Saturday, January 31, 2015

fragmented friday

Laurie over at a gumbo pot would regale us with her Friday Fragments during her Honduras days.

Yesterday I didn't experience Friday fragments as much as a fragmented Friday.  Let me explain.  (Yes.  I know.  It is just an expression.  You already knew I was going to explain.  Otherwise, what would be the point of the essay?)

The day ended up being something I never intended.  My sole plan for the day was to finish my research for my lecture on Thursday -- and to then pull everything into a first draft.

Research is not what it once was.  Not too many years ago, I would have opened up several books to the pages I needed, stacked all of my written notes to the side, and then set to work on my legal tablet with my fountain pen.  I still remember those days wistfully.

Instead, I grabbed my Kindle full of books, my laptop with my internet connection, and a stack of written research notes (for auld lang syne's sake), and set everything on the long table under the umbrella next to the swimming pool.

My only concern was that the construction work was still underway.  On Thursday, the shriek of the tile cutter, the sound of concrete chipping, and the boom box playing Kenny G above the cacophony would have made writing impossible.

But the tile work was done.  I was left alone with young Álvaro (the kid who cannot be more than 20, but has two children), who was finishing up the construction.  He is usually quite garrulous.  But not yesterday.  He saw me working and put in his ear buds.  I barely knew he was there.

You will not be surprised to hear that I was interrupted.  Not by the telephone.  Not by the internet.  It was voices from above.  And not the kind that tells you to strap on an explosive vest before visiting the military day care system.

When I stepped from underneath the umbrella, I could see two maintenance guys (I hope) climbing what I call the Eiffel Tower next to my house.  They were calling to Álvaro.  And I knew why. 

It is a guy thing.  Whenever you do anything that could easily result in death, you want as many witnesses as possible to see your folly.

When I pulled out my camera, they did their best Flying Wallendas wire tricks.  I was duly impressed.

But being impressed was not going to get me any closer to finishing a lecture on the mestizo myth.  So one on I surged -- until Álvaro told me he was done with his portion of the construction work.

His boss, Hugo, is supposed to stop by to ensure everything is satisfactory -- and to pick up the remaining equipment.  As well as return the key to my front door.

The work looks fine to me -- with one exception.  The drains on the terrazza are surrounded by tile.  With the exception of one, which is surrounded by grout.  I need to ask Hugo why that is.  The original drain was tiled in.

I already know the answer.  It is surrounded by grout because it is grouted in.

I will get a better look at the finished product after Dora works her wonder on the floors later today.

At least, that project will be completed for my March house guests.  And we may get a chance to see if the leaks are fixed.  Soon. 

The weatherman predicts thunderstorms for tomorrow.  Thunderstorms in January?  That is weird.

After ten hours of work today, I had completed the first draft of my lecture.  It will need a couple days of editing.  But the bones are all there -- with the exception of the funny bones.

I finished just in time to drive over to Villa Obregon for an art show in my old neighborhood.  Ed's studio was my primary stop.  But I also stopped next door to look at some photography and craft offerings.

I spent about an hour talking with Ed's daughter and looking around to see if I could find anything that would add a bit of artistic life to my three guest bedrooms. 

And then I was off to a local restaurant that will go unnamed.  The owners had invited me to test corn dogs as a potential special for Super Bowl Sunday.

Asking Mexican cooks to produce a product when they have no idea how the result should look or taste is always a crap shoot.  Given that limitation, the two corn dogs I tasted were fine.

The batter tasted great and the hot dog inside was not one of those weedy Mexican wieners of unknown provenance.  But the batter was more like tempura than a corn dog.

Unfortunately, we suffered a bit of hot dog interruptus.  The restaurant was very busy.  So, we called an end to the experiment.  The Super Bowl will have to go on without corn dogs.

In the end, the day certainly was fragmented, and full.  Almost as full as I was when I headed to bed with dreams of lectures dancing in my head.

Note - If anyone cares, this is a partial bibliography of the sources I used in preparing the first draft for next Thursday's lecture.

  • Jorge Castañeda; Mañana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans 
  • T.R. Fehrenbach; Fire and Blood: A History of Mexico
  • S.C. Gwynne; Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
  • Richard Grabman; Gods, Gachupines, and Gringos
  • Enrique Krauze; Mexico: Biography of Power -- A History of Modern Mexico (1810-1996)
  • Charles C. Mann; 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus
  • Charles C. Mann; 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Discovered
  • Robert W. Merry; A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War, and the Conquest of the American Continent
  • Henry Bamford Parkes; A History of Mexico 
  • Octavio Paz; The Labyrinth of Solitude: The Other Mexico 
  • Alan Riding; Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans

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