Update on the Pandemic Pandemonium

UPDATE: November 8, 2020

As my daughter Aimée’s birthday and the day after a most joyous occasion—the calling of the 2020 election and consignment of the scumbag to the trash heap of history—today’s a great time to report on the past four months of pandemic pandemonium as an update to my biographical age on the Venerable Old Queen


The most alarming event was on August 18 when a security guy hailed me on the track at the Aspen School and advised that I’d have to leave because school was starting on Monday, and they were closing the grounds to protect the kids from the virus. I ignored him and continued on my way, but that weekend they shut the big gate at La Madera with a chain and lock. I couldn’t do my walk on Saturday or Sunday.

On Monday I looked out my window and saw the gate open, so I went to walk, and there was no one there of course, because the students had to stay home—except a couple cars parked way off by the back building for the teachers running the distanced learning classes. That night the gate was locked again but open by six the next morning. I walked the track peacefully, marveling that the schools were so irrationally paranoid as to lock up weekends and nights when absolutely no one was around and open up again when only a few folks were way off over there.

And I wasn’t looking forward to missing my next Saturday and Sunday walks. By Wednesday I got to feeling really irked and noticed that the lock and chain were just hanging there loose at the gate. I put them in a paper bag, placed it under a board just outside the fence not six feet away, and left a note: “The lock and chain have not been stolen; they’ve been hidden.” That night the gate was closed but not chained—and open again in the morning.

Pitying the stupidity, on Thursday morning I moved the bag to within three feet of the gate, just behind a piece of fence leaning there for no apparent reason. Any idiot couldn’t miss it. And that night they performed the empty exercise again, obviously not even looking for the bag. Friday morning I traipsed onto the track and worried they’d actually find the lock and chain and close me out for the weekend. Something told me I’d have to fight fire with fire.

Three miles later, I went home to my hermitage and emailed the Fire Marshal, advising that the school had started (irrationally) locking the grounds—which cut off emergency access to the several buildings at the back of the campus. A fire engine couldn’t get anywhere near them. He didn’t respond to me, naturally, but I saw a fire engine roll by around seven just checking, and since that night the gate has stayed open. And the bag still sits there for any idiot to find. My Nepali friend, the guys who play soccer on Saturday mornings, and a multitude of other community folks can still enjoy the facility.  


My show of Aztec icons (YE GODS!) went up last January at the conference center of the Ohkay Casino in Española and in mid-March got locked down with the rest of the world. The manager said he didn’t know when they’d get the center open again and had no problem with me just leaving it there. Nevertheless, I went up last month with my grandson to retrieve my artwork. I’ve no idea where I’ll ever manage to hang the show again—or when. But that hasn’t stopped my working on the next icon, #20: Tlaloc, the god of storms (water, lightning, etc.).

In this Aztec context, there have been some other developments. A few weeks ago I heard from a young woman fashion designer in Chicago that she wanted to use my images on clothing; the sample hoodie with my Ocelotl on it was stunning. I told her to go for it. Last week I heard from a guy in California that he wanted to paint my old calendar deities, and I told him to go for it—and to take a look at the icons. This is the kind of action I’ve been hoping for.

Another recent Aztec connection is with Marguerite Paquin (in British Columbia) who does a Maya horoscope blog. See https://whitepuppress.ca/the-ok-dog-trecena-oct-30-nov-11-2020/.  Since the Maya calendar is basically the same as the Aztecs’, she started using the images from my old book for the trecenas (13-day weeks), and now that she’s worked through that ceremonial year, I’m re-creating the pages from the tonalamatl (book of days) from Codex Borgia for her. For when she’s worked through those 20 weeks, I’m also re-creating the tonalamatl from Codex Rios—which entails combining separate pages into a single layout and considerable artistic refinement. When these calendars are complete (and there are still others left to work over), I’m going to load them as galleries here on this website, so watch for them!


For months I walked around my car sitting in the yard, a 2014 red Toyota Corolla, and maybe drove it twice a week to a grocery store. Then in early October I realized that my grandson Jammes was soon to turn 18, and ever the generous grandfather, I decided to give him my car. I can easily walk to the grocery stores, and he’ll give me lifts home when I’ve got too much to carry or take me on errands.

In this connection, my ecstatic dance group started getting together again (clandestinely). Jammes took me there last Wednesday, joining in the dance, and now he’s ready to take me weekly. Maybe even bring a friend along? There’s reasonable distancing and some masks, and so it’s only slightly contrary to mandated practice. After all, we’re not talking here about a Republican political rally. It’s such a joy to have something to look forward to each week, lots more fun than my usual solo dancing around the apartment to salsa or reggae.

In between Wednesdays, however, with all my art and writing projects, the days seem to fly by. An example:  Every day before lunch I have half a cup of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar—recommended to me by a curandero friend—and today when I went to mix it, I got the distinct impression I’d just done that like five minutes before. Twenty-four hours of eating, walking, reading, napping, writing, drawing, cooking, watching a silly movie, and sleeping a healthy 7 ½ hours had collapsed into a mere five minutes. This is how we get so old so fast.


Fitness Secrets

I must admit I’m a moderately serious physical fitness freak.  You’ve already heard here about my constant dancing, and I can also report a couple ecstatic decades of running.  Now for the past thirty-some years since the knees gave out, I’ve gone almost daily to the Santa Fe Spa, the one looking out at the vast and expanding National Cemetery where ranks of white tombstones are a morbid motivator for keeping fit.  Truth be told, I religiously take a sauna every day, but I’ve been known to cut myself some serious slack on the workout schedule.

In the sauna I generally stand close to the stove and ‘rotisserate.’  Casually nude, I’m distinguished by my white mustache and what I call my ‘cockadoodle.’  It’s a short steel stud through the little loop (called a phrenem) just below my glans penis, a curious aftermath of circumcision.  (Think about that for a minute.)  A vain old man, I’ve felt that this, my sole adornment (no rings or jewelry at all), is an eloquent secret understatement in this age of tattoos and piercings.  Remind me to do rant about body decoration sometime.

Recently I’ve been virtuous about a daily half-hour on the treadmill, same time on the machines, and likewise in the sauna.  I don’t think it’s unrealistic to credit this physical regimen for a large part of my excellent health.  It has held me at around 160 pounds, and (I hope) kept my pecs, abs, and glutes from sagging.  At 5’ 9+” now, I’ve lost an inch and a half since my prime.

At least as good for my physical well-being, I’m sure, has been my unprocessed diet, heavy on vegetables, salad, and chocolate, which helps maintain a positive outlook.  The only alcohol I bother with is a glass of cheap red wine at dinner (on doctor’s orders).  Beyond nuts and berries, I also swear by a remarkable item which I’ve been consuming it daily for about twenty years; it costs virtually nothing except time for easy preparation; and it tastes good.

Enough with the riddles.  I’m referring to a tea-based drink called Kombucha, which has gained a certain chic in the health-food industry.  I’ve never tried their expensive bottled stuff, doubting it could be as good as my home-brew.  The sparkling taste I compare to a slightly “hard” cider.  To prepare it, you float a slab of yeasts, enzymes, fungi, and who knows whatever (often called a “Manchurian mushroom”) on a vat of sweetened tea for 10-12 days.  That’s it.

I started the symbiosis with my mushroom (Some folks name theirs!), at the ripe age of 52, shortly after my mustache and beard had turned white.  The graying of my head hair apparently stopped in its tracks, still only touching the lower sideburns.  For many years I’d suffered from a testy digestive tract with almost constant heartburn, and that disappeared immediately.  Almost as quickly my energy level ramped up some notches from the middle-aged lethargy I’d been experiencing before, and the energy has maintained now into my seventies.

I won’t claim that this tonic is some miraculous elixir.  But it sure does seem like my aging process sort of stopped, or at least slowed way, way down when I took Kombucha into my life.  Everybody, and I myself not the least, is surprised that I don’t look like the old coot that I really am.  I’m properly grateful to Providence for this blessing, but I could use a nicer nose and fewer hairs in the ears.  And I’m thinking about shopping for a fancier cockadoodle.