Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heading Towards Completion

Left: "Sunset Over The Rio Grande" by Marcial Valdez.

The tedious mobile home cleanup is heading towards completion. I'll probably take most of Sunday off, and hope to start the Sacramento U-Haul trip sometime on Monday.

"No Va" Means "It Doesn't Go"

I went jogging this morning along Second St. NW, reaching only as far as Ranchitos Rd. (Over the last few weeks I lost the altitude conditioning I had managed to gain last month. I sure am in sorry shape these days....)

Returning along Second St., I noticed a car wheeze and cough to a stop in the northbound right lane of the four-lane street. The traffic was fairly light - mid morning Saturday - but still, it was a terribly awkward place to come to rest. It's very much a part of New Mexico automotive tradition: low-income folks push their cars to the mechanical limit, and sometimes the vehicles come to rest in inconvenient places. So, I decided to offer my services to help push the car off the street - also, very much a part of New Mexico automotive tradition.

I stood politely aside as the driver - a fellow about age 25 - paced back and forth behind the stalled car and called several people for help. Cell phones are not a part of New Mexico's automotive tradition, of course - only 20 years old, or so, cell phones are a relatively new way of doing things. I noticed there were stickers in the rear window, and no plates. The driver had just bought this used car! How cruel! Now, mechanical betrayal is DEFINITELY a part of New Mexico automotive tradition!

As it transpired, though, the vehicle had not suffered a mechanical breakdown at all. Instead, the driver had failed to pay sufficient heed to his newly-purchased vehicle's fuel gauge, and the vehicle had simply run out of gas. Heedless driving is more a part of the California automotive tradition. New Mexico often follows the lead of California in many fields.

In the end, my services weren't needed after all. A friend of the driver was responding with alacrity and bringing much needed fuel to the scene. And so I politely excused myself, grateful for the much-needed innovation that cell phones represent in New Mexico's automotive tradition.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Preparing To Sell The Mobile Home


Looks like a roller coaster here - very optimistic one second; scrambling for options another second.....

Dinner At Sadie's Restaurant

Left: Big meals at Sadie's, each accompanied with a slurry of cubed potatoes and pinto beans.

And, of course, this is the restaurant Sadie's, not my Aunt Senaida's (aka Sadie's) home. Aunt Senaida couldn't be expected to cook for this many people without any advance notice....

Burial In Santa Fe

Left: Family gathers at the grave of Uncle Ramon and Aunt Arlene.

Left: Casket Cart at graveside.

Left: Casket Cart at graveside (close-up).

Left: Grave, minutes after interment.

A military honor guard ceremony accompanies burial at the veteran's cemetery in Santa Fe. Just three guards, but their somber and funereal mien impressed me - impressed everyone - particularly when they removed the flag from the casket, folded it, and presented it to me as I sat in the 'red chair' (as chosen family representative), with grave words of thanks for my father's service. I thanked them on behalf of my family, and on behalf of his unit.

My father's casket was laid on top of my mother's casket, in the same grave. We saw another grave where a veteran was buried with two wives (That's impressive; caskets stacked three deep in the same grave. I wonder how many caskets they'll stack before balking? Three seems the maximum practicable....)

We also visited the graves of my aunt and uncle, and the grave of my childhood friend, Eddy Lewis, who died abruptly this spring....

Funeral Service For Marcial Valdez

Left: Family viewing. Michelle Browning, foreground. Background: Marc Valdez, Aaron Christopher Browning, and Marra Valdez-Newman (photo by Ken Newman).

A very nice funeral service at French's Wyoming Blvd. location. They prepared a nice video tribute, using guitar music (particularly the familiar song "Canta No Llores"), and various photos we submitted. Kathy Thibadaux from Harmony Hospice sang "Amazing Grace" and Jeanne Franchi, also from Harmony, gave an inspirational address. I gave a brief history of my father's life, and read two poems my father asked to have read at his funeral service.

At the end, I asked if anyone wanted to say anything in my father's memory. No one did (it's kind of scary to just stand up and talk). So I told three stories about my Dad, or at least about growing up in semi-rural Corrales, NM:
  1. fighting a farmhouse fire in the dark;
  2. the day my mom made suntea; and,
  3. the bull in the living room.
I was on a roll, and could have gone on and on, but then I remembered that officiating a funeral service is not supposed to be the same thing as stand-up, and so brought the service to a tasteful close.

Preparing To Officiate The Funeral Service

As the eldest son - the only son - I was tapped to officiate the funeral service. I prepared an informative and educational talk based on a blogpost about my father's military service; specifically his service in the 666th Field Artillery Battalion, and how these particular soldiers reconciled their service with the distinction of being labelled with the number of the Antichrist. The way these soldiers of the Greatest Generation handled the reconcilation process showed an unusual degree of sobriety and maturity that stands in stark contrast with the idiotic way we've handled our military affairs this decade.

My sister Michelle, who has been largely responsible for my father's affairs, took one look at what I was proposing and rejected it out-of-hand. "These people are looking for closure," she said. "They want the service to be about Dad. Most of the guests will be Catholics, and the rest of them will be evangelical Protestants, and you just can't throw around religious symbols at a funeral without causing trouble!"

She was right, of course. Officiating a funeral service is not the same thing as delivering a history lecture. So, uplift and remembrance it will be, with the speeches as brief and inspirational as possible.....

Ditchbank Roadkill Update

Last month, while jogging, I noted how a cryptic mammal had perished on the ditchbank after crossing Second Street and getting struck. Ants were everywhere.

This month, the skull has been picked clean and sits separate from the rest of the luxurious pelt. The ants are gone - presumably they are finished.

Apologies For Infrequent Posting


I'm barefoot and pregnant and living in the past in New Mexico! My sister has been entertaining out-of-town guests, and I can't easily get access to the Internet.




I'm barefoot and pregnant and stranded in a trailer park in New Mexico. I do housework all day, and I do housework all night, every day of the week. Concerned neighbors hover in the distance, and I know they talk. I watch judge shows all day long, and Jerry Springer and Maury Povich for some color.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Disassembling A Household

Even small households like my father's require energy to take apart (almost like a black hole, albeit small). This will take time. One difficulty is that since there are three heirs, all three of us have to be present to make major decisions. That doesn't always happen. So, sometimes I have to be content with generalized cleanup duties, until we decide, for example, to keep my Dad's Listerine, or toss it, or give it to someone else.

Today (Monday) we were dividing up my Dad's clothes. I get some, of course, but not all (my paunch is bigger than his was). My nephew gets some, of course, but not all (a teenager's sense of style is different than a senior citizen's). Goodwill ultimately gets the rest, of course.

This afternoon, we took a break from our labors and played an old 45 rpm record that my Mom loved and she introduced to us children. It was an album of Tom Lehrer songs from the 1950's. We were raised with Lehrer's sardonic, sarcastic, insolent, and callow academic humor, and it was the greatest pleasure to introduce my 17-year-old nephew to great old songs like "The Old Dope Peddler". May these songs live on in the memory of his generation!

Life is sweet!

Gazing Down The Dark, Howling Tube

Now, I'm sleeping alone in my father's mobile home. I sleep in the southern bedroom, at the opposite end from where my father died.

Being made of metal and fiberboard, the mobile home creaks a lot and makes lots of noise, 24/7. There is a slight leak in a toilet, and the resulting noises are enough to make one uncomfortable at night. Still, I turn off all the lights, and the only illumination comes from outside ambient street light. I keep the swamp cooler on, which makes the curtains near the swamp cooler wave in the breeze.

Since my father died, I feel that his spirit has actually departed from this mobile home. No one else is here. But at night, gazing from the southern bedroom's doorway through the darkened tube of the mobile home, listening to the howl of the swamp cooler fan, watching the ghostly curtains wave in the distance, and listening to any number of unexpected creaks and pops, it's enough to make you reconsider......

Bombing Us With Food

People have been very generous with food. The folks at Marra's church sent over lots of food. Two of my sister Michelle's neighbors have sent over food. My Dad's neighbors have sent over food. Michelle's former co-workers have sent over food.

When it looked like we were going to have a protracted struggle, the food was very welcome - even vital, given the drama underway. Now that the struggle has proven to be abbreviated, it's a bit of an over-eating opportunity.

Still, don't look a gift horse in the mouth! I thank them very much! People have been very kind!