The Fishing Pablo

The Fishing Pablo needs help! His tree is dying.



Yes, his name really is Pablo, and yes, I know that’s weird. There’s a story.  This one starts in Mexico. It starts with this man.

Rachel McMahon Phill


This is Phill, my husband of twenty years. He plays the guitar, he sings, and he builds things. He also makes things up. If you know him, you probably have a nonsense-o-meter that goes off when he speaks. I have a finely tuned one, but it still sometimes fails me.


We were eating in a restaurant in Cancun. The atmosphere was amazing. Massive melty candles, lanterns, live music delivered by three men with stringed instruments. When they came to our table they asked us if we wanted our song to be happy, sad, or romantic. I can’t remember what we chose, only that I giggled the entire time they sang to us. It’s what I do when someone stares me in the eye and sings to me. I giggle.


When they left us for the next table, I began to examine our chairs and proudly noted that ours were cooler than the chairs at many other tables. Ours had artwork carved into them. I’m a fan of carving, though I’ve only used my limited skill at it on pumpkins. I pointed out that the carver of our chairs must not be good at carving faces, because it was the image of a man whose face was covered by a sombrero. My husband, very seriously, and with the air of someone who KNOWS THINGS replied, “You must not recognize the famous painting they represent.” He answered my blank stare with more information. “It’s The Sleeping Pablo.”


If anyone but Phill had told me this, I would have believed it before thinking it through. But my nonsense-o-meter was screaming. Why would this artwork have an English name, and why would Phill know it? I asked him to tell me its true name, and of course he couldn’t. We turned to Google to learn how to properly say it in Spanish. We laughed about it, took a picture of The Sleeping Pablo, and finished our meal. But it had started something. Suddenly there were Pablos everywhere.


The shell-hugging Pablo:


The I Can’t Wait to Dive in Pablo (left) and The I Can’t Believe it’s Over Pablo (right):


And our saddest friend, The Fishing Pablo:



Pablo’s tree was sold to us by a woman on the side of the road. She kissed my hands and placed Pablo on the soil beneath the tree and gave me a book that told me how to care for them. And for six months I did a pretty good job. I’ve watered up, not down. I’ve given it fertilizer and just the right amount of sun. But now it seems six months is just how long it takes a Bonsai to show that its owner is inept. I’m currently taking advice on what I’m doing wrong. Pablo begs for help. He offers his toothpick fishing pole as a reward for any information that can save his tree.


~ by Rachel McMahon on May 11, 2017.

One Response to “The Fishing Pablo”

  1. Yellowing leaves is a sign of over watering (if I remember correctly). Since the leaves are small and thin I’m going to say that Pablo is normally a desert dweller. Maybe you’re not letting him dry out before you give him a drink?

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