Piano Museum in El Triunfo, Baja California, Mexico

caffe_el_triunfoI visited El Triunfo for the first time in February 2013 with most of my siblings and parents, and again this past February 2016 when I once again visited brother Vince and spouse Cindy in Baja.  The pictures linked here are from that first visit.  They are extraordinary, and so reminiscent of Picasso’s great works from his Cubist period.  I have searched on Google Images, and have not discovered them there, so any input from anyone visiting my blog here will be appreciated!


On my return trip this past month I discovered that the museum has been down-sized to one gallery.  No more concerts like the impromptu one given by my mother, Deborah Donnelly Goltz (stage name:  Deb O’Donnell), on that memorable 2013 occasion.  All the instrument collection and but one of the pictures (coyotes barking at the moon) had been compressed into one gallery, and the concert venue closed.

No word on where the rest of the collection now resides.

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Book Review – “King of the Moon”

King of the Moon: A Novel of Baja CaliforniaKing of the Moon: A Novel of Baja California by Gene Kira
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been spending time on the southern Baja California coast just south of the large city of La Paz. This novel is exactly about that area, and I find both highly appealing.

The setting is a village of Mexican fishermen and their families on the Sea of Cortez in the ‘60s before the advent of industrialized factory fishing. These folks are still hand-lining large fish for the local markets in a completely sustainable lifestyle.

In this context, the characterizations and complex backgrounds are compelling. For example, of his protagonists Author Kira creates a wonderful counterpoint of Past, Present and Future:

“As a commercial fisherman himself, Abundio could not resent those things. (The increasing use of gill nets by his fellows.) Did he not himself use every trick at his command, every day of his life, to catch as many fish as possible? How could he argue that other not do the same? ….Still, he knew that once the nets came to Agua Amargosa, the old ways would follow the fish into oblivion, and all of them would be caught in a maelstrom of change that would engulf them and send them spinning into an uncertain future.

“For Abundio and Chino and Ramon, the future seemed to offer nothing good. In fear of it they took refuge in the present as much as possible.”

Later, a Chubasco (hurricane) will serve as the perfect metaphor.

Here is a passage Kira uses to describe one character’s background in the US before electing to return to Mexico and become a fisherman. (“Chino” was raised as a non-papered immigrant in the central California agriculture vastness of the Imperial Valley. He is highly motivated as to his education and English-speaking ability).

“He hated the squalid anomie of the field camps, the having to keep his good clothes in bags and putting them on just before school in the mornings, the stealing of chickens and the baking of them, feathers and all, in balls of mud placed into the campfires.”

(I HAD to use that quote in my review because I have NEVER come across the word “anomie” in anything I have read – especially fiction – since I learned it and its meaning in a college sociology class).

Two other elements I found compelling: Firstly, his secondary character “Senor Pete”. He is a visiting sport fisherman from American, and an alumnus of my college (Brown, in Providence, RI (which Kira captures so perfectly that I thought that he, too, must be an alumnus). He first visits the fish camp before WW II, as a recent graduate, recovering from a marriage gone upside down. He leaves for service with the Navy or Marines in the Pacific. Later, he returns to the fish camp in the ‘60s under new circumstances, including as a further damaged man.

Secondly, author Kira wonderfully brings music into his writing via Fra Nacho, an ex-patriate man-of-all-seasons who resides in the fishing village, and is taken care of by the villagers. He provides them with a wonderful window into other cultures via his sharing his collection of antique records. These include Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Number One in B-flat Minor and Mozart’s Symphony Number 38 in D-Major.

I think even the many folks out there who have not personally experienced Baja and its wonderful people will truly enjoy this wonderful story.

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Book Review – “Fall of Giants”

Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1)Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So we can all agree that historical novels are where authors take the greatest risk.

I have read quite a few of Ken Follett’s thrillers, and then Pillars of the Earth. Unfortunately, this one on WW I just doesn’t make it for me.

I am writing this some months after completing Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1) – I had held off because a person with whom I have a close personal relationship had highly recommended it. But now, as I want to close-up-my-ranks and complete the reviews on my smallish WW I category here on GR (and realizing he/she is not a GR member), I will plunge ahead. However, just to be clear, I will NOT be proceeding with #s 2 and 3 of the Trilogy).

I’d like to conclude that WW I just doesn’t lend itself to historical novels, but that can’t be true because I really enjoyed James Carroll’s “Supply of Heroes”: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2…. And Solzynetsin’s “August 1914” is magnificent. And Niall Ferguson provides an impressive list of literature in “The Pity of War”.

What is it about this one. It’s not that it’s bad, or unrealistic about the troubles faced by both ordinary (coal miners) people and the aristocracy in the Great War. Maybe just a touch insipid.

Maybe it’s just me.

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Book Review – “The Trade”

Historical novel set against history of the Hudson’s Bay Companay and Canada

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Book Review – “The Pity of War”

a review

I am an avid reader and maintain an inventory of books read and to-be-read at http://www.goodreads.com

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How I feel

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Book Review – The Swerve: How the World Became Modern

The Swerve: How the World Became ModernThe Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A real “mystery book” for many reason. It appeared at my home this past summer and I thought it was an assigned book for one of my son O’Neill’s classes. No.

Did it come via wife Becca’s book club assignments? No.

It was just “there”, and neither O’Neill or Becca have any idea how.

So when I read the plug on the back of the paperback, I was thrilled to learn it was about Lucretius, the ancient Roman poet – a banned and burned book for centuries – who has been on my To-Do list for the last two years. Wonderful scholarship on the long-lost Library of Alexandria. More than that, it was about the discovery/recovery process of the papyrus scrolls on which Lucretius’ poem was written and squirreled away in the monastaries of Europe for hundreds of years during the Dark Ages – a perfect complement to Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose”.

This is a very satisfying read for those of the free-thinking mind, and troubling for others. The connection to modern Atomic Theory is a stunning bonus and revelation.

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Winter of ’13 – 1’4

This was sent to me by my cousin Stan Donnelly in the Twin Cities:

Diary of a snow shoveler, probable location –

Just moved to the North East

December 8 – 6:00 PM

It started to snow.

The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our  cocktails and sat  for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes  drift down from heaven.

It looked like a Grandma Moses Print.

So romantic we felt like newlyweds again.

I love snow!

December 9

We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering  every inch of the landscape.

What a fantastic sight!

Can there be a lovelier place in the whole world?

Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had!

Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy  again.

I did both our driveway and the sidewalks.

This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up  the  sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again.

What a perfect life!

December 12

The sun has melted all our lovely snow.

Such a disappointment!

My neighbor tells me not to worry- we’ll definitely have a  white Christmas.

No snow on Christmas would be awful!

Bob says we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter, that  I’ll never want to see snow again

I don’t think that’s possible.

Bob is such a nice man, I’m glad he’s our neighbor.

December 14

Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night.

The temperature dropped to -20.

The cold makes everything sparkle so.

The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the  driveway and sidewalks.

This is  the life!

The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything  again.

I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling,  but I’ll certainly get back in shape this way.

I wish l wouldn’t huff and puff so.

December 15

20 inches forecast.

Sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer.

Bought snow tires for the wife’s car and 2 extra shovels.

Stocked the freezer.

The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out.

I think that’s silly.

We aren’t in Alaska , after all.

December 16

Ice storm this morning.

Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt.

Hurt like hell.

The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was  very  cruel.

December 17

Still way below freezing.

Roads are too icy to go anywhere.

Electricity was off for 5 hours.

I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm.

Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate  her.

Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to  her.

God I hate it when she’s right.

I can’t believe I’m freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20

Electricity’s back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn  stuff last night.

More shoveling!

Took all day.

The damn snowplow came by twice.

Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they’re  too busy playing hockey.

I think they’re lying.

Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a  snow blower and they’re out.

Might have another shipment in March.

I think they’re lying.

Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and  bill me.

I think he’s lying.

December 22

Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches  of the white   shit fell today, and it’s so cold, it probably won’t  melt till August.

Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel  and then I had to piss.

By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was  too tired to shovel.

Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of  the winter, but he says he’s too busy.  I think the asshole is lying.

December 23

Only 2 inches of snow today

And it warmed up to 0.

The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this  morning.

What is she, nuts?!!

Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago?

She says she did but I think she’s lying.

December 24

6 inches – Snow packed so hard by snowplow, l broke the  shovel.

Thought I was having a heart attack.

If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow,  I’ll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken  shovel.

I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish  shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws  snow all over where I’ve just been!

Tonight the wife  wanted me to sing Christmas carols with  her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25

Merry freaking Christmas!

20 more inches of the damn slop tonight -Snowed in.

The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil.

God, I hate the snow!

Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I  hit him over the head with my shovel.

The wife says I have a bad attitude.

I think she’s an idiot.

If I have to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life” one more time, I’m  going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26

Still snowed in.

Why the hell did I ever move here?

It was all HER idea.

She’s really getting on my nerves.

December 27

Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came  after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my  pipes.

December 28

Warmed up to above -20.

Still snowed in.

The BITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29

10 more inches.

Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in.

That’s the silliest thing I ever heard.   How dumb  does he think I am?

December 30

Roof caved in.

I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a  million dollars, not only the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove  the broken snow shovel up his ass.

The wife went home to her mother.

Nine more inches predicted.

December 31

I set fire to what’s left of the house.

No more shoveling.

January 8

Feel so good.

I just love those little white pills they keep giving me.

Why am I tied to the bed?


And then you could handle it like this, in Fargo:  http://fmobserver.com/fargo-man-arrested-for-clearing-snow-with-flamethrower/

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Quacking in the Duck Blinds

He’s not in jail, or going to stand trial.  What he says is his business, but it’s not a violation of his “free speech” if his advertisers and production company don’t want to pay him for saying it.

He’s free to buy space in the newspaper, or time on the radio or TV and pay to have his views publicly distributed beyond the duck blind if it’s that important to him.

It’s amazing the number of uneducated lunkheads out there who think that Daddy Phil’s being muzzled and denied his Constitutional rights.  It’s even more breathtaking that someone as supposedly well-educated as Bobby Jindal doesn’t understand this, or chooses not to so as to play to the base.

Haven’t any of these chuckleheads heard of a disclaimer?  All kinds of sponsors of TV opinion shows say something like “the views expressed in this show are not necessarily those of or shared by XYZ Corporation or any of its affiliates”.  Left unsaid is that they reserve the right to stop paying for the distribution of those views if public opinion goes off in a direction and they realize that, despite the disclaimer, the controversial words and message will affect the actual sales of their widgets and their reputation with their customers.

Anybody remember what happened to Phil Donahue when he expressed his reservations about the wisdom of going to war in Iraq against Saddam Hussein?

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Rhetorical Query

If you are one of those folks who buy lottery tickets, how would you spend your time if you won? What positive change would you want (and try) to bring to the world?

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December 17, 2013 · 4:47 pm