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Life Arts    H3'ed 12/28/08

Mexican Milagros

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~ A Barking Man, a Parrot who thinks it’s a Rooster, Drama Cat, Origins of Laughter, Beginnings and Endings, Marking Time by Church Bells


A Barking Man and a Parrot who thinks it’s a Rooster


Dog barking in San Miguel de Allende is as incessant as the church bells.  The town is known for its abundance of perros, both rib-bare street waifs and those lovingly pampered and dressed in the latest fashions.  It is a barking free-for-all most hours of the day and night.  So I was surprised when I saw a man walking up my street barking.  He only barked twice. Did he think the day had scored low on number of barks? Or was it the tequila barking?  He was good.  If I hadn’t seen him I would have believed he was a dog. 


On the opposite side of the street, tucked two buildings in from a bright lemon yellow casa and a sunset coral casa, is a large pomegranate-colored casa. Actually, it looks more like a big bowl of salsa.  Its grand arched terrace faces my diminutive bird’s nest.  The terrace is always in the shadows.  I hear things from those shadows.  A friend told me that the elderly woman “keeps” animals, exotic birds, parrots, macaws, even monkeys.  I think I hear the parrot. 

In the distance near San Juan de Dios church, a rooster caws each morning and early evening.  It is a soft, non-abrasive cawing that lilts on the shifting breeze and mixes with cooking smells and flowers.  The parrot mimics the rooster.  He, like the barking man, is very convincing.  The parrot sounds more like a rooster than the rooster.  The Barking Man and the Rooster Parrot could have a show in the jardin.  But the real star would be….  

Drama Cat 

I heard her first.  I say “her” because no male cat could swing such a drama queen performance and get away with it.  And she’s Siamese.  Female Siamese are known for their over the top performances and piss poor attitudes. I’ve known a few.


Her guttural howling went from sheer annoyance at the imperfection and mediocrity of the world below, to the pleading, gasping rants and moans of a cat ready to jump.  It startled me.  She seemed to be bemoaning, “donde esta de agua! mi leche! mi pollo! mi pastel de chocolate!” 


The white and shadow-tinged minx paced back and forth on the narrow ledge of the casa across the street, at times, placing her tiny, fragile, razor-sharp claws so close to edge I wanted to yell, “Stop! Don’t jump!” but in her disdain and contempt, she’d move back an inch, tease then howl, teeter at the brink again, only to retreat, swinging her bony bottom back into the cover of potted plants where she was probably drooling on a rubber toy or swatting at ants.  Did I really think that a cat jumping from the lip of a roof terrace and some ten feet below would be catastrophic? Or was her performance just that convincing?  She shall now be referred to as Meryl.  Or Merylita.


A few days into her theatrics I caught her napping.  One late afternoon from my sun drenched terrace I caught her in full repose, and for what and who she really is.  Her terrace (I say hers because I’m pretty sure she owns the place and rents out rooms) was thick with drying clothes, a white load, socks, panties, and t-shirts all dangling in the breeze like miniature underwear piñatas.  On the terrace table was a large Coca Cola crate on wheels.  It was upside down.  She was splayed, unaware, on top of the crate ~ day dreaming, maybe flat out snoring.  To her right were two empty soda bottles. They looked like Fanta.  I’m not suggesting she had drunk the sodas, she is more a tequila cat, only that they added to her stripped down Academy Award performance.  She was sleeping, fat and happy.  This was as close to a nude scene as she was going to get. 


Next time I see her teetering on the edge, howling and threatening to jump, demanding chicken and chocolate cake, I will look her squarely in the eyes and say, “Merylita, I saw you on your back, spread-eagled and snoring.  Honey, gig’s up.  I know you’re not jumpin’ but I won’t tell.”  It’s good to have friends in the neighborhood.


Speaking of Laundry


I’ve always been amazed if not perplexed by the separation of whites and darks when washing.  I don’t believe in laundry segregation.  People get scared.  “You can’t throw the whites in with the coloreds! What if something happens? What if something gets hurt, something bleeds!” I’ve always mixed the two, thrown everything of every color in together ~ one big happy load.  They’ve never fought.  Nothing has ever bled.  Somehow, they’ve all just gotten along. 

Origins of Laughter  

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Jan Baumgartner is the author of the memoir, Moonlight in the Desert of Left Behind. She was born near San Francisco, California, and for years lived on the coast of Maine. She is a writer and creative content book editor. She's worked as a (more...)

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