Saturday, November 8, 2014


In the dark of night -- last night -- Robert strapped on a portable flamethrower, hoisted up the heavy fuel container, lit the business end of the hose, and -- after laying down a precise line of flame on OUR property -- he quietly entered our neighbor's yard.  (NOTE:  this is taking place in our little village in Mexico.)

Watching the ground intently, he walked slowly around their outdoor kitchen and play-yard, laying down an incinerated trail as he moved.  Then, he circled their entire home, all the while flaming a trail...  Then he moved on to the next neighbor's home (the last house on the little dirt road through town) and lay down a flame trail.  From there, he crossed the little dirt road and continued his slow walk, circling the little homes across the street -- staring at the ground and laying down a flaming trail.

I paced the porch and hoped no one would wake up, that no one would hear him, and that he would return safely,  and I fervently wished that he had, like, you know.... asked permission first or something.  Can you imagine what they might think, waking up in the dark of night and seeing the crazy gringo neighbor circling their house while laying down flames?

Remarkably, not one neighbor awoke, and no flames went out of control...  and also in his intent wandering, he discovered the Mother Lode!   Yes!  He found the entrance to the underground citadel of chancharas (we call them army ants).  He has plans for how to completely eradicate that little empire, to be accomplished on another night.

What he successfully accomplished last night, was the saving of entire trees.  These chancaras can completely denude a tree in a short time, and then move on to the next.  It's how we lost our guava tree last season.

Our dearest village friend -- brother at heart -- had dropped by earlier in the evening with a pouch of ant poison.  He had noticed the advance of the army the night before that and was determined to stop them in their tracks.  Once Robert was alerted, he went on high-action mode.  Rather than letting Guille lay down a long trail of poisonous powder, he brought out the flame-thrower and Guille gave him full approval for its use.

This morning, I wandered along the trail of the flame-thrower.  Not much to see.  Incinerated ants don't leave much behind .. and also, the free-range chickens don't miss much of what's left!

 As for the concept of incinerated foliage -- there was none.  We all keep our yards as clear of growing plants as we can.  Certainly NEVER is there grass.  Bare dirt is preferred.  Flowering plants and bushes are kept in containers  That way, scorpions and small lethal blue snakes (for instance) have nowhere to hide.

We left for this particular town trip before the next-door neighbors even wandered outside, so we don't know their reaction -- if they even can tell what happened while they slept.  That's probably a good thing.   

Sunday, September 21, 2014



I will arise and go now, and go to the top of the hill,
And a medicine wheel formed there, of stones in a circle made;
Around me flowering bush there, and the bird's sweet warbling trill,
And sit in silence in the sun and shade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes from deep within,
Spreading from the heart's first dawning to when the breath is deep;
There the dawn's a gentle sigh, and noon a playful whim,
And evening full of the coming sleep.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the wind rustle with soft sounds through the trees;
While I sit in the circle, or stand along the way,
My heart does hear the sound that frees.
-- Sara Ransom
(composed by inspiration from W.B. Yeats)


I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin built there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
-- William Butler Yeats

Monday, May 26, 2014

John Jacob Alzenheimer-Smith

"John Jacob Alzenheimer-Smith...That's my name, too...
Whenever we go out, the people always shout, 
There goes John Jacob Alzenheimer-Smith....da-da-da-da-da-da-da--- **

Here follows a short rant.  Feel free to skip it.

How many of you folks a-readin' this here rant are over 60?  Can you recall?
I'll tell you what -- we are a lot more fun to be around than bein' stuck in a crowd of young knowitalls, sez I.
Why?   ...'cause we laugh!

We can be in the middle of some involved conversation and forget just what our point was -- and what do we do?  We laugh!  What do our younger compadres do?  They nudge the person next to them (assuming that person is under 60), raise one surreptitious eyebrow with a glance toward one of us,  and then they both nod, and roll their eyes.

Oh, and hey!  How about when you ask the same question after a reasonable passage of time.  Do that often enough and you get more than an exasperated "you already asked me that!"

Finally, it will come to "The Alzheimer's Talk".....  that matter-of-fact, down-to-earth, let's-face-it:  "You Have Alzheimer's" talk.  Sez I in reply:  "I don't even know a guy named Alzheimer... how can I have anything of his?  What is it that he's lost, anyway...  maybe I've seen it around."

But seriously folks... the oddest part of this "gentle" talk, is the undercurrent of anger.  I have (more than once) been informed that (herein unnamed) people are getting angry with my repeated questions.  Angry! And of course, what follows is that they become dismissive.  In their eyes, I am now irrelevant, confused, and not to be taken seriously.  I do not matter.

In my own way of seeing it, I ask a question again -- because the answer I got was boring! ...and I quit listening! I want a better one.  Besides, I often like what I am thinking about far better than paying attention to... well, you know.

Hmmm... I can't recall what else I wanted to say on this topic....

Anyway, it sure looks like there´s gonna be a beautiful sunset over the sea tonight. Clear skies.  Just might see the Green Flash again.

You know, early this morning, I was sitting alone at a table under a lovely surf-side umbrella -- after a GREAT session of body-surfing, playing in set after set of wild bouncing big waves, ducking under and diving over, in playfully wild careening abandon.  No one else was out there.  Just me and the sea..... ahhh...

As I was dripping myself to a dryer state... I was watching the crashing waves, utterly absorbed in my own thoughts.  Just then! ...a friend -- a man of my age (the kind that laughs and shares) -- STARTLED me with a simple hello!  ...but he had no problem understanding my explanation of why I jumped so.

I told him that just then, I was enjoying the flow of a particular crashing wave.  Rather than water, it looked like a vast skein of smooth, silken, silver cloth -- shimmering in the morning sun.  In particular, what had fascinated me was the apparent wholeness of the cloth... There was the smooth rise of the silvery skein, as if wafted up on the wind, then the billowing out in its fullness...  And ah, the shimmering light which it reflected at its full pregnant height and then... ooooh!  As the wind  beneath the cloth dropped, the left side gracefully fluttered down, simultaneously with the right side -- leaving the center of the long skein still aloft and billowing...

...only to be pulled down suddenly yet ever so gracefully, from both sides -- without a break in the smooth shimmering integrity of the whole.

**The original song (which I learned at Y-Camp in Iowa back in the early '50s) is about John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith.  You see, I was originally going to title this essay "Jack Jacob Alzenheimer Schitt"  and begin the essay itself with "I know Jack Schitt!!"  but it seemed rude and totally unnecessary.... so I snuck it in here.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Out. Of. Sight.

Rather literally -- out of sight -- as in, I cannot see.

Without corrective lenses, I am "legally blind,"  meaning I see only colorful blurry shapes.  I recognize people by the dominant color of their clothes.  So....  if I see you in a red shirt in the morning, and you change to a yellow shirt later on, I have no idea who you are -- not until you are right  up in my face (and then, well, I forget faces these days, too, but that is another tale for another time).

So here is how I became --Out. Of. Sight--  here in Mexico:

1.  Although I distinctly recall setting out a box of 6 contacts for my left eye, and a box of 6 contacts for my right eye -- neither box made it to Mexico.... which is to say, I have ONLY the contacts I was wearing when I arrived in Mexico (already a month in use, due to be replaced immediately, as in first week of May).

2. Oh well, thinks I.  I can survive by wearing glasses all the time except in the ocean... which is when I will wear the outdated contacts...  The ocean requires vision.

3.  However, within days, my glasses and the case they were in disappeared (along with my headlamp, which affects late night pee forays -- thus giving me another kind of out-of-sightness).

4. Seriously  >>out of sight<<.    All I have left are those outdated contacts.   I must carefully monitor when I wear them.

5. Then came The Big Glitch!!  I hear them first -- and then see them, even in the dark of night:  Cows are VERY big!!  So it was a snap for even me to see them.  Unfortunately, they were in OUR yard, where there are four mango trees with countless ripening mangos well within cow -- oh no, HORSES TOO -- reach. They can decimate the fruit of entire trees in a short while.   Robert took off with a big stick and a loud voice, chasing and corraling them toward where there was a break in the fence (always, it is in the corner of  our property that we share with one of our ...more casual, shall we say... neighbors).

8.  Robert needs help chasing them down and corraling them toward that corner.  I am blind!  So hell...  In the dark with just that little headlamp, I put in those precious contacts, grab a big stick (there are old tree branches lying around all over our wild backyard)... and start running around, shouting, waving the stick, blocking their escape routes. Mind you, I am wearing just a sarong tied around my neck, with sandals.

9. False security:  they seem to have returned to their side of the fence and so I take OUT my contacts and crawl back  under our mosquito netting, and nestle onto my Thermarest under a light sheet.

10.  Then, DAMN!!!  They are back!  So I put my contacts back IN, and take off shouting,  with my big stick waving.  Once back on their side, Robert sends me back to bed while he sets to making sure the fence and gate are truly secure...

11.  I take out those precious contacts, lie down on my thermarest and ---- fall sound asleep.

12.  Wouldn't you know!!!  In the morning, when I went to put my contacts back IN -- the only contacts I have for the next two months, my only line to SIGHT -- I discover that one contact is missing.  It is simply NOT in its little compartment of my contacts case.  It is gone.  It is my right eye-one -- the most blindest, worst fuzziest of my two eyes.  I quietly mention its loss to Robert.

13.  (Ironic that this part of the story is "13" -- let us jump on to "14")

14.  Robert quietly, carefully, slowly, walks over to the edge of our mosquito net tent, looking all around most intently.  My contacts are soft'lens water soluble-ish light blue thin things....  Could be ANYwhere, including stuck under a sandal for starters.

15. And yet, he f 'in FINDS it!!!!  Folded in half, dried hard like a teensy chip,  it was right there in the dirt, outside the opening to our mosquito net tent  -- he could see it there, among all the dust bits and little dirt chunks of last night's foray into our jungly backyard.

16. After a 24 hour soak and continual changing of the cleanser solution -- I could wear it again, no pain -- just good vision.

17.  Only THEN, did Robert discover that it was HE who had gathered up my glasses case, and headlamp -- and stashed them carefully in HIS ditty bag.

18.  Three and a half more weeks of this perilous hold on sight ...  two outdated contact lenses, and a pair of glasses.


Friday, January 17, 2014


So, uh...

I was ambling along the empty, peaceful dirt road that runs through the little Mexican village where I live (part-time).   It's a quiet road with sweet homes on either side.  On this road, often, there are little kids playing right there in the middle of it, in the dirt, living out fantasy adventures with their toy horses and trucks, or kicking/tossing/batting balls back and forth.

So, on this day, as I approached what I refer to as the "center" of the village -- there came a pick-up truck from the other direction -- racing down the short hill, careening around the corner, and coming straight towards me.

This little old lady was very angry.... yes indeed.

I scowled at the truck as it rapidly approached, and made the universal motion (palm-down, with repeated downward motion) signifying, "SLOW DOWN!!!"

I don't actually know if they DID slow down.  All I recall now is this:  as they drove by me, I saw that the pick-up was filled with men -- in the cab, and in the back -- all staring right into my eyes, as if memorizing my face.  All of them (well, maybe not the driver) were holding machine guns.  Cartel guys, on patrol.

 I guess I told them!