Episode No. Three: About stray kittens, kind neighbors, and how good karma really works

About ten days ago Stew and I took off for Chicago, our home for thirty years, in equal parts to visit old friends and also to get away from the stress caused us by the ongoing legal brawl over a developer trying to steal some land from us.

In flagrante delicto: Workers putting
up a stone wall to block our entrance.

And just before we were to leave—with a recently built low stone fence still blocking the entrance to our ranch and forcing us to enter the ranch through a neighbor’s property—there was an apparent truce in the hostilities.

As a devout Sometime Buddhist, I believe in karma, or as some people would paraphrase the concept, “whatever goes around comes around.

Coming home one night, Stew and I, with Félix riding on the back seat of our pickup, spotted a couple of tiny kittens that someone had abandoned by the side of the road—a tragic custom among  some of our neighbors for getting rid of unwanted animals.

Of course, we stopped and Félix picked up one of the kittens and Stew the other one.

Good karma messenger number one: Harriet

“I believe that’ll bring us good karma,” I reassured Stew, without considering we need two more cats like we need a pet giraffe.

But there they were, sitting in Félix’s lap, purring, one a yellow tabby, the other a smaller blue-eyed Siamese-ish.

Ever since we moved to the ranch I’ve endeavored, much more so than Stew, whose mastery of Spanish remains spotty even when the sun shines, to befriend our much more poorer neighbors who might think of us as stuck-up gringo feudal lords living on a hill.

We’ve given Vicente, the rancher whose picture appears on the September 7 blog post and who lives directly downhill from us, occasional presents around Christmas. The biggest hit was a lemon bundt cake from Costco, which he and his wife accepted with such joy you’d think it was frosted with 18-karat gold.

On the other side of the ranch, early on we donated a large Virgin of Guadalupe poster we had fancily framed, to the ancient and tiny Biznaga church we can see out of our bedroom window. That generated much rejoicing too, as if it had been autographed by the Pope.

Other times I’ve volunteered for the perpetually disfunctional Biznaga Water Committee, in charge of the community well and relations with the municipal water and sewer agency that’s charged with helping us out with our continuing water crises but seldom does.

Good karma messenger number two: Ozzie

The committee also collects the monthly fees which, though ridiculously low, a lot of people don’t pay including an American guy who was eighteen months in arrears.

I shamed him to pay up and presented the astonished committee members with three thousand pesos in an envelope. They thought I walked on water.

And just as Stew and I had hit a bottom of stress and depression over the hassles over the land, good karma struck three times.

Vicente showed up with a bag of freshly picked ears of corn and muttered he was sorry for all our problems.

Then I received a call from fellow water commissioner Albino—that’s his name although he’s not—to express support in our battle with the developer and say a number of the neighbors would be willing to sign a petition protesting the land theft.

A tee shirt, spotted at a local restaurant,
captures my feelings now

This was particularly reassuring because Mexicans generally shy away from confrontations and “getting involved.”

The following Saturday, when Stew and I drove around to the front of our ranch to feed the six, seven or eight mutts that show up daily begging for food, we found that the chain-link fence had been taken down where our driveway used to be, and the hastily constructed stone barrier blocking our entrance also had been demolished in an equally hasty manner, probably during the night.

Are we talking good karma at work for us, a result of our good gesture toward those stray kittens, which the vet figured were no more than six weeks old, and for our friendly gestures toward our neighbors?

I think the Dalai Lama would agree it is, though he’s not good about answering my emails.

As for the land grabbers backing off, well, they haven’t done so explicitly. But they seemed to have heeded the Planning and Zoning Commission’s cease-and-desist order and our two lawsuits, and have stopped work completely—for now.

Next is forcing them to take down the fence and wave good-bye. That won’t be easy or quick. We’re talking to our lawyer on Monday to get an update. Stay tuned.

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