be sure
I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends

Shakespeare, Bolingbroke in Richard II

birthday presentsThis past Sunday I was walking into town when eight cyclists in full spandex rode by.  At the end of the line was someone with one hand on the handlebars and one hand on his …. electronic device, typing a text.  Ah, I remember scenes like that from my time in the Bay Area, but they seem so long ago and far away.

These days it’s more likely that I’ll see four people on a motorcycle, helmetless.  It’s usually just two generations, but twice I’ve seen what appeared to be three generations.  I mentioned this to an acquaintance, an American, and he proceeded to tell me the story of the helmetless American motorcyclist who died on a Mexican highway.  There’s an insurance salesman in every crowd, I guess.

I met Ruth for coffee at the Biblioteca where we talked about NGO business and had the chance to learn more about each another.  On the way home I stopped to buy dried peaches and apricots at Bonanza, which had been cleaned out of most dried cereal, and I also stopped at Santa Clara Creamery, which was out of milk and almost out of yogurt.  Then it was on to the Farmacia and then home.

The walk from there was slow, partially on purpose due to this week’s glorious weather, partially due to the funeral procession, and partially due to my aching body.  There were the tourists with their iPads photographing the procession, there were many marchers, there were many flowers on the lead pickup truck, and there was wonderful music, horns and voices and strings.  There were children asleep on the shoulders of their fathers in the mid-day heat, and mourners were not only in the street, but on the sidewalks, too.

Bobbi, who lived in the main house last summer and who plans to return for this summer, wrote the landlords and asked whether I was staying on.  The last that Bobbi knew, Sam was returning from India and taking over the casita; so she conveyed her un-updated story to the landlords:  I-was-moving-out-due-to-Sam’s-return.  The landlords now refer to the casita as Val’s casita, and all was clarified, like gee.

It is true:  more Mexicans smile and say good-day than do those from el norte.  Teens from both cultures seem to ignore adults with equal self-absorption.

Mary talks of moving on to Oaxaca and Diana talks of moving to someplace less expensive, someplace where there’s a younger crowd. It hurts to think of these events as I’ve always had a difficult time with leavings.  So I invited them to dinner for Wednesday night.


I take shelter from these possible departures in my friendship with Maelis, L’s daughter. Last Saturday she (violin( and her brother (guitar) were part of a music recital and afterwards the grownups chatted long into the night, almost until it was time for the family to attend a party for — friends who were moving on to Oaxaca. In getting ready for the party Maelis let me do her nails and she gave me, as a birthday present, a lipsmacker: her favorite flavor, coconut. A few days later she, her brother and mom came into the library while I was waiting to meet someone and Maelis and I got to talking, and she showed me the rubber ladybug on her thumb, and she asked if I liked them. I said I did, a lot and as quick as that the catarina was off her thumb and onto my pen, where it’s stayed.

The Man and His Son

I have never been very good at counting steps, or cracks in the sidewalks. I am too easily distracted. The steps at the foot of Callejon Chorro, where Stephanie lives, are numerous. And steep. I’ve counted 168 and 186 and 170-something. Yesterday as I ascended there was a gringa running up and walking down a section of the stairway, several Mexican women descending on their way to Centro, probably to work, a young Mexican woman zig-zagging her way up (it’s more footsteps, but they’re easier as one isn’t fighting the full force of the pitch), and a man and his son, likely a pre-schooler. The boy was telling his dad about the walls of stone, the different colors, the stairway, the flowers, and the cranes overhead that are seeking nesting sites. The father, in no hurry to be anywhere but on that stairway, on that morning, talked to his son. Long legs and short legs amazingly in synchronicity, took each step as it came. Unlike so many little ones, this one did not have to rush four steps for every one of his father’s.  As long as I was able to view them they were hand-in-hand.

Dianne Reeves


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