Thursday, August 4, 2016

Gato Negro and Ybor City

My dad had a glass or two of cheap red wine, a Chilean brand called Gato Negro, every night after dinner. He drank it in a rocks glass with an ice cube. We all teased him about it -- how he'd been "bitten by the cat."

When he died, he left behind two unopened cases of Gato Negro, as well as a big ol' unopened bottle of Jack Daniels. (He also liked manhattans, though in recent years he abandoned the niceties of the bitters, vermouth and cherry, not to mention the martini glass, in favor of a bit of Jack over ice. That was his before dinner drink.)

Yesterday my stepmother and I took that booze back to the booze store, where she got a refund. In a way, that was the saddest thing I've done this week.

We also took all the medical supplies to a thrift store, so they're finally out of our lives. Where the Gato Negro reminds me of healthy dad, the medical supplies remind me of sick dad, and I feel no attachment to those whatsoever.

After running our errands I drove down to Ybor City, Tampa's historic Cuban and Italian neighborhood, to meet my friend Cherie for lunch. As I was parking the car, I kept hearing a rooster crowing -- which seemed a bit strange in the middle of the city. I found this little flock (is three a flock?) scratching around next to the railroad tracks. They reminded me of Ms. Moon.

Then, weirdly, I found a painting of what appeared to be the exact same flock on an old building. Are they legendary ghost chickens from the past, wandering the streets of Ybor? Did I have a supernatural experience?

I also found what looks like Hillary Clinton's local campaign office. Go Hillary!

Anyway, Cherie and I ate -- Cuban sandwiches, of course -- and I drove back home through some Tampa neighborhoods I'd never visited before. I got some interesting photos, which I will probably share here in coming days.

I helped my stepmother with the dogs -- enduring more scratches on the arms from an overenthusiastic Maybelline -- and then we all went to a trivia night at a nearby pub. This is something my stepsister does every week with her husband and son, and my stepmother had never gone before, so we tagged along. Our team won handily, but then, with nine people, it was twice as big as any other team. If we hadn't won we would have had some 'splaining to do.


  1. Sounds like you are getting reabsorbed into the Floridian scene. Will you ever return to London? Perhaps that's what the ghost cockerel (American: rooster) was saying.

  2. Yes. Three can be a flock. In my opinion, at least. A small flock but still.
    I love these pictures. Thank you for getting a shot of the chickens. I know how hard it is to take pictures of chickens when they are hiding in shady places.
    Hank won't let teams form with more than four, five, six? players. After that, you can all play together, but you're not in the real competition.

  3. the three chickens real and the three not real are great. I remember having to help my mother get rid of my dad's things when he died. I kept a few of his personal belongings.

  4. It makes sense, doesn't it, that the things you associate with your healthy dad would cause the most feelings of loss. In my case it's the opposite because my dad was unwell for so long. Even seeing a wheelchair makes me sad. Feelings are kind of complicated.

  5. Someamerican buildings look like a film set ( last pic)

  6. That's pretty freaky about the chickens. I consider random chicken sightings to be a good omen, so I'm glad you had one!

  7. There's something so sweet and beautiful about this post, Steve. I think I really learned a bit more about your father in such gentle yet powerful language. Thank you.