Eavesdropping Cowboy

26 03 2015


If you were in Merida’s Zocalo yesterday you may have seen 2 old men sitting in a cafe over morning coffee. As a young man I wondered what those ‘old guys’ had to talk about. These 2 seemed pretty engaged in their conversation. So I listened in.

They were proud of the women in their lives. Both of them hard-working Mexicanas.

They were writers – one non-fiction, the other fiction. They had both been in the US Army. One had spent the better part of his 2 years in Special Services playing basketball, the other spent more than 2 years ‘touring’ Vietnam. Such is the roll of the dice for a soldier.

They talked about movies – Platoon (the real deal when it came to depicting soldiers), Full-metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now. They had different views on American Sniper. One had seen the latest Liam Neeson flick and liked it. What’s become of the ‘Cowboy’ movie? One’s favorite was Tombstone with Val Kilmer – the dialog was how they really talked in the Old West. The other Shane. How could anything be better than Alan Ladd and Brandon De Wilde as seen through the eyes of a 12 year-old(his age when he saw it)? “Come back Shane, come back!”

Books – their own and others. The Kite Runner by Khaled Husseini. Cities of Salt by Abdul Rahman Munif. Those Afghans and Arabs wrote stories with a lotta heart. Sure do miss American novels written with that kind of truth.

How much and how fast the world is changing. One remembered talking to an old, old native American who saw the ‘white man’s wagon trains.’ So much info, so little time to absorb it all. The difference in what it takes to get a PH. D. Used to be you had to know everything in your field and find a hole in the research. Now it’s find a hole and fill it.

Finally, concern for future generations especially their kids and grandkids. Human DNA hasn’t changed but human perception has. Can we comprehend it all? The Conquistadores and the tribes of Mexico and Latin America did some awful things in their time. Same thing is happening today. Most of it is done now as it was done then – in the name of God.

As they parted one of them said, “Congratulations on the book!”

I looked him in the eye and knew our late-in-life friendship would last until the end.

Go here for more of my work…


Spring is Sprung and a Book is Born

23 03 2015


Last Friday this photo was taken by a FB friend at Dzbilichaltun’s Temple of the 7 Dolls. The Temple was built by the Mayans so that on the vernal equinox when the sun rises it shines in one door and out another – similar to what they did at Chichen Itza. The Celts did something similar at New Grange. Those ‘first peoples’ knew their seasons. I’m not sure we modern people do.

On the same day there was a total eclipse seen from different parts of the earth. Here’s the path of the total eclipse as represented on the website earthsky.org. An excellent site for anyone interested in what’s going on in the sky.


Those of us living in the Yucatan couldn’t see what they saw in Norway or the Faroe Islands.


Eclipse in Norway.


As seen in the Faroe Islands.

The same day as all of this was happening my first novel became available for purchase at Booklocker. An auspicious beginning I hope.



The Best of Gweedore, Maybe All of Ireland, Can be Heard Here

19 03 2015

Little Huey’s Pub or Teach Hiudái Beag in Gaelic.

So who cares? Saint Patrick’s Day is come and gone. If you’re a fan of Altan you might. It’s the place where the family and friends got together before becoming world-renowned as one of Celtic music’s best. Clannad and Enya hail from Gweedore and so do some Coyle’s and O’Donnell’s who are my ancestors. Monday night is the night to go there. I went once about 10 years ago and heard some of the best Celtic music ever. It’s very informal and friendly. The Irish can chat up as good or better than anybody and Donegal is no exception. I wouldn’t recommend letting on you’re from England though given the history of the place.


The night I was there stayed with me. When my granddaughter, Anya, was laid up with a foot ailment the memory resurfaced and I wrote this…

The sun peeked through the window of the wattled cottage from behind Errigal Mountain.


Cait awoke from her dream of the boy with the green eyes. As usual he was riding a horse, singing and whistling his way to Glenveagh castle. She remembered today was the feast of Mabon, the autumn equinox – a time to plan for the future.


Her sister’s head was turned away from her in their shared bed. “Are ya awake, Maggie?”

Maggie rolled over. “Aye, it’s a beautiful morning.”

“I dreamed of him again.” Cait hugged her.

“The one with the green eyes?” Maggie sat up.

“Aye. Some tinkers are passing through Gweedore. I need to know if he’s in my future. I’m going to ask the gypsy in the wagon what the dream means.  Will ya come with me?”

“Ma expects us to fish.”

“We can go after.” Cait’s second hug blotted the frown from her sister’s face.

“Don’t change yer mind on me. Whatever ya hear from that gypsy ya’ll want to hear from the wee folk. I know ya. Ya’ll want to see Grandma.” Maggie’s challenge came with a pout.

“I promise to fish. May I turn into a frog if I don’t.” Cait held up her fishing line. Her third hug of the morning was welcomed by Maggie’s smile.

“Might be fun to see what ya’d look like as a frog.”

The porridge and tea were still warm. So were the morning’s scones left by their mother. They ate quickly before walking to Gweedore past Poisoned – ‘neimh’ in Gaelic – Glen that was named by a myopic English mapmaker so that the Heavenly -‘neamh’ in Gaelic -Glen was no more. Poisoned Glen, such a shameful name, for one of the most beautiful spots in all of Ireland.


The tinkers’ wagons were in a circle outside the town that true to Irish townsfolk’s love for argument claimed it had the best music in all of Ireland. Six barefoot children in tatters ran to them. “What yuz want? Ya ken have this watch for a pittance.” A boy held out a pocket watch on a chain.

Cait pretended interest. “No thanks. I want my fortune told.”

“Yuz want me mum then. Follow me.” A little girl took Cait’s hand.


A half hour later they were back on the road to fish. The wind from the Atlantic was brisk and chilly – a sure sign that summer was over.

“How did she know about a whistling, singing boy riding a horse from turning that pack of cards? I’m scared. If I hadn’t promised to fish with ya I’d be on my way to Grandma’s right now.” Cait shook her head at the Tarot reading she’d heard.


“She didn’t say anything about green eyes but she said you were to meet him soon. So just be happy. You go to Grandma’s and you can start croaking right now, little froggie.” Maggie skipped a stone over the Clady River running through the blanket of peat bog leading back to Errigal’s maple trees.


A bent over sea captain with a fiddle case riding a horse toward them put a finger to his lips. “Don’t tell anyone you saw me.  Come see me at Teach Hiudái Beag tonight.”


The girls turned to watch him ride into the mist blowing from Scotland and the cliffs of Slieve League. According to Gaeltacht legend, ghosts walked the waterways and mountains of this part of Donegal.

Maggie shivered a bit. “Ya think he’s the Captain of Inishinny?”

“Nah. They say he was a young man when the boat sank. Ya wanna go see him? It’s Monday. There should be great music at Little Hughie’s tonight.”


“If Ma’ll let me. Ya get to go to more places than I do cause yer older.”

“Maybe she’ll come too.” Cait winked.

They walked into their cottage with Cait’s string of silver fish as the sun sank behind them into the sea.


“Ahh, yer a sight for sore eyes and not a bit too soon. I was worried that it was gonna be potatoes again. And cleaned they are! I’m blessed with the 2 best girls in all of Donegal.” Mother put the fish skillet on the stove.

Cait took mother’s face in both her hands. “And we’re all goin’ to Little Hughie’s tonight, Ma. It’s Monday.”

“A wash up before we leave and I’m with ya.”


“I can’t hear a word yer sayin’.” The music was loud. Cait couldn’t hear Maggie’s whispers in her mother’s ear.

“Yer not supposed to.  I was tellin’ Ma about yer dream and the fortune teller.”

“A tinker no less. I won’t ask where ya got the money.” Mother laughed and tickled Cait’s bosom.

They sat surveying the musicians. The sign swinging over the door read Teach Hiudái Beag, but it was Little Hughie’s Pub to Cait ever since she first sang “Whistling Gypsy Rover” there.

“So much for the Captain of Inishinny.” Cait leaned over to Maggie after not finding the captain’s face in the crowd.

By the way there were Irish women sea captains. This is one. Grace O’Malley was a real person more than 400 years ago.


Little Hughie came to their table. “Mairead, your visits have been too few and far between. Thanks for comin’ again. Please pleasure us with me favorite song?”

“Aye, yer a charmer, Hugh.” Mother blushed.


Cait noticed their fiddle player had the greenest eyes she’d ever seen.  When they finished the “ay do day” he smiled at her. She smiled back. She saw the case when he put the fiddle inside.

“Isn’t that the Captain’s case?” Cait leaned over to Maggie.

“Ya didn’t have to wait long for yer whistling gypsy.” Maggie answered.

Cait closed her eyes and made a wish.


The Sequel

9 01 2015



Confedeacy of Dunces is a novel written by John Kennedy Toole. The title comes from a Jonathon Swift work where it was written…”When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” I’m not aware that a true genius has appeared but certainly the 2 men pictured above qualify as a confederacy of the dunce dimension.

I am a recovering NFL addict but things keep appearing on my computer to entice me to watch again. Jerry Jones has so much money that he built Jerry’s World at a cost of $2B. Did it ever occur to him that he could have used that money to benefit the common person instead of himself. Jerry would say, ‘it does benefit the common man. What would he do on Sunday afternoon if America’s Team wasn’t playing?” My answer…”Maybe a creative act.” Jerry would say, “Oh, dig a well?” My answer…”Yes and then we’d lower you and your friend into it.”

Chris Christie is Governor of New Jersey. He has cut state workers’ pensions in order to balance the state’s budget. The Chris and Jerry Show should be featured on SNL with Jerry as Louis XIV and Chris as Marie Antoinette. One will say “after us the deluge,” the other will respond, “let them eat cake.”

With Jerry and Chris at the helm of America’s Team I don’t envision myself giving up the ex-pat life. Walker Percy would be proud of me. It’s time to re-read Confederacy of Dunces.

The Golden Oldies Are Alive Inside

11 12 2014

We’ve always known that music speaks to the heart. This winner of the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award shows us how.

If you don’t laugh or cry watching this check your vital signs.

I’ve watched Alive Inside 2x in the last 2 days. The second time I watched it with my girlfriend (novia is the word here in Merida). She sells cheese on the street and delivers it to her customers’ homes or restaurants. Recently she bought a Smartphone and listens to Spotify music on it as she works from the back of her car. As she watched the movie she started to laugh seeing how music affected the Golden Oldies in the movie. “It does the same to me as it does to them!” “Yo tambien!” (Me too!), I replied referring to how I feel listening to whatever music du jour I stream on my computer.

I don’t know where I’d be by now if it weren’t for ITunes and now Spotify. I connect to the outside world for the most part by computer, except when it comes to mi novia y mi amigos en Merida. Right now it’s Mercedes Sosa in Buenos Aires in 1982 when the Argentine military dictatorship was crumbling. Great music with such feeling – Gracias a La Vida.

Let’s take a minute to talk about streaming music. I’ve read 2 recent articles – one in the NYT, the other in The New Yorker. Both articles point out that musicians are being hurt by the lack of money when we stream their music. I pay Spotify a monthly fee but that money doesn’t find its way to the artist very much. A musician I recently listened to on Spotify told me how little she gets. In her case nothing. I don’t play CD’s so I gave her something on Paypal and she sent me some music to download.


Make sure you help the musicians who help the Golden Oldies stay ALIVE INSIDE.

I Remember Morgan

2 12 2014


I met her in Oakland, California at the animal shelter around 10 years ago. After a rottweiler pup almost died in my arms to parvo he died at the vet’s office. We couldn’t have a dog for 6 months until the environment was free of the disease. Liz, my significant other at the time, saw Morgana La Fey’s (she named the dog) adoption picture on the Internet so off we went to see this ‘big bad bully.’ After the Oakland SPCA vetted us as potential Rottie owners home she came.

I nicknamed her BDE – Best Dog Ever – after Lenny Dietz of the SPCA showed me how to treat her. We walked the streets of Oakland and the Mandela Parkway scaring half the heavily African-American community. A white man with a Rottweiler, sometimes 2? When they got to know us no more fear. A sweet dog with a guy who was colorblind. The trails of the Point Elizabeth dog sanctuary bordering the San Francisco Bay were our happiest moments – Morgan, Liz and me. The only ‘bad’ came when the owner of a Lab let his fear of a ‘bully breed’ ruin a sunny day for his dog, mine and me. Morgan went to play and the owner told me, “I’ll kick your ass if you let that dog near mine.” In my younger days that challenge would have been answered, instead I shook my head and walked away.

Next on our itenerary was walking Marina Del Rey and LA’s Westside. One night the door was left open and Morgan wandered out in the middle of the night. For some reason I awoke around 3 in the morning. For some reason? The BDE was gone. I drank scotch until it was dawn and I could look for her, post fliers, and visit animal shelters. She was “chipped” but I couldn’t find the papers. I called the Oakland SPCA and they gave me the info. I called the chip facility at 4PM. How’s this for luck? At that very moment the facility was on the phone with the person who found her.

I went to a vet’s office and there she was – happy as the proverbial other kind of other animal in shit. She had followed a neighborhood dog walker and his dog home. Morgan knew how to pick ‘em. The dog walker worked in an upscale dog day care center in West LA. You can’t get more posh than that if you’re a dog. The guy had taken her to a vet in the morning and they couldn’t find the chip. Then they spent the afternoon in day care. Then Kevin (good Irish boy) went to another vet. There they found the chip before treating her chronically infected ears. I insisted on paying for the vet’s services. Kevin didn’t want my money. I prevailed. How many people in the dog world find a pure-bred Rottie and take her to 2 vets to find a chip? I still wonder why Morgan agreed to come home with me. .

Thanksgiving morning Liz let me know that Morgan had passed. She drove her to her favorite place (a cabin in the foothills of the Sierras) and put her to rest.

RIP Morgan – The BDE


Donde Estas Amor?

11 10 2014


A well-done spanglish love poem…buen hecho, Fernando. Felicidades.

Originally posted on The Merida Review:

by Fernando Izaguirre

Donde Estas Amor?

El Amor sueña
Abajo de la luna
Que miraba desde mi ventana
Where lagrimas fall
And the reflection
Of memories stay.

Donde estas mi amor?
You taught me how
To love with the edges of my fingertips
That traveled down the slope
Of your spine.

Donde estas my beautiful angel?
You took care of me when
My world got heavy and my
Arms were waning from lifting

Mi Amor,
You are my completed poem
That bites the tongue
That wants to roll but the wheels
Are flat.

Come home my love
And the seagulls will
Surely fly again and arrow
Themselves into the sea
Where they found us.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Fernando Rafael Izaguirre, Jr., was born in 1993. He is an Honors student at Lee College in Baytown, Texas, majoring in…

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