We are well, the USA didn't turn to the dark side, and we have a new baby
The long version
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2012 was another good year, the first in quite a few that neither of
us had an overnight stay in a hospital. We had some nice visitors,
lost a loved one but gained another, and are in the process of
minimizing stress and maximizing tranquility.
Just like last year, we went to the wonderful Number 4
Ajijic for New Years Eve. Every time we go there to eat, we are not
disappointed. This year we took almost any excuse to go, and even
asked Kim to cater Nadine's
New Year's Eve at number four has become a family
tradition now, and I'm sure we'll be back this year.
We always like to see our friends Eliberto and Susana, who are also
our attorneys here in Chapala. This year we introduced them to our
favorite veterinarian and his future bride, Hector and Beatrice. This
year we ask them to look into what it would take for us to become
While investigating, they discovered that Mexico
does not recognize our Jamaican marriage certificate. (Nooo, maaaan!)
For some reason, the xerox copy of a xerox copy, of the eighth
generation xerox copy of the form, signed by some random minister with
no official looking seal was fine for the USA, but wouldn't pass
muster in Mexico. So after twenty one years of marriage, we are
getting remarried. The first order of business was to schedule our honeymoon
vacation, of course.
We have now had our mandatory counseling
session with DIF,
and our blood test which fortunately proved we had no sexually
transmitted diseases, and our blood types were compatible for popping
out children right and left. Unfortunately, that might take some time
since Henry had a vasectomy and Nadine a hysterectomy, but as far as
our blood is concerned, we're ready to go.
We usually take several days to celebrate and mourn Nadine's birthday.
Here we are getting an early start two days before the blessed event
at Nanette's Garden restaurant, one of our favorite little hideaways.
The green slime we are drinking is actually a delicious minty
concoction found nowhere else. On the actual day, we went to our
favorite place for breakfast, Mama's restaurant, just down the hill
from our house. Mary makes the best bran muffins, sticky buns, and
omelets around, and we are very lucky that she is within walking
One of our achievements this year was to convince our friend Chrissy
to leave Mazatlan and move to Ajijic. We have known her and her family
for almost twenty years, and knew instinctively that she would be
better off here than in Mazatlan. Moving was a big deal for her. She
had to close down her hair salon, sell her house, move her stuff and
her kids, and find a new job here in Ajijic. Fortunately, we were
able to find a good job for her at the upscale Gloriosa salon. Also
she found a wonderful house for herself in La Floresta which cost
exactly what she received for her house in Mazatlan. We celebrated
her arrival with a nice breakfast at the Hotel Real de Chapala, one of
the nicest hotels in the area that is situated right on the lake.
Now, "Who is that ravishing redhead?" you may be asking. That is my
sweet baboo, Nadine, who (with my encouragement) thought she would try
it out. I've always thought, as a group, redheads are either the
prettiest or the homeliest people.
This year a science fair committee was formed to encourage local kids
to enter the Guadalajara regional science fair. About five or six
schools showed up with their projects. There were a bunch of bio gas
generators, some robots, some solar energy projects, and a lot of
enthusiasm. The photo here is in the hall where the kids were
gathering for the awards ceremony. In true far-sighted fashion, after
a very successful local expo, the sponsors withdrew their
One of our favorite people in one of our favorite places. Our friend
Juan Antonio came down from Mazatlan for a visit on our wedding
anniversary this year, and we took him out for a tasty treat, a Reuben
sandwich with fries and a root beer at the Early Bird Cafe. If you
like Reubens, the time to go is on Thursday, when they are on special.
As you can see here, Nadine is fading back to blonde. There goes my
Rita Hayworth fantasy.
About a week later we got a visit from our nephew Chance Wilk, who was
about to go into the marines. To help fortify him before his future
diet of MREs, we took him to Bruno's restaurant, where he managed to
devour half a cow.
Earlier this year we also had a visit from our Reno friends and
neighbors, Mike and Barbara Heffner. They are the thing we miss the
most about Reno, and our hope is that once they give up skiing, they
will spend (some of) their winters down here. We had game night every
evening during their visit, and Mike and I kept up our winning record
in Catch Phrase, despite Barbara's inability to sit still while
This is the last photo of our beloved Italian greyhound, Belle.
taken the night before we took her to the vet and had her go to the
great big dog park in the sky. We still cry whenever we think of it.
Belle had a lot of trouble breathing in the last days of her life, and
was gasping and coughing continually this day. We decided that night
to bring her to Hector the next day so she could stop struggling. We
brought her home afterwards so Venus could see that her sister wasn't
going to be cleaning her ears anymore. A very sad day for the Laxen
family. Belle was everyone's mama dog. Whenever Aphrodite sneezed,
Adonis whimpered, or Venus barked, she would go over and check them
out to make sure they were okay. She loved everyone and was loved by
all. Even now, her ashes are in the garden, helping the roses grow.
It is hard for me to believe, but I turned 58 this year. That's 406
in dog years! Personally, I don't think I look much over 375. So
what is 58 like? It is a lot harder to lose weight, remember things,
sleep through the night, and hold the urge to pee. I find myself
actually tempted to read the emails whose subject is "Join the
stallion battalion." I've also noticed that over the years the
springs in the scale are slowly decaying, resulting in ever increasing
numbers being displayed because of the increasing displacement they
register. Nadine says to look on the bright side. I still have my
teeth, some hair, and her to snuggle with.
This year, as every year since moving to Lake Chapala, we went to
Number 4 to indulge in yet another round of overeating. Everything
there is just too good not to try it.
This year, I got a special treat with the visit of Bob Bernhardt, my
friend since 1969, when we were in ninth grade together. We did our
usual stuff, played tennis, exercised our biceps by lifting
lubricating libations, and just hung out enjoying each others
company. This was Bob's first visit to Lake Chapala, and I hope he
comes back soon.
Here I am with my new best friend, Athena, shortly after she arrived.
She was born in March 2012, and is about four months old in this
photo. We decided to clip her ears because she is supposed to look
like a fierce protector, instead of the sweet little girl she is
really. An intruder would only be in danger from her if he were
composed of salt or sugar, for then her constant licking would
eventually cause him to dissolve. However, her bark can be heard a
block away, and she looks the part of fearsome, so hopefully the guy
will decide the folks next door, or down the block, will be easier
We actually got a great deal on Athena, for we got two dogs in one.
In the morning she is Scooby Doo, running around, stirring up trouble,
bothering all the other dogs, and helping herself to a banquet of
Nadine's favorite shoes and jackets. Then after a long walk, an hour
at the dog park, and another long walk, she is Fred Basset, lounging
around the house and sleeping.
At the end of July, we took our trip to the USA. We started with
Nadine's 40th high school reunion. Pictured here are Nadine, Carolyn,
and Cindy, childhood friends 40 years later. Cindy's daughter,
Samantha, now works for Carolyn in an eating disorder counseling center.
Nadine and Cindy had a great time reconnecting with old friends
and enemies. The setup included a display of famous TV programs from
the 60's and 70's, so I entertained myself by getting reacquainted
with Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. If you don't know who they are,
you are either too young, (Sammy) or from Russia, (Alex) or both. The
program included a performance by a former member of Iron Butterfly,
who performed In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, proving once again that louder does
not equal better. In high school, dancing with your favorite girl to
that song was effortless, but now, forty years later, there were two
cardiac events and three cases of exhaustion by the oldies but goodies
who attempted to make it through the 17 minute song. (Just kidding.)
While in Simi Valley, of course we visited Nadine's mom, Mary. Here
she is with cousin Lynne and Nadine, and not to be ignored
Mr. Cuddles, who helped Samantha survive her UCSD ordeal. The first
night after we arrived we partied hardy at Cindy's house, were we had
Christmas in July. That included too much food, too much wine, and
too much chocolate.
Our next stop in our USA tour was Reno, where our friends and
neighbors, Mike and Barbara, gathered up all of our friends and
neighbors for a delicious dinner at their house. We also had the
pleasure of staying in their downstairs starlit guest bedroom. They
always make us feel special when we visit, even during our weekly game
nights when we lived next door.
Once we got back to Chapala, we celebrated our friend (for almost
twenty years) Chrissy's arrival in the Lake Chapala area. Sitting
next to Chrissy is her daughter, Dania, who I call movie star
, for I have never met anyone (other than Nadine of
course) who is as physically beautiful as Dania. We've know Dania
since she was a little girl, and the rest of Chrissy's children since
before they were born. We are so delighted to have Chrissy in our
neighborhood again. Now we need to work on Jack and Val.
One of our great discoveries since bringing Athena into our lives is
the local dog
Without it, she would be Scooby Doo all day long, and Nadine
and I would either be a lot skinnier, or totally miserable, probably
the latter. Thanks to the park, she can run, jump, make all the other
dogs miserable (just kidding, (partially, (notice the mathematically
correct nesting))) and drain a lot of her energy. Another nice thing
about the park is that we get to meet a lot of dog people,
in general happen to be nice people. Also I used this opportunity to
keep my Haskell
skills tuned up, by writing an app
people tell others whether or not they are coming to the dog park that
day. I have to say I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
This is a small panorama of our house taken from the gazebo in the
back yard. This is really where we spend most of our time, enjoying
the view, sipping a glass of wine, and trying to avoid Athena sticking
her cold wet nose in our crotch. If you click on the photo, you'll
get a 360 degree view of our house and garden.
I am writing this paragraph on December 15th, 2012, the day after 20
children were murdered in Connecticut. How much worse does it have to
get before we do something about guns? I'm sure the gun nuts will say
that we should arm the kindergarten kids and then teach them to shoot.
"That way, if our kids are packin, they can just 'blow away' a guy
like Adam Lanza if he comes a callin." I have a simpler solution that
I think would work much better. Anyone caught in possession of a
firearm, any firearm, does a year in prison. Would it really be so
bad if we made the killing of animals and people a little less
convenient? I don't think Mr. Lanza could have done that kind of
damage had he been armed with a knife, spear, or bow and arrow.
Okay, while I'm living in Fantasy Land, I feel I need to say a few
words about the election 2012. First I am disappointed in President
Obama. He has not shut down the gulag known as Guantanamo, and its
indefinite detentions without trial. He has not pulled away from the
making the USA a surveillance state. Right now the NSA is reading
this web page to decide whether or not I am a terrorist. Every email
you have ever sent, every phone call you have ever made, every web
page you have ever visited, is archived somewhere. If the government
decides to take a closer look at you, it is all there waiting to be
picked apart. Could you survive that kind of scrutiny? I know I
couldn't. The list goes on, but I'll add that President Obama missed
the opportunity to reel in the financial industry. With all of the
fraud and bad faith dealings that led to the financial meltdown, why
aren't hundreds, if not thousands, of Wall street executives doing
hard time? Why aren't regulations in place to make *)^$# sure this can't
On the other hand, at least we avoided the bullet known as Mitt
Romney. I really have no idea what he actually stands for, which to
me is much more frightening than supporting some crazy religious nut.
At least then you know where you stand.
Which I guess brings me around to religion, everyone's favorite topic
after politics. Personally, I see religion, and "faith" in general,
as the root of all evil. It belongs back in the stone age, where it
was created as a way to control people. These days, with the
invention of things like science, physics, mathematics, and
philosophy, I continue to hope that people will eventually come to
think for themselves. Question Everything!
leaders, question your beliefs, question any authority figure. Just
because they say something, doesn't mean it's true. For me, the end
of my Catholicism happened in third grade catechism. I asked a
question, and I can't say I remember what the question was, but I
remember the answer I received. The teacher replied, "You're not
allowed to ask that question." Well, that was the end of religion for
me. If anyone ever tells you that there is some knowledge that is
unknowable, some mystery that is impenetrable, some forbidden fruit in
some tree somewhere, I am here to tell you that they are full of
shit. And that's the truth.
Okay, Nadine told me I can't leave this letter on such a nasty note.
I think I'm still angry about the kids in Connecticut. So perhaps I
will close by mentioning some of the things I am thankful for. First
and foremost, I'm thankful for having visited Club Med in May of 1990,
which is where I met my sweet baboo, Nadine. Life is really chaotic
(in the mathematical sense) for had I traveled there a week earlier,
or a week later, our paths would have never crossed. Next I'm
thankful for the invention of the Forth
, for without it I would never have met Alex
Lushtak, my best friend and business partner, whom I trust with
my life. Next, I am thankful to my mom, who told me as I started
first grade that I could not go outside and play until I finished my
homework. She taught me to "keep my butt in the chair," a skill which
is very difficult to learn, and probably even more difficult in todays
fiber connected, wireless, iPhone world. And last and least, I really
should give myself some credit. While I am no more deserving of the
wonderful life that has been given me than anyone else, I do try to do
the right thing, be good to others, see the other point of view, and
follow the golden rule. I think if more people behaved like that, the
world would be a better place. Finally, I thank you, gentle reader,
for taking the time to read all of this dribble.
Quote of the day:
Anybody who doesn't know what
soap tastes like never washed a dog.
Franklin P. Jones
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