Only FOUR (4) More Sundays!!

Please Note: This blog was published before it was completed. I was bloggin’ away and just happened to hit “PUBLISH” instead of “DRAFT”!! (This latter effort freezes and updates each draft — while “PUBLISH” sends whatever’s blogged to that point — to the public.)  This is the second time that this has occurred — and I have not touched the tequila yet today. But, I will now take a sip and re-read this sterlin’ piece of prose — ‘n if you take a-likin’, you might give the ole guy a comment or so — I’m thick-skinned enough to handle it — remember the Alamo — whoops, I meant I now have the tequila!! So, read on ……….

That’s right!! The remainin’ residents at the senior-citizen “independent-livin'” facility at 947 Tiverton Ave in the Westwood section of west Los Angeles — will finally vacate said premises. It’s called The Watermark at Westwood Village, ever since the end of 2016 — but the new owners don’t call it by that name — except on their stationery. And, I can understand why — since our 14-story, ex-UCLA dormitory still has the look and feel of a college-housin’-residence — and accordin’ to the engineerin’/buildin’ inspection reports, it is somewhat of  a “danger-to-residents” — lackin’ earthquake/structural protection and with elevators that need safety upgrades (whatever that means).  Well, within California law — we had a year to pack up and move out — there were 121 residents  at that time (that’s accordin’ to my in-house source who has kept me updated on our “remainin’-number” of very, very, very elderly tenants) — durin’ this period of “wait-‘n-see-what-happens” — to the folks that did not want to — or were hesitatin’ to — locate elsewhere!!

Some wanted to stay close to family — with daughters livin’ only blocks (not miles) away. Some are just enthralled with the location with every type of store for food, medicine, etc., etc., etc. — from Trader Joe’s to Coffee Bean! -from Ralph’s to a RiteAid Drugstore! – and a Target housin’ a CVS pharmacy and a Starbucks coffee-house. Then, there’s the UCLA campus — beginning’ just a half-block north ; and that’s where the wife ‘n the “ole guy” have our doctors — takin’ advantage of their nationally acclaimed Geriatric Division — and top-ranked medical staff in every specialty — affordin’ a great deal of peace for aged minds. And since the two of us are movie buffs — we have walked the 3 1/2 block to the Regency movie houses — recently seein’ “The Post”, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”, “Dunkirk” and are plannin’ to see “Phantom Thread” this comin’ week.  And finally, some us just couldn’t afford to move — the Westwood Horizons senior citizen facility (formerly owned by Vintage) — was a real honest-to-God  price/performer. A comparable facility within five miles would have cost the wife and me close to 2-grand additional — that’s 2000 smackeroos per month!! That’s for the same offerin’s — without location, location, location — so maybe you blog-readers can understand why we did not want to leave our happy home.  Yep, in our case, it was a matter of economics (and for sure, the “location” advantage plays a very huge roll!!)  And I’m not ashamed to say that after servin’ in the US Navy for 12 years and workin’ for IBM for thirty years — personal finances were a huge factor in our decision of “waitin’ out” our new owners at 947 Tiverton Ave in the Westwood area of Los Angeles (now represented herewith as “947-TA”).

So, actually, the residents had a whole year to move out due to the major construction planned — re: unsafe livin’ conditions. (aside: This included financial assistance  and an agreement to move back at the same lease rate under price control. Plus, the ones that moved could return at any time for meals at no cost — which was a generous offerin’ by the owners.)  It is my opinion, that very few (if any) of the extremely aged folks that moved to other senior-citizen facilities will move back. They will become “settled” in their new environment and will not want to leave their close friends — breakin’ up is extremely hard to do — especially,  when one is in their nineties and is afflicted with the penalties of very old age. But back to the situation of us tenants that did not desire to move. Durin’ the summer, the Los Angeles City Housin’ Commission, at the behest of Bet Tzedek (our amazin’, pro-bono, legal advisors) and us tenants, that did not want to move out ever, granted us a change in the buildin’s status — such that there was no requirement for all residents to ultimately move. So, by law, while construction is in progress, the new owners are required to furnish equivalent or better temporary housin’ (with benefts)!! And they have agreed to furnish all the “extras” that are now offered here at “947-TA” — for us very, very, very senior citizens who do not want to leave — for whatever reason — this area — so this will be our final nestin’ place!!

And guess what!! The place we will move to on or before March 1st — is located just across Weyburn Street from where I’m bloggin’, right now — it’s the buildin’ we can view through our floor-to-ceilin’ dinin’-room windows. We will stay in this same neighborhood (HAL-LE-LU- JAH!!) — the wife and I can take the UCLA shuttle to all doctor appointments — we’ll be just a “hop-skip-and nooooo!! we can’t jump — from Trader Joe’s to our buildin’s entrance — and just across the street from that Target which houses the CVS Pharmacy and Starbucks. Yeah, that’s right!! We ain’t goin’ no-where, no-how, no-way!! It’s a very modern apartment buildin’ with a humongous “infinity” pool and a very chic-and-upscale gym — and rumor has it that there are lots of UCLA grad students who live there. What a mixture — millennials and very, very, very ole f**ts — a few of the latter in wheelchairs with care-givers, many with walkers, ‘n the “ole guy with his cane (and/or, a hospital-provided-aluminum walker). There’ll be only about nine of us — the wife and I, bein’ — the only couple remainin’.  Also, we will be the only two folks not dinin’ in a “communal dinin’ room ” — an apartment devoted solely for us Watermark tenants — used as an “activity room”, as well as a dinin’ room. Jeez, it might be so good at The Glendon (its official name)  we ole-timers may not want to move back to “947-TA”!!

So, Harriette and I will take up livin’ and survivin’ the same way we did in Mexico — in San Miguel de Allende, GTO,  where we were residents from October ’90 to July ’14. (We moved to “947-TA” on August 1st, 2014!) As I have previously blogged, the wife ended her cookin’ career in the summer of ’83 — when after only a couple of weeks in Paris, while we were still livin’ initially, and temporarily, at the Paris Hilton. We were in the process of spendin’ “mucho francs” on remodelin’ a very, very, very old French kitchen in our newly-found 3-story apartment — it was at the end of a wonderful Parisian meal at a local dinin’ establishment — she just stood up and announced at the table “I’m not cookin’ anymore — I am retirin’ from the kitchen”! What I have failed to mention is that a young French waiter had just placed a large crock at her end of the table (maybe 18-inches-tall ‘n a foot-in-diameter) and with a huge dipper, he placed a mound of chocolate mousse on her plate.  She meant it, and that’s why — while we lived almost 2 1/2 years in the Paris 16th arrondissement  — the only three items one would find in our fridge were wine (both white and red — the latter should be chilled, too!); fresh ham from the three street markets nearby; and lots of chunks of fresh parmesan cheese (which my Italian co-worker taught us — that it made the best “nosh” when eaten in chunks — at cocktail parties, or just before goin’ out to dine at a Parisian café or bistro or brassiere!!

So, if you are ever in our neighborhood — maybe, just passin’ through — you might see this beautiful brunette strollin’ along Glendon Avenue with — what looks like her “anciano” male escort and his squeaky and  inexpensive walker. They’ll probably be headin’ for the Boilin’ Crab, or Tender Greens — or just maybe, for Mexican tacos with freshly-boiled ears of corn covered with their ever-present, red pepper at PINCHE” Tacos Restaurant. Just give ’em a wave — and they just might wave back atcha!! ‘nuf ………

Post Script: Well, this blog was published — maybe 4 hours ago — and I have just corrected a rather “unappetizin'” error. In the next-to-last paragraph in which I mention the dessert’s name that we were bein’ served — I described it as a mouse — that would have shut down that French bistro immediately. Fortunately as I re-read this blog, I noted my error and changed to the correct spellin’ — mousse!! Forgive me, there will be no rodents mentioned in any of my blogs in the future, especially in connection with a restaurant. Finally, with a nod toward cleanliness and a germ-free dinin’ experience, I’ll end this add-on!! Except to explain to frequent readers of  “ole guy’s ramblins”– that the shortened method of describin’ our current livin’ facility has always been the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte), but in this blog, I wanted to associate the facility’s title with our current address at Tiverton Ave! Truly, I can do this if I want to, ya know!! Finally, ‘nuf …………

————— Why Am I Puzzled? ————– Are They Really So Mean and Wicked?!!

Preface: (My original blog was modified on the followin’ day when an error was identified; it is marked distinctly.)  Please forgive an ole guy for bloggin’ “what’s on his mind”; particularly, if you are one of the few regular readers (if I have any regular readers!?); that is — since I rarely get a comment to give me a “boost” or “whatever”. This blog, specifically, is my response, or reaction, to Watermark’s offer, under California law, to provide equivalent housing for us tenants when construction prohibits remaining in our livin’ quarters — for safety reasons. The law is called the Tenant Habitability Plan (lovingly referred to as the “THP“). Herein, I get down and dirty — into some of the details stated in our contractual agreement which we signed in August 2014. I am forthright in my effort to make the case that they are not offerrin’ us tenants a fair and honest shake — in fact, I think, legally, they are non-responsive. So, if you are still up for it, I’ll try to make this blog interestin’ enough and worthy of  your time. So, read on ……… 

A last phase of our lives — Harriette’s and mine — started on a late afternoon in early July 2014. We had been livin’ in our leased two-bedroom (sorta) townhouse near the center of town in (quaint, picturesque and arty) San Miguel de Allende — a very special town proclaimed a World Heritage City and named the best city in the world in which to retire by a few popular magazines!!  We had chosen San Miguel back in 1990 after retirin’ while livin’ in Westport, CT, to complete a long and very interestin’ career as an IBMer!! We had driven our 2nd-hand Hertz Ford (pastelita de crema or “little cream puff”) through 30 of Mexico’s 31 states and the Federal District (Mexico City) — then even into Guatemala — searchin’ for a place to call our (anticipated) “final” home — and we settled on San Miguel and started Spanish classes immediately (we wanted to get with it!) — and thus it became our home for the rest of our lives — almost!! This last –unanticipated — phase occurred on that fateful afternoon in mid-2014.  I had found Harriette lyin’ face down near our guest bathroom in a puddle of blood — in fact, there were a few puddles on the floor of our guest bedroom. She obviously had not felt good and went into our other bedroom — so that “Dr. Emiliano” was not aware of her condition. Luckily, I had begun to wonder where she was and ……..

Talk about bein’ scared — I thought it was over — but, the San Miguel 911 worked well, and in minutes we were on our way to the hospital, and amigos joined our landlady in cleanin’ the place. The beginnin’ of the end of our  final phase in life had started — unknowingly!  But no bleedin’ ulcer was gonna keep a good woman down — and after a short hospital stay she was back to bein’ that “smilin’ Texas chili pepper” that I had wed almost 64 years earlier. But, that hospital stay had alerted our daughter Susan who had hopped the first plane down — long story short — she shipped the two of us back to the states — to our ole stompin’ ground in L.A. (Previously, Susan had entered 1st grade and graduated UCLA durin’ our 17 years, livin’ in good ole San Fernando Valley from ’66 to ’83!!)  Back in Los Angeles, we had a very hard time makin’ the decision “not to return to Mexico” — and had maintained our leased apartment thru the end of the year. So, in mid-December ’14, Susan returned to San Miguel alone — and gave away all our furnishin’s and her father’s clothes — she packed up her mother’s clothes and the wonderful artwork that local artists had generously given the two of us just for bein’ two gentle ole souls who loved Mexico. (Remember, we lived in a town with lots and lots of artists — they were our amigos! Plus, every restaurant owner, waiter and bartender in town knew Emiliano y Harrieta by their first names!!) Susan shipped it all to Los Angeles!!

In the meantime, Susan had scouted the Los Angeles area near UCLA — she had a plan for the two us in mind (which included UCLA’s Geriatric Medical Division). And, lo and behold, she found the Vintage Westwood Horizons — a few short blocks from the UCLA medical facilities in the wonderful Westwood area — with lots of stores (Target/Starbuck/CVS {all-in-one}, Ralph’s/Starbuck, Trader Joe, Rite-Aid) a few steps away. She made sure her agin’ parents were enrolled in the Geriatric Medical Program at UCLA and we both were blessed that Dr. Patricia Harris was available — and we were all over-joyed with Vintage’s offerin’s. The two of us are old — very, very, very old (93 & 89) –but we were not in need of an assisted-livin’ facility.  And without jumpin’ too far ahead in this tale (of woe), we could begin to hire, as needed, a person to do our laundry on a weekly basis (with washer/dryers available on every floor) — plus assist with the “walk-in” shower, for whomever is in-need.  Actually, we have a care-giver now for a limited time (an hour or so) twice a week. That’s how the Meisel’s are survivin’ today!  (A sorta beginners’ program for assisted-livin’!? This is what has made Vintage Westwood so unique, and so special, for the two of us. And I truly believe — this is why Watermark is havin’ so much trouble in resolvin’ our temporary housin’ — it’s not a facility for housin’ only — and it’s not a full-scale assisted-livin’ operation!! But, I will state there is a similar facility within the prescribed distance from 947 Tiverton Ave!!) Now, let me tell you what Vintage offered us in 2014 (in writin’ — and contractually!!).

But, first: an [aside: I had some health issues that were so serious that they had to be taken care of — in relatively short order. In essence, this was the main reason we did not return to Mexico. (It was time for two very, very, very ole world travelers to pack it in, so to speak!) First, I had a TAVR procedure at Cedars Sinai Hospital, where my long-time cardiologist Dr. Ivor Geft practices in combination with the Cedars “Heart Institute” under Dr. Raj Makkar — a TAVR is a trans-catheter aortic valve replacement — that’s why you hear me moo-in’now and then — the valve is from a cow!! This was followed shortly thereafter, in early 2015, by a double-hernia operation at UCLA’s Santa Monica Hospital (that was with Dr.Chen). And just for kicks (and for more ease in walkin’ around), I had a 2nd lifetime laminectomy in the L1-L3 area at the same hospital (with Dr. Lu, presidin’) — about 6 months later!  Therefore, my home-city will be Los Angeles for the rest of my life — but we’ll always have wonderful memories of Mexico — the place where we were supposed to end our days!!] Now for that signed contract ……..

Note: If you are a regular or casual reader of “Ole Guy’s Ramblins” blogs — please skip the next paragraph — it’s just a list of the contractual elements in our current and valid Residence Agreement — almost all of which are not provided in the current and revised THP offered by Watermark to us remainin’ tenants at the Westwood Horizons senior facility located at 947 Tiverton Ave.

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The Vintage Westwood Horizons signed agreement included: One bedroom fully furnished with bathroom includin’ a walk-in shower and raised toilet seat. Further, in the order described in our contractural document, the following items are listed: Exterminator service; annual carpet-cleaning; light bulbs for ceiling and bathroom fixtures; dinin’ services of three (3) meals a day in the main dining room with snacks to be served frequently in the afternoons in the clubhouse (3-3:30pm daily for ice cream); tray service to the room, especially after a hospital stay (3 days no charge); besides daily bed and room attentionweekly complete housekeeping  with bed linens changed once a week and fresh towels 3 times a week (details not listed herein include some items to be accomplished quarterly and annually); activities are discussed “a wide variety of activities with the goal of enriching and supporting the mental, physical, and spiritual well being of the resident” (these are the actual words in the agreement); Beauty Salon/Barber Shop is available on-site; Transportation is provided within a 7-mile radius (if possible, request 24 hours in advance); Emergency Response indicates they will call 911, assisting in every way; Notices to community (in-house): activities will be posted; and lots of other “rules and regulations” are listed.  Also included, in this RESIDENCE AGREEMENT, are guidelines for EMPLOYMENT OF OUTSIDE SERVICE PROVIDERS, Energy Conservation guidelines, and the document ends with EMERGENCY PROCEDURES. Followin’ is an ADDENDUM coverin’ Motorized Cart Policy, Security Precautions, Respite Residents, and finally (as one might expect) Notice and Refunds upon DEATH. This detailed RESIDENCE AGREEMENT preceded what I will call a “succinct and shortened” Residence Agreement which is also signed and dated by me, my wife and a representative of Vintage Westwood Horizons.

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Now, welcome back, and read on: [aside: It is my understandin’ that this contract/agreement is still in effect, and that may be why Watermark continues to identify this facility in most cases as ‘WESTWOOD HORIZONS” (even though their stationery states: “THE WATERMARK at Westwood Village” with a fancy “W” to the left and inside a circle). I explained in my previous blog — why I colored their name in gold! I titled that blog “Ole Guy’s Retrospective, His Manifesto ……. an Expose’!!]

That blog was my response to Watermark’s first THP. And, yes, we just received their second one called “a revised THP”! Their original THP was denied!! The new cover letter is dated December 18, 2017, and the first 4 pages appear to be the same (updated for dates, etc.) as the original. The 5th page indicates it is for: Emiel & Harriette Meisel – #430 followed on the left of the page by some descriptve info: One Bedroom – (1)3/4 bath; 450-640 Square feet; No Kitchen; No In-Unit Laundry. On the right side of the page is printed in bold letters: APARTMENT AMENITIES; and the first line states: Guaranteed-One Bedroom One Bath 738-834 Square feet!!!! (Stop, stop, stop!! What size apartment are they offerin’ the wife and me? Right off the bat somethin’s wrong!!) [aside (next day): Yep!! Somethin’s wrong and guess what!!?? It’s the ole guy who is wrong, this  time!! But, this just proves that the simple, one-pager describin’ The Glendon — managed to confuse your blogger. When they put our names in bold black letters and listed a one-bedroom with some descriptive phrases beneath it — in my suspicious mind, I thought that was the “cell” we were bein’ assigned (see what they have wrought!!) — know what?? — my Bet Tzedek amigo quickly explained “that is the one-bedroom you are currently residin’ in at 947 Tiverton Ave!!” Well, I told you their revised THP was confusin’ — and I guess I proved it!!]

The multi-colored document goes on to elaborate about all the great amenities in the apartment and in The Glendon community. But, the coup-de-grace is the beautiful multi-colored photo (I’m sure from The Glendon’s advertisin’ portfolio) which shows a splendid “infinity pool” on the left — and on the right — wow!! — that’s somethin’ a 93-year-ole handicapped geezer like me really wants to use daily — a very complex strength machine!!  Why am I goin’ into such detail — this package that Watermark has produced as a 2nd THP — must have been done in quite a hurry without too much time to edit nor to consider the “patient” — it has other significant errors in ours — the wife’s and mine!! The last THP had a multi-page brochure individually produced for each tenant — maybe they had a deadline to meet to rid themselves of their very, very, very elderly tenants — the package handed to me by some stranger on Monday afternoon is certainly not up to snuff — for the Watermark brand!!

As I have stated in that earlier blog, Watermark’s THP offerin’s are nothin’ more than  eviction notices. Recall our first meetin’ with the Watermark President/CEO — over a year ago — when he knowingly gave our extremely elderly tenants “120 days to vacate the premises” (with notices posted on all doors on the followin’ day).  It took me, personally, 5 more days to read the fine print — when it dawned on me in the middle of my blog “Ole Lives Matter!! or do they??” that we had a whole year to vacate the premises under California law — because we were all over 62 years of age (the Watermark CEO had purposely scared the daylights out of us very, very, very ole folks).  That same day we had “protested” the 120-day eviction notices with a march (really, a stroll with walkers and canes and wheel-chairs and care-givers) proudly carryin’ those signs — “Ole Lives Matter” — and Angie Crouch, the Channel 4 TV reporter extraordinaire, made sure we were on the local NBC evenin’ news!! We were a proud bunch and loved to put the “finger-in-the-eye” of the new owners who were evictin’ us.  And that was just about the time that the Bet Tzedek organization took notice by comin’ to our rescue with their legal prowess — really, though, it’s a re-enactment of David and Goliath — ‘n we very, very, very ole folks (with the BT legal team) represent li’l David!!  And it’s a reasonable comparison since Watermark Residential Communities (40 nation-wide facilities) is controlled by The Freshwater Group of Tucson, AZ, about which a quick google will inform you about them: “Bringing the mastery of 25+ years experience to craft better senior communities.” And their major financial supporter is Kayne Anderson Capitol Advisors, LP . located right here in Los Angeles. ‘nuf ………

Post Script: We plan to appeal the revised THP offered by Watermark for the wife and me, which calls for our spending a minimum of 16 months in The Glendon Apartments, with its long, dark hallways, with no handrails. A current Glendon tenant, a younger active person (81 years),  who formerly lived at our location, advises us that there are no neighborly folks there — everyone, even in the elevator, all together, are lookin’ down at their cellphones. The place is known for housin’ UCLA grad students. She constantly complains about the outside contractors who are available for a monthly house-cleanin’ !! It is an extremely large and cold complex (people-wise) with apartments on both sides of Glendon Avenue — a spectacular location, but …. not for us !! We would not be physically safe at our ages (as I have mentioned before, falls are the quickest way to end ole people’s lives). We would have to eat out at least two times a day and both the wife and I have trouble maneuverin’ even now to purchase necessities — we choose Ralph’s because it’s less than a half block away, and I can support myself on their large carts. Eatin’ 3 meals a day within our facility is one of the highest priorities the two of us have! Daily maid service is also a must — the maid has to check to make sure we are both still alive. Our doctor states that a transfer bench is unsafe, even with a care-giver — so, we must have a walk-in shower. And what about those activities for mental, physical, and spiritual well-bein’ in our agreement???

There is a solution within the THP — and I quote: “the landlord and the tenant may mutually agree to allow the landlord to pay the tenant a per diem amount etc., etc., etc.” There is a suitable location within the prescribed radius which provides an equivalency — and that is the solution — if they are concerned at all in the well-being of the tenants remainin’ here at 947 Tiverton Ave in Westwood. Or, as this blog’s title states: are they just wicked folks and not concerned with our well-bein??!!  I’ll leave you readers with that thought!!  ‘nuf ……….

 

………. Barbra — Barbra — Barbra!!! ………. ——– A Hellluva Birthday Present!! ——–

What do you give your gal for her 89th?? What do you give her when you’ve been a twosome for over 67 years?? Eighty-nine years old — who lives that long — is she now an old woman?? And with the same guy for over 67 years (and, he must be really old {which he is!!}) — and the changes of the scenery — ’twas the NAVY from Texas to California to Maryland to Florida — and back to Texas (no more Navy) — then, a bit longer in Texas — (IBM) from Corpus Christi to Dallas — then to Saratoga, California and on to Los Angeles — now that’s a long stopover!!! Then to Paris, France — and that requires a deep breath — one must always deeply inhale when you are livin’ in Paris on their “dime”!! But then to Westport, CT, for the final chapter in a workin’ man’s life.  Retired from IBM!!  — (Every reader must be a bit dizzy with all those moves — together, the wife and me!!) So, why not just get in the car and drive into Mexico — we had lived in a foreign country and we had loved every minute of it — the language issues, the completely different culture — the sights and the sounds — and the people — yes, the people!! It’s always the people!! And it will always be the people!!

And we drove and drove and — well, you get the picture!! But, you really don’t!! When I retired from my day job at IBM and lived in Westport for another 9 months — we realized that, in retirement, we had to give up a lot — all those trips from our place in Connecticut — into the bowels of Manhattan on a weekly basis — all those great things to do, and places to dine — it was give-it-all-up ‘n  get-the-h…-out-of-there — TIME!! So, we bought a 2nd-hand Ford from Hertz — “pastel de crema” (cream puff), and we visited 30 of the 31 states in Mexico — plus the “district” (the Federal District, which is — also known as — Mexico City!). And when we reached the southernmost state of Chiapas — we decided to drive on into Guatemala — we actually were in search of a place to settle into — to retire fully — like puttin’ your feet up ‘n just watchin’ the world go by — and there were wonderful reports about the city of Antigua in Guatemala. The reports were right — and there was serious consideration of “landin’ ‘n stayin’ there” — but the distance to Los Angeles was a bit much — that’s where we had some kin — but believe me, we loved the 10 or  more days we spent in that wonderful town — and the stopovers we made in Huehue-tenango and Quetzel-tenango — and maybe another “–tenango” or two along the way!! [aside: I think “tenango” is the same as  “burg” in a U.S. city’s endin’! Some “experts” claim it means “place of” — and they are referrin’ to the ancient Mayan language when they mention this.)

We ended up settlin’ in San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato — almost in the direct geographical center of the country of Mexico. We were some 1800 miles south of Los Angeles, CA, — a good 3-day drive for the ole guy, his navigator wife, and pastel de crema (replaced by panque {“cupcake”} after 180,000 miles).  And in the those 24 years south of the border, the two (I mean 3) of us made over 40 round-trips in nuestro carro. (And thank God for “books on tape” which later became “books on CD’s” — and Lee Child with his Jack Reacher series. I may have mentioned that we listened to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” on one occasion, when we traveled north with our fav amigo Benno Wenske — it was in a much earlier blog. These years south of the border were wonderful for the two of us.  Our daily livin’ was a lot less costly — and we were able to live the good and independent life — and one has to experience this to realize how many amigos you will cultivate during that period of time — yes, in those days we counted our amigos and the restaurants — rather than the years!! That’s the lifestyle that Harrieta y Emiliano thought would be carried out for them — i.e until we met our maker!!  We had joined the “Twenty-four Hour Club” in San Miguel — and that settled all arrangements — except our son Gary would probably have been surprised when the urn showed up at his front door!!

But, best laid plans … don’t always anticipate an individual’s health situation — both the wife and the ole guy became “sick enough to live“; but not sufficiently drastic enough– to die!!!  And this circumstance meant that daughter Susan would have to come down — ship us back to Los Angeles — and find enough amigos to come and haul away our apartment full of furnishings. Thus, you can now find us two — ensconced in our two room apartment at 947 Tiverton Ave — in the Westwood section of Los Angeles — with son Gary just to our north — and dependable Susan to our south. And yesterday, after over 3 years north of the border, on Wednesday,  November 22nd — Harriette turned 89-years-young. And what does a very, very, very ole guy give his true love after 67 years of wedded bliss — he takes her on a quick trip to Miami — to hear the great, the wonderful — that one-of-a-kind vocalist who — the L.A. Times TV Critic Robert Lloyd describes her as “colossal ” — in the concert special ……….  “The Music … The Mem’ries … The Magic” — Barbra Streisand at her inimitable best!!  Yes, Netflix transported the two of us to Miami, and we were there in the audience — even if it was last December — and for just under 2 whole hours, while we were mesmerized by one of the greatest entertainers of our lifetime. There we were — snacks in hand — lyin’ back with pillows raised for comfort — we had been transported both in distance and in time into an audience in the tens of thousands — there were people as far as the eye could see. And she came out from behind the curtains singin’ one of our favorites — “The Way We Were” ………. and the two of us — along with the entire audience — melted into a pile of mush!!!!!!!

After a bit of repartee’, she announced that, in her career, she had made ten #1 albums — and that she would sing a song she had chosen from each.  It was mesmorizin’ — it was just Barbra!! Later, past the halfway mark,  Jamie Foxx suddenly appeared and they did some duets that had us all riveted (he even imitated Barbra singin’ “The Way We Were”) — and then, with much applause,  Jamie left the stage — leavin’ Barbra to thrill us with a few more of her best known treats.  Harriette and I actually felt like we were there in the crowd — ooh-in’ ‘n aah-in’ — but they would jump up and clap — [aside: Honestly, we didn’t do that “jumpin stuff” for reasons which are obvious if you know us.]  We just pinched ourselves. What could be better — relaxin’, nibblin’, ‘n watchin’ Barbra Streisand — on-stage with a humongous band and some great back-up singers — gee, it’s the wife’s 89th birthday and we were enjoyin’ a million dollars worth of absolutely upscale entertainment — while we were just lyin’ there! What a birthday — and I paid for and sponsored the entire production. I beseech you to do the same and listen to “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from Yenta“Don’t Rain on My Parade!” from Funny Girl —  a beautiful rendition of “Pure Imagination”!!  And even if I am showin’ my age — she closed with that ole fav Democratic Party’s theme song — Happy Days Are Here Again!! Yep, I can recall singin’ that tune along with all the Democrats after FDR whupped Herbert Hoover in ’32 — that’s what 8-year-old’s did in the thirties!! So, that’s ‘nuf ……….

 

What Were Ya Doin’ 67 Years Ago??

Do you remember what you were up to on November 3rd, 1950. Some of you weren’t even a twinkle in your parents’ eyes!! Our three children might have been twinkles in our eyes — the wife’s and mine!! But I would guess that our children weren’t even thought about 67 years ago, and I was about to be put through a very, very, very difficult situation on that Friday evenin’!! But, let’s start at the beginnin’ of the day — it was mornin’ — and Harriette and I were headin’ to the big city — we had just checked on our new garage apartment at 235 1/2 ‘D’ Ave in Coronado, CA, and were headin’ to San Diego on the ferry!! Yep!! There was no bridge from beautiful Coronado to San Diego then — it was “take the ferry” or drive all the way around the peninsula south and up the coast to San Diego!! So, we waited a bit and the ferry docked and unloaded their passengers from S.D. and the gate was swung open to drive onto the ferry boat. I pulled out my card for the attendant and he exclaimed, “Sir, you need to show me your ferry pass or pay for the ride over — your U.S. Navy I. D. card is not appropriate!!” WOW!! Was I nervous!! I showed him my ferry pass and drove to the opposite end of the ferry!! Nerves!! I guess so — Harriette and I were on our way to purchase our marriage license at City Hall — we were to be married on Sunday November 5th — with a wing-ding reception at the ever-popular El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego. [aside: I had to google “downtown hotel in San Diego in 1950” since I had forgotten its name. It was considered one of the best hotels there at the time — and since “Daddy Joe” Simon was footin’ the bill for the weddin’ reception — it had to be tops for his oldest daughter– Miss Harriette Janice Simon — and he was invitin’ the whole group of fearless pilots from the Night Attack Squadron VC-35 — stationed at the U.S. Naval Air Station “North Island” in Coronado.]

Mentionin’ my squadron mates brings me to the “night before the weddin'” activities. Actually, it was the “night before, the night before”!!  Well, Coronado — bein’ just a small distance from the Mexican border — about five of the guys (no gals in the air arm of the U.S. Navy at that time — in fact, none in the fleet at all in 1950) — these buddies decided that I had to have a Mexican indoctrination prior to my weddin’!! And indoctrination barely describes what took place — but I’ll briefly summarize.  The underlyin’ rule that was laid out before me was that I would not be permitted to eat anything. Drink, yes!! But it had to be of the alcohol category — and they chose “tequila”!! We attended a bar with dancin’ girls, etc., and I was thrust forward to dance with the ugliest one of the lot. After an hour or so of “winin’ and dancin'” we went to a live show — probably rated in the “triple “X” category. Again, no food — but lots of tequila. And as I recall, when the clowns on stage asked for volunteers to assist in their act — I was thrust forward and carried onto the stage.  I can only remember tryin’ to dance with someone and fallin’ on my face. The guys hauled me down and outside we went — where I quit my “dead cat” act and ran to the nearest street taco stand and scooped up a couple already-made and downed them — almost swallowin’ them whole!! [aside: Up to that moment in my life, I had never eaten tacos nor any food offered on the streets of Tijuana!! I was starvin’ and they sure must have tasted good. Fortunately, this “bachelor night” occurred on the Friday night before a Sunday weddin’ — there was sufficient time to recoup!!

I have difficulty recallin’ what occurred on the 4th of November — just that I was still in the “land of the livin'”!! On Sunday mornin’ — Nov 5th, 1950, Harriette and Emiel were married in the private office of a San Diego rabbi — with her parents and 12-year-ole sister Raye Ann in attendance, along with my dad Harry. Wouldn’t ya know — on Saturday mornin’ before the weddin’, my sister had called from Memphis, TN, advisin’ my parents that her hubby had a severe heart attack and wanted my mom to hurry home. My mother hopped a plane back — that afternoon — it was the first time she had ever flown in an airplane. She missed her older son’s weddin’ — but duty called her back to Memphis!!  She not only missed my weddin’ but a helluva party followin’!!

Yes, it was “all hands on deck” — Joe Simon, father of the bride, from Corpus Christi, TX — the same Jewish guy that always led the citywide St. Patrick’s Day parade every year. And bein’ in the furniture business with his store on the city’s main drag, he loved the experience doubly, or triply, when he led the parade past the neighborin’ furniture store of Joe Crane — “the Smilin’ Irishman”!! To say the least, Harriette’s dad was quite a character and a bit of a showman. When he was young and single and “in-shape”, he actually boxed for a while — professionally — but he later married a lady from San Antonio, TX, and opened the Nueces Furniture Store on Chaparral Street in Corpus Christi. The four Simons had driven by car from Corpus to San Diego for the oldest daughter’s weddin’ — and durin’ the entire time on the road — he kept askin’ his daughter — “Are you really sure you want to marry this ‘sailor’? You know that all we have to do is turn around and go back to Corpus!!” [aside: I had promised Harriette that I would make sure that my next duty station would be in Hawaii — and we would spend some early married years — livin’ the good life on the islands. Truth be told, this did not happen!! My next duty station would be NATC Patuxent River in Maryland — a place you cannot find on a normal map and the birthplace of our first child in a US Navy dispensary when snow was on the ground — Jan 6th, 1953!!]

Back to Sunday afternoon, Nov. 5th, 1950 — our weddin’ reception at the El Cortez Hotel — it was quite a blowout!! Champagne flowed and the band played — and all the VC-35 squadron US Navy pilots were there in uniform with wives or girlfriends. Joe Simon was in his glory as Master of Ceremony — for the cake cuttin’, the speeches, the whole wonderful party. The wife was in her glory when the whole bunch of uniformed-guys toasted her and then the two of us. We had a great time!! And since we had a private weddin’ beforehand, there was no need to change clothes. We had hidden my Olds convertible — so the guys wouldn’t trash it; but someone got to it and attached a few tin cans and marked a couple of windows with “Just Married”!! We did sneak away and got on the road — the road to where!!??

I had made no reservations and decided we would stop somewhere near San Diego as I drove north on the main highway up the coast. It was still light and not too late when we had escaped the crowd. I was confident we could find a place — not too far away. Well, I was relatively new to the area and had not driven up toward Los Angeles — so I kept lookin’ for a place to stop along the way. Well, maybe I was just plain nervous, but we didn’t turn off until we got all the way to Long Beach — I must have driven over 2 hours and darkness was upon us. We checked in and got to the room and ordered from “room service”!! We were in our first honeymoon suite. We were to leave the next night from the San Diego Airport — headin’ for an Acapulco honeymoon. We were all set and had finally — and nervously — arrived at “a destination”!! We would casually head back to San Diego the next day.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time and boarded our plane south. After a while, the captain advised that we should make ourselves comfortable — the weather along the coast at Acapulco was overcast and foggy — we needed clear weather to land in the early mornin’ at our Mexican destination. Well, the fog and weather did not let up and after some hours we were told that they would fly us there the next evenin’!! Our flight was cancelled and we had remained in the aircraft the entire night (our 2nd night of marriage) — we exited the plane and I called Bobbie Faulders who had been at the reception — a close friend whose Navy pilot hubby was at sea. She came and picked us up, served us a bit of breakfast, and let us use their bed to catch a few “Zee’s”! We later spent the day with Bobbie who happily took us back to the airport and watched us board our plane. We did take off, finally — but that’s the way it was in November 1950 — if the weather was bad or visibility was limited at a smallish airport in Mexico — they just cancelled. So our 2nd night of marriage had been spent on an airplane that never moved from its startin’ point. In 1950, Acapulco was not fully commercialized — it was a grown-up fishin’ village with some neat smallish hotels and a fun place for our honeymoon — 67 years ago!!!     So, happy weddin’ anniversary to the ole guy and his wife!!  Happy 67th!! ‘nuf ……..

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 ……..

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 …….

 

 

 

“Don’t plan to leave (us), Angelina!!”

It’s Memorial Day — it’s May 29th — on the last Monday in May every year; and all the flags have been placed next to all the grave sites in the military cemeteries all over the country. [aside: When our 3rd child was born in 1960, she arrived on Memorial Day that year — it was May 30th, 1960. And in those earlier days we celebrated our “fallen” heroes on that specific date — always on May 30th — of each year. But with the government’s philosophy to have “variable” holidays fall on a Monday — providing us all with 3-day-weekends — it’s always on a Monday for Martin Luther King’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Columbus Day!! Besides our youngest bein’ born on a holiday — the other two came into this world on special days also — the 4th of July (Independence Day) for another daughter; and our first-born — a son — arrived on Epiphany (January 6th) which celebrates two very religious occurrences among Christians — the day the three wise men (or kings) visited the baby Jesus, and/or second, the day St. John the Baptist baptized Jesus. I recall that, in Mexico, it was the day also that the children received gifts (they probably got some toys at Christmas also — it pays to be a Mexican kid — a nin(y)o Mexicano — they just might receive gifts, twice — 12 days apart.) And madre bakes a ‘rosca’ — an oval coffee-cake (rosca de reyes), and in it, hides a small ceramic toy — and the person that finds the object must host a meal on the followin’ Feb 2nd (Dia de Candaleria), servin’ tamales and atole — a thickened hot drink with corn as the principle ingredient. (Many was the morning in San Miguel de Allende — when we would stop on a street corner to pick up a few home-made hot tamales — but we only partook of atole once — that was sufficient!!)]

What a ramble that was!! Back to our very patriotic holiday — today!! A lot of folks will fly the Stars and Stripes usin’ a holder installed on their roof — some even have flag poles in their front yards on which to raise the colors. They may have a flag pole here at “947” — the CAN (Casa de los Ancianos del Norte) — and I hope they do, and fly the flag today — if I was still livin’ on Ballinger Street in the San Fernando Valley — I think I would fly our flag outside today. It’s the day POTUS places a wreath at the grave of the “unknown” soldier in Arlington Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from the Capitol. It’s quite a dramatic ceremony, and it calls for the President of these United States to handle it with style and grace. I hope our present holder of that most important office didn’t screw it up — as he is sometimes prone to do. Take his last meeting with the G-7 in Taormina, Sicily, Italy. [aside: Harriette and I spent a few days in Taormina in 1994, when we motored all over Europe from June to October in a leased Citroen coupe (checkin’ off our “bucket list”). That town will remain a fantastic lastin’ memory — even Mt. Etna gave a bit of a rumble — it’s still an active volcano — and it’s adjacent to the town. I also remember listenin’ to and watchin’ a World Cup soccer match at an outdoor restaurant — the favored Italian team was in-it-to-win-it, and we were trackin’ them all over Italy. [aside: They lost to Brazil in a “shoot-out” — it was the finals — when their Italian hero (the Italian equivalent to the Brazilian Pele {best player ever, accordin’ to most}; and it was Italy’s final kicker, and Italy’s #1 player — Roberto Baggio — and with the kick-count at 3-2,  he muffed the last (and game-endin’) penalty kick. We were watchin’ it with the 10-year-old grandson of the agri-turismo’s owner — sittin’ next to us. He cried elephant tears — Italian elephant tears!! That final game happened to be held in the Pasadena Rose Bowl (our home town); and here were the the wife and me — we were stayin’ at an agri-tourismo in Tuscany. What a trip! And it helped complete a great bucket list!!]

Back to the G-7 in Taormina, and a reprise — in a way — to one of my last week’s blogs, when I compared that blog title to a song title from the musical “Fiddler on the Roof” — Traditioncompared to our situation called an “eviction” here at the CAN!! Today, my blog’s title reminded be of the #1 song in the musical “EVITA” — “Don’t cry for me, Angentina” — by referrin’ to Angela Merkel — Germany’s leader and chancellor — and her closin’ comments at the G-7 meetin’ when she stated: “We have to fight for our own destiny as Europeans!” This was in response to England’s Brexit — and Trump’s callous way of treatin’ our European allies at that meetin’ — and basically throughout the European portion of his visit — both in his speech and in his body language!! Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel — representin’ the strongest and wealthiest among the remainin’ six countries — as an “European team-player” showed great disdain for the American president. And he deserved it — I think he acted like an oaf — a very, very, very foolish, pompous ass — and he certainly didn’t act for me in word nor deed (I am positive, a strong majority of my country-men — and -women — agree with me!) The majority of the citizens of the United States of America will always plan to be Europe’s ally — we don’t want to fight another war in Europe — WWI and WWII were sufficient — I shout “we are your ally, Europe” — no matter what Trump says or does — his asinine action in Taormina just proves to me that he is not my president!! So sing out: ”DON’T PLAN TO LEAVE (US), ANGELINA! (You know the tune!)

And speakin’ of flags flown today on the roofs and in the front yards of Americana — if I had the ability to raise a flag today — bein’ a sacred day in memory of our fallen heroes — it would be “upside down” — my statement that our country is in danger! The first amendment gives me the right to express my feelin’s and the “upside-down” flag (flown, only in spirit today — based on this blog) is a statement that I, personally, am Angela Merkel’s ally — and an ally of all the other peace-lovin’ countries on our planet Earth. (And that does not make me a “pussy”– meanin’ a very weak person, in this case — not to be confused with the kind that our current president likes to grab!!)  Also, I am definitely not a “Steve Bannon-type “nationalist” — I want my country to be a vibrant part of whatever the free-and-peace-lovin’ countries of the world want to call the organization — hell, it could be P-106 (this “P’ is for peace — again, not that other “p-word” !) — meanin’ there are 105 other “peace-lovin'” countries in our world. (The number “106” just came off the top of my very, very, very bald head!! That number has no significance!)

Bein’ a United States Naval Academy graduate — Class of ’47-“Best on the Severn”, along with ex-President and classmate Jimmy Carter — and a couple of Medal of Honor winners (my close bro’s) — and I am a very, very, very patriotic guy. I actually “hurt” when I read his ‘tweets’, watch his oafish ways, and recognize his “me-before-country” attitude. As a very, very, very “ole guy” — all I can do is mumble to myself here at the CAN. I just wish I could at least raise the flag today — upside down!! Anyway, I have done so in spirit, however, with this blog!  ‘nuf ……