Concordia Cemetery and Fort Bliss, El Paso

JW Hardin's grave

JW Hardin’s grave

Don’t you just love this photo of the cemetery of John Wesley Hardin (1853-1895), gunslinger extraordinaire, in the magnificent Concordia Cemetery, El Paso? He is still in a jail cell after death and his defense for his various killings was “I never killed anyone who didn’t need killing.” There is no response to that really; he was just a bad ‘un. The best part about the shot is that you can see a man in an orange t-shirt through the bars. He was part of a group of prisoners cleaning this famous cemetery. Some of them looked very intimidating and they were really staring at me but perhaps they ain’t seen a cougar for a while? This is a link to Concordia’s Cemetery website in red. Listen to the song that plays along with the post about JW Hardin. Somehow it summons up the old wild west of Texas as did this cemetery. It was bought and divided into various sections by city groups, Chinese here, Masons there, Catholics in a separate place from Jesuits. Any Catholics out there will know that’s a good thing – Jesuits are scarier than gunslingers…

Haphazard section of Concordia Cemetery

Haphazard section of Concordia Cemetery

I love that this shot summons up every thing good about Texas. Skies that go on forever and eclectic people in life and death.

My guide Rudy, see my previous post,‘A tour of El Paso’ certainly had my number. What better place to visit than the cemetery and then Fort Bliss, the biggest military base in Texas – cool. Look at that warhead and the old tanks!



I have never been on a military base and this was astonishing – a complete small city. There was a town center, shopping mall, restaurants, cinema, schools and various suburbs for want of a better word. Rudy took us past the very large house that General Patton lived in and I was just awestruck. It could have been an upmarket suburb like any in my area, except the view was better. Rudy was a veteran and it was nice to see that the guard on duty saluted him with great respect (we had to show our driving licenses for security). This a link to the Wiki page about Fort Bliss. I could see that the terrain and temperatures would really help training fighters going to places like Afghanistan.

Rudy took us to see original adobe houses from the 60s up and down mountain tracks to get good views, right up to the border so that we could see what Juarez looks like – poor. I didn’t manage to capture photos of the amazing University of Texas at El Paso The architecture of the college is based on Bhutanese Monasteries and the red link tells you a little more about it.

Courtesy of City Data

It was a perfect tour of a perfect city. This is a view towards Cuidad Juarez and the writing on the mountain side reads “La Biblia es la Verdad. Leela.” or “The Bible is the Truth, Read It.”

Mexican Mountains

Mexican Mountains

My Eye Doctor is a Hero

kerry's eyes

I think the word ‘hero’ is over-used today but my eye doctor really is one. Like many medical professionals, he started his career in the military – let’s say it was the Army. In the years, that I have been torturing him with my neuroses about my eyes, I only recently noticed either a certificate or medal of valor on his wall. When I queried this, he told me that he had noticed something was calibrated wrongly affecting the effectiveness of the sharp-shooters sights. This made a huge difference to their shooting ability. He shared that not everyone was happy about his discovery because a predecessor must have calibrated it incorrectly. Not every hero, in the military for example, has to be parachuting into enemy territory and carrying wounded comrades on their shoulders. Think of the importance of the work of the female covert operative who doggedly pursued the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden from a desk.

I see this eye doctor very regularly because I don’t follow any of his advice (using saline and anti-histamine drops on a regular basis), wear the wrong kind of make-up and then sleep in it… I also develop little blocked cysts along the eye rim if I wear oily make-up. On this occasion, I had flown for two days from my regular trip to an Alzheimer’s Unit in Scotland. In a vain effort to be upgraded (it has worked before), I had worn make-up, a revealing top, drank too much and fell asleep. I woke up looking like a panda and my eyes were gritty. So, two days later my eye is bright red and nothing is bringing the inflammation down. He looked in my eyes and said ‘there is something sparkly on your cornea…” I don’t wear sparkly eyeshadow much anymore. In case you think it is all neuroses, I do have a Pinguecula, which sounds kind of cute – maybe black and white? This is what it really is – Recently, he found tiny, baby cataracts – not quite so cute.

Once he was comforting me about how uncomfortable one of my many eye problems was but I heard him say quietly to the assistant, “it’s just some inflammation”. He is a sweetie-pie for taking into account my anxiety. Then he prescribed a specific treatment that he wanted in ointment form to soothe my poor big blue eyes. When I went to the pharmacy, the assistant said to me, “I don’t know whether this is in liquid or ointment formulation?” I pointed out that it was definitely ointment because he had written ‘ung’ an abbreviation for unguent. She looked at me as though I was speaking Korean and I told her that it was a Latin word meaning ointment. Finally, the pharmacist came along and said, “Yes, it is an old-timey word for ointment”. I was flabbergasted and didn’t know who I was more annoyed at. The pharmacist (who I like) should have used it for a gentle training session. I would have explained that some pharmacy terminology is based on Latin and we would learn some more later. Look in the dictionary – unguent is still there in both US and UK versions.

Now I am sounding like an old-timey crabby lady who learned Latin at school… So, on a much lighter note, you might see that I have downward sloping eyes and a slight epicanthal fold from my Native ancestors. For years I struggled to find mascara that wouldn’t smudge the second I put it on. Some of the waterproof ones work but I am allergic to the heavy duty removers. Finally, it struck me that other people with epicanthic folds might have figured it out and found my first fabulous Japanese tubular mascara that never smudges and comes off with hot water and friction. They were quite expensive though I have recently found a fab inexpensive range made in Korea which is sold in most pharmacies and large supermarkets – Now I hope they sent me a free box of stuff. 🙂

The Forgotten War

korean entrance

My only memories of the Korean War are that it was immortalized in the series MASH. It seems ironic that we remember the series so well, especially the theme song, ‘Suicide is Painless’ much better than the actual war.*A*S*H_(TV_series)

On our recent trip to Little Rock, Arkansas we stumbled on a beautifully serene memorial to the Korean War which lasted from 1950 to 1953. It was a complicated political situation after WWII and North Korea was annexed by the Soviet Union and South Korea was surrendered to the Americans from the Japanese who had invaded Korea in 1910. We know, all too well, today that this has not been a perfect solution and North Korea remains an unstable and worrying nation. I don’t think democracy is right for every nation but totalitarian dictatorship is the opposite of what most people desire.

This memorial really opened my eyes to the reality of the Korean War – how unfair it is that we have forgotten both the military and the civilians who were killed. Our hearts break when we see two very old relatives who occasionally get the opportunity to see each other after more than 60 years of separation. I was astonished by how many disparate nations worked together under the UN banner to achieve peace in Korea and dearly wish that we could come to some consensus on what to do about Syria. The global lack of decisive action has led to President Putin assisting the reigning, if despised, Syrian government and indiscriminately bombing Syria (and also Iran, accidentally).

We worry relentlessly that we will be infiltrated by ISIS terrorists if we accept more desperate refugees when we have much more to fear from domestic terrorism. There are many sensible ways for us to determine if refugees are legitimate but we react so quickly to media panic. Are we really still asking if President Obama is Muslim – AND WHAT IF HE WAS? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a Muslim, Mormon, Catholic, Jewish or Atheist President. All they need to do is understand our constitution and abide by it.

I would never have visited this memorial if it were not for my friend GP Cox, fellow blogger ‘Pacific Paratrooper’ and I hope he enjoys it.
Click on this link to see the rest of the post. THE FORGOTTEN WAR