my students has believed they’ve come down with whatever illness their patient has. But you don’t strike me as being an overly caring guy. Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re one of the best students I’ve ever had, but you don’t fall into the same category as most of young girls that become nurses.”

“So, what category do you think I fall into then?” I decided to ask.

“Oh, that’s easy.” she replied. “You’re just crazy.”

* * * *

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it’s most commonly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet light. Our sun produces three different types of UV rays. Coincidentally, there are three types of skin cancer.

I’ve never been one of those people who laid in the sun trying to get the perfect tan. For one thing, I don’t turn a luscious golden brown in the sun. I burn, baby, burn, and look like unto a boiled lobster. Only worse.

PROD-Sunburn

See? I told you

However, I have become person who wanders around a golf course looking for a little white ball in the bright light of day. I don’t always use sunscreen, but I always wear a hat when I golf.

Altitude and proximity to the equator increase the intensity of the UV rays. The Chula Vista Resort and Spa is 5000 feet above sea level, and about 1400 miles north of the equator.

I don’t know how that compares to wherever it is that you might be, but I can tell you this: the sun here is very intense no matter what season it is.

* * * *

I made an appointment at the Dermika Centro Dermatologico Ajijic with Dra. Tania Sánchez Tenorio. I almost wished there was a lots of stuff wrong with my skin so I would have to see her more than once. She’s a tall, skinny, young supermodel that just happens to be a doctor. 

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But she doesn’t wear a bikini at the office, which is a shame because she has great skin

Dra. Tania listened to my assessment of my problem, then did her own examination.

“You actually have two lesions by your right eye, but they’re not cancerous, they’re precancerous. I can burn them off with liquid nitrogen. The entire procedure will take five minutes and will cost one thousand pesos.”

* * * *

Contrary to popular belief, the healthcare system in Mexico is very good. The doctors here are excellent, and most of them actually listen to their patients. But probably the best part about it is it’s actually affordable.

Getting those two lesions burned off my eyebrow cost me fifty bucks.

Dra. Tania told me to always use a sunscreen with an SPF rating of at least 50 when I golf, so I’ll be adding that to my pre-golf routine. Before I left her office, I asked her what the best treatment for spider bites was.

The previous morning, our roommate, Todd, woke up with what appeared to be two nasty insect bites near his right eye.

She wasn’t at all annoyed that I was hitting her up for free information, and agreed that the treatment I had already suggested to Todd was the best course of action. And then she said this: “But if he doesn’t get better in a couple of days, have him make an appointment with me. Sometimes it’s not a bug bite. It could be Shingles.”

* * * *

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. The hallmark symptom of Shingles is an extremely painful rash.

I didn’t think Todd had Shingles. The eruptions on his face looked similar to spider bites that Lea and I have both experienced since moving here. And they looked like that for two days. But on the third day, Todd’s face kind of exploded. So, yeah. He really did have Shingles, and my already high level of esteem for the beautiful Dra. Tania climbed even higher. Which I didn’t think was even possible.

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Todd looked like unto Charles Laughton in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

On the rare occasions that he left the house last week, people couldn’t help but stare at him. I tried to reassure them when they asked me, ¿Que pasó con Señor Tadeo?”

I told them, “Creo que tiene lepra.”

* * * *

Leprosy, or Hansen’s Disease, is an infectious disease caused by a slow-growing bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. Leprosy results in disfiguring skin sores and severe nerve damage, usually in the arms and legs. Eventually, it kills you to death. Leprosy has been around since ancient times, and was once the most terrifying disease in the world.

There’s a reason for that, too. Leprosy was once thought to be very incredibly highly contagious. It turns out that it isn’t, but no one knew that way back in ancient times. As a result, lepers were expelled from their communities and sent to live out the rest of their lives in leper colonies, like, the island of Molokai in Hawaii.

Possible Interesting Sidenote From My Nursing Career: one of my patients at the Minnesota State Hospital was on an obscure medication called Orap (pimozide). When I looked it up to learn more about it, one of its indications for use was the treatment of leprosy.

It’s weird the things you remember sometimes…

* * * *

In closing, love the skin you’re in. Unless you were Michael Jackson, there’s nothing you can do to change its appearance. The older you get, the more fragile your skin becomes, so be good to yourself. Use a good sunscreen if you’re going to be in the sun for an extended period of time. And drink a lots of water. Your skin will love you for that.

And watch out for paper cuts…

20/20 in 2020

¡Hola, amigos y amigas! ¡Feliz año nuevo! 2019 was a good year for us. I hope 2020 is equally kind to us and all y’all, though it hasn’t started out smoothly for me.

During the holiday season, my lovely supermodel wife and I took our first Mexican vacation and went to Mexico City for nine days. Going on a guided tour is kind of like being back at work. You have to get up early and leave your house.  And there’s a timetable. And a schedule. And other people. And stuff…

And I got a Christmas present I didn’t want. In Mexico, it’s called la gripe.

* * * *

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is an infectious respiratory disease caused by a virus. Symptoms include: high fever, runny nose, sore throat, muscle and joint pain, headache, coughing, and fatigue. These symptoms can be mild to severe, and all of them combined can kill you to death, possibly from something called a cytokine storm.

Infected lung cells create an overstimulation of the immune system. Excessive amounts of cytokines are subsequently released into the lung tissue. This leads to a massive leukocyte migration into the lungs which, in turn, causes major destruction of lung tissue. In layman’s terms, your lungs turn into a soggy mush and you essentially drown to death in your own fluids even though you’re not under water.

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It is a terrible way to die.

The worst influenza outbreak on record occurred in 1918. It was a worldwide pandemic that killed anywhere from fifty to one hundred million people, depending on whom was doing the statistical analysis. In comparison, World War I, which ended in 1918, resulted in only forty million people getting dead from bullets, bombs and mustard gas.

* * * *

I shouldn’t have come down with the flu. I rarely get sick or catch colds. I like to think I have a good immune system. And I did all of the things you’re supposed to do to prevent getting the flu. I got a fucking flu shot! I guzzled liters of Emergen-C for two days before I got on the tour bus!! I took zinc. And Zycam. And Theraflu. And I still got sicker than a dog.

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Maybe two dogs…

I was in a fog of delirium the entire time we were in Mexico City. If I hadn’t taken so many pictures of the sights we saw, the whole thing could’ve been a dream to me. I can tell you this: Mexico City is incredibly beautiful. And huge. The largest city I’ve ever lived in was Phoenix. Mexico City makes Phoenix look like Dubuque.

I’m finally sure that the flu isn’t going to kill me to death this time. The only symptom I still have is what seems to be an endless case of head/sinus congestion. As result, I’m mostly deaf in one ear and I can’t hear so good out of the other one. Everyone around me sounds like they’re talking underwater. The only thing I can hear clearly is the ringing in my left ear.

This, too, shall pass eventually. That which doesn’t kill you simply gets out of the way so the next thing in line can take its turn…

* * * *

There was one notable passing in our household while we were on vacation. Our LG refrigerator broke down for the sixth and final time. Fortunately, our roommate wasn’t on vacation and literally saved our bacon.

Our property manager, Jaime Mendoza, was true to his word and bought us a brand new GE refrigerator. It was installed last Friday. I’m hoping I’ll never have to write another word about any of the refrigerators here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa.

* * * *

Our roommate experiment with my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend has gone just about as smoothly as it can thus far. Todd and Lea have been friends since middle school. When he decided to relocate here, we invited him to move in with us.

Todd is a good guy, and he’s multi-talented. He loves to garden, and has started growing a whole lots of vegetables and flowers and roses and stuff. He’s also one helluva cook, and has taken over half of the meal preparation for us. For Lea, this is something like unto winning the lottery.

I love to eat. I don’t cook, but I do dishes. With a smile on my face. Winner, winner chicken dinner for me. And pork chops. And ba-sketti, too. Life. Is. Good.

Todd also loves to golf. We hit the links three or four times a week. More golf equals more practice. More practice tends to lead to more better gooder scores. I’m consistently shooting in the nineties now, and frequently in the low nineties. My goal is to shoot 80 by the end of the year.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

* * * *

While our roommate experiment has been a success, our four kit-ten experiment was not. We have two darlingpreshadorbs super cute kit-tens, Mika and Mollie. When a friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer, we took in her two kit-tens, Sadie and Sammy.

Our new kit-tens were sweet and loving. With people. But they developed some serious animosity toward Mika and Mollie. I had anticipated some initial friction between the kit-tens, but I figured they’d eventually get used to each other and peacefully coexist. Yeah, that didn’t happen.

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I was not prepared for the feline turf war that ensued

Sadie and Sammy became gangsta cats, and systematically terrorized Mika and Mollie. All of our ex-pat friends down here are Dog People. None of them wanted a couple of badass thug cats that might terrorize their dogs. So I talked to my good friend and caddy, Francisco Flores Bernini. His neighbor was willing to take in Sadie and Sammy and give them a good home.

There’s peace at our home once more. Mika and Mollie no longer live in fear on top of the refrigerator or the kitchen cabinets. They’ve resumed running and frolicking all throughout their huge playground. It’s good to see them so relaxed again.

Our experiment didn’t turn out the way I expected, but it all worked out in the end.

* * * *

My former, and somehow, still favorite NFL football team, the Minnesota Vikings, finished their regular season by losing their last two games to divisional foes: the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Their 10-6 record was good enough to get them into the postseason playoffs. Then they surprised almost everyone on the planet by stunning the New Orleans Saints in overtime on Wild Card Weekend.

I predicted both of those outcomes. You don’t have to be a prophet to do that. The Vikings are a very predictable team. Over the last three decades, the Vikings have generally been pretty good in the regular season, and they’ve been really good in one playoff game. The last time they won two playoff games in a row was 1987.

Yesterday, they played thirty minutes of decent football before they got  beat up by the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of the game. There will be no Super Bowl rings for the Vikings this year. Again. Good thing I didn’t got dead from the Mexico City flu. I might still have a chance to see it happen…

I’ve come to the conclusion that my experiment with rooting for another football team was a dismal failure. I’ve been married to the Vikings for too long to start dating any other teams. I kind of felt like I was cheating on them by rooting for someone else. Win, lose or draw, I will always hope for the best for them. Even if they break my heart. Every fucking year.

* * * *

According to WordPress®, this is my 200th post. By my own admission, I’ve had some serious input from my Muses on a fair amount of of them, so I can’t take credit for all of them. No doubt some of you are wondering how that is even possible. I’m going to try to explain it.

Thought insertion isn’t a very common thought disorder, unless you have schizophrenia. Even then, thought insertion is viewed as more of a delusional disorder by medical professionals than it is as an actual occurrence.

I’m okay with that. However, sometimes I get insights into things I know absolutely nothing about, like the time I proved the Pythagorean Theorem.

* * * *

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Pythagoras was a Greek philosopher who lived roughly 2500 years ago. His geometric theory has been proven numerous times – possibly the most for any mathematical formula, some dating back thousands of years.

I hate math. So, yeah. That was a joke.

* * * *

Back to the way my dysfunctional brain works…  When these thoughts unfold inside my head they feel…different.

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It’s like unto this, except I don’t know Ung Fu Chinese…

Something similar happens when my Muses take over writing my blog posts. I am aware that it’s happening, but I have yet to find a way to stop it. In my last post I had no intention of writing about being bullied back when I was a kid. I had been planning on writing about old manic guys, and we all know how that turned out.

It’d probably piss me off if it weren’t for the fact that my Muses are much better writers than I am. My major concern about my Muses is they want to write about subjects I’d rather forget.

* * * *

And that’s about it for this installment. Be safe out there this year. Look both ways before you cross the street. If you live in Mexico, do it even if you’re crossing a one way street. Go ahead, buy those cute shoes. And order dessert. Enjoy this life as much as you can. There will always be something out there waiting for you that will break your heart.

The Three R’s

Greetings from Casa Tara, the Chula Vista Resort and Spa in beautiful San Antonio Tlayacapan, Mexico!

We’ve been busy here of late. Todd has been getting his room organized so it doesn’t look like a warehouse for half of his stuff anymore. And we’ve been going golfing a lots. Todd and I mostly suck at golf at about the same level most of the time. Our games are mildly competitive, but mostly relaxing. It’s been a lots of fun having him here.

I thought there would be more of a differentiation in our lives, you know, a Before Todd/After Todd kind of thing, but that hasn’t been the case. I almost think he found a way to use the top-secret time machine in the basement of the Minneapolis VAMC to alter the TimeSpace continuum so it seems like he’s always been here.

And it’s not just me. Todd and Lea both say the same thing. Right now, Todd is on his way to Minnesota to visit his kids and stuff. He’ll be gone about a week. I might be able to gain a bit more perspective about our new living arrangement by his absence, but probably not. I’m not all that interested in analyzing this. I have plenty of other things to ponder deeply.

My lovely supermodel wife has been working out some of the details for the window treatments for the master bedroom. She’s decided the job is too big for her to handle on her own, so she’s has enlisted the help of my third retirement wife, Susan. She’s an interior decorator, and she has some local contacts who can help complete Lea’s design vision.

I have no idea how long it will take. I don’t really care, either. Our bedroom looks fine to me the way it is, though I’m sure Lea’s design will be beautiful.

As for me, I have litter boxes to keep me busy when I’m not doing anything else. Four kit-tens produce roughly ten times as much waste products as two kit-tens. Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

I think all of our kit-tens are starting to get used to each other, but it’s hard to tell. One day they appear to be peacefully coexisting. The next day it’s something like unto a feline version of WWE Smackdown. They’re all trying to figure out how they all fit into their new world. You know, kind of like high school.

Except Sammy. He’s the king of the house, and he knows it.

Mika and Sadie seem to be the two kit-tens at the center of the remaining confrontations. Mika was the most vocal in her displeasure with the new kit-tens when they moved in. Now that Sadie has adjusted to this being her new home, it’s payback time.

No one has died yet, but one of Lea’s antique red glass vases became a casualty of war the other day…

I find it hard to believe that our new kit-tens have been here for less than a month, so it still seems feasible to me that after they’ve all been together for six months or so, they will actually all get along.

I’ll keep you posted.

* * * *

Way, way back when I was a kid, there were Three R’s: Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmatic. Way back when I was middle aged, there was a new set of Three R’s: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

Now that I’m an old guy, there seems to be an even newer set of the Three R’s. They appear to be the platform upon which Donald Trump has based his popularity: Religion, Racism and Ratings.

The Donald didn’t coin these terms, I did. Well, I think I did. They might have been someone else’s ideas and were somehow inserted into my mind. It happens to me all the time.

* * * *

I can’t say that Donald Trump is the most religious President in the history of the United States, though he claims to be a good Christian. He actually seems to be the least religiously grounded man that has ever sat in the Oval Office, but that hasn’t stopped him from using religion as a tool for his own ends.

* * * *

The Donald actually got into a pissing contest with the Pope because of his Great Southern Border Wall. The Pope said something to the effect of …any man who would rather build a wall than a bridge doesn’t seem like much of a Christian. And Donald replied with something to to the effect of Oh yeah? Who asked you? Who do think you are, the fuckin’ Pope?

The Pope kind of apologized, possibly because he thought Trump would invade The Vatican City. And The Donald kind of apologized, saying he thought the Pope was …a great guy.

* * * *

When Citizen Trump was running for President, he brought a Bible to the podium in September of 2015. All he did was show it to his audience to prove he had one. He didn’t read anything out of it. It was merely a prop, displayed with a flourish, then quickly forgotten.

In August of this year, he was asked about his love of the Bible because he said it was his favorite book. When he was asked what his favorite Bible verse was, he refused to answer the question. He said the Bible was too deeply personal for him to talk about, you know, in public.

Let me translate that for you. He doesn’t know even one verse in the Bible. Even atheists know at least one Bible verse!

* * * *

Interviewer: Can you tell me who wrote the Four Gospels?

Donald Trump: I’m not answering that question. You want to know why I’m not answering your question? A sixth grader could answer that question. It’s a no-brainer, so I’m not going to answer that. Ask me a tough question. What? We’re out of time? My people are telling I have to get to my next appointment…  By the way, the answer to your question is John, Paul, George and Ringo!

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I know a lots of Christians. All of them have a favorite Bible verse. Even the ones who suck at being good Christians. Like me. What’s my favorite Bible verse? Romans 12:2. See? That was easy.

Evangelical Christians are The Donald’s biggest middle class supporters. They are very conservative and fundamental in their beliefs. These are the people who see Donald Trump as their last bastion of hope for the world they want. He is the Chosen One that will protect their God-given rights and freedoms. 

Adamant Amendmentalists. That’s the best term I’ve been able to come up with to describe them, and I’m not sure that last word is even a word. But as far as the Constitutional Amendments go, they’re only interested in two. Maybe three.

The First Amendment: Freedom of Speech, and the Second Amendment: the Right to Bear Arms. That’s it. Those are the only two amendments they care about. If you were ask them if they support the Thirteenth Amendment…

Um, I want to take the fifth.

That’s the Fifth Amendment. And that’s as far as this road goes.

Oddly enough, these ardent defenders of some of the amendments don’t seem to understand that all of the amendments apply to all of the people, not just to them. Nor do they seem to be all that interested in listening to anyone who has an opinion that differs even a fraction from theirs. Much like unto their revered leader, their great and unmatched wisdom brooks no criticism.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About the US Constitution: there are twenty seven amendments. The only reason I’m saying this is because 37% of the people polled couldn’t name any of the rights protected by any of the amendments. The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights. And the thirteenth amendment? That abolished slavery.

* * * *

Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that he is not a racist, which I find laughable. Almost everyone in my generation was raised to be a racist because our parents were totally racist.

My dad was Archie Bunker. He didn’t like black people. He had no black friends, and none of his children did either. Roughly forty years ago, one of my sisters almost dated a black guy. I think we had to replace part of the roof when my dad found out about it.

I’ve spent a good part of my life trying not to become the kind of man my father was. I can tell you this: the things you learn when you’re young, they take forever to un-learn.

Donald Trump’s dad was probably a member of the Ku Klux Klan, so, no history of racism there…  Maybe The Donald doesn’t see himself as racist because he has never openly called black people niggers. Be that as it may, his politics are based on racist ideals, and the Walmart Intelligensia that supports him is most definitely populated with racists.

To quote myself, These are the people who see Donald Trump as their last bastion of hope for the world they want. And what they want is a world with good old fashioned 1950’s segregation. Of all the embarrassing things that America has become, this is easily the most embarrassing.

We fought one horrific, bloody civil war in the 1800’s to end slavery. One hundred years later we fought an equally horrific, though much less bloody battle to enforce the constitutional and legal rights for African Americans that white Americans already enjoyed.

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The fact that this still even an issue — I have no words for that.

White privilege. That’s what Trump’s supporters expect him to defend. They are better than these goddamn non-white immigrants who are sneaking into the country to steal their jobs, rape their daughters, and get their sons hooked on drugs. They are better because they’re white. That’s their justification.

The America our forefathers envisioned doesn’t exist. It can probably be argued that it never existed. America, apparently for the most part, is bitter. And cruel. And small-minded.

I didn’t move to Mexico because I disagreed with American politics, but I will never reside in the country of my birth again because I now strongly disagree with American politics.

You can quote me on that.

* * * *

Given the fact that The Donald is the least presidential-acting President that the United States of America has ever had, I’m not sure he understands that he’s actually the President. From my point of view, he acts like the star of reality TV show would act if that was the role he had to play.

That’s what he was, is, and forever shall be. A reality TV star who somehow ended up being arguably the most powerful person on the planet. His words and actions only make sense when viewed in the context of man getting advice from his producers to increase the market share for his failing TV show:

Say outrageous things! No, even more outrageous than that! It’ll boost our ratings!! Go over the top with your Twitter account! People love that kind of stuff!! But maybe you should use Spell Check…

For those of you who don’t follow @realDonaldTrump on the Twitter®, he misspells almost everything. Including the word outrageous. And moat. 

Ratings. That’s where it’s at, man. Ratings make the world go ’round. That’s what The Donald is really all about. He’s constantly posting poll results that show how much people love him. That’s why he’s your favorite President.

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Dallas

He’s actually called the himself that in a couple of his tweets.

* * * *

Just in cases you haven’t figured this out already, I am beyond sick of Donald Trump. My most fervent hope right now is that the Democrats aren’t as stupid as the Republicans, and if/when they decide to file Articles of Impeachment, they better not fuck this up.

If Donald Trump is as corrupt as I imagine him to be, the Democrats are the last hope America has. Trump has as much as admitted he did all of the things the Democrats want to investigate. That’s his defense. Yeah, I did it. And you know what? I’d do it again! And after he admitted his crimes, he said he wouldn’t do anything to cooperate with any investigation.

Americans expect greatness from their Presidents. And if they can’t get that, the very least they expect is humility. We have gotten neither from Donald Trump. He has done more, in less time, to tarnish an office that once was the most respected and admired office on the planet.

Time to wrap this Thanksgiving turkey up and get him the hell out of the White House by Christmas. It would be the best present America could ask for, and give everyone with a brain and a heart a renewed hope for the next year.

Headline Action Breaking News Live! Update … Report

If you were thinking about creating a news show and you needed to come up with a catchy title, you’re clearly not going to want to hire me as your slogan guy.

* * * *

There was yet another mass shooting in the US last week.

I’m actually too emotionally exhausted to even get outraged anymore. I’ve come to the conclusion that if the lawmakers in Washington DC aren’t going to do anything to change this, then there can be no more tragic mass shootings in America. They are simply the price you might have to pay for living in the Land of the Free.

And if the American people aren’t going to elect representatives that actually represent them, then they can go fuck themselves, too.

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Damn you! God damn you all to Hell!

* * * *

My Twitter® account was suspended again because of some comments I posted in response to Donald Trump.

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It appears there are some limits to my hypocrisy. I found I couldn’t encourage The Donald to be more of an asshat than he already was and continue to sleep well at night. So, I kind of went off on him the other day.

Apparently, you’re not allowed to call the President a dumb cunt…

Twitter® made me delete my posts, told me to play nice with others, and wouldn’t let me do anything on their site for a day.

It’s ironic because the one person on the planet that shouldn’t be allowed to post anything on their site never gets his hands slapped…

* * * *

I’m assuming the fucking rat I tried to kill to death in our carport, then disappeared into the engine of our car, decided to move to a safer location. One that doesn’t have broom-wielding maniacs. Or two dozen hungry cats. I haven’t seen it again, and believe me when I say I’ve looked.

I haven’t seen any rats anywhere, but I have seen a lots of the many semi-feral cats that live in the neighborhood.

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They like hanging out in our carport, too. And I’m reasonably sure they’d pursue the rat if it was still hanging around. If I thought there was seriously a chance the rat was still living in my car, I really would set it on fire.

* * * *

The NFL football season kicks off this week! This is the best time of the year for me. The Minnesota Vikings have looked good in their preseason games, so hopes of a stellar season are running high with their fans right now.

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Well, after last year, they can only go up…

To say that the Vikings struggled last year is an understatement. They were supposed to be an elite team that would be in the running for another Super Bowl appearance. Instead, they barely finished with a winning record and were mediocre at best.

This year should be different. The Vikings have a rejuvenated offense. They have two of the best receivers in the NFL, and they finally cut Laquon Treadwell, who was one of the worst receivers in the league. If the offensive line gives Kirk Cousins the time he needs, the passing game could be a force to be reckoned with.

The Vikings appear to have a veritable herd of decent running backs. If Dalvin Cook can stay healthy for an entire season, their offense might be an absolute powerhouse this year.

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Defensively, the Vikings appear to be solid, but historically they almost always have. Last year the defense seemed to play with a lack of intensity. And in more than one game they seemed to just not care. All accounts indicate they’ve got their goddamn minds right, and they are poised to dominate on that side of the ball again.

Might. Maybe. If only…  Every football season starts like this for me. Every year, this could be our year. But every fan of every NFL team is right there with me right now. If only — this might be the year — maybe…

I’m excited to see what happens. I’m another year closer to getting dead, so the clock is ticking, guys. I want to see you win a Super Bowl before I die. If it doesn’t, I’m coming back as the scariest fuckin’ ghost you’ve ever seen and I will haunt your asses until you do.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

* * * *

We’ve been busy here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. Todd, my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, has finally arrived with all of his worldly belongings and has taken up residence in one of our guest rooms. He’s going to be our roommate for an as yet undetermined amount of time. I think of it as an experiment in communal living for all of us.

It’s not like we don’t have the room. Our house is huge, way bigger than anything we need for the two of us. And our kit-tens. Mika and Mollie turned one year old last month! I sang them the Happy Birthday song in Spanish. Our kit-tens are bilingual. That means they can ignore what we say to them in two languages.

Space here wasn’t an issue. The only concerns we had was how this arrangement would work in reality. If you exclude spouses and children, I’m pretty sure I’m the only one of the three of us that has ever had a roommate.

I’ve had a few people ask me how our new living arrangement came to be. I think it was my idea. Todd and Lea have known each other since middle school or something. They’ve been friends forever. Todd came down here to visit Lea a couple of years ago. That’s when I met him. We’ve been friends ever since.

We were fortunate when we moved here. We had a great network of people we could talk to. We didn’t have to endure many of the glitches that can occur when you move to a foreign country.  In my mind, having Todd move in with us seemed to be the best way to ease his transition into his new life.

Todd speaks no Spanish. I know the look that he gets on his face whenever anyone speaks to him en español. Lea and I have shared as much as we can with him about our experiences here. We’ll continue to help him as best we can until the deer in the headlights look goes away. After that, we’ll see.

As they say on TV, what could possibly go wrong?

* * * *

The Roommate is a 2011 cinematic psychological thriller about a deranged college freshman who becomes obsessed with her new roommate.

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Okay. I guess there’s that…

Experiment IV is a song by the English singer Kate Bush. The song tells a story about a secret military plan to create a sound horrific enough to kill a lots people.

experiment4b

I can honestly say that this scenario had never occurred to me

* * * *

If you combine those two themes, this looks like unto the worst cohabitation idea, ever. Fortunately, Todd is not deranged, nor does he possess any of the intense, technological dental x-ray combat training that I received from the Army. He’s a good guy.

It should be fun. Todd loves to cook, so Lea will have some help in the kitchen. And, he plays golf. I love to eat, and I love to play golf. This appears to be a win-win-win situation for everyone, but especially for me.

And we still have the casita/guest house for anyone who wants to come visit. We’ve had a few people ask if they could come down, so we’ll see. We might eventually get some visitors here.

* * * *

Speaking of golf, I’m still getting accustomed to my new clubs. The fairway woods I bought have been nice additions to my arsenal. They haven’t produced any noticeable reduction in my score yet, but I attribute that to my other new club.

The chipper is unlike any other club I’ve ever had. It has next to no weight, so I’ve been struggling with the “how hard do I have to hit the ball to get it to the pin dilemma.” My results with it have been very hit or miss.

Mostly miss, so far.

In a few days I can start getting accustomed to my new putter. I’m waiting for it to be delivered from Amazon. I decided if was going to get serious about improving my game, I better get the right tools for the job.

In a recent interview, Brooks Kepka said this: “I’m putting pretty good. I’m just not making any putts.” It sounds like just about the most stupidest thing anyone could ever say, but it makes perfect sense to any serious golfer.

My new putter is red, and it looks like a spaceship from Star Trek.

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See? I told you.

Once I figure out how to use it, I’ll probably never miss a putt again.

tenor

Lol! More lol!! Snort lol. Stop it, you’re killing me!!!

It’s Always Something/Siempre es Algo

Greetings from Mexico! Hope you’re all doing well, wherever you might be.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my pictures of the Chinese Mountains behind our house burning at night. Las montañas de chino are still afire, despite the best efforts of the volunteers, and the fire fighters, and the helicopter that’s been ferrying big buckets of water from the lake to douse the flames.

It’s one of the hazards of living in this part of Mexico at this time of the year. It’s incredibly dry here right now, and there are fires everywhere. But you don’t need to expend any energy worrying about our safety. There’s no way the fires could ever endanger us, even if that were their only purpose, which it isn’t. So take a deep breath. We’re going to be okay. Relax, people. But it was nice to see so many people were concerned for us.

* * * *

It occurred to me the other day that the only people who come here to visit us are somehow related to Lea. Gwen is Lea’s oldest daughter, and she’s definitely related to her mother. She’s been here twice. Our only other visitor has been Todd, Lea’s boyfriend. He’s been here four times. He just put his house in Idaho on the market so he can sell it and move down here.

And it slowly dawned on me that I don’t have any friends who miss me enough to want to visit me.

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And that includes my celebrity crush lesbian girlfriend who doesn’t even know that I exist. Well, maybe she does now. I sent her a message on the Twitter® last week.

* * * *

Wildfires have become an annual summer event in many places, maybe even where you live. Arizona used to go up in flames every year that we lived there. Parts of Southern California burn down every year. Lea’s boyfriend, Todd, says he has the same problem where he lives in Idaho. A couple of years ago, Sand Point had a worse air quality rating than Beijing, China.

Thanks to Donald Trump, we all know the solution to this problem is preventative forest raking, which Mexico apparently doesn’t do either. The government could start trucking the abuelitas sweeping the streets up into the mountains and give them rakes…  Mischief managed. Probably.

The ironic thing is this fire started out as someone’s campfire. You’d think people would know better than to light a fire in a forest when it hasn’t rained since November, but you can never underestimate the power of stupidity.

Stupidity is probably mankind’s greatest common denominator. We all do stupid stuff. Some of us are quite good at it. It has actually come to define us. To err is human. And most human errors are caused by? Yep. Stupididity.

* * * *

Another thing you might know if you follow me on Facebook is I had the best golf week of my life. I shot three consecutive sub-one hundred score rounds. And I shot a 91 on Sunday, my new personal best score. It’s something I wasn’t sure I’d ever see a couple of months ago. In fact, I was seriously contemplating giving up golf for another decade.

One of my friends actually said I was getting good! I wouldn’t go that far because golf has a tendency to humble you. Did you see/hear that, golf gods? But golf has been a lots more fun to play all of a sudden.

I’ve written about my struggle with golf multiple times. You could read all about them if you don’t have anything better to do, but to summarize, I probably spent a lots of time whining about how much I suck at golf, even though I’m a good golfer.

Normally, the incongruency of that statement would make even me scratch my head. But last week made me think that I might have been right about me, and the only explanations I have are attitude and threshold.

The attitude part is easy to explain. All you have to do is believe you can do it. That’s what I used to tell my patients. And that’s what my caddy, Francisco Flores Bernini, kept telling me. You have to be positive. You have to think you can make every shot. Once I started doing that, I consistently started shooting better shots. I still have plenty of bad shots, but I balance them with some pretty great shots. And those are a lots of fun.

Threshold is a bit more complicated. It’s something that I learned about in nursing school. It’s the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested. In other words, it’s the point or level at which something begins or changes.

It took me about two and a half years of frustration, a new set of golf clubs, a new golf bag, one pair of magic golf shoes, three new hats, a few generic golf lessons and a lots of practice at swearing in Spanish. And last week it all became worthwhile.

Now all I have to do to keep it up and keep getting more better gooder. I’m actually looking forward to it.

* * * *

I feel physically ill today.

Game of Thrones is fucking killing me, much in the same way that it has killed off just about every decent character in the series so far. And there are two more episodes to go!!

K8xRUaA

All of us that have become addicted to the show need to stop seeing the characters we’ve come to love getting killed to death, and we need to start seeing the evil motherfuckers start getting the deaths they so richly deserve. And we need to start seeing it now!

I have no idea how HBO is going to wrap the series up, but I know it’s not going to end like this: And they all lived happily ever after. That’s the one possible ending that everyone agrees doesn’t have a chance in hell of happening.

Hey, it’s not a Hallmark Christmas movie…

There are seemingly a lots of people that have become upset with direction the series has taken of late, but it doesn’t appear that has stopped any of them from watching. They’ve just been complaining about everything they don’t like on social media. It’s like unto watching a slow motion replay/review in football and noticing a penalty the referees missed. It’s not going to change the outcome.

It looks like a lots of people are going to need counseling once GoT ends. Maybe I retired too soon…  Nope. I’m good.

* * * *

Back when I was a nurse, I don’t think I ever admitted anyone because of a TV show. It’s probably the only reason. Crazy people get admitted to the hospital for pretty much any and every reason imaginable, and several that aren’t. That isn’t a lie. You could ask around if you know any psych nurses.

I remember a delusional young guy who the police had picked up and brought to the hospital because he was harassing Natalie Portman. He had somehow obtained her phone number and email address and was contacting her a thousand times a day, telling her how much he loved her.

Hmm…  I wonder how long it will take the Mexican police to show up here and take me to the nearest psychiatric hospital?

I’ve had people ask me What’s the strangest thing you saw as a psych nurse? Honestly, I don’t know anymore. It probably depended on the week. After awhile, insanity becomes hard to quantify. Like stupididity. It’s one of the reasons why I rarely write about being a psych nurse anymore.

That’s how my blog started. It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve written. Over time, my blog evolved into some kind of diary about what I do now that I’m retired. And the answer to that appears to be not much.

* * * *

A couple of things happened to me after I married my lovely supermodel wife. First, I inherited two daughters. Second, I became a home owner. Homes and yards require a lots of upkeep and maintenance. Like, raking, among other things. We redecorated the entire interior of our house. Several times.

New paint. Wallpaper. Stuff like unto that. When we finished, I said something stupid, like, Well, we’re all done with that! Lea looked me in the eye and said, “When you’re a home owner, there’s no such thing as done.” The redhead does not lie.

In other words, It’s always something. In Spanish, Siempre es algo. I don’t want to brag too much, but I’m kind of proud of my bisexual language abilities. And that saying appears to be just as true in Mexico as it was back in the States. It might even be more true here.

We don’t own a home in Mexico, but we have become the Stewards of Casa Tara, a position we’d love to keep for a very long time. At least until we die. After that, I don’t think it’ll be as important anymore.

I’ve written about most of the the improvements we made to our home when we moved in. I’ve written about most of the challenges we’ve faced since we moved in. I do have a couple of updates, just in cases you were wondering.

We have a new kitchen faucet. Again. If you’ve been keeping count, this is our fifth faucet in six months. The Terminator Faucet 2.0 was installed last week. Tacho, our general handyman guy, was impressed with it, so that’s a good sign. Lea likes it, and that’s the most important thing.

Our patio has been free of bats for about a month. No bats, no batshit. Just to keep it that way, I bought a bunch of nightlights and plugged them in on the patio. They don’t emit a lots of light, but they’re seemingly more than bright enough to keep the bats away. Mischief managed. Hopefully.

We’re still waiting for our custom curtain rods for the master bedroom. Jaime, our property manager, went down to the ironworks shop with us last week to speak to the Moron Twins in Spanish on our behalf. One of the twins said that ours was the third complaint they’d received that day about the poor quality of their work.

That’s not a huge surprise to me. They seemed to understand exactly what we wanted. Unlike us, Jaime speaks excellent Spanish. Lea even gave them another diagram and measurements of what she wanted. They seemed agreeable to try to correct the situation. At least, they said they would.

And, nothing happened.

I’m ready to move on. Lea isn’t, and Jaime is on her side. He wants these guys to do the right thing. I think there’s some pride involved in this. He doesn’t like the idea of Mexican con artists ripping anyone off. He doesn’t want any bad apples giving people the wrong idea about what Mexico is really like.

You know, like me. I purposely misrepresent some aspects of life in Mexico because I don’t want any more people moving here.

At any rate, we’re essentially in a holding pattern with this process until something yet to be determined reaches threshold…

* * * *

My KODI box died some time last week. I tried to fire it up on Sunday, and nothing happened. Well, it’s Mexico. I waited an hour and tried again. Then I tried repeatedly for another hour. It stayed dead. I unplugged it and threw it out this morning.

The best thing about the KODI box was it was hardwired to our piece of shit modem, giving it an almost acceptable download speed. I had piggybacked my Amazon Firestick to it, and given the sketchiness of our WiFi service here, both devices worked miraculously well, most of the time. 

Our WiFi goes down here almost everyday for a few hours for no apparent reason, and none of our electronic devices work. That includes all of the telephones in the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. The only reason that I haven’t gone totally ballistic about this is our WiFi eventually reboots, also for no apparent reason.

I had to reconfigure the power supply to my Firestick. On the bright side, it still works, but it’s totally dependent on our WiFi strength, which, as you probably know by now, sucks. As a result, our Firestick doesn’t work at all during times of peak usage. Like, Sunday night, when Game of Thrones airs. However, it still works quite well during non-peak hours, so there’s that.

There are two possible solutions to my problem. One is a WiFi booster. Lea actually ordered one a week ago from an electronics company here in Mexico. It was invented by a Mexican guy to solve what appears to be a pervasive Mexican problem. That device might work, if we actually receive it. Their website says it might take as long as thirty days for it to be shipped. My guess is they have to make it first…

The second solution would be to buy another KODI box. A replacement would cost about a hundred bucks, and I could get one in about a week because it’s already been built.

Lea wants me to wait for her WiFi booster, mostly because she’s already paid for it. If we ever get it, and it works, it should theoretically solve all of my problems. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I can wait. I don’t really watch TV most of the time. All I really need is background noise, so in the Big Picture, it doesn’t really matter what that is.

The only problem is I’ve already decided that I want another KODI box. There are very few things that I actually want anymore. I’ve already got almost all of them, except for more speakers for my home theater system. And the only reason I haven’t bought more of them is I’m not ready for my lovely supermodel wife to kill me in my sleep.

Another holding pattern until something else reaches threshold…

And finally, my $40,000 flashlight died. Yeah, you read that right. A forty thousand dollar flashlight. It came with my Chevy Blazer, so I figure that’s how much I paid for it. It was a Maglite, and they’re really good flashlights.

Little Known Fact About Me: I have a weakness for flashlights. I had more than a dozen of them at one time because you never know when you’ll need a flashlight. I put them everywhere around the house, you know, just in cases. Lea finally told me I had enough flashlights, and I’ve mostly quit buying them.

Flashlights, much like homes, require a fair amount of maintenance. Batteries need to be replaced regularly, and I hadn’t done any maintenance on my $40,000 flashlight since we moved to Mexico. I kept it in my car because if anything goes wrong when I’m driving at night I want to be able to see whatever it is that I’m not going to know how to fix. There’s a reason why I became a nurse and not a mechanic, and you  almost have to be a rocket surgeon to fix a fucking car nowadays.

Because I had been lax in my duties, the batteries in my Maglite had corroded and were welded inside the battery tube. And I couldn’t get them out. I even tried drilling them out before I gave up and decided the only thing to do was replace my $40,000 flashlight with another one that wouldn’t cost anywhere near that much.

I found a lots of Maglite flashlights on the Amazon Mexico website. I bought a replacement for around 700 pesos ($35.00 US), and it was delivered to our house in three days.

I call my new Maglite Lightsaber. It kind of looks like one, and it emits a beam of light that can illuminate the backyards of the houses on the other side of the golf course that runs parallel to our backyard. That sucker is bright.

I’m keeping it on the patio. If one of those fucking giant Mexican bats ever tries to attack me, I’ll be ready for it. I’ll blind it with an atomic blast of light, then I’ll hit over the head. Go ahead and laugh, but you could seriously kill someone with a Maglite flashlight if you needed to.

It’s one of the things I learned in Dental X-ray Combat Training.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

¡Hola amigos! ¿Cómo están?

I know I haven’t written anything lately, so I’d like to thank my faithful readers for stepping up and demanding that I get back to work. Yeah, that didn’t happen. I don’t know how I’d respond if it ever did.

I’ve been busy. My lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend has been here for the last couple of weeks, so we’ve been kind of occupied with him. I say kind of because we haven’t seen him as much this time around. Todd has decided he’s going to move here, so he’s been busy sorting out the details of his eventual relocation.

We hooked him up with our beautiful and talented Immigration Attorney, Julia Vargas. They’ve had several meetings to discuss what his best plan of action should be. And they’ve gone out on several non-business dates. They’re spending the weekend together at the beach.

I hope it works out for them. They’re both good people.

* * * *

Several of my latest posts have been of a political nature, which implies that I’m a global thinker, or at the least, far more global in my thinking than I actually am.

I’m a guy. Guys, by nature, tend to be shallow, superficial, and think only about themselves. Clearly, I need to get back to basics. I’m going to try to keep this post generally within the confines of our yard. More specifically, it’s about the joys of home maintenance.

I’m fairly competent at doing minor repairs around the house. I can replace light fixtures and faucets. I can fix leaking pipes. I’m really good at building shelves. I also know when I can’t fix something, and when it comes to home maintenance, that’s probably the most important thing to know.

To be fair, we had home maintenance issues at our last house. We’ve been very fortunate that both of our landlords have been very responsive to our wants and needs, whenever I couldn’t manage them myself, and that’s not always the case here. Or anywhere else for that matter.

* * * *

I have a theory about life. If there’s nothing going wrong in your life, God will bless you with car trouble, just to keep you humble. I call it Mark’s General Theory of Life and Stuff.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About And Stuff: It’s an unofficial nursing term. Way back when I was in nursing school, some of my much younger female classmates used it to describe the symptomatology of their patients.

“My patient was vomiting fecal material, and stuff…”  Which begs the question, If your patient was essentially vomiting shit, what else can there be? You’d think anything that had been in front of it would be, you know, gone already. Well, that’s the first thought I had…

Believe it or not, that’s actually a true story.

* * * *

Back to my theory on Life, Car Trouble, and Humility. That was before I retired and started playing golf.

I don’t need any help from God staying humble anymore. Golf has all of the bases covered as far as that is concerned. My fairway game has improved. I’m consistently getting on the green in three strokes.

My drives are mostly beautiful. A guy I golfed with the other day commented that I must have a low handicap after watching one of my gorgeous tee shots.

“Wait til we get closer to the green.” I replied.

To paraphrase my nursing school buddy, Don Nelson, I can’t sink fuckin’ putts.

If you’re on the green in three, and you three putt, that’s always a six. It’s my new favorite score. I’ve become so good at it that one of my golf buddies said this after we finished the seventh hole last Sunday.

“Give me a Mark.”

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Jesus H. Tiger Fuckin’ Mickelson!

According to people who are reasonably good golfers, there’s only one way to improve your golf score. And that is to keep playing. I’ll be on the course tomorrow. I’ll let you know if there’s any improvement.

* * * *

Okay. Back to my theory on Life, Car Trouble, and Humility. Again. The proof of this is we haven’t had any car trouble since we moved to Mexico, other than having to buy new tires. Twice. I attribute that to the roads here in the Lakeside Area more than anything else.

However, we have been blessed of late with a few issues at our new home that have been keeping us on our toes. The two biggest problems are in the kitchen.

The first is the refrigerator, which has mostly been nothing but trouble ever since we moved into our new home. I’ve written about this previously, if you’re really bored and want to check out  any of my other posts…

Our landlord, Lord Mark, Duke of San Antonio Tlayacapan, upgraded all of the kitchen appliances before we moved in, and moved the old appliances out to the casita. They’re old, and a faded almond color; clearly outdated in terms of modern decor. We were thrilled to see them replaced.

The new refrigerator is a shiny, stainless steel LG. We had an LG refrigerator at our house in Surprise, and we loved it. The first thing our shiny, new Mexican LG failed to perform consistently at was the water dispenser on the door. Both Lea and I drink a lots of water, so we’ve developed a great affinity for this handy gadget.

The water line in our refrigerator kept freezing up. It was easily fixed. Remove the frozen filter, let it thaw. Grab one of Lea’s hair dryers, melt the ice in the water line. Put it all back together, and violá! It worked like a charm.

There was only one problem. It kept freezing up.

The refrigerator is under warranty. Jaime Mendoza, our property manager here at the Chula Vista Resort and Spa, eventually convinced the LG Service Department in Guadalajara to send a technician to the Lakeside Area to fix it. Lakeside is about forty miles south of Guad. That took about a month. And all was well, until the ice maker died.

* * * *

I don’t use the ice maker much, but Lea does. She loves drinking really cold water. We’ve discovered she isn’t the only one. Our kit-tens, Mika and Mollie, do too. And Mollie is absolutely fascinated by ice cubes.

Another thing we’ve discovered is our rapidly growing kit-tens are really good at knocking things over, like, lamps. And ceramic chickens. And terra cotta armadildoes. And glasses of ice water. I started using a plastic water bottle because they can be resealed. And if the kit-tens knock that over, no clean up is required.

I think the only breakable things they haven’t already broken are the things we put on top of the book cases in the living room. And the only reason they haven’t broken those things is they haven’t figured out how to get up there yet.

* * * *

Jaime had to enter into another series of negotiations with the LG Service Department on our behalf, but before he was able to convince them that they needed to repair the ice maker on their warrantied product, the refrigerator stopped refrigerating, and then the freezer stopped freezing.

We moved everything that had been in the shiny, new refrigerator/freezer out to the ugly old refrigerator/freezer in the casita. Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with the way that old piece of junk works.

There was one bright spot with the bright and shiny LG. The water dispenser still worked.

It took Jaime about a week to convince the LG Service Department to send another repair technician to come look at the almost totally malfunctioning major appliance in our kitchen, but first we had to do The Twelve Hour Test.

Lea’s response was, “We’ve already done a one hundred and twenty hour test! This is bullshit!!”

My response to her was, “Honey, do you want your refrigerator fixed or not?”

So, yes. We performed the requisite testing. It was simple to do. Turn the cold settings up to maximum warp, put one glass of water in the refrigerator, and another in the freezer. And, twelve hours later, nothing had happened. The water in the refrigerator didn’t get cold, and the water in the freezer was still water.

Once LG was informed of the test results, they agreed to send out another technician. That was on Thursday. The LG repairman is supposed to be here next Tuesday. If we’re very fortunate, our refrigerator problems might be sorted out by the end of the month.

* * * *

The other kitchen issue is the faucet. We had asked Jaime to upgrade both the sink and the faucet, and he was willing to do that. The kitchen sink is stainless steel, but over several decades of hard use, it’s no longer stainless. The faucet was a mishmash of parts that didn’t match, and it leaked.

Jaime manages more than one property for Lord Mark, so it sometimes takes a while for him to get back to this property. Lea and I eventually decided to go look at new sinks on our own. That’s when we discovered that modern kitchen sinks are much smaller than our vintage sink.

Installing a new sink would have entailed completely redoing the countertop, and we didn’t think that was something Lord Mark would be willing to do.

No problem, we’re flexible. We informed Jaime we were willing to work at rehabbing the vintage sink, but we still wanted a new faucet. He sent us pictures of faucets he liked. Lea found one that she loved, and we had that installed a couple of weeks ago.

It was a weird-looking contraption, like unto the Terminator of Faucets. And the spray nozzle could really project jets of water.

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I think it performed flawlessly for about a week before it fell apart. It was easy enough to put back together because even I could do it. Unfortunately, a few days later it came apart at a different junction, and a few days after that it fell apart at the first junction I had already repaired. That was enough for Lea.

“Tell Jaime I want a new faucet. Now.” she said. Jaime is generally very easy to work with, but just so I knew he’d understand the urgency of the matter, when I told him we needed another new faucet, I added, “You don’t want me to put my wife on the phone.”

He’s a smart guy. He said he’d get another faucet.

The new faucet also has a warranty. We’ll see how long it takes to get that issue settled. In the meantime, Jaime had his crew install a temporary faucet, which works perfectly. So, that problem is sort of settled for the time being.

Fortunately, there are a few hundred excellent restaurants here. Another fortunate thing is it probably doesn’t cost any more for us to eat out than it does to cook at home. I’ll continue to post restaurant pictures on my Facebook page.

* * * *

The only reason I named our new house the Chula Vista Resort and Spa is because it has a swimming pool. I’m not sure I’ll ever use it, but Lea probably will once the temperature starts to climb. Whether we use it or not, it looks cool. And it doesn’t cost us anything to maintain it. That was included as part of our rent.

Well, it looked cool. Until the water turned green.

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I know next to nothing about pool maintenance. The first time I touched any of our pool equipment at our house in Surprise, I broke something. It was also the last time that I touched any of it. After that, I hired a pool service to manage everything related to the pool.

Our gardener is also responsible for maintaining the pool, so all I had to do was talk to Miguel, and he took care of everything else. However, I was curious why the water turned green. Miguel said the water here sucks; it’s too acidic, and that’s why the pool turned green.

We’re really glad we decided to install a water filtration system for the house now.

It took Miguel three days to shock the pool and vacuum all the crap out of it. The pool looked pristine for several days before the greening process started up again. He’s been testing the pool water daily and adding a series of chemicals to balance the pH levels. It looks beautiful today. I’m not worried about the pool. Miguel knows what he’s doing. If I try to help him, I’ll probably have to buy a new pump and filter system. Again.

* * * *

There’s one more thing that we’ve had to contend with, and that’s the water heater for the South Wing of Casa Tara. We have two small propane water heaters. We’ve never had any problems with the heater for the North Wing. It’s an older model with a pilot light, and that sucker can seriously heat up some water.

The other heater is a newer model. It’s an on-demand heater. The only time it runs is when you turn on the hot water in either of the bathrooms in the main house. I’ve had the opportunity to learn that the ignitor is battery operated, and if you know anything about batteries, you know that they have to be replaced eventually.

I discovered this when my lovely supermodel wife tried taking a shower with cold water.

If there’s one thing I know about propane heaters it’s this: If you fuck up playing with gas, you’ll probably blow up half of the neighborhood. I know how to relight the pilot if it goes out, but this sonuvabitch didn’t have a pilot light, and I didn’t know about the battery powered ignitor. Yet.

So I called my buddy, Elvis. He used to be a security guard at the golf course, but now he works for the gas company. It was Elvis who showed me where the battery compartment was. We put new batteries in, and voilá! Mischief managed. Or so I thought.

It seems the battery compartment is somewhat of a temperamental bitch. I’ve had to go outside and fiddle with the damn thing several times since we replaced the batteries. I happened to be in the shower the last time the hot water died, so Lea went out and whispered something to the effect of, Do this one more time and I’ll replace more than your goddamn batteries!

We haven’t had a problem since.

Maybe she should try that with the refrigerator…

The Real World

It’s another beautiful day in the Lakeside Area. The gas shortage appears to have stabilized. All of the gas stations have gasoline again and the long lines of vehicles clogging the roads waiting to get fuel have disappeared.

That’s a good thing.

I started my apprenticeship as a pool guy last week. The only thing I’m allowed to do is clean floating debris out of the pool with the long-handled net. I’ve been getting in a lots of clinical practice. It’s the dry season here, and the mature trees lining the fairway behind our house have been dropping leaves by the ton.

Todd, my lovely supermodel wife’s boyfriend, will be arriving here tomorrow, provided he doesn’t encounter any weather delays at the airport. It’s been snowing like unto a bastard up in Pacific Northwest for the last few days, so we’re all praying for a break in the weather.

Todd has decided he’s going to move down here. Eventually. Todd is a cerebral guy. He likes to over think everything. Twice. The hardest part for him is over. He’s finally made up his mind.

Todd is going to be busy arranging as much of his future life as he can while he’s here, but when he has some free time we’re going to the National Chili Cook Off. Food, entertainment and shopping. It’s a lots of fun. And we’ll get in as much golf as we can.

Beyond that, there isn’t much of anything else going on down here.

* * * *

I was talking to my buddy, Brother Al, a few weeks ago. He mentioned that he doesn’t read many, if any, nonfiction novels. As he put it, he prefers reality.

I used to read a lots of fantasy/sci-fi/adventure novels. And the Bible, which contains all three of those genres. I’ve never been a big fan of reality. I mostly find it very confusing. I rarely need help to be confused. So much of what we deem to be reality may be nothing more than fantasy anyway, so I try not to split hairs over what’s really real and what isn’t.

About a year before I retired, one of my patients was a young man who thought he was being watched by the government.

“It’s not just you.” I told him. “The government is watching all of us. There are cameras on almost every street, and spy satellites everywhere.”

“Yeah, that’s what my dad says, too.”

“Listen to your dad. He’s probably smarter than you give him credit for.”

One of my colleagues overheard me, and suggested that my interaction might not have been the best thing I could’ve said in that circumstance.

“So, you think the government isn’t watching what we do?”

“I’m not saying that, but maybe you shouldn’t have fed into his paranoia…”

“Yeah, but if it’s really happening, it’s not paranoia, is it.”

* * * *

I rarely read anything anymore. If I didn’t have to write my blog posts, I probably wouldn’t even read them. I’m not sure what happened to me; why I developed an aversion to reading. I haven’t tried to analyze it until this precise moment. Most likely I lack the ability to make a long-term commitment to a novel right now. Another reason is the fantasy genre storylines are all essentially the same.

And then, along came Game of Thrones. Because of my current inability to read, I started watching it on TV last week. I was hooked in about five minutes.

Somewhat fortunately for me, TV and movies have jumped on the bandwagon and there’s a lots of fantasy/adventure shows out there for my viewing pleasure. I can’t say that I watch a lots of these shows, but I will l admit that I’ve kind of become addicted to the Marvel Universe. And Star Wars®.

Thanks to technological improvements in CGI, the cinematic versions of these stories are visual tours de force. Superheroes versus supervillains. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is also Stan Lee’s and George Lucas’s First Law of Storytelling.

But it’s not just computer generated action scenes and explosions. The Marvel Universe movies, and the latest Star Wars® movies are very well written, and the dialogue actually makes you think.

Perhaps the biggest attraction for fans of the Fantasy/Sci-fi/Adventure genre is that we’re transported to a world vastly different from the world in which we live. It’s not necessarily a better world. I mean, there’s no WiFi in Middle Earth.

However, there’s plenty of ale. And pipeweed. Two things I once was very fond of.

These alien dimensions or worlds are populated with exotic alien races, plus Men, Elves and Dwarves. And mythological monsters, beasts and creatures. And dragons.

Dragons are without a doubt the coolest of all the mythical creatures. There are hundreds of legends and tales about dragons from dozens of races and cultures. Asia, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe and Mesoamerica all have dragon myths.

My personal favorite is Tiamat, a Babylonian goddess who took on the form of a massive sea dragon to wage war on her enemies.

And there’s always the Dark Entity of Ultimate Evil who wants to conquer and subjugate the entire world. I guess we have one of those here, though by Evil Dark Entity standards, Satan appears to be more of an underachiever than anything else.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12.

Angels. Demons. God only knows what else. There’s evidently a war going on all around us that we can’t see. I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen an actual angel. I sincerely doubt that I’ve ever met a demon. But I have encountered more than a few evil human beings.

I don’t have a lots of faith in God. I don’t believe in the devil. But I do believe in Good and Evil. And who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…

I’m trying to remember a fantasy novel that doesn’t have a bad-ass bad guy, and I can’t. Probably because if there wasn’t an evil villain, there’d be no need for a hero to step up and save the day. That’s one thing you can always count on in fantasy adventures. Good always triumphs over evil.

I never imagine myself as the hero in these stories. I’m the least heroic person I know. For one thing, deep inside of my chest beats the heart of a fucking coward. I’m not especially skilled at sword fighting, or any other type of fighting for that matter. I don’t have any magical powers. If I actually found myself in one of these stories, I’d probably be a red shirt guy in Star Trek.

In an epic battle between Good and Evil, there are going to be a few casualties of war. I’ve almost died to death a few times for significantly lesser causes.

Be that as it may, I’m sure part of the reason I originally wanted to be a prophet was I thought I’d end up with a whole lots of magical superpowers.

If there’s anything to be learned from this, it’s this: Never read the Book of Revelation after you’ve dropped a few hits of acid.

* * * *

My lovely supermodel wife is a huge fan of the Crime/Mystery genre. Shortly after we got married, I jokingly told Lea the only reason she watched those shows was to figure out how to kill me and collect my life insurance.

“Oh, I figured that out a long time ago.” she replied, with a totally serious look on her face. I don’t think I slept well for a month.

Law and Order. The Closer. Major Crimes. CSI:, NCIS, and Inspector Gadget. We’ve watched those shows so many times we both know the dialogue of almost every episode. I would never want to be questioned by any of those spooky smart TV cops. I’d probably confess to the Kennedy assassination, even though I was only seven years old when it happened.

We started binge watching True Detective yesterday. Apparently you don’t have to travel to another dimension to find monsters…

* * * *

I used to watch a lots of TV. I loved The History Channel back when they used to air shows about, you know, history. Now their programming is a bunch pseudohistorical, quasi-reality-based crap.

People will always debate what caused the demise of modern day civilization, but for my money it all started with the creation of Reality TV.

Nowadays I mostly listen to the TV. There are very few things that I actually watch. To me, television is essentially radio, with occasional pictures. It’s mostly white noise to me. I use the TV to distract me from the ringing in my left ear. The medical term is tinnitus. I developed it after I was assaulted at work and my jaw was broken.

See? I told you I wasn’t any good at fighting.

The ringing in my ear might be lessening. More than likely I’ve just gotten used to it and it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I’ve come to terms with the fact that it’ll never go away. It’s a reminder of how parts of me are broken and will never work the way that they used to.

Don’t get me wrong, most of me still works pretty good. Like me, the world is certainly less pristine than it once was. I’m concerned about the reality I perceive, and I’m not sure it’s going to change for the better.

But the last scene in Episode 8 of the first season of True Detective gave me a glimmer of hope.

Marty Hart and Rust Cohle have just closed the case on a crime they had started investigating seventeen years earlier. Their personal lives have been all but destroyed in the process of solving a heinous and horrific crime that turned out to be a series of heinous and horrific crimes. And they were both almost killed to death.

* * * *

Rust: “I tell you Marty I been up in that room looking out those windows every night here just thinking, it’s just one story. The oldest.”

Marty: “What’s that?”

Rust: “Light versus dark.”

Marty: “Well, I know we ain’t in Alaska, but it appears to me that the dark has a lot more territory.”

Rust: “Yeah, you’re right about that…  You’re looking at it wrong, the sky thing.”

Marty: “How’s that?”

Rust: “Well, once there was only dark. You ask me, the light’s winning.”

* * * *

I hope that’s true. The light is winning…

I can’t tell anymore.

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. 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. Three bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms. Plus the casita. And the pool. And, well, everything! 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 Flores 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.

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.

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.