Hola Mayor Garcetti!! … Hello Councilman Koretz!!

Preface: This blog is written specifically for Eric Garcetti, our Jewish Mexican-American mayor, who earlier supported our claim ala “Residential Hotel” — and for our City Councilman Paul Koretz, who tirelessly worked and came to our rescue after that horrible “120-day-eviction-notice” situation last winter. However, in addition, I am writing this for public consumption, so that our friends — such as, Steve Lopez, the L.A. Times Pulitzer-winnin’ columnist, who featured the “ole guy” and a couple of other tenants in a January column — and Angie Crouch, the NBC Channel 4 intrepid reporter who made sure that our first “protest” march ( re: that awful 120-day notice) — was “live” on the 5 o’clock news — and our not-to-forget editor of the UCLA Daily Bruin (we made the front-page, no less!!) — Emaan Baqai, who has since graduated. There are others, besides our families, who are unnamed and have supported me, my wife and our fantastic aged co-inhabitants, here at our ex-UCLA-dorm residence. So, please read on ……..

Wasn’t last night a “lola-palooza” — it was Game 5 with Kershaw on the mound — and that young Puerto Rican Dodger outfielder Kike Hernandez — who made the evenin’ so much fun with his 3 — yes, I said three — home runs; two with a man on base and then one in the second innin’ — a grand slam (those totaled 9 ribbies!!). And the latter situation is the lead-in to my plea to you both for support — Mayor Eric and Councilman Paul!! You see, we had a very important meetin’ here in Westwood at 947 Tiverton Ave, which I have previously nicknamed the CAN (Casa de los Anceanos del Norte). Your representatives from the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department (HCID) — Messrs. Galardi and McDevitt — had called the meeting to explain their acceptance of the Tenant Habitability Plan (THP) which had been developed with the owners of our building — Watermark executives from Tuscon, AZ. I’ll mention an interestin’  and perplexin’ item upfront!! this plan was developed without any apparent awareness or knowledge of the needs of the very, very, very aged and incapacitated tenants at the CAN!!

We tenants had been given a document package containin’ the two THP alternatives on October 10th; and here we were on the 19th — an audience of extremely old-timers in wheel-chairs, or with walkers, or usin’ canes — bein’ told that we had only two options — i.e. two possible places to reside while our former UCLA dorm was bein’ renovated — mind you, these two nearby apartment buildings were selected by our building’s owners without any input from our aged group of tenants!! Needless to say, this did not go over to well with our impatient group with all our children also in attendance.  Mind you, we are bein’ instructed to move out durin’ construction without any apparent consideration of the physical limitations of the tenants. One of the locations is at 888 Hilgard, if you google, it shows an entrance with about 10 steps to the lobby — jiminy, with my cane I can barely manage the entrance to our RiteAid Drugstore with its stairs — they have a senior citizen conveyance at the store, which I use — and maybe the Hilgard place has a “seniorized” way to enter, but it was not so indicated — and why do they show, in their THP photos, that they furnished us — in 2 out of the 5 photos — a very, very, very modern gym — somethin’ most necessary for our inactive (??) group that have trouble steppin’ off the sidewalk while crossin’ the street. I guess they would hold daily exercise classes — but this was not mentioned in the THP document — and I am bein’ a bit facetious!!

The other apartment building in the plan is The Glendon (note: “The” is capitalized and always used in the building’s title), actually a very nice up-to-the-minute place with most rooms recently completely modernized and youth-oriented — and it’s home to lots and lots of grad students at UCLA with their fantastic fitness center, edgeless infinity pool, executive business center and rooms with gourmet kitchens. Gourmet kitchen?? — that’s what a 93-year-ole codger like me needs in my old age. I retired from cookin’ when my back gave out in 2011, while the wife and I were enjoyin’ our lives as ex-pats in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (there for 24 years, mind you!). [aside: The wife retired from the kitchen in ’83 — after IBM had promoted me to a directorship in Paris, France. Even though we had spent a few thousand dollars to modernize an ancient French kitchen in the 16th arrondisement, she stood up at our table at a local French eatin’ establishment — when the waiter placed a huge crock of chocolate mousse for dessert on our table– statin’ emphatically — “I am retiring from ever cookin’ again!” and I can guarantee to this day — that she meant it.]

In Mexico, I had turned our kitchen into “Emiliano’s Cocina” — Home of the World Famous Matzo Ball Soup,  and you would have been amazed at the number of deliveries that we would make before breakfast — there were lots of good stuff besides that soup on our menu!! Stews, other soups, Cajun meatloaf, and finally, “addictive” toffee-like cookies (all recipes, upon request)! And, we only returned to Los Angeles — so that I could have a laminectomy (L1-L3), a double hernia operation, and finally, a cow’s heart valve put in place. Take that, Father Time!! I am just one of the examples of our walkin'(?) aged group challengin’ this ridiculous THP — but, I can at least maneuver enough to shop at the next-door Ralph’s, or the nearby Target, RiteAid, or Trader Joe’s!!  The Glendon was where the wife, daughter, and I had considered when the Watermark executive tried to challenge us with his 120-day eviction SCARE!! I defy anyone our age to continuously walk the unbelievable lengthy and dark hallways from elevator to rooms — it is absolutely no place for our 85 – 104 year-old constituents to be housed — even temporarily — but never for an anticiapated (?) 15 months or more. And, I have not mentioned the fact that when I requested The Glendon management to “senior-ize” the bathroom … ala make it a “walk-in” shower — they refused!! Nothing was mentioned, in the THP, about changin’ the bathrooms for our aged community.

 Dear Mayor Garcetti and Councilman Koretz — excuse an ole guy with his unlimited ego — for publicly expressin’ his personal (and I am sure — that for 100%-of-our-other tenants) disgust with the California Tenant Habitability Plan as furnished to us by your employees at the HCID, solely from the input of the Watermark management and legal team — with not one iota of input nor investigation of the population residin’ here at the CAN!! What made last night so interestin’ — and somewhat terrifyin’ — was that besides the Watermark Chairman David Freshwater and President/CEO David Barnes — there were two outside attorneys representin’ different upscale Beverly Hills law firms. I guess a bunch of aged Jews, still includin’ one of our remaini’ Holocaust survivors, Dorin Mathis, are a fair match — I sure hope so!!  And there were maybe 3 or 4 other Watermark employees and/or attorneys (of lesser stature) in evidence. Forgive me for each of these outsiders may have been introduced at the outset of the meeting. Remember, I was upstairs, in Apartment #430, watchin’ the NLCS baseball game, and I didn’t leave my room until after Kike’s 2nd home run — that 2nd-inning grand slam — that put our beloved Dodgers ahead of the Cubbies and defending World Champions — by the ridiculous score of 7 to 0!  Upon entering the meetin’ room, I reported this to the seated audience, temporarily interruptin’ Mr. McDevitt!! !Wow!!  What a way to end my request for  support, if needed,  from you two fair-minded Los Angelenos!!  ‘nuf ……

Post Script: I have only hit upon a few issues — and tried to stay away from the emotional “human” side. One item, though, most important is the fact that we dine together — our three meals a day — in our large dinin’ hall. The THP gives us each some dollars for meals. Remember, the CAN is a former UCLA dormitory and has that same feel of “togetherness” that it was meant for. When they bring high-powered lawyers to the meeting — it isn’t a form of togetherness — but here, where we live there is an essence of fraternity (probably, it’s really sorority) — and I have dubbed it camaraderieparticularly among these aged women. Whether it’s Bingo, or Rummikub, or “what’s the movie tonight?” — there’s a bond that these women have — like no other!! Is it the feelin’ that this is their last nestin’ place? Believe me, it’s a sisterhood — one of the other Holocaust survivors — Martha Kiss — left us a month or so ago to join three other ole gals at nearby Sunrise — she was the long-time “4th” in their ‘Rummikub’ game!! I think these last 20 or so remainin’ women here — have a bond, and that’s a key reason they have not left to go to another senior facility. This is their home — it provides their togetherness — their camaraderie. And the final point I want to make is that the Watermark organization manages about 4o senior facilities — and it would seem there would be some humanity evident in their corporate management — there’s none.! (period. exclamation point!) — for last evenin’, when the Watermark Chairman gave his card to my 99-year-old dinin’ mate — Lillian Koslow — he gave her the one for his financial organization. David Freshwater is President of The Freshwater (Financial) Group, and he is the founder of Watermark Retirement Communities, Inc (some 40 senior facilities in the U.S.). He gives my buddy his “financial” personal card — not his “humanity” personal card — he runs lots of senior citizen facilities.  It’s like my son Gary always tells me: “Dad, you have too much heart to be a good businessman”. Ya know, these folks have hearts but they are made of stone!! Mine will be 93 years old on Sunday — and it goes “moo”! Finally, ‘nuf ……..

 

Wild ‘n Wiley Woman of Westwood!! ……. Part Two: The 13th Floor … not the movie!!

Emergency notice: Earlier, this blog was published when only half done. In other words: I blew it by “hittin’ “Publish” rather than “Draft”  — but that’s life. So, I will now finish the blog and wait for some “comments” or “whatever”!!  — Note: I think I can re-Publish now — vamos a ver!!

Preface: In my  last blog, re: “Part One: It’s Bingo Time!!”, I tried to explain some past events concernin’ one of my fav ladies here at the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte) — and I had  discussed her and two others in a previous blog.  One is our dinin’ partner Lillian Koslow — who had related to me the incidents that I had blogged about. This blog, however, is more from almost 1st-hand knowledge as far  as some basic interviews with witnesses can be 1st-hand. Of course, I was not actually present — but I will try to be as accurate as my investigative capabilities permit.  It’s the continuin’ saga of Sadie Smolev; and as I have blogged many times, these women, livin’ at the CAN, don’t mind tellin’ anyone and everyone their ages. I guess there’s a “number” — that once crossed — what the hell difference does it make!!  [aside: The L.A.Times brilliant columnist — Steve Lopez — in last Wednesday’s edition (“California” section) — points this out in his visit to the Culver City Senior Center.] Sadie had her 102nd birthday on August 1st, 2017 — and she’s angry because the management didn’t throw her a party — just like the one they put on for Joe Goldfarb on his 100th — only difference was that she wanted a good-lookin’ Latino — male, that is — to wiggle for her like that sexy gal did for Joe. [aside: She didn’t tell me this, but I know it’s true!!] Sadie lives on the 13th floor here at Westwood Horizons aka “947”. Sadie is the only tenant livin’ on that floor. So, I’ll thusly begin my tale; so, read on ……..

I became aware that somethin’ strange had happened at the CAN early on Monday (10/9) morning’ when I sat down for breakfast. Lillian Koslow, our dinin’ partner, immediately started talkin’, pointin’ out that “somethin’ odd” had occurred involvin’ Sadie — the night before and again that mornin’ — but it would be better to get the info from our mornin’ waitress — Shinea!! Let me back up a minute, and provide a bit of background. As stated above, Sadie resides alone on the 13th floor of “947” — I had gotten to know Sadie shortly after we received our “eviction notice” to leave the premises within 120 days. I had organized — whoever wanted to join — a “protest march” carryin’ our signs — “Ole Lives Matter” — and marchin’ the 100 feet from the front of our buildin’ to its north corner and back (once!!)  — with Angie Crouch,  TV Channel 4’s intrepid reporter, and her trusted photographer — filmin’ us!! Sadie was the first person to be interviewed on camera and had marched proudly with her walker, holdin’ that sign in front of her — one can still witness it on the Channel 4 clip that I preciously horde online. From that day on, for months (since that first protest march was now over 10 months ago; and we’re still here!!), Sadie would always greet me by askin’: When are we gonna march again? She’s a trooper to her core and one of my best pals!!

That eviction notice was cancelled when our pro-bono lawyers from Bet Tzedek challenged it; and our place was declared a “residential hotel” — meanin’ not bein’ cast out of our homes. But, unfortunately, the indecision and trepidation — caused by the new owners with their future plans to refurbish our former UCLA dorm — resulted in 80-to-85% of our fellow mates departin’. Today, we are about 28 strong, remainin’!! That means that some of the 12 apartment floors (#3 to #14) have emptied, such that in Sadie’s case, on Floor #13 — she’s the last tenant residin’ there. She’s been livin’ on that floor alone for months now — and therein, lies the problem. As tough and ornery as Sadie is — one can imagine that a large ex-university-dorm-floor with only one tenant residin’ there is a bit spooky (and, I’m a brave and fearless ex-naval aviator — and it would creep me out!). Sadie has requested to move to another floor (at her own expense)– and I have even suggested to management to let her move to the 4th floor and join Lillian Koslow and Dorin Mathis plus the wife and me!! For some reason, management refuses???

So, livin’ alone on the 13th floor – in a large ex-university dorm — lays the groundwork and backdrop for this past Monday mornin’s events. But, as it was relayed to me by the Head Security guy — Sergio; it all started the night before. And Sadie confirmed that someone had come to the door and knocked when she was ready for bed. Sadie, a bit hard-of-hearin, cracked the door and told the person “nothin’ doin’ — and as Sergio put it, the head housekeeper was there to check on the “smoke alarm”! [aside: This is very puzzlin’ to me since, once every so often, they do check the smoke alarms — but no one has been by our apartment in months. But, I’ll take Sergio’s word that it was the head housekeeper at Sadie’s door that night and leave it at that.] Well, the next morin’ between 6am and 7am, Sadie readies herself to go down to breakfast and tries to unlock the “security” top lock. She cannot “unlock” it — it seemed frozen in place — even though she tried and tried. Without the phone number to the desk (which we all should have available) — in a bit of a tizzy, but contained!! Sadie went to her front window overlookin’ the main drag in front of our building –Tiverton Ave — and started screamin’ “help! help! help!” Some passer-by heard her and saw her and ran into the lobby and told the person at the front desk, etc., etc. That’s when Sergio was contacted and dispatched to Sadie’s room — since it was easy to tell it was the next-to-top floor, and Sadie is the only tenant on the thirteenth floor. Sergio claims that the lock was somehow “jammed” and he worked it loose — openin’ the door to find Sadie — very calm and collected. It was just another day at the CAN. When Lillian saw Sadie at breakfast — Sadie showed no signs of distress — she was as calm as ever.

Recently, Sadie had explained to me a “happenin'” while she was readin’ outside — sittin’ on one of the entry benches. A young black man had sat down besider her and asked about her book. She responded in a normal fashion — and then he asked her if “she wanted to go up to her room and watch TV together”!!  As only she can explain — “I told him that my class was about to start, pointin’ to my watch, and went into the buildin’.” In tellin’ me this story, she said that the individual must have come from the garage to the lobby and then to the front and sat with her. With this info, I made a request that the central elevator (only garage-access) be limited to garage and lobby only (and they have attempted to accomplish this) — Sadie had expressed some fear that anyone could come from the garage directly to the 13th floor. She was concerned and told me then and there that she wanted to move to another floor with other tenants.  For this reason, I personally had pressured our management to permit Sadie to move — she could join us on the 4th floor along with Lillian Koslow and Dorin Mathis — we’d make a fine foursome. As stated earlier, I had blogged about these three women as “Our Three Pals”!!

Well, that was the way things were until yesterday — when the wife and I just happened to enter the same elevator with Sadie. We had just finished our lunch — and Sadie had been out front, sittin’ on the bench, readin’ her latest novel!! We did our usual “hello’s” and I took the opportunity to tell her that I was tryin’ to help pressure the folks in charge to “move her to our 4th floor”! Sadie just smiled and said, “I don’t want to move — I like it on the 13th floor!!” Go figure!! [aside: “The 13th Floor” was the title of a sci-fi movie released in 1999 — so there!!] ‘nuf …….

 

Wild ‘n Wiley Woman of Westwood!! …….. Part One: It’s Bingo Time!!

Pre-Preface: This blog was started last week long before I read the L.A. Times headlines about “cannin’ another Dean of the USC Keck School of Medicine”. Havin’ blogged twice previously about that L.A. Times “front-page” stories, I couldn’t get my head around any other subject — so “Meet the USC “Dean Ms” … finally!! came about and was written (or blogged). But, yesterday, Monday October 9th — a bit of HELL broke out here at the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte) — and it all started early — before breakfast! But, I will post this portion my original bloggin’ as Part One  and just add a Part Two in a follow-on blog to be published as soon as completed. Rest assured I will be startin’ #2 pronto!! Since the same fine lady is involved;  the overall title will be the same, so read on …..

Preface: This blog is devoted to the gals who the wife and I have met, befriended and enjoyed here at the CAN. Some have moved out, followin’ our eviction notice — to another similar facility — and as time has elapsed, some have passed on. We have lived here now for over three years; and it has become our home — and hopefully, our final “nestin’ place”!! I wanted to acknowledge a few of these gal-buddies, once again — havin’ blogged about them before. The genesis of this blog was Thursday (at 10/70 mornin’s breakfast). That’s where I’ll start; so read on …..

The rear corner table in the dinin’ hall was full of laughter and good will this mornin’!! It was the same ole foursome of myself, the wife, 99-year-ole Lillian Koslow and her care-giver, “Cena”!! The table was rockin’ and all four of us couldn’t stop laughin’!! Why?? , you ask!! — well, we were talkin’ about all the escapades of one of our females — the oldest, meanest, strongest, bitchiest, beautiful woman livin’ here at the CAN — aka “the 947”– which used to be the Westwood Horizons before that other company with the name beginnin’ with “W” bought it from Vintage (the former owner)!! [aside: I try to make it a point not to name the new owners ever since their President and CEO came into our midst, stood in front of our very, very, very aged group; and actually — immediately (within the first few minutes) — told all these wheel-chair bound elderly (mostly)  women, they were evicted from their home — and they had to vacate the premises in 120 days. It may seem to you, the reader, that the ole guy is bein’ a bit melodramatic — but what I say here is the God-awful-truth. That stupid so-called executive actually stood in front of our elderly group and scared the b’Jesus out of them — that’s a bit of the “ole-guy-humor” — since our aged audience was 99.5% Jewish!!  But that’s not what this blog is to be about …… this time!!]

I want to continue to elaborate on some of the most interestin’ females that I have ever come across. I am sure that the circumstances of livin’ here in the CAN have a lot to do with these profound observations.  You see — not only is Lillian one year shy of the century mark — but my blog’s subject is now our oldest active resident! [aside: There are about four elderly gals who dine with their care-givers at a large table — all together. I am not privy to their ages and one or two could be older than my subject female!  But until I am made aware of that, I will continue to identify subject lady with that pedigree!!] Her birthday was recent– and it was in 3 figures. Actually, Louise Johnson had been our oldest; but a month or so ago, she and her wheel-chair suddenly disappeared — and, you may not believe the coincidence, but it was actually — exactly on her 104th birthday — and after that, we never saw her again. A few days later, I spoke to her son by phone; she was in rehab and was goin’ downhill rapidly. Louise had been one lively female, though in a wheel-chair all day long (even sleepin’ in the lobby most days — between planned events); and our last major interaction (she and I) was when I ordered the “orangutan” tee shirt — for her son Wedj’s birthday“!! I earlier blogged about how I got into so much trouble while leanin’ over and takin’ the “buy-order” for that damn tee — while she was lunchin’ with Martha Kiss (one of our departed holocaust survivors {she moved to another facility} — and I love to mention her name — obviously — what a moniker)!

But, let me get back to this mornin’ — when Lillian, in an effervescent mood, was gigglin’ and tellin’ tales about subject female. [aside: It was a far cry from a couple of days ago when Lillian’s knee acted up, and she came into the dinin’ hall — bein’ pushed by “Cena”; she was sittin’ in her walker — when one of these gals don’t want to give-in to usin’ a wheel-chair, they sit on the center container of their walker and have their helper push them by their shoulders. They then can dine in a regular chair and not create a “stir”, and have all the other elderly women stop by to ask about her “condition”! That damn knee pain made her extremely weak and even though pain was  evident — she forced herself to act as normal as possible bein’ her normal vivacious self. (She is the best lookin’ woman here {excludin’ the wife, of course!}) She was not about to give in to the fact that, at 99+ youthful years, it might be appropriate to use a wheel-chair — she actually has one in her room — no, that would be admittin’ she’s a weaklin’ (I guess!).] So here she was, laughin’ out loud, tellin’ the story about her dear diminutive friend Evelyn’s interaction with our lady-of-this-blog — Sadie Smolev! The latter had been rather ill and had not dined with her friends for quite a period. So, one day — shortly after her return to the dinin’ hall — little Evelyn (she and Lillian had been very close and had normally sat with Sadie) was moseyin’ past without stoppin’ to enquire about the health and well-bein’ of our subject female. Accordin’ to Lillian, you would have thought lightnin’ had struck — the way Sadie, sittin’ at a different table, reacted. She called Evelyn out and gave her hell for not stoppin’ by — and at least, askin’ about Sadie’s condition. Personally, I was not present at that moment, but I can imagine the reaction of tiny, delicate Evelyn. She must have been scared out of her wits.  And, I’m sure the “appeared-snub” was unintentional by Evelyn and her mind was on somethin’ else — but Sadie says what she feels and never holds back. Ya see — before her absence, Sadie had always dined with Evelyn and Lillian at mealtime — and this was Sadie’s first time back in the dinin’ hall!!

Sadie, along with most of the females livin’ here, love to play bingo and poker keno (a similar card game to bingo). In fact, Lillian never misses these sessions either. I would guess that Bingo (or keno) is the most important activity in all homes for the elderly — and if you don’t believe me, let me point out a personal experience.  When Lillian, in a rather despondent manner, told me that the program director had scheduled Bingo only 3 times a week durin’ the month of July, she indicated that it had always been at least 4 times a week before; and the new management was bein’ unfair. Well, she and I marched right into the program director’s office and laid it on the line. Needless to say, Bingo was scheduled 4 times a week durin’ August and thereafter. [aside: I do believe that the director was havin’ trouble findin’ folks to “call” — and there was no malicious intent! This is a constant and underlyin’ feelin’ with all these elderly women since — the new owners came on the scene. And there have been situations that have created this attitude. They literally want the folks livin’ here to move to another senior facility; so they can proceed with their construction!!) But back to bingo, I even volunteered to call — but fortunately, my presence has never been requested!]

Our “lady of this blog” has a special seat at the end of the long table of eager players, next to the “caller” when Bingo or Poker Keno is played! One day, when Sadie came into the clubhouse a few minutes late, one of the women was sitting in that location next to the caller — let me call it “Sadie’s chair“! The interloper was actually in her wheel-chair; and the chair, that was normally in place, had been thrust aside. Well, as I was told, all hell must have broken loose — as Sadie made sure that our wheel-chair-bound “poker-keno-enthusiast” knew that she had exceeded her bounds — and that it would not be forgotten soon. Interestingly enough, our interloper did not yield — I guess that’s the way it goes here at the CAN. All these females are as tough as nails — maybe that just goes with the territory when you live in a place like the CAN!! [aside: I just wish I had been present — maybe I’ll just have to take a likin’ to bingo and poker keno!!]

There’s one more bingo-story about Sadie!! It had to do with the prize when you actually “bingo”!  We all know that you call it out loudly and the game stops!! A prize is forthcomin’ to the lucky winner! Here at the CAN, the prize is a “chit”, a “coupon”, similar to a large slice of tablet paper about ‘one-x-8-inches’ — in other words, they can reproduce on the computer a series of “winnin’ chits”and cut them up. [aside: These printed “vouchers” can be used for guest meals.  You can use 4 for a guest’s breakfast, 6-for-lunch, and 8-for-dinner — you’d be surprised how many vouchers some of our ladies have in their possession. Lillian tells me to let her know and she will cover any guests for the wife and me!! And she has come through on at least a couple of occasions!! So much for payin’ — there’s a method in these women’s madness for the games of bingo and poker keno!!].

So, you can see that these vouchers are worth money. One wants to hoard them and make sure they receive one when they “bingo” or “keno”.  As the story goes, Sadie won a game and received her winnin’ voucher!! At the conclusion of the next game, the caller teased the next winner by countin’ out 5 coupons — but handin’ her one.  This transfer of a single voucher was not witnessed by everyone present. Accordingly, havin’ heard five coupons counted out, Sadie demanded her additional coupons, she had only received one after winnin’ the precedin’ game. I guess it took a bit of explainin’ — but, Sadie did what all of us would have done if we thought we had been short-couponed!!

I’m pickin’ a lot on Sadie in this blog — but I have written about others with similar teases about their idiosyncrasies. In most cases, it’s what makes you love ’em. Take Esther Baron, for instance — she passed on — a couple of weeks after her 100th birthday — Esther had a knack of “not likin’ any food she ate”!! There was not one dish she liked at the CAN — that is until she went to another senior facility — it was worse. Then to the hospital with similar results! And finally it was the rehab’s turn to have the worst of all foods. That’s where it all ended — but I am sure that if she had survived and returned to Grandview — the food would have been “horribly bad”!! So, stay well — and strong!! ‘E or ole guy’

Post Script: This blog will be continued in Part Two. I have a story to tell re: Monday 10/9/17 — which will be the subject of the next blog:  ” Part Two: The 13th Floor … not the movie!!”

Meet the USC “Dean Ms” … finally!!

One of today’s front-page headlines — the upper right-hand corner of the L.A. Times — is the continuin’ saga re: the USC Keck School of Medicine — it reads: “USC dean, chosen despite disciplinary action, now out” — no, no, no, this cannot be true; or it’s a re-statement of what occurred back in July that I blogged about, months ago — remember the former dean had been caught with his pants down and stoned!! Why won’t this story go away!! As I recall, the Times’ reporters had tried for months to gain the attention of the university hierarchy relatin’ to the horrific antics of that former med school dean. Why are they bringin’ the story back to life — it’s old news — the USC folks had finally “fired” that drug-dealin’, pot-smokin’, campus-partyin’, UofCal doctor-poachin’ Dean Carmen Puliafito.  But, wait — it’s not about their former dean — it’s their current dean — the guy who was recently (a few months ago) named Dean of their Keck med school — Doctor Rohit Varma. Poor, poor USC — all their candidates for the med school dean-ship have had dark-storied (or current?) pasts — and additionally, first and last names that are most uncommon to this “ole guy” blogger (whose first and last name are uncommon also)!!

[aside: Additionally, I have surmised that the blogged about overhaul of management at the L.A. Times (publisher and top editors) was in some way connected to the constant “front-page” and prolonged reportin’ of former Dean Puliafito’s horrific antics and indisgretions. It could be just coincidental and the Times’ owners could have been contemplatin’ the change for quite some time — and I’m OK with that!! But, the Puliafito incident came to a climax at exactly the same time the L.A. Times blood bath took place!! And I love to deal with intrigue — so maybe we’ll have a book written by the former Times editor — they always write books!! And duly noted: There are quite a few powerful folks on the Board of Trustees for the University of Southern California.]

Southern Cal’s dismissal of their brand new med school dean is somewhat startlin’. On what grounds one might ask?? Well, this time it’s sexual harassment — and it wasn’t recent — it had happened in 2003. And not in some other university or city — but, it happened at USC, yes — this University of Southern California — Varma had been formally disciplined for behavin’ “inappropriately toward a female medical school fellow”! Not in some remote shool in the hicks where records would not be easily available — but it happened at the same damn university in which he was recently promoted.  For God’s sake, it’s in his record. Don’t tell me that he wasn’t “vetted” — wow!! I wouldn’t want to be Provost, or President — how can a well-endowed private and very proud university in a major city so completely screw this whole thing up — it’s so publicly and so insanely stupid!! And it was not a simple complaint — USC actually “paid off” the female victim (with a considerable amount of money) and “punished” the culprit — the university actually considered him guilty — it’s right there in their files and records. So, how in this world could any competent management — or is that not a possible soubriquet for USC folks who attempt to act as leaders for the university. I want to be compassionate! I want to be civil! I want to be considerate! But, for God’s sake — in the face of the Puliafito fiasco — how could they screw up so “obviously”. There has to be an answer.

Accordin’ to the Times, the upper echelon of the university knew of the “harassment” issues. WOW!! I think the USC  Cardinal (crimson) and USC Gold colors have been stained — blemished!! How in this world can the Trustees of this great university put up with such incompetence. [aside: That’s the first time I have used such a gracious adjective in describin’ USC — I have often written about my distaste for that damn horse — Traveler — with its Roman-costumed rider — and all USC sports teams. But, I have never degraded the academic quality of this university — well, maybe, but it was always in jest!! With Stanford- and UCLA-graduate daughters, what would you expect!! And when I managed the group of IBMer’s who sold a very large computer to that university — I must admit I did acknowledge their salesmanship and the university’s smart’s!!]

!!! Come  on, guys (and gals)!!! — it’s three strikes and you’re out. You have to choose a new dean for your medical school and to be on the safe side — why don’t you just choose a female!! You have been more than unlucky with your last two choices — Drs. Puliafito and Varma — and just for ease of spellin’ make it a Smith, or a Brown, or a Jones — with a first name like Mary, or Ruth, or Ann!!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

But, wait!!

I have now read and digested the full article in the L.A. Times. And guess what!! I think the folks at USC picked the right guy to be the Dean of their med school. I spent time and effort in formulatin’ and writin’ this blog without readin’ the entire article — and I reacted only to the headlines and beginnin’ parts of the article.

As it turns out, this time it’s both different and similar!! It’s similar in that ex-Dean Varma has brought in “oodles of grant dollars” to the med school; and a nationally renowned physician is an appropriate choice for dean. It’s different in that the reason to dismiss is not so obvious. Should one failure in a man’s past be his future downfall!! It depends!!  And, here, I have to recall my experiences in Europe when I had issues with a young IBMer from India. In workin’ with him, I suddenly realized he had lied to me — it was an “outright lie”!! It was an “obvious” lie!! Upper management agreed with me — he had “lied” knowingly!! So, some IBM folks who had spent a great deal of time with IBM INDIA personnel — explained to me that this was a trait that was somewhat inate. The act of lyin’ was not considered a fatal trait in an Indian IBMer. WOW!! Was that a shocker to me!! So, with that experience in mind, I now stop and think — Rohit Varma is an Indian — born and educated in the country of India. What he did that is so insultin’ to us as native-born Americans — may be not so insultin’ in his home country.  Should we ignore his transgression.? Absolutely not!! But, should we possibly think that he has learned from  his mistake, etc., etc. How has he acted as a human bein’ since the situation in question!!

So, I stop and wonder!! To tell a woman that she is expected “to share the bed because the grant money did not cover separate rooms” — then,  ultimately, she did “sleep on a cot in the same room”. That part of the story seems somewhat acceptable. But, I do have a problem with “he took her cellphone away and threatened to have her visa revoked” — she must have been very young and naïve — and scared out of her wits — but then the article uses terms like “sexual harassment and retaliation” plus “Investigators found evidence to support her claims’ and “inappropriate behavior had occurred”!! The University reached a $135,000 settlement and $11,000 came out of Varma’s pocket. This is the issue that — once it became public, it was the end of the new dean of the Keck School of Medicine. The provost and president of the university must have known about Varma’s past — and nevertheless, made the decision that he was the best person for the job. Or, were they so enamored with his ability to obtain grant money — and blind to the possible repercussions.

As stated earlier to the Provost and the President: find a gal to fill the job and hope that you don’t lose yours!! ‘nuf …….

Post Script: It’s the next day — Saturday, Oct 7th, 2017 — and the L.A. Times has moved the story to the California section. It describes the search of the deanship followin’ the original “fiasco” with Dean Carmen Puliafito. It states that there was a “pool of more than 140 applicants from across the country” and “After winnowing the field down to 15, USC viewed the candidates and chose Varma.” I would love to see the 15-candidate list spelled out–no, not the names — but a list of 15 lifetime “cumulative grants” for the 15 finalists. Rest assured, the largest dollar figure won the prize! With that bit of “holier-than-thou” attitude, I rest my case. ‘nuf, finally ……

A Potpourri of Thought — I.O.W. Too much is goin’ on!

There’s so much goin’ on right now that I cannot make up my mind what I want to blog about. This will be only my third blog in September and the last one was 10 days ago. I’ll start on Monday afternoon PDT and state that at this moment Susan Collins has joined John McCain in a resoundin’ “NO” to the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill.  Now, if only the Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski would commit to a “NO” — it would be all over. Even though Kentucky’s senator Rand Paul has indicated that he would vote “NO” — it would be for all the wrong reasons. In his case, he feels the bill is too “rich” — he’s at the opposite end of the spectrum and would probably vote “YES” — if his vote counted!! The Republicans are between a rock and a very, very, very hard place — after 7 years of writin’ bills to REPEAL the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (which they want to always call “Obamacare” — you see, it’s the “Obama” part of that nickname they don’t like — and it galls their “whatever” to not be able to “pour it down the drain”)!  The bill that the two senators came up with is primarily a tax cut (besides kickin’ lots of folks off Medicaid) — the dollars their bill would save would lead to a hefty tax cut for the wealthy when they pass the upcomin’ tax reform bill. [aside: I’m speakin’ in generalities because what I know about their bill (G-C) or the tax reform bill or any of this Washington stuff, one can put in their eye and not feel it. But, I do believe that I am generally correct in what I am bloggin’!! Sure hope so!!]

And the funny thing that has happened are the extremely loud threats comin’ from their donors — the Koch Brothers, Robert Mercer, and the like, about cutting off all types of election fund donations. This should mean the end of Paul Ryan in the House and Mitch McConnell in the Senate. If for no other reason — wouldn’t it be wonderful to get rid of those two!! And it might just have a real cleansin’ effect in the upcomin’ 2018 election. I have been warned to not get too excited — because it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll turn the Senate nor House to the Democrat’s side. It does mean, however, a real shake-up — and the intelligent Republicans will reach across the aisle and come up with modifications to fix the ACA. [aside: As much as I like Obama, I hope they find a new name for the Affordable Care Act — such as America’s Care Act, with the same ACA initials. I had thought of Damn Affordable Care Act — but that would be DACA and we’re in enough trouble with that abbreviation!]

Speakin’ of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) — more commonly known as the Dreamer’s Act — the Congress had better come up with a solution and make it fast. They are not goin’ to send those wonderful young people away. Mind you, I did not say “send back” because there is no “back”. They have fought in our military, they have taught our kids in school, they have staffed our universities, they have done all the good things that we would want our young citizens to accomplish — and MORE!! For a change, let’s show some true American spirit and kindness and INTELLIGENCE — these young folks are a gigantic plus to our country. So, no later than the end of January — make it PACA — Permanent Action for Childhood Arrivals!!

When I was once called a “son of a bitch” in IBM, my answer was “yes, sir”!! When queried about my “positive-ness”, I adamantly repeated: “Yes, sir, I am that son-of-a-bitch!!” (With full emphasis on the last 4 words: the exec callin’ me that sobriquet was the #2 honcho in IBM under the President, and his name was Vin Learson, Senior VP. He was complainin’ about the delay of our largest computer which we had sold to the UCLA Hospital. Their computer room construction was behind schedule and there were never excuses in IBM!!) And Trump in Alabama — made me think of that “long-ago” upbraidin’ (when I ridiculed my own mother) — POTUS, in front of his stupidly-cheerin’, self-nourishin’ Alabama crowd, called the NFL players S.O.B’s — if they were to kneel prior to a football game while our national anthem was played or sung!! In my thoughts, here at the CAN, I kneel and/or lock-arms with them — the whole situation stems from racism by police in some towns and depressed areas in large cities throughout our beloved country. I have witnessed it as I drove thru west Texas and some other parts of our country. But, I’m a white guy — a motorcycle cop told me that I should be glad that I was white or he would have hauled me in — as he wrote up a warning instead of a speedin’ ticket!! There are parts of our country that are racist — no if’s, and’s, or but’s; particularly in smaller towns in the poorer sections or remote areas of our country. And now, followin’ 8 years — havin’ a black man in the White House — I do believe that racism is more prevalent than ever — and it is a large factor accompanyin’ the Trump phenomenon!! And it doesn’t take a mental giant to figure that out. There is a bitterness — and in a way, Charlottesville was worth it — as sad as it is that the young woman died — to help bring it all to the forefront. It’s not just a case of — it’s in the south — or in that poorer neighborhood — or in many parts of Texas!!  Non-white racism is everywhere — just more obvious in some places. I doubt if we’ll ever rid our country of this omnipresent “disease” — particularly as we receive the folks from Middle Eastern war-torn countries. Then, it may be our black and latino citizens that become somewhat racist (when the new-comers become financially successful) — that’s just how life is!! And, then, if you want put on your “worry shoes” — look what’s happenin’ in Germany right now with the results of their  current election. A significant portion of those elected are “far right” — that’s the country with the awful history of what “far right” means, and it doesn’t take a Hitler to make it so.  That’s why I hated the “swastikas’ in Charlottesville with the chant about Jews takin’ their jobsThey are always there — it’s just specific times when they show themselves — and our current POTUS — gives them the openin’ to break out the “hate” signs and act out. Remember, they are always there!!

This is all goin’ on along with the catastrophic Harvey, Irma, and Marie — I think Jose snuck by without doin’ too much harm. (Don’t know where “K” fit in!)  Even with the floodin’ issues in the larger Houston/Lousiana area, and the entire state of Florida, particularly the Keys — Puerta Rico and the Virgin Islands are a catastrophe continuin’ and happenin’ right now before our eyes. Reports are that they do not have drinkin’ water in Puerta Rico — they (Puerta Rico) sent all their water to the Virgin Islands at the end of Irma. FEMA should fill up a few of the largest transport planes in our arsenal with water and needed supplies and send them now to these island territories — even if you have to drop everything by parachute — just start the ball rollin’!! [aside: The late news tonight showed rows of C-130’s lined up to be filled with precious needed cargo — Lester Holt of NBC Nightly News rode in one which landed at the main airport in Puerto Rico; so it is happenin’ — they are our fellow Americans, you know!]

And considerin’ the fact that the wife and I spent over 24 years in Mexico, it puzzles me that this blog is just gettin’ to those damn earthquakes — and they won’t stop. We know both Puebla and Oaxaca well — we visited Oaxaca many times, and on an early trip down from Mexico City, we decided to stop-over in Puebla for breakfast and stayed at least 10 days. (We had met up with a female native who drove her “coche” directly into the front of our Ford (Pastel de Crema or Cream Puff) — fortunately all auto parts were available for repair.)  These cities — Puebla and Oaxaca — and whole country-side nearby — are affected; but what you will see on TV mainly are the multi-storied buildings that collapsed in Mexico City with the dogs and volunteers tryin’ to listen and smell any signs of life. Oh! what a catastrophe!! Earthquakes are so sudden and so horribly destructive. In an instant — whole areas of a city or a countryside can be turned upside down. Livin’ in Los Angeles, we have endured a couple of big ones — and they are frightenin’ because you never know whether it’s the “big one” or not — maybe, it’s a “pre”, for the one that’s gonna rip Los Angeles apart. Anyway, the situation in Mexico is so, so, so sad — but at least they are more prepared since that big one hit the historic section of beautiful Mexico City in 1985. That’s when over 10-thousand lives were lost. The death toll as heard today in Mexico is well over 300 and there are many still missing. Mexico, you are in our prayers.

Health insurance issues, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, racial injustice, NFL ‘n NBA millionaires kneelin and tweetin’ — and what is the “ole guy” up to!!  Very little worthwhile!! But, yesterday at Sunday lunch, as I am leavin’ the dinin’ hall –I tell a rather tall — maybe 6′ 4″ guy — seated — who lives here in the CAN — “Thanks for not wearin’ shorts today”! … His reaction made my day!!   You see, for breakfast ‘n lunch daily (maybe, except Sunday), this very, very, very tall and gangly fella comes to dine in the shortest shorts ever produced — and his absolutely hideous 90-year-ole legs — which must measure a good 4 feet — are all that one observes as he stands in the middle of the hall, decidin’ which fellow tenant he will join to dine.  He never approaches our table — the wife’s and mine — but it is so difficult to ignore those hideous gams!!  With that picturesque thought I will end this blog!! ‘nuf ……..

Am I Just an Ole-fashioned Fan?

Preface: With apologies to all non-baseball fans [aside: Maybe skip it!] — and also to the true believers who know so much more about the game than I do — but I became so frustrated with my fav team — that I just had to start bloggin’. This blog was planned and started over a week ago — and wouldn’t ya know — in the L.A Times a few days back — on the 12th (and today is the 16th) — there was a story about our beloved Los Angeles Dodgers who had lost their last ‘umpteen’ games in a row — I literally had lost count. There it was — a headline on the L.A. Times (Aug 12th) front page — can you believe it — the front page!! It read: “A worst-place scenario for the Dodgers” with a sub: “Once-magical season heads south as team flails for answers” They lost a whole bunch and finally won one when their ace Kershaw came off the disabled list — but the second time he pitched — it was same-o, same-o — he got shelled. Their psyche was such that they were all “spoofed”!! Until, finally — read on ……….

I think Dave Roberts, manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, had succumbed to an embarassment of riches or an XXXXXX of wealth!! After the All-Star game — the halfway point of the 2017 major league baseball season, he must have been giggly over the way a couple of newcomers to the biggie’s were playin’.  .  One was an “honest-to-God” rookie and the other had played a couple of seasons with another major league team (but the latter had some baseball-blood in his veins with a brother also in the “bigs”)! The rookie is Cody Bellinger and the 2-year vet is Chris Taylor — both of whom began the season with the Dodgers’ Oklahoma City Triple-A ball club. Now, Taylor has become a great lead-off man and Bellinger is battin’ clean-up at #4. The former is hittin’ over 300 and the latter is 2nd in the National League in homers. And Cory Seager, last year’s “rookie-of-the-year” at shortstop, is comin’ off a minor disability issue and is havin’ a great sophomore year — he was able to overcome that famous “sophomore curse” — and bats second — and he’s followed by the 2nd leadin’ batter in the league — Justin Turner. This foursome should be healthy and should play every day between now and the end of this year’s baseball season.

Let me step back and pick what I believe would be the best “other four players” no matter who the opposin’ team is pitchin’ — okay, in one case, I’ll advise platoonin’!!  The newly recovered outfielder who has not played at all until a week or so ago — Ethier –should play left field and bat fifth. [aside: I could be convinced that he should bat against righties and have Hernandez alternate against lefties.  Ethier was out all of last year and has just come back from a trainin’ camp injury. If he’s OK, I’d leave him in — all the time. As a veteran who has always hit the ball well, he will add some stability and support to a team that may be confused by their recent lack of prowess at bat.] The catcher should bat sixth, whether it’s Grandal or Barnes — I would use whichever seems “hot”, meanin’ that if Grandal continues his slump (and what a slump it is!!) — Barnes should be in the lineup — aggressive battin’ is more important than minor differences behind the plate. I would move Puig back to battin’ 8th — that’s where he seemed most comfortable. That leaves Forsyth (against lefties) and Utley (vs righties) sharin’ the 7th spot. There should be enough bench help for pinch hittin’ — and that would be the Dodger line-up for the rest of the year.

I remember baseball when the same eight guys would play everyday.  I was in Boston when the great Red Sox team with Ted Williams, Dominick DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Stephens, Pesky and Birdie Tebbits behind the plate. They played every game. No one went on a disabled list. And there was that Dodger infield of Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey — I don’t remember anyone else playin in that Dodger infield.

What has really changed is pitchin’!! It doesn’t seem long ago when any pitch above 90 mph was considered “unhittable”. Some of the better-known 9th-inning relievers would throw the ball at 91-93mph and strike out the side. The Dodgers had a few of them in the 70’s and 80’s. Now, it’s fast ball, fast ball, fast ball — between 98 – 102mph for a closer — or even an 8th-inning set-up man. And every pitcher has had Tommy John surgery — or they get blisters on their fingers by grippin’ the ball too tightly or somethin’ like that!!  You can tell I’m not a detail-oriented baseball fan — not like my son Gary. He’s much better with the intricacies of the game. But this whole Dodger issue of losin’, and losin’, and losin’ — well, I actually think the constant changin’ of the lineup has a lot to do with it. When a guy sits out for a game to rest, or heal, or whatever — I think the “psychey” begins to operate and he thinks the other the guys on the field can do it. And when he comes back — it’s that same “psychey” that means the “other” guy is gonna do it or he “overtries” to compensate.  Yep, I think it’s mental or how in the world do you explain how they get whupped and blanked by the Padres, the Diamondbacks, the Rockies — thank God for the Giants. These are all teams in their division which are way behind them in the stats.

Well, it’s Saturday, September 16th and the Dodgers are on a 3-game win-streak — 2 to finish off the Giant series — and last night Alex Wood pitched 7 innings and the boys in-blue shut out the Washington Nationals. The Nat’s pitcher was not their best — but they have a darn good battin’ lineup — and a shut-out is somethin’ to be proud of. Gee, the Dodgers are on a 3-game win streak and they are on the road.  Whether they play  .500-ball the rest of the way is not too important — as long as the pitchin’ staff stays sufficiently rested — it’ll be up to Kershaw — Darvish — Hill — Woods/Ryu/Maeda (the latter if needed). The team to play first will be the winner of Arizona/Colorado — and the good thing is the latter will probably use their aces in the single playoff game. That may be a God-send for the Dodgers — when they face the 2nd and 3rd best pitchers in the first two play-off games!!

So, my effort here is sorta “so what’s new” — but I began to gnash my teeth and shake my head quite a while back. When the Dodger manage-ment brought in Granderson — and he hit his home runs and walk-off right away — it looked like they had performed a miracle. And after they started their “skid”, I had decided that the “merry-go-round” of a different lineup every day had to stop! It took Doc and ownership a good 10 days for them to come to the same conclusion.  Today, I have completely ignored Granderson and feel that he should be on the bench — if he even makes the 25-man roster for the play-offs and series. Until the end of the season, Granderson can be used sparingly — just to see if he can come out of his slump. And, I hate to see Joc Pedersen cast aside — but it’ll take an off-season and spring trainin’ camp to see if he can get back on track.

So, the 2017 World Series Champions will line-up thusly: Taylor (cf); Seager (ss); Turner (3b); Bellinger (1b); Ethier (lf); Barnes (c); Forsythe/Utley (2b); Puig (rf); and in the Amercan League Park: Gonzalez/Farmer(dh). I had to sneak Farmer in — remember his ole college roommate Alex Wood called him “Clutch”; and he did hit that “walk-off” in his first at-bat in the “bigs”. With no injuries, this is the line-up for next year too, except Toles will be back and Ethier may not. Utley may retire or come back for one last time. Anyway you cut it — it’s great that the Dodgers are showin’ up in the “win” column again. That losin’ streak just may be what the Doc ordered — it brought ’em down to earth so they can shoot for the moon again. This time it may be — and should be — for all the marbles.  Those Cleveland Indians — with their record-breakin’ win-streak — just might get knocked off by the Red Sox — and with Boston and Los Angeles in the World Series, I’ll have both my favs duelin’ it out!!  It’ll be fun in October, this year, especially for the ole guy!! ‘nuf …..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BODA’s are wonderful in Mexico!!

Preface: Up front, I am apologizin’ to ‘mis amigo(a)s’ in Mexico — if I get a few facts wrong herein. Bloggin’ is a time and a method to embellish one’s life experiences — just  a wee bit. I will attempt to relate only the facts — either as I remember them or modified slightly for reader’s impact. I do not seek permission, nor ridicule;  but if you — mis amigos Mexicano(a)s — feel inclined to enhance the written word (herein), which I encourage — please feel free to use the comment section at the end of this blog and change any fiction into fact!  [aside: Would some of you Mexicans please comment so we know that you are at least readin’ some of these blogs!! It gets lonely up here — north of the border — and Harriette and I would like to know that we are still in communication with nuestros amigos!] So until then, read on ……..

This morning (9/4) at breakfast — I spent a great deal of time reminiscin’ about a couple of weddings that the wife and I were so fortunate to attend while residin’ in Mexico. It’s not often that gringos are invited to Mexican weddings or other family celebrations; but in our 24 years as ex-pats — south of the border, we attended qute a few! As I recall, besides weddin’s (“bodas” in Spanish)–  we were present at a few Catholic communions, three or four daughters’ quinceaneras (Mexican daughter’s “comin’-out party” or “debut”) — and even the ordainin’ of a young Catholic priest in ejido territory [aside: His mother and 5 sisters were our close friends. I have blogged about our early days in San Miguel and buyin’ pink roses from his mom on our way back from Spanish class, as she sat on the sidewalk in front of the Oratorio Loreto — one of the oldest churches in San Miguel. She was always there sellin’ her roses and avacados!!].  Call it luck — or maybe the fact that we befriended any and all comers — from one weddin’ at a small church in Ixtapan de la Sal, Mexico (for our hotel hair-dresser’s daughter) — to one for the same “pink-rose lady”‘s daughter performed on ejido land, to that jaw-droppin’ weddin’ that was quite a gala at the Nikko Hotel (now Hyatt Regency)  in Mexico city — for my best Mexican friend’s son. As I recall there were 900-1000 in attendance with armed guards at the entrances/exits!! Our daughter Susan was even in attendance — sittin’ at the children’s table ( w/older bro & sisters of the groom).

But the weddin’ that I was describin’ to our breakfast mate — Lillian — this mornin’ was la boda in an area south of Cuernavaca at an old, and very large, ex-hacienda called Rancho Las Palmas.  And as you entered the passage through the stone walls surroundin’ the property — it was easy to see how it got its name — there were palm trees — very, very, very tall palm trees linin’ the drive to the nearest structure. Since the wife and I had come directly from the spa at Ixtapan de la Sal (to prepare our bodies), we had not driven thru Cuernavaca as all the other guests and family — but we took our hiway from the spa directly south and found our destination without much trouble at all. To say the least, it was like a fairyland, and we knew immediately we were in for quite a unique experience. Patricio and Maria Rosa Beltran — father and mother of the bride — were waitin’ for us as we arrived at the main casa.  They not only wanted to welcome us — but they wanted to prepare us for the multi-day festivities.

Recognizin’ that I am bloggin’ from memory — it was sometime in the mid-nineties — the Beltran’s had befriended us on that first 45-day drivin’ trip we took at the beginnin’ of ’91 — we had known they liked us when they invited us to their home on May 10th of that year  — you see, May 10th is Mother’s Day in Mexico. And I use the word “like” as a mild description — I do believe there was mutual “love” among the four of us.  This spectacular wedding of their youngest daughter Claudia was just one of the many glorious experiences we shared after I had raced daddy Patricio to that “motel” entrance in Palenque, Chiapas in 1991!! It took a day for him to get over the fact that a silly gringo could outmaneuver him upon arrivin’ at the Chiapas’ hideaway’s narrow entrance. That evenin’ Ma Rosa had assured Harriette that he would be OK — he’d sleep off his anger — and it helped when I volunteered to follow behind them to our next destination — the good doctor demanded to be the lead car!! And so a once-in-a-lifetime friendship began — it just didn’t last long enough!! But this blog is about that unbelievable ex-pat experience — a real live Mexican weddin’ with all the trimmin’s!! We knew that we were in for quite a thrill and a great experience.

At a time later, we had all gathered in a relatively small open area — there were some tables and chairs — I recall we were on a bluff or in a slightly wooded area. The Beltrans had introduced us to a friend who would translate and explain the goin’s on — we were waitin’ for somethin’ or somebody. Well, before you knew it, the most awful racket started and got louder and louder — and then there appeared these guys in shabby and torn clothes “tryin'” to play what appeared to be musical instruments.  It was more like a circus band, yieldin’ more of a racket than a tune — I think there were five or six of them — and they certainly captured all of our attention. But, we were still waitin’ for somethin’ to happen — when all of a sudden this guy showed up. I think it was this small town’s mayor — he had come to perform the weddin’ ceremony. Well actually — it was the rites to make the marriage legal. We would have the church weddin’ later. As I recall, the town mayor performed the ceremony, and of course, we couldn’t understand what was bein’ said. As I recall, we were served a meal ‘n drinks. [aside: I am very, very, very loose with facts here. The wife and I did learn that the marriage would be made legal with this sorta civil ceremony. The church weddin’, later, would be the religious ceremony, and this civil one was the legal event. It was required!! And it probably could have been performed at the mayor’s office (and we would have missed all the fun). It was great the way they pulled it off. And that so-called band kept us all wide awake — and we sure enjoyed it all!!]

There was a real church on the hacienda grounds; that’s where the true ceremony was performed. We had been to a couple of church weddin’s and actually enjoyed all of them even if we never understood a word that was said. Durin’ the ceremony, the couple is “chained” together with lots of flowers involved — it makes for a very colorful event. Claudia, the bride was beautiful, somewhat spell-bindin’, as she is always — and that goes without sayin’!!  Followin’ — we all gathered in a large dinin’ room and the celebration began.  We loved every minute. We were treated royally — all the guests made us feel at home.  I guess there are not too many gringos who go to Mexican weddin’s!! We were somewhat of an attraction. Lots of folks spoke to us. Sure glad we were invited. The whole affair and the place itself were a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience (and we cannot describe how much we appreciated bein’ there) — however, with the Beltrans, we had a number of those “once-in-a-lifetime” experiences. I may not remember details; but I sure do remember how excited and thrilled we were —  these family-shared experiences were precious to us. These memories that we retain are what makes life worthwhile, and meaningful. It’s part of the fabric of enjoyin’ bein’ ex-patriates!! We were two lucky people who just happened to meet some wonderful folks who happened to be Mexicans. Life is good!!  Almost, ‘nuf ………

Post Script: 9/5/17 — This was a part of the blog itself until: In the case the Beltan weddin’s (that’s plural), I described the wedding of the youngest of the five Beltran offspring — Diego — to his bride Cielo — in an earlier blog [aside: If this is true, I cannot locate it. I have mentioned Diego and Cielo’s wedding a few times; but I guess I have never described it — at least I cannot locate it, no matter how much I search — and WordPress furnishes a very good  “search engine”!! Oh well, that just means there’s another blog in the near future and believe me, it was a spectacular event!!  Cielo’s dad, at that time, was a senator — and politicians in Mexico have lots of body-guards. That’s enough for now! Our daughter Susan was visitin’ at that time — so she can keep me honest!] Now you can see why this is part of a “post script”!!           ‘nuf again ……..

P.S. #2: (same day as the last one) But, before I end this blog, I want to thank Claudia, herself, for remindin’ me of the name of our quarters nearby (outside the walled-in Las Palmas). It was the Hotel Hacienda Cortes near the small town of Puente de Ixtla in the state of Morelos. This location had somethin’ to do with the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes and his “heroine” interpreter La Malinche (more than just the inn’s name). But, I’ll be darned if I can find anything to confirm that fact — except the name “Cortes”. It did provide me with a reason to search and “google” a lot; such that I re-learned a bit of Malinche’s storied past — and even though she was considered a traitor to the indigenous folks of Mexico — she literally is the “mother of Spanish Mexico”.  If Cortes and his group had been eliminated which could well have happened if she were not present to “communicate” and “interact” (for Cortes) — it could have been “French” Mexico — language and all (even food***?!!)!  Of course, it would have been a different enemy in the War for Independence in the early 1800’s!! But maybe the French didn’t believe in slavery!? And instead of MEXICO — it would have been New France?? Quien sabe!! [aside: One thing I did learn about Mexico’s history — it was “independence” in early 1800’s and “revolution” in early 1900’s. That always confuses gringos!!] Finally, the last ‘nuf …….