Coso, Chorizos and Chicharos

Facebook-20150128-114657

“Vale,” Dad’s voice came through a little shaky over the phone. “Are you very busy today? Your Mom is driving me crazy and I need some help.”

Mom had been having serious bouts of dementia and Dad himself wasn’t feeling all that great. “I’m not that busy today, Papi. I’ll swing by around lunch time.”

His voice perked up a bit. “Gracias, mijo.”

It would be my very last telephone conversation with my father.

I finished up some paperwork, replied to a couple of emails and rescheduled my afternoon appointment. Now, in retrospect, I realize I should have been happy that Id get to spend an afternoon with Mom and Dad, but the truth is, I wasn’t looking forward to it. Dad was in a lot of pain. His back and hips were causing him all kinds of hurt and he was very frail. It was difficult to see Dad, the big, strong ox, so weak, so thin, so helpless. Mom wasn’t doing so well either and adding to that was the dementia, which had gotten progressively worse in recent months.

I called Dad back as I left the office. “Did you two already have lunch?”

Dad said he’d had a little something but Mom hadn’t eaten. “Your Mom says she is going to cook. Chicharos.”

It had been months if not years since mom had taken to the kitchen and while I welcomed a steaming bowl of Mom’s chicharos, you never know how the food a person with dementia cooks will turn out. “I’ll swing by the Latin Cafe,” I told him. “pick up a couple media noches and for you a Latin 2000. It’s like a Cuban sandwich but with chorizo.”

“Ok,”he replied. “Sounds good.” You could never have too much food, according to Dad.

When I got to Mom and Dad’s, sandwiches in hand, Mom was in the front the front porch, staring out the window. “I thought you were your Dad,” she said. “he still isnt back from work.”

Mom thought Dad, who was sitting in his recliner watching tv, was Dad’s Dad. “Your father left me with the old man,” she told me. “And he looks ill.”

Dad and I laughed through the sadness about it. “She’s been like that since yesterday,” he said. “Driving me nuts.”

I broke out the sandwiches even though Dad said he wasnt all that hungry. I knew once he saw the chorizo, he’d eat. And he did. “Este sandwich esta empigau,” he said. “Dont eat the other half. I want it for later.”

Mom was tinkering around in the kitchen, searching in all the wrong places for everything she’d need to make the chicharos. She’s lived in this house over thirty years, cooked 2 or 3 squares a day, every day and couldnt even remember where she her pots or pans, her spices, spoons or anything else.

For the very first time in my life, at the age of 49, I helped Mom cook chicharos. The very same chicharos she’d pour over my head when Id refuse to eat them as a kid.

Dad napped most of the day while I chased after Mom. She kept pacing back and forth, going out to the front porch, bitching and moaning that Dad was late from work and he wasnt answering his phone and he was supposed to be home already and what if something happened and maybe I should go look for him. To say that witnessing this, living this, is heartbreaking is an overwhelming understatement.

I could not imagine what it must have felt for my Dad to live through this. To see his wife of 60 years mentally deteriorate to such an extent and he not be able to do anything for her. Dad could barely stand, he could hardly walk and for a man like my father, who spent his life protecting and providing and caring for his family, it must have been relentlessly devastating. The weight of the world on his shoulders.

Mom returned from one of her forays to the porch and suddenly recognized Dad. “When did you get home,” she asked. “we’ve all been waiting for you.”

Luckily or as I like to think by design, the dementia had given mom a short reprieve in the late afternoon and she went and sat next to Dad. She cupped his face in her hands, combed his white whisps back behind his ears and kissed his big hands. I could tell Dad was fighting back the tears but for those fleeting moments, they were so happy to see each other again.

“Coso,” Mom whispered to Dad. “I made you chicharos. Do you want a bowl?”

Dad said he thought she’d never asked. “the aroma was making me hungry.”

I helped Mom find his tray, set it up and serve him a bowl of chicharos that Mom and I made. Dad savored every bite and asked for a little more. “Este potaje esta de competencia.”

A couple hours later, Dad would have a pulmonary embolism, we would call 911 and Fire Rescue would take him to the ER.

He would never see his home again.

February 24, 1996

Val and Alberto have already posted this morning on the shootdown of our four brothers over the Florida Straits, but I have to add a short note.

I always chuckle when the pro-castro left call us “hardliners” and “intransigent” as though the words were some kind of severe insult. Well, they are not. We are proud of the appellation. We revel in the description. If you need a reason why we are hardline and intransigent about castro and Cuba you need look no further than seventeen years ago today. The murderous bastards in the castro regime, their abettors in the media, and the myriad vendepatrias that now support rapprochement with the regime have blood on their hands.

The left wants justice and they want to “free the five.” Sure thing. When you bring back “the four” you murdered, we can talk.

Robert Bork, R.I.P.

Robert Bork died today.

By all accounts a superb lawyer and an ‘original intent’ constitutional scholar, he was denied a seat on the Supreme Court in 1987 because the Democrats lost their souls. How? by paying attention to the Senator who blatantly lied about Bork at his confirmation hearings. That man, who left an innocent young woman to drown in a river while he escaped to create an alibi and excuse, is the man the Democrats hold up as the best of their best.

That says it all…

R.I.P., Dave Brubeck

I can credit the man who passed away today at 91, Dave Brubeck, with my discovery of jazz.

Born out of a post-adolescent loathing and hatred of all things disco, I discovered an album at my local record store that I still have to this day: “Adventures in Time,” a sort-of greatest hits two-record album with the Dave Brubeck Quartet that absolutely floored me when I listened to it. And listen to it I did, over and over again. Thanks to Maestro Brubeck and the amazing music he wrote, I discovered his amazing saxophonist, Paul Desmond, and subsequently Stan Getz, John Coltrane, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Duke Ellington (one of America’s greatest composers, by the way), Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and the rest of the pantheon of jazz gods that I’ve come to love as much as my beloved classical music.

Thanks, Dave, for lighting the fire in me. Godspeed and may you rest in peace.

Dave Brubeck, the jazz pianist, composer and bandleader behind the legendary Dave Brubeck Quartet, has died at age 91.

The death of Brubeck, whose composition “Take Five” became a jazz standard and the bestselling jazz song of all time, was confirmed Wednesday by the Associated Press. Brubeck would have turned 92 Thursday.

According to the AP, Brubeck died of heart failure after being stricken while on the way to a cardiologist’s  appointment in Connecticut.

Brubeck, born Dec. 6, 1920, in Concord, Calif., was the son of a cattle rancher. His mother was a classically trained pianist. Although he studied zoology at the College of the Pacific in Stockton, he came to love the music department. While serving in the Army during World War II, Brubeck formed the band the Wolfpack.  After the war in the Bay Area he experimented with music groups and styles.

In 1951 he and alto saxophonist Paul Desmond created what would become one of the most popular acts of West Coast jazz, the Dave Brubeck Quartet. The quartet’s most famous song was “Take Five,” from the 1959 release “Time Out.

During his career, Brubeck also created standards such as “The Duke” and “In Your Own Sweet Way.”

In a 2010 article on the occasion of Brubeck’s 90th birthday, the Los Angeles Times interviewed the jazz legend and noted that although jazz may not occupy the center of the musical universe, even people who know little, if anything, about jazz know of Brubeck:

“Through more than 60 years of recordings and performances at colleges, concert halls, festivals and nightclubs all over the world, Brubeck put forth a body of work — as pianist, composer and bandleader — that is as accessible as it is ingenious, as stress-free as it is rhythmically emphatic, as open-hearted as it is wide-ranging.” […]

Indeed. Here are his two enduring classics:

Blue Rondo a la Turk

Take Five

Not this conservative…

Sorry Cal, but I think your feelings, while admirable, are clouding your judgment.

Senator McGovern, who died Sunday, had all manner of evil said about him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was called unpatriotic, disloyal, an appeaser and an enabler of communism. Those were the printable slanders.

Many conservatives at the time believed in the “domino theory,” that if South Vietnam fell to the communists, all Asia would follow. That proved untrue. McGovern was eventually vindicated in many minds about America’s involvement in Vietnam.

I will remember him for something other than his politics. George McGovern was a friend. […]

It is very difficult for me, if not impossible, to reconcile the man Cal Thomas warmly describes as “friend,” with the same man who is a “friend” of the mass murderer and destroyer of Cuba. Senator McGovern did embrace communists and communist regimes, as warmly as Cal Thomas embraced him.