Island Life

Vol. 24 - No. 24Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday November 28, 2021

{Formerly Island-Life}

Current Edition - Year 2021


Welcome to the 21st year of this weekly column that's updated fifty-two times a year, on Sunday nights or Monday mornings, depending on how well the booze holds out. If you've got any news, clues or rumors to share from around the Bay, or the world, feel free to send them to Editor@Island-Life.net or use the envelope in the masthead. For previous issues, including 2018, visit the Archives.


The Editor
Denby -
Reporter
Bea -
Artwork
Chad -
Coding
Tammy -
Fotos
Hildegard -
Europe News


NOVEMBER 28, 2021

GOOD MORNING

 

THE 23RD ANNUAL ISLAND POODLESHOOT AND BBQ

Blessed rain and a good Covid report ensured the 'Shoot happen on time this year. But this being the 23rd Poodleshoot in the Bay Area, there is no rushing to press on this.

their dog really "understands me"

It is hard to imagine that more than 20 years ago a daft group of lads decided to hold a humble Poodleshoot in defiance of misdirected sentiment, obnoxious aesthetics, and hideous twisting of values where an asinine species we will never truly understand gets more attention, devotion, and preference than members of our own species. Some foolishly claim that their dog really "understands me". It can be argued that in this present day in the 21st century we still have problems understanding each other, let alone another species and that species, us.

a miserable scrap of fur and teeth

23 years of Poodleshoots and still people lavish more attention and affection upon a miserable scrap of fur and teeth than suffering fellow human beings that really has little more capacity for returning love than a Real Doll made in China. It is all illusion and self deception. Well, that is why the Poodleshoot came to be.

"Poodles, or Piddles, as they sometimes are called . . ."

Actually the original Poodleshoot was held in Monterey Bay, possibly as early as 1985, when the grand prize was a set of bronzed ship's propellers. It is hard to find the original news article; for some reason the local government has diverted traffic from the old site, which is just too bad. The original was created to commemorate two beloved animals with significant acknowledgment of the human perversities regarding the breed. "Poodles, or Piddles, as they sometimes are called . . .". began the original post.

All that aside, the 23rd Annual Poodleshoot proceeded as follows.

The annual Island Tradition took place again, beginning with the usual, traditional ceremonies.

she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament

As per Tradition, on the day of the 23rd Annual Poodleshoot, rosy-fingered Dawn arose from the horizon's dark bed and pushed back the shutters of night to allow Phoebus to mount his golden chariot and so, preceding the day, she trailed her gauzy banners across the firmament, traveling across the yard from the battered old half-moon privy hard by the weeds to the house back porch, leaving behind a sort of dew after her passage. Gently, she flushed, and gently she tugged upon the coverlet, and gently she kissed the eyelids of the sleeping Padraic, but he stirred not. Gently she nudged the man, who only mumbled and snorted as he remained held fast in the soft, woolly folds of Morpheus. Playfully, she noodged him once again, but he remained walking in that shadow kingdom of the somnolent God.

Her fingers becoming rays of sunlight, turned the dial so as to allow the sweet strains of muse Calliope to thrum the air as guided by the goddess Rosalie Howarth of KFOG, but Padriac snored and stirred not.

Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with

Then Dawn reared back with her rosy fists upraised and brought them down heavily to smite Padraic a mighty thwack, and that got him up all right, for Dawn O'Reilly was not a woman to be trifled with at any time of the day. And so Padraic bestirred himself to make ready for the Annual Island Poodleshoot and BBQ.

So it was that Padraic rolled out the barrels of the Water of Life and set up the Pit for this year's festivities under bright, chill skies, which had cleared briefly from the storm clouds for the day, once again down by the disputed Crab Cove on the Island while Bob Brown, owner of Rancho Nicasio, helped setup the Silvan Acres site with tables, BBQ drums, and all the fixin's for a great feast.

John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell March

The ceremonies began with the traditional playing of the Paraguay National Anthem, as arranged by Terry Gilliam, and performed by the Island Hoophole Orchestra accompanied by the Brickbat Targets chorale ensemble. This piece has been favorably compared to John Phillip Sousa's Liberty Bell March, with which work the modality is inextricably entwined.

In Marin the Hapless Jerrykids noodled into Walking on the Moon, which was followed by the San Geronimo Acoustics who performed Neal Young's "Pocahontas". Ensemble then brok e all their instruments and stalked offstage with a number of war whoops.

This was followed on the Island by the devilish meisterwerk composed by Marie Kane entitled, "Die Sieg der Satanische Landentwickler", an adaptable work which allows insertion of alta-contemporary chorales at the whim of the Conductor at the pleasure of any municipal governing body.

The ensemble group which has made something of a name for itself by inventing entirely new parts for voice, consisted of Mayor Izzy as soprano alla triste in the Misericordia segment and Councilperson Daysog as mezzo soprano mournful did a fair version of Iago's treacherous soliloquy, with former Councilperson Frank in his basso triste "You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" performance in the esoteric work La Chambre à l'arrière Enfumee Boogie by Brooks and Dunne.

John Knox White and Tony Daysog performed a lovely duet as well as a lovely pas de deux in pinstriped pinafores with nunchucks. The two sang "Our Town" and "I got you Babe with astonishing verve.

In Marin, the ensemble performance of Le Papillion Enragee caused a number of ladies to faint and gentlemen to resort to flasks of bourbon to revive our beloved Monarchs.

Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated"

Many reviewers have called this piece amazingly impossible to accomplish, and quite a pastiche. The East Bay Express found "this game of smoky backrooms is too much to believe." Karen D'Souza of the Contra Costa Times has called it "devilishly complicated" and "hard to believe it goes on. And on. And on still more," while Jim Harrington has called this performance, "the most dreadful rubbish since the last time I wrote a mixed review. I never fully approve of anything but this gave badness a new name."

The Chronicle, always more reserved due to the heavy influence of conservative ACT in the City, has commented, "It should be interesting to see how well this thing floats in the future amid this stormy time for companies. We miss Trish Spencer performing as City Mayor, a role she continued to adopt with nearly convincing theatricality. Mayor Izzy Ashcroft is far more persuasive although less a comic genius."

Of course, their theatre/music review got mixed up for that issue with the economic report and the elections special, so the meaning of that is up to interpretation.

The East Bay Express got the dates wrong on its Calendar section, as usual, so they had no review.

The Examiner, as usual, ignored Reality and talked about the batboy who had been abducted by space aliens.

Fox News ran a piece about how the Examiner's Space Aliens had stolen the Presidential Election and that former President Obama had never really been President and all this fol-de-rol about poodles was a LIberal Hoax involving COVID attempts to rob Patriots of their Freedoms, and so sensible people paid them no attention save for Ms. Boebert, who is insensible..

This year, with the addition of the venue in Marin, featured a number of local dignitaries. There were also some modifications to the Official Rules in deference to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

The high number of absurdly decorated piddles in Fairfax has caused a problem of antagonistic bent. It seems owners are deliberately dieing and barbering their animals and provocatively trotting these creatures in front of impressionable women and children, and the City Council is now holding meetings on the issue. Things may change next year as the boundaries of the 'Shoot expand.

This year, with the change in venue from the Island to Marin, featured a number of local dignitaries, along with national representatives according to tradition. Lauren Boebert appeared, fireing at random at anything that seemed to her feasible until she was taken by the Seargeant at Arms into the Stockade for safekeeping.

The horns tootled and the drums pounded and all the hunters marched into their respective fields of honor with many a shout of "Poodle there!" and "Ahoy! Poodle!" as the grenades went pop and the AR-15's opened up with abandon all across NorCal under delightful skies of mottled blue and grey and the 23rd Poodleshoot was underway.

Thanks to the 2nd Amendment . . . .

Thanks to the 2nd Amendment there was plenty of firepower to be had to let fly upon these Liberal pom-poms dyed with absurd colors of scarlet and blue. Old Grannies emerged from their doors to blast away with riot guns and blunderbusses while little tykes crept out from shrubs to let fly with their 22 longs.

There proceded a set-to with the dog-walkers

It was a grand scene until Margorie Green appeared with an cohort of Border Patriots who joined a phalanx of dog-walkers down by the formerly named Drake High School and she wore a golden chain that was all imbued with the power of Trumpian Evil. The renaming of the local landmark caused consternation among the populace, allowing for the Enemy to gather in great numbers and so assail the red-blooded Californios. There proceded a set-to with the dog-walkers armed with morning-stars, poopy-missles and impermeables against the defenders of the one True Faith. Faith in the True and the Real.

The Margorie Green cohort was supported by members of the Flat Earth Society who hold that the entire world is flat, not round, and the corners are bound by the cities named Springfield. There are many who hold this to be true and that Donald Trump is the Messiah.

Well what can you do when people believe nonsense like that.

The Dawn arose wtth golden spears and incarnadine striatus.

Things went bad for the Believers in Truth and Justice and they were driven back under pressure to the edges of San Anselmo Creek where they took up a line of defence along its banks. There they passed a hard night shoved against the muddy banks under constant sniper fire. The Dawn arose wtth golden spears and incarnadine striatus. Then came over the hip of the Sleeping Lady of Mount Tam the figure of Gandalf the White, who had been formerly Gandalf the Grey, upon his white steed Edward P. Murrow. Gandalf galloped into the throng of the falsehoods and confronted Margorie Green and leveled his bony finger at her affronted face.

"You are a lying, dismal bitch!" said Gandalf amid a clap of lightning and thunder.

And with that the goblins and devils who had supported the banner of Baggot, Bushy, and Green, wilted away. And the host of Californios arose from the banks of the San Anselmo creek and beset their enemies, who were bested and so driven back to the East. And so there was jubilation after this great victory on the Marin side while the Island reported similar victories in what surely would become known as in future times as the War of the Blings and the objects created in error by the Elven Kings of yore that contained so much evil of their Master, Maldoc Trump snarling in his dungeon of Mal de Lago, would continue to plague all the races with his demonic legions until his kingdom would be overthrown.

In the meantime, another poodle was tossed on the barbie and a fine time was held by all on this 23rd Annual Poodleshoot and BBQ.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, the sound stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

NOVEMBER 14, 2021

CALLING ON THE MOON

Going to have a full moon eclipse around here. Certain to be a fair amount of witchery.

NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

So anyway, Pedro was out upon the sea-lanes after the Officials had given the go-ahead for crabbing. But with restrictions.

The days begin with misty haze and dew. This burns off by early morning, leaving a sort sunny condition that used to be assigned to October.

The lakes are all at 50% capacity after a long dry period. We still are not up to snuff.

This is the time of dank morning mists shrouding the hills with protective coverlets. The heat wave has come and gone and the buckeyes are all gone sere with battered, bare limbs. Mornings and evenings the pogonip drifts in over the hills.

Yes, that special season has come upon us when the air turns brisk with scents of apples and chimney smoke and thoughts turn to traditions and season rituals. Dick and Jane go gaily scampering through the fallen leaves with ruddy cheeks and panting breath hand in hand, leaping over babbling brook and fog-damp fallen tree, each dreaming of popping a few rounds into a Fifi, blasting the stuffing out of a silver-haired poo with a brand new, polished thirty ought-six.

God! It is such a magical time! It is glorious America in Fall! Praise the Goddess for the Red, White, and Blue!

Yep, that much anticipated Island event is nigh upon us once again, the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot and BBQ.

We will be posting the official rules presently in the sidebar. For now, last year's rules are up there to give you an idea of what this dreadful celebration is all about. What is the Annual Island-Life Poodleshoot you may ask. This year marks the 22nd year that the 'Shoot has taken place and the 2nd time it will be held off the Island after it moved to Marin where the infernal species abounds in great numbers and so provides splendid opportunity for Red-blooded American Sport. To commemorate past glories a small ceremony will be held on the Island which still holds the Old Same Place Bar that funded much of the beverages. It is, in short a Tradition, and around here we are big on Tradition.

Each year avid gun-nuts and hunters have gathered in the Bay Area for the Poodle Hunt, renowned throughout the world as having few events of such magnitude and utmost serious rivaling NASCAR races and the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

This year the hunting promises to be very good as Marin is a haven for misapplied sentiments and distracted emotions applied to a scurrilous creature rather than fellow humankind. Herds of the repulsive animals are seen daily cavorting on pampered booties with atrocious pompoms and bowties while NIMBYS protest the building of homeless shelters in a nearby neighborhood.

Haze is in the forecast, dull fogs and overcast skies instead of the relief of rain, the Editor thinks as he looks out at the sere buckeyes, the oaks and acacia that have been cut back for fire protection. He returns to his desk with all the lights off save for the one pool of light spilled by the desklamp and he sits down. The night passes as he continues to work as he has for the past 22 years, face lit by that lamp and his remaining hair flying about his head in an aureole, surrounded by the curtains of darkness and the sharp longing that somewhere out there must be a like mind filled with piercing desire for a monad of ecstasy, also pursuing these failed meditations, and so he continued doing all for Company.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, the sound stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

OCTOBER 31, 2021

HOO ARE YOU


This fellow was photographed in several locations in Woodacre. We thought this image is appropriate since an owl features prominently in this week's monologue.

I MISS YOU

So anyway. The long drought and Fire Wars have come to an end -- for the moment. Heavy rains blasted the countryside and refilled the lakes, bringing the salmon up, or down, the creeks as if they materialized out of nothing, flashing and flailing with vigor the still shallow shallows. The oak trees have gone sere and buckeyes have lost their leaves, the bare branches heavy with pendulous fruit and the nights have gotten somewhat chill. It is the time of the full moon again, and the last days of Los Dias de los Muertos showed up as an apparition.

The time came for Denby to make the annual crossover, which had remained as a Tradition even though the offices and the Household had been transplanted by force during the Night of Shattered Fires. Tradition has its own powerful force as some of you may know.

The sun descended and shadows grew long across the little avenues of Silvan Acres. Because of the creek passing through, and then the long absent train line and now the road, this place had been a traveling place for many hundreds, if not thousands of years.

The Editor said, "Go now," and so Denby took his walking cane and went out to the uplift where the earth was embanked higher than in other places along the road.

A train came trundling along the way beside the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, even though the tracks that once had gone to the coast had been torn up long ago.

The machine heaved to a stop with steam and groaning and Denby climbed aboard and took his seat in a cabin with no other passengers in the car. The train proceeded down Sir Francis Drake, stopping at Yolanda Landing and various points not known to Denby and then proceeded south and east through a dense fog that made identifying landmarks difficult. For a long time everything outside the windows was entirely black and Denby assumed they were somehow crossing one of the bridges.

"Endstation! Endstation!"

At one point the train stopped and the conductor, a gaunt man wearing a robe, came down the aisle announcing in a foreign accent "Endstation! Endstation!"

Denby disembarked to find he was on the Shoreline Road on the Island. He walked along the path there that bordered the brightly lit condos and the seawall until he came to the Iron Gate, the gate which appeared only for a few hours each year. He undid the latch and was greeted by an owl. "Who? Who are you? Who?!"

An iron bell began to clang and then he saw the vast expanse of bonfires lit upon the beach. Those bonfires lit by the souls waiting passage to redemption or eternal fire.

A distant dog or set of dogs set up a jarring sound of barking.

He used his cane to push open the gate and so step through a veil of mist to the Other Side where a long reach of strand with bonfires extended to north and south, broken only at this height by the extension of a stone landing.

As in years past, as he approached the Portal, the Voice bellowed to him from some echoing deep cavern.

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!"

"Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate!" and the words flamed inside the skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had for the past 22 years.

For pete's sake. As per Tradition, dammit, Denby muttered.

A large owl, about two feet tall, perched on a piling scolded him with large owl eyes.

"Hoo! Hoo! Hoooooo!"

Okay, okay. Poor choice of words.

"Hooooo!"

On the other side the ground sloped down as usual to the water for about thirty yards, but he could not see the far lights of Babylon's port facilities or the Coliseum. A dense, lightless fog hung a few yards offshore, making it appear that the water extended out beyond to Infinity. The sky above was filled with black cloud and boiling with red flashes of lightening and fire although not a drop of rain had fallen.

All up and down the strand he could now see that countless bonfires had been lit, as is customary among our people in this part of the world to do during the colder winter months along the Strand, and towards one of these he stumbled among drift and seawrack.

Sitting around that fire, he recognized many faces. And many more all up and down that beach.

"ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta"

Strange words in another language reverberated again inside the skull: "si lunga tratta / di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto / che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta" echoing and echoing down long hallways of echos into eternity

A small child, barefoot and wearing a nightdress ran past and disappeared as quickly as she had come.

A glimmering figure appeared before him, a woman shining with internal light, her blonde hair glowing in that dark atmosphere, and clad in gauzy fabric blown by an invisible wind.

"Denby!" said the woman. "Here you are again!"

"Hello Penny," Denby said. "Back again."

A year has passed up there in your world, I guess. Here another year is all the same for waiting.

Several little girls, all between the ages of six and nine, wearing pinafores ran barefoot across the sands between them and vanished into the misty beyond.

There are usually a couple people you should meet, said Penny.

Same as usual," Denby said.

"But," said Penny, "This time is different. Different from all other times. I think the time is coming when you need to start thinking about yourself and the Last Crossing."

The infernal wind whirled about them and the scads of barefoot girls in pinafores ran this way and that in play on that dark beach.

They sat down together on a hillocky hump of sawgrass, the older man and the ageless woman with her arms wrapped around her knees above bare feet. Out beyond spread the sands with their scattered bonfires to the right and the left while the black expanse of water extended into the darkness. More than 22 years had passed and she had not aged one bit.

So, Penny said. After all these visits we finally have a chance to chat for a while.

"I have come down here some 22 times. Usually I meet somebody I used to know," Denby said.

Who died, Penny asked.

"The question is who is left to die," Denby said.

Well Strange de Jim is over there at that bonfire. And your friends Johnny and Julie are jogging way down that way. Most of the others have made the Final Crossing. But lets not talk about that. It is so lugubrious. (An impish smile appeared on her lips) How's your singing been?

"Umm . . . well, ah not much time for that these days. I think all of that is done now forever".

Penny burst into peals of laughter. Little, little mortal man you know nothing of forever! I am the one who knows about Forever!

So spake the Angel of Death, because it is true. No mortal can possibly know the Infinite.

"Well there is no more opportunity and at my age unlikely to be any forthcoming." Denby said.

O really, said Penny. Are you so sure? No possibilities hovering in the wings, no friendships that might turn torrid?

"Je suis seul, comme tout." Denby said, with some cynicism.

Penny put her hand up to her forehead and leaned back with her eyes closed. O my magical dead lady powers foresee a dark haired maiden, er, a dark haired damsel in thine future with flowing locks, lots of tattoos, and naughty underwear. . . .

Now it was time for Denby to burst out laughing. "I do not think that is possible, but thanks for mentioning. Surely you do not mean Pimenta Strife?"

Penny kept her laughter rolling. Pimenta? For you? She is way way too much a butch fiend, as your friend Chad used to describe her. Pimenta? Surely you are joking.

"Well I have a pallet on my floor and it is narrow and admits only one these days, so that is that."

That is just too bad, Penny said. You really ought to practice your singing. I remember that . . .

From far across the water came a glimmering from what seemed a single source. As the thing drew closer the glimmering divided into two wheels of fire.

The Ferryman is coming, Penny said. But I still have no obolu, she said sadly in a tone that tore at Denby's heart. And so here I must remain for yet another Season.

"Penny, could anything could have been different than what happened?"

Of course my friend. You could have found a way to take in my cat, Snowball, after I was gone, but you did not. The past is always conditioned by our choices.

Bevies of children ran this way and that down below along the glimmering beach.

The fire revealed a towering figure controlling a skiff that approached a stone jetty towards which a multitude of souls approached, each holding the gold obolu, the passage fare. Each soul offered up its fare and those that were destined for the Eternal City of the West were allowed to board. Those others destined for the City of the South were unceremoniously shoved down and away to be fetched later for their journey to Hell.

This time around Denby observed few individuals he knew. A man wearing journalist clothing passed by and said, "Senator, why do you want to become President?"

A girl walked by with a guitar, singing "It's a hard life, a hard life, but Love's on sale tonight at the 5 and Dime."

A lean English gent passed by carrying drumsticks. "When people talk about the '60s I never think that was me there. It was me and I was in it, but I was never enamoured with all that. It's supposed to be sex and drugs and rock and roll and I'm not really like that. I've never really seen the Rolling Stones as anything. The world of this is a load of crap. You get all these bloody people, so incredibly sycophantic."

And then he was gone.

After a while the skiff had loaded its cargo and so then departed across that stygian water.

A squadron of girls dressed in pinafores scampered across the sands before them. They passed this way and that like petrels.

"Life is a harsh and violent series of disappointments, full of sorrow and suffering," Denby said. "LIfe is a vale of tears."

Of course it is, Penny said. But you do not need to stick yourself in some gloom as a result. There are many things you among the living can still enjoy.

A girl ran up to Penny with eyes as clear as centuries and said, "Mama?"

I will be along in a little bit sweetheart, Penny said. And the little girl ran off into the dark. You see, said Penny, even the disappointed Past can contain some measure of joy.

At that moment the tolling of the iron bell rolled across the vast wasteland there.

Time for you to go, Penny said. I am sorry we don't have more time during your annual visits to talk. And then she stood up, a shimmering vision of luminescence.

Denby arose and turned to go up the slope back to the gate which led out of that place. He stumbled up as the insistent bell clanged its fateful hours on the last day of El Dias de los Muertos, that day when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

"Denby." Penny said simply and he paused as a wind kicked up with gusts.

She reached out her hands to cup his face. Cold, so cold. He felt a wetness on his lips, on his face. The rain had returned to NorCal.

Good-bye. Until next time.

He ascended the slope as the sound of the bell and three dogs became more insistent until he stumbled through the gate which slammed shut behind him. There, an open door to a train compartment waited for him and he climbed in to plotz into a seat in an otherwise empty railcar with salty, wet cheeks. On the return journey, he reflected Penny had become in the afterlife what she had been before. In life she had been a nurse during the height of the AIDS plague whose job it had been to handle the affairs of patients who had been sent home from Hospice as they lapsed and eventually died and allowed her to handle the paperwork of such things, there always the angel to usher souls to the door and through it to the next form of existence, if any, beyond.

The train passed through shadowy regions of smoke and the skeletal forms of houses and the smoke of spooks until it passed Yolanda Landing and eventually to the San Geronimo Station, where Denby disembarked. From there he went dutifully to the Island-Life offices although he felt exhausted unto death.

The Editor awaited him as in years past.

"So this is the 22nd time you have crossed over," said the Editor. "How was it this time?"

Denby fell into a plush chair Martini had snagged from a For Free roadside pile. He gave the Editor the one thousand yard stare.

"I can tell you are wanting a drink. And by just the look of you, so am I." The Editor reached into the desk and pulled out a bottle of Glenfiddich and set two glasses on the desk before pouring more than two fingers into each glass.

"So any talk about how the Pandemic will end up and what the Economy is going to do?" asked the Editor.

"Somehow the subjects did not come up," Denby said.

"Well, I suppose given past reports I should have expected that," said the Editor as he poured out the bottle. "But no harm in asking."

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the spectral estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the haunted redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais, following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, the sound stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the ghostly mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 24, 2021

CELEBRATION OF THE LIZARD

This is a blue-tailed skink photographed by a Nextdoor neighbor. Most people get enthralled by the mammalian life around here but recently an amateur herpetologist presented several photos of absolutely gorgeous, colorful reptiles that inhabit Marin.

LET IT RAIN, LET IT POUR, LET IT RAIN A WHOLE LOT MORE

So anyway. A "cyclone bomb" has dropped on Norcal for the past few days and as we speak the flood sirens are going off from all the firehouses from San Rafael out to West Marin. Those little parched trickles a few inches deep two weeks ago are now topping 8, 12, 15 feet tonight. Nixle let us know earlier today the Sheriff wants people to stay home as tree branches come crashing down and water collects in the usual places.

Just now another alert from the County Sheriff over the transome: "Please stay off the roads!"

Obviously, for this area, Fire Season is put on hold, but with other hazards taking the place of fire. We shall see if the bulwarks that the DPW built shall prevent White Hill from again descending onto Sir Francis Drake Blvd.

That road remains named SFD because all of the municipalities needed to agreed unanimously to rename it to something softhearted and bogus, mushy and unnecessary as a sop to White guilt over slavery (instead of really doing something realistic about its consequences) did not come to consensus. Some towns saw the whole thing as nonsense and so balked. You cannot rename a road extending some 25 miles through several different districts with alternative names; that, of course, would have looked as ridiculous as the entire idea was originally.

You can change names of streets in European cities from block to block but Europeans are charming and sweet and lovable in their historic old school sensibilities Americans are not like that. We are brash and abrasive and entirely the new Germans of the world. Yes we are the new Germans. Obnoxious, arrogant, full of self-superiority, pushy, smug, self-entitled, waving No. 1 foam fingers, plus all the things Hollywood and the Greeks used to accuse the Nazis of being.

During the Bush Error, a German friend called and said, "At last, at last! We Germans are no longer the World's Nemesis! Now it is America!"

For now the rains come to Norcal in a Cyclone Bomb, as the Meteorologists call it. There are also events occuring in other parts of the Country.

Love your "global warming is a Liberal agenda" message you idiots of the formerly GOP. The GOP is not the GOP anymore. The GOP has become the Greatly Obtuse Party, denying electorial factual outcomes, denying scientific evidence, denying all realistic plausibilites when facts interfere with agenda. The GOP is now the Greatly Obtuse Party and no longer the party of my parents and my family who have abandoned the former GOP because the Party has become idotic.

As the rain pelted down a miserable Denby sat upon the Island-life porch looking out at the drenched trees and the downpour in back of the Island-Life offices. Little Adam was sittling there with him.

"So what does it mean to be Chosen every time," Adam asked.

Adam was referring to the annual Tradition of choosing the Island-Life staffer who would cross over into the Other World when the veil between the Worlds was thinnest. Each year there was a game of chance in which the one who drew the shortest straw must cross over into the Infernal Realm for a night. And each year, according to Tradition, Denby always lost.

"Tradition is a hard thing, my friend." Denby said. "It is all that binds us together as a people with Culture and the weight of the Past that makes us what we as a People happen to be. To violate Tradition is a mighty risk for you risk destroying the People."

"Isn't there an end to this sometime?" Adam asked.

"Well, " sighed Denby. "Some say there shall be a Second Coming and the dismal fields of Hell shall be harrowed and all the gates broke open. Then there will be no need for the Crossing."

"Is that day coming soon?"

"Don't hold your breath."

The rain beyond the porch fell with persistant insistance. Fire season was abated and the world was awash.

What about until then? Adam asked.

"Until then each year I am fated to cross over until that day I cough up the obolu and cross that last distance myself and Shiva puts down her foot for me once and for all, ceases her eternal dance, and time comes to an end and I make that last ride on the ferry to the Other Side."

And Little Adam's head, weary from the labors of the day nodded until his chin touched his chest with drousy sleepiness as Nixle alerts continued to arrive on Denby's iPhone.

Yes, the text messages were right: Rain was general all over Norcal. It was falling softly upon the Bay Area and, further westwards, softly falling into the dark waves of LandsEnd. It was falling too upon every part of the lonely graveyards of Colma. It fell covering the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the rain falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

OCTOBER 17, 2021

IT'S A DEADMAN'S PARTY

Here is a charming couple taking their ease after their Weight Watchers meeting.

BOX SET AT THE FREIGHT & SALVAGE

Many are the artists and bands that emerge each year, each deserving a shot at the famous Brass Ring of fame and fortune. Most are cast down after much struggle . Box Set, a band that has grown from a trio to a quad-person band and shrunk to just a duo to grow again to a five-piece has certainly seen its share of ups and downs.

This weekend the Freight and Salvage opened up its own Post-COVID lockdown with the 30th Anniversary of a band that has long eluded "signing" either by design or by the fickle ineptitude of an acknowledged inept Industry of entertainment.

Jeff Pehrson and Jim Brunberg have forged a following of many over 30 years of performance and Saturday night at the sold-out Freight proved they have good reason to hold such a following with a solid performance over two set sets and 120 minutes of excellent music and superb harmonies that this band certainly had demonstrated it has solid "legs". They performed a number of old favorites along with brand new music, showing that this band has the chops and the staying power over bands that are far slimmer in depth.

At the end of an incendiary performance the standing ovation and the repeated calls for an annual return were a testament to this band's extraordinary sonic achievements.

The band has long been considered an underdog in the signing arena for reasons that are difficult to analyze. Their lyrics range from the problems of being on the road to longing for home and difficult endings to romantic relationships. In one song Jim Brunberg describes taking an ax to a bicycle owned by the ex, who had run off with a cocaine dealer. "It was that or hours of therapy, "explained Brunberg about the true story.

Whatever you do, do not offend a song writer

Saturday's performance before the packed house at the Freight led to two standing ovations. Not a small accomplishment in the Bay Area.

DEAL

So anyway. COVID notwithstanding that old sun had done its great revolve and once again it was come time for the annual Island-Life Drawing of Straws for the candidate who was like to transit between the worlds when the veil between the worlds is thinnest and so return with news of important content.

Before that time the Editor holds the Traditional Drawing of Straws which determines who shall traverse on that awful day from the world of the Living to that of the Dead on the last day of El Dias de los Muertos.

So anyway. She made arrangements down the hall with Carol to have Henry cared for and then packed her overnight bag and set her traveling hat upon her head and stepped out into the hallway of the St. Charles Home for Wayward Souls and Demented Managers and locked her door, knowing that locked doors in that place had no special significance among the nest of thieves and lockpickers that inhabited the building. Nevertheless, one must put on a show of defiance.

From the front doors of the St. Charles Infirmary, Rachel walked down in the early afternoon to the bus stop on Central to catch the last bus heading out to the Ferry Landing. There, she waited an half hour until the ferry came to deliver her to San Francisco's Ferry Terminal. There she wended her way to the landing that allowed her to board the ferry to Larkspur after some 45 minutes playing Hero Wars on her iPad.

Rachel took the bus from Larkspur that dropped her at the Red Hill Hub and from there took the Point Reyes bus that brought her all the way to Silvan Acres in the San Geronimo Valley

She strolled in to the Offices, dropped her bag and the Annual Drawing of Straws began. By the rules, anyone who draws the shortest straw is commissioned to cross over to the Other Side on the last day of El Dias de Los Muertos, the days when the veil between the worlds is thinnest.

That Rachel is appointed as the Straw-bearer is a matter of Tradition. That the Drawing of Straws occurs in mid-October had been a matter of Tradition these past 20 years. That the end result is always the same, is also a matter of Tradition, but nevertheless, Rachel must make this long journey, leaving behind dear Henry the cat to be cared for by apartment hallmate Carol so as to preserve Tradition.

In the new Island-life offices that were created in the space of a former barn by the labor of Pahrump, Denby, Mancini, and others, the surviving staff gather for the annual ritual.

As in the 20 past years, Rachel walked around with the hat filled with straws and each member of the staff drew so as to determine who shall be the one to cross over to The Other Side, their charge being to inquire about the possible future.

As Rachel walked down the aisles, each staffer drew a straw with great hesitation, sweat beading out on the brow, nervously clutching the straw until it was revealed to be longer yet than any other to that person's great relief. Even Festus was made to draw -- nothing is uglier than an anxious, sweating hamster -- but it had to be done for the sake of Tradition.

Finally it came around to the reluctant Denby, who, as Tradition dictated each year, drew the shortest straw.

"Why must it be me each year," Denby lamented.

"Because you are Chosen," Marlene said. "It's just it is not always to advantage to be Chosen. Okay everybody, tea and coffee and cakes on the verandah!"

And so they all filed out, clapping Denby on the back congratulating him on his good fortune while muttering under breath as they exited the door, "Thank god it is not me, poor sod!"

Mancini put up Rachel for the night with a space heater in one of the better quarantine cabins.

Finally Denby was left alone with the Editor.

"So I guess the infernal train shall arrive on schedule to take me there as usual," Denby said.

"Right you are." The Editor said, huffing on his cigar. "You can see that the way the Pandemic is going we need to know what is going to happen. Are we to suffer a new variant?"

"This organization is entirely too much like health care," Denby said.

The Editor removed his cigar for the first time in a long time. "What the heck do you mean by that?"

"If you are not a licensed professional with the Board you can just Go To Hell," Denby said.

The Editor lit up his stogie. "You have your charge. I expect thorough professionalism and the utmost order of quality response in all efforts."

"Just like health care: you can have all you want, just so long as you pay for it." Denby said. "I think at this point I deserve better compensation."

This was the first time in 22 years anyone had ever demanded anything of the sort at Island-life..

"Who put you up to this approach," said the Editor. "We have had Union reps lurking around here lately. May I remind you that the Union people can talk all they want off the clock and off the property and all other discussion is forbidden.

"I am my own man," Denby said. "But I think 22 years of consecutive passage to the netherworld needs to be looked at. "

"Is Tradition," said the Editor. "You are Chosen and that is that,"

It was late in the day, and the sky, which had been overcast with tumultuous clouds briefly seized up and produced an heaven-sent burst of rain upon the earth as the sun set.

There might be Pandemic and Insurrection, but blessed rain was in the forcast and the end of Fireseason upon us with great relief and the smokes of the North sent up arms of suppliance to that inconstant God that may or may not rule over us. .

Denby walked out onto the porch and breathed in the soft, cold air of rain. Once again he was Chosen for the Crossover as part of Tradition. And rain had returned to the NorCal Earth. Someone asked, "What does this mean to you to be Chosen year after year"?

A Tzadik once said, "It is not always to advantage to be Chosen". But one has no choice. No one ever does.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

OCTOBER 10, 2021

THIS ONE GOES OUT TO THE ONE I LOVE

This was the commute last Friday into the San Geronimo Valley. Fortunately the blaze was confined to just two acres on White Hill. This one was a little too close to home for comfort.

WHAT'S GOING ON

The past 18 months have been incessant rock 'n roll with FQHC's battling pandemic COVID and an epidemic of ignorance fed by lies. We have been in the forefront of the medical fight and so with 12-18 hour days six to seven days a week there has not been much time to devote to Island-Life.

Now that we have not just one but three vaccines out mean that we just might begin to turn the corner on this thing, which after the Delta, Lambda and Mu variants now has over 14 variants in the wild with the Delta appearing to be the most dangerously virulent. Marin is 87% vaccinated with 2 shots, and 91.4% vaccinated with one or two shots. The other Bay area counties hover around 81.5% vaccination. Case rates per 100,000 are well below the State average of 15.1 so the Bay area is loosening up with outdoor and indoor dining, bars open with owners requiring proof of vaccination for service, sports events are filling up the arenas with the Warriors playing to a large crowd last night. Yoshis and Freight and Salvage are presenting acts again.

We just might resume the event calendar again.

As for the mask-wearing, you know you are not the only ones finding it onerous. Here is an anecdote: working afterhours at a big Urgent Care Clinic on the weekend we heard this nurse yelling as she came around the corner, "I AM SO SICK OF WEARING THIS GODDAMN MASK . . . "!

Just as she turned the corner her eyes went wide when she saw me standing there in front of the switch closet. "WHOOPS! SUH SUH SORRYYYYY!"

Spare a thought for the nurses who have really been put through the wringer far worse than any of you people defending imaginary "freedoms" out there. Not to mention the physicians.

LEAD ME ON, LEAD ME ON

So anyway. The Equinox has come and gone. Old Gaia, sitting on the porch of the world begins to tilt her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes turn away from the direct gaze, away from her son, Phoebus Apollo riding in his bright chariot as she sits and rocks ever so slowly in the ticking wicker chair, the folds of the quilted Universe draped across her lap, the rocking becoming the dance of Shiva, the creaking rails marking the ever ceaseless count of time's advance, ticking each second, each century, from the first moment of creation until that rocking chair stops at the moment of that last, terrible, motionless silence.

As Gaia turns her face away from the light, her ravined face gradually cools with measured shadows covering the valleys of her eyes, all the world chilling under the frost that puts all of Nature into a deep sleep, and everything is precisely where it needs to be right at this moment while Phoebus Apollo gallops in his low-rider at an angle to her repose, harder to see in his daily journey, a sort of sideshow to beat all side shows, galloping toward the Solstice time of deepest remove.

Now is the time when the shadows of the afternoon grow long, the days get shorter, and tiny monsters breed and bellow forth from the shadow doorways as the days and the hours tick by to the time when the veil between the Worlds grows thinnest.

During the month of October the Bay Area normally enters a glorious orgiastic celebratory holiday period in which people let go of inhibitions, put on avatars of their imaginations and generally have a good time up to the day and evening of Hallowed W'een.

This year promises to be specially exhuberant due to the long period of denial. This is usually party time and, man, right now we really could use a good party. Jan 6 insurrections, Isis, Taliban in Afganistan. Trumpism, Covid 19, lockdowns, mask mandates, pandemics, the debt ceiling (!!?!!) -- it goes on. We really could use a break.

Martini has returned to his job as sawboy at Veriflo in Richmond. The alloys used to make the long rods cut into blocks that will become high-pressure valves are made in America, so there is little supply-chain problem there. Tipitina and Marsha have returned to their AA jobs in the City and Suan is back at the Crazy Horse taking her clothes off with a pole for support, but wearing a mask. She and Sarah had gotten through the lockdowns by working for Good Vibrations, which the City of Oakland wisely and quickly determined was an Essential Business. Gradually the demand for those little vibrating friends grew in demand.

Hey, all alone and locked down for 18 months? What's a healthy girl gonna do?

Pedro has not stopped going out on the fishing lanes, save that because of unusual temperature conditions crabbing season was affected independent of COVID. And Mrs. Almeida managed to save her chickens from the Night of Shattered Fires caused by the Angry Elf gang so with the subsistence garden her family remained well supplied as well as fully occupied, for when the kids were kept home by the contagion, Mrs. Almeida simply put them to work on the gardens, just like in the Old Country.

The gardens were kept well supplied with recycled water via an ingenious system devised by Martini, who sometimes revisited the Island.

Javier remained continuously employed as a gardener because in Marin gardens are considered to be as inviolable as churches and perhaps even more important. Besides he was of Mexican heritage and therefore his life of less value than some others. In this respect, Marin is no different than the rest of the Country.

Chiton Manioc, seeking to capitalize on the situation, tried to set up "Masking Stations", where a person could obtain a necessary mask, hand sanitizer, and laminations of vaccination cards. Along with, for a fee, official vax cards allowing a person to enter any venue having the requirement. In addition his stations also sold Black Lives Matter t-shirts. Along with this product was a bright red t-shirt that said TRUMP LOST 2021! As a capitalist Chiton had some good ideas. As a pragmatist in today's America, he was wanting.

His booths were vandalized and wrecked by brownshirt groups of Anti-maskers and his Black Lives Matter provoked yet another nasty group in Marin that would have nothing to do with the idea that all people were created equal and liberty and justice for all means just that. Chiton's agents were attacked on the street, vilified in public and his merch burned and destroyed in a sequence of pogroms organized by servants of Steve Bannon.

The night fell and the air cooled from the horrific temps experienced the past weeks. Violent storms are forcast for the middle of the country this coming week and we are scheduled for dry winds, which all fortells an ill will for all. Fire on the one hand and floods on the other.

The Editor sends each employee off to bed and stands in the new offices at Silvanacres looking down at the aisles of desks at what was rebuilt after firey disaster, the Night of Shattered Fires.

Red Flag warnings issued for this troubled night. High winds and dry conditions and Planned Power Shutoffs all around.

The fight shall go on.

Tonight the Nixle alerts are all buzzing with warnings and PGE might renege on its promise not to shut down power. A Red Alert arrives every few hours about high wind warnings.

Water bottles in the car and bags kept packed by the door for Evacuation.

It is the start of Fall in the Bay Area and everyone is on edge, praying for rain. This is life in the Golden State in the year 2021.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2021

SERPENT OF DREAMS

Neighbor sent this one in, afraid they had found a rattlesnake in their pantry. In reality this is an harmless gopher snake.

WHAT'S GOING ON

So here is the beef. Americans, not ever willing to sit on their hands even if action results in general safety and prosperity for all, have unhooked the various restrictions all over the country, resulting in a sharp uptick of COVID positive cases along with hospitalizations and deaths.

The two new variants appear more malicious and injurious than the preceeding strains. And as it turns out the vaccinated need booster shots against the newer virus strains.

California is better off than some other states because the response to the COVID outbreak was more organized and more agressive than in states which allowed anti-virus measures to become politicized.

Because the states have not been roped into a common, standardized approach that makes sense, various foreign nations have restricted travel from the USA due to fears of uncontrolled contagion invading their borders.

The Bay Area has a high vaccination rate due to aggressive non-politicized efforts and a generally well-informed public, but we see an uptick in cases and hospitalizations due to our exposure to visitors from out of State.

Denby, working for a large healthcare consortium that includes Tri-City, Asian-American Health, La Clinica, CHCN, Native American, Lifelong Medical Care, and various municipal governments has noticed the several vaccination pavilions to be working in overdrive with streams of people coming in to get the shot.

In Marin, where many people live their entire lives aloof from the problems that plague the majority elsewhere. people have started to congregate at places like the Iron Springs cafe. Freight and Salvage in the East Bay has opened up again.

In other news Fire Season continues with sporadic outbreaks in Marin, some of which appear to have been caused by Angry Elf activity, which were quickly suppressed.


CALL ME LUCKY

So anyway. They call me Lucky but I don't know why. I aint been lucky since the day you said goodbye.

The pogonip has started to move on in and the days are heavy with morning cloud and the evenings are breezy with a welcome relief from the hot temperatures we have been experiencing. The aftenoon shadows grow long and the autumnal equinox came and went amidst all of our troubles with hardly a notice.

Old Gaia sits on the porch of the Universe with the coverlet of the starry Milky Way spred across her lap to acknowledge the change of the seasons. Time to talk about her tumultuous relationship with Phoebus Appollo carreering across the heavens in his blazing chariot and the sad return of Persephone to her underground domaine.

Baby Boobie lost his election attempt to depose Ronald Handsome from the Governership seat in the Official Treefort for the State of Caligula on the Island, and so the minions of Boobie have returned to their persistent insistence that the Election of 2020 was a total fraud and that Boobie won the election by a landslide (despite all evidence to the contrary) and that Boobie should be the rightful President just as he was selected in the previous election (also garnering a vox populi minority at that time).

Boobie's minions have hitched up their diapers and once again issued a barrage of lawsuits contesting every trivial aspect of the elections and the fourth grade teachers at Longfellow are much put out about the fol de rol caused by the ruckus.

"Fourth grade! Fourth grade! Can we stop this shouting and attend to today's history lesson?" So pleaded Ms. Sanchez at Longfellow while wags on the Right continued to hurl spitballs at their classmates on the Left side of the center aisle.

Life continued apace with the recent heat wave dipping into the cool evening forties and fifties to help ease the pain. Now we move toward the COVID-INTERIM. All this time, for 18 months we have been dealing with the COVID-ONSET period in which we collectively have been dealing with the appearance of a deadly virus pandemic and the subsequent attempts to qwell its affects. We attempted lockdowns and a robust drive to create a vaccine. As we enter the Interim period, we deal with the variants, and the understanding there is vaccine resistance among the populace, and the realization this thing is just not going to go away in the space of a soundbite of news. The Intertim is the grind of the daily and continuous economic and social effects of a contagion that will restructrure our society whether we like it or not. Nobody, Left or Right is going to like what comes out of the Interim Period.

Previous Pandemics had their post-Interim period erased from historical memory by large world events that dwarfed the occasion. The 1918 flu epidemic end was washed out by the elation of the end of World War I.

The Editor stood on the back porch of the Island-Life Offices and considered what was to come. Almost certainly a Recession, guaranteed, stamped and approved by Donald Trump, who set up the conditions to make it happen.

The area out back was sere and dry and the pink ladies that bloomed each year had wilted within a matter of days.

One day posterity will look back and wonder how could we have been so stupid, thought the Editor. How could we have been so possibly stupid?

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

SEPTEMBER 05, 2021

FOXY LADY

[IMAGE]

This image was captured by a Nest Cam looking at part of the back porch. Seems the fox is quite comfortable in a bed that looks like it was intended for use by the cats or dog during the day.

LEAVE THE LIGHT ON

So anyway, Shanah tovah. May the next year bring in better realization of hopes and desires than this past one cursed by the Pest and the interference of imbeciles who still possess far too much power for our own good.

A number of anniversaries are upcoming. Of course everyone remembers where they were on 9/11 and the twentieth anniversary of that terrible attack. But against that let us remember 9/9/21 as the 50th anniversary of the release of John Lennon's remarkable song Imagine.

Randy Handsome was elected by a majority of the sixth graders at Longfellow to be Class President. The Presidential palace happens to be a tree fort set up in a Madrone that sits on the edge of Guilliam Hensy's peach orchard. Bobo (Baby) Boobie always had a dislike for Randy's associates who listened to their moms, never cheated or stole and always got good grades while Bobo always got caught and punished for throwing crabapples at Mrs. Reina's windows and stealing candybars from the 7/11.

It was all unfair. A kid couldn't have no fun around here. That Mrs. Reina was an old wrinkled cow anyhow.

Burt and Hanrahan sniggered and Burt nearly swallowed a booger, which would have been a waste.

Baby Boobie had tried during the first week of January to storm the presidential treefort with his gang of miscreants but had been foiled by the simple expediency of closing the trapdoor entrance and liberal application via a rain of pissy and poopy missiles.

Then Baby got it into his mind to hurl fruit from the neighboring orchard at the open windows of the treehouse to force an eviction, but this attempt at im-peachment proved to be quite costly when Hensy found out and made them -- or their parents -- pay for the destruction of so many peaches.

Hensy wanted the kids to act more like adults when it appears they had only been following by example what supposed adults were doing on the national stage.

This attempt continues yet as of this moment and the future of the California kids hangs in the balance amid this senseless war of slingshot turds and ruined produce.

The sun's savage assault upon the landscape eased with cooling shadows. The animals that owned the crepuscular time started on the move. Small mammals were pursued by the predators which had followed them down from the dry hills to places where they sensed water. This is the time of the fox, of the coyote hunt. All of the fawns and turkeys have vanished; either grown up or eaten.

The Editor walked down the lines of desks in the Offices of Islandlife where some things had returned, uncomfortably, to some kind of new Normal. Plexiglas shields between cubicles. No gathering in the former lunchroom. Rules for restroom Occupancy. Rules for conference room occupancy, a room nobody occupies any more save for the occasional one person who needs to get something done with no one around.

Life had changed and there would be no going back to "Normal". In a few days, the nation will commemorate something that happened on 9/11/2001 which led to widespread, permanent changes in American life. Now we have this disaster, minimized by the Baby Rumps and followers to our detriment.

Will we ever arrive at a comfortable place? The answer is no. There never was a comfortable place, not in 1868, not in 1950, not any time during the Cold War period and certainly not during the Vietnam period. Life has never been at a standstill.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

AUGUST 29. 2021

THE WHEEL

A neighbor got this image of a bobcat snagging squirrel dinner. A number of others moaned the cost of life and offered suggestions on how to "prevent" such distressing displays of nature's cycle. Others, more realistic, commented this is just what happens and the bobcat needs to eat and feed her family.

LEAVE THE LIGHT ON

So anyway. It has been a while. Because idiots hesitated on the vaccine and stupid governors acted, well, stupid on mask mandates, we now move from the Delta variant to the Ypsilon variant, which was inevitable, given the lack of action from people who should be protecting us, the antivaxxer contingent and the anti-masker folks.

Dunphy was coming into the Valero station to get gas as his wagon started gasping on vapors when he saw one of the middle pumps was out of commission and people were jockeying for position at the remaining six pumps. Dunphy pulled in behind a fellow whose BMW sat there blocking two pumps while folks struggled to fill up during a busy time.

The man in the BMW looked slumped over with his chin to his chest and Dunphy became concerned the man had stroked out as he appeared entirely ignorant of the situation at the station. Dunphy got out of his car and rapped on the window of the car. The man rolled down his window and looked up. He had been texting someone on his phone.

Apparently he was not dead or stroked out, and that realization was a brief relief.

"Are you going to move forward?" Dunphy asked.

"Yes, I have already filled my tank," said the man, apparently satisfied that his personal needs had been met. "I am finished with the pump."

"Um, if you are done can you please move forward to clear the pumps for use? You can see there are disabled pumps here and people are . . . ".

"Just drive around and back in," snapped the man, who was named Tscherk. "That's what I always do."

There was an open space 50 feet in front next to the tire inflation area that Denphy normally used for anything involving something other than gassing up. He did not understand why the man had not pulled forward to this spot while so many were inconvenienced.

"Could you just please move forward, man?" Dunphy asked quietly.

"I need to finish what I am doing here," Tscherk snapped.

Dunphy was unused to such patrician self-absorbed attitude, but he needed gas. So he left the station from one entrance and entered from the other 50 feet away but failed to jockey his car into position. His father had foisted a mini-suv upon him before dying as a sort of revenge as Dunphy had always hated any sort of SUV for being too large for the roads and the times. Dunphy banged into one of the guard poles positioned for some odd reason on the far side of the pump lane. Fortunately some people cleared out after seeing the situation was getting precarious, fearing some kind of road rage incident, and so drove down Sir Francis Drake to the next station at the shopping mall to get gas; all because of this self-entitled yahoo blocking a third of the pumps.

This exodus opened up a pump on the far side where Dunphy could drive around and start filling his dry tank.

To his surprise Tscherk opened his window to shout at Dunphy that his bang against the guard pole was comeuppance and that Denphy was all at fault.

Denphy said calmly he had only asked politely for the man to move and was by the man promptly contradicted.

Denphy insisted on his version of the facts.

Tscherk shouted the negative and Denphy insisted that he had only politely requested the man to roll forward.

In response Tscherk shouted "ASSHOLE!" probably because he was unused to being contradicted, and so he drove off in his expensive European sportscar.

Dunphy rubbed off the yellow pole paint when he got home -- apparently the rearview cameras had a blind spot -- and he repeated this story to an acquaintance who said, "Yeah there are a lot of people self-entitled like that in Marin. It's turned the place into something else."

Life at the Household had adjusted to the new norms of the COVID world. The Veriflo factory in Richmond had opened up again, with restrictions, so Martini returned to work as a sawboy. Tipitina also returned to work, also wearing a mask, in the City. Masks were required to ride the ferry and the busses. Suan returned to work at the Crazy Horse where strippers could remove everything -- save for the mask. Same for patrons. There never was kissing allowed anyhow.

The restaurants had all reopened in some manner or form so Pedro had returned to sailing out his fishing boat El Borracho Perdido some time ago.

The Old Same Place Bar had resumed operations with Padraic requiring all patrons to submit proof of vaccination, which did not sit well with some libertarians and Trumpist loyalists, so there were frequent arguments at the door necessitating the liberal use of Padraic's hawthorn shillelagh more than once to calm down recalcitrant individualists.

You can say what you want and do what you do but nothing in the Constitution guarantees the right to scream FIRE! in a crowded movie theatre and smoking is still prohibited most everywhere for damn good reason.

The northern fires send smoke to the Bay Area and every day the sun rises as an orange ball through the murk as entire towns are destroyed. Sunsets are equally as colorful.

The Editor strolls the aisles of the Island-Life offices after yet another impossible day. Trump is no longer directly in power but stupidity and assholism remain rampant throughout the country. The sun set in a bright orange ball through the murk sent out by the Dark Tower of Mordor. We live in dark times of contagion and drought, hurricanes and floods. The world is not a safe place to be right now for anyone.

In the past year so many friends have died. As many as back in 1969 when he lost so many in combat. This time we human beings are engaged in a new war, a war that determines who we are as a people. We need to turn from being soldiers of War to warriors of Mankind.

The old soldier, The Editor, drew down the blinds to the windows and started the evening fans to cool the place from selected windows so as to beat back the accumulated heat from the current heat wave assaulting the Valley. One day the rains will resume again.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 11, 2021

WATER NO GET ENEMY



The West is suffering the worst drought and heat conditions in 1,200 years. The causes appear to be a conflation of natural climate shifts and human-created climate change. This image is of the troubled Oroville dam reservoir.

Text is a reference to Fela Kuti of Nigeria.


WE COMING HARDER EVERY TIME

So anyway. All the gang has been let out of jail and ICU after Javier's last birthday descended, as it usually does, into an atavistic orgy of uncontrolled chaos and savage ultra-violence.

Milch bar me droogies?

Anyway. Javier managed, as usual, to escape entirely unscathed with the help of the Most Interesting Man in the World who arrived with a hovercraft in the nick of time. The MIMITW issued a number of commands laden with his imitable accent to whisk Javier away on the winds. As Fernando Lamas used to say, "When you speak with a person who has an accent then you know you are speaking with someone who speaks one more language than you."

So it goes. When you speak with the Most Interesting Man in the World, you are speaking to someone who has surpassed your life's work, so you need to get jump started my friends. The MIMIW climbed Mount Everest, bench pressed four lovely ladies, stopped the Polynesian Revolution while jumpstarting the one in Nicaragua, written several novels, produced 7 operas and promoted the band known as U2 to promenance. He has also composed three concertos, five symphonies, two operas and rescued the reputations of several pop singers with ghosted material.

His books of collected poems have enthralled women from Columbia to Senegal where he collaborated on projects with Fela Kuti. In this latter effort he achieved mastery over the saxaphone and the keyboards. In his Polynesian effort he found time to master the drums of gamelan.

So what have you done with your life in this time? Stay thirsty my friends.

The Household, which consists of characters considered interesting not so much for exploits, but stupendous errors of judgement and sheer haplessness, has been muddling along in these waning days of COVID. Javier's birthday seems timed to allow Denby's probation hours earned on the previous V-Day in February to have been all used up. Then it is once again hauled before the increasingly irritated Commissioner for another round of Community Service. Some County departments have started to count on Denby's assistance for various DPW projects on a regular basis.

Laterly Denby was consigned to scrubbing a waste-water purification tank, an odiferous job for which it is difficult to obtain volunteers, even from San Quentin. As for Denby, the motto goes "Born to lose and destined to fail."

He was down in the tank when a delegation of officials came by to survey the Works operations amidst the drought and the men stalked with shiny shoes and the women fluttered with feathers of many colors as they passed. Some of the women were clearly note-takers and go-fers in training, sported smart and sharp haircuts, and looked young and fresh and neatly pressed for Politics.

Denby was paired with Nilo Salgado (30 days, Reckless driving, public nuisance). "Don't pay them no mind," Nilo said. "They aint gonna have nothing to do with the likes of us."

The Flat Earth Society of Marin, now combined with sections of the GOP (Greatly Obtuse Party) has continued to hold meetings throughout the Pandemic, with occasional enforced hiatuses when members came down with a sickness all deny is COVID, because COVID is entirely a Liberal conspiracy to rob us of our rights, control our minds and take away our guns.

Flat Earth Society believes the idea that the earth is round is a fiction foisted by the usual Liberals and enforced by the Deep State. In reality, the earth is a flat irregular shape bounded on the corners by cities with the name of Springfield.

This evening, the Society was hosting a Distinguished Speaker who would indicate by his words the level of sane discourse involving the Deep State and Donald J. Trump.

"Ladies and gentlemen, those who have preserved their sacred pronouns, I am honored to welcome our guest speaker from Q-Anon."

"Good evening fellow germs. Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labours left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labours of men that as a result of the labours unfinished of Testew and Cunard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labours of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation is seen to waste and pine waste and pine and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicilline and succedanea in a word I resume and concurrently simultaneously for reasons unknown to shrink and dwindle in spite of the tennis I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown but time will tell to shrink and dwindle I resume Fulham Clapham in a word the dead loss per caput since the death of Bishop Berkeley being to the tune of one inch four ounce per caput approximately by and large more or less to the nearest decimal good measure round figures stark naked in the stockinged feet in Connemara in a word for reasons unknown no matter what matter the facts are there and considering what is more much more grave that in the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Peterman it appears what is more much more grave that in the light the light the light of the labours lost of Steinweg and Peterman that in the plains in the mountains by the seas by the rivers running water running fire the air is the same and then the earth namely the air and then the earth in the great cold the great dark the air and the earth abode of stones in the great cold alas alas in the year of their Lord six hundred and something the air the earth the sea the earth abode of stones in the great deeps the great cold an sea on land and in the air I resume for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis the facts are there but time will tell I resume alas alas on on in short in fine on on abode of stones who can doubt it I resume but not so fast I resume the skull to shrink and waste and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the tennis on on the beard the flames the tears the stones so blue so calm alas alas on on the skull the skull the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the labours abandoned left unfinished graver still abode of stones in a word I resume alas alas abandoned unfinished the skull the skull in Connemara in spite of the tennis the skull alas the stones Cunard tennis... the stones... so calm... Cunard... unfinished..."

The evening descended unfortunately into an atavistic brawl as is characteristic of all Q-Anon sponsored events.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JULY 4, 2021

YEAR OF THE CAT

A lot of people claim to have seen mountain lions around here recently. We know of only one verified sighting; most are of bobcats and lynx's which have a similar coloring but tufting in the ears. Bobcats are as common as raccoons and other animals and so is the lynx. Mountain lions are rarely seen although one was seen around July 4th up high on the San Anselmo ridge. The image above is of a bobcat seen in Fairfax.

Because of the drought killing the grasses, the deer have been coming down to populated areas to feed in watered areas and the predators have been following them.

LAST ONE GOES THE HOPE

So anyway. All Silvan Acres denizens boiled out of their mansions and hovels to view the resurrected Unofficial Non-Incorporated Silvan Acres Independence Day Parade, a name that is bigger than the town itself.

Our parade is better than any other largely because, since we are unincorporated there is no Mayor, no Council and no Assemblyman car draped in bunting to spoil the fun of hurled candies, prancing horses, old jalopies, stiltwalkers, music bands playing on flatbeds, and one very cute and adorable bagpipe player.

And nobody wore a mask.

Even so, although we are blessed in the Valley other places still face the contagion.

This July 4th, with its usual mixture of self-congratulatory jingoism, old fashioned traditions, celebratory familial joy, and BBQ, this time was tinged with a reflective quality of commonality not felt for a long time across the country. This sense of everyone having passed through the fires together in isolation was so quiet, so subdued, that few remarked upon it. Your Q-Anon extremist and your Black Lives Matter cohort will still angrily deny something in common, but that is now. History will tell otherwise. And History is most likely to be on behalf of people struggling for freedom and the simple right to live over conspiracy agigators subsisting on a Big Lie.

The country stands at the brink of a tremendous opportunity for reconciliation even as we continue to battle this Pandemic. We are in an excellent position to restore our international respect in the minds of millions by assisting other parts of the globe now experiencing the devastating third wave in the form of the Coronavirus Delta variant. Even at home there are parts of the Country that are woefully and inexcuseably unvaccinated.

With a vicious drought choking the West there were no fireworks anywhere this year, which gives us all some quiet to reflect each in his and her own way, on the state of our lives and where do we go from here.

And so, the Editor elected this year -- voting is a right you know -- to not have the Parade dissolve in chaos with explosions and Harold flying overhead on a handglider puttling a patriotic banner of stars and stripes as a bowling ball pulled his pants down, and the Presbyterian float packed with strawbales and a mule did not catch on fire, and as the sun set on the quiet San Geronimo Valley no wirens wailed and no body got shot and nobody got stabbed.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JUNE 13, 2021

CALLING ON THE MOON

This shot is of a moonrise in Fairfax, which is a town down the hill from Silvan Acres.

 

ANOTHER DAY OLDER AND DEEPER IN DEBT


So anyway it came around time for Javier's birthday again. Mindful of the violence of years past, all the Bay Area trauma centers stocked up on gauze, painkiller and sutures and assigned additional staffing to the ERs. The EMT's prepped the ambulances and filled their bags with those 5-hour energy shots. All PTO for the local police departments was canceled as everyone braced for the inevitable and probably explosive celebration of Javier's 63rd birthday.

The gang gathered back on the Island at the Parlor 33 1/3 belonging to the Native Sons of the Golden West since Javier's new whereabouts in Silvan Acres had become public knowledge among his enemies and his paramours, two groups that in his case sometimes became conflated.

At 63 one would think Javier had slowed down his rakish ways. Certainly the much younger Jose implored him to do so, but the old man kept his prescription for Viagra alive along with his dissolute reputation.

"Amigo," Javier would say. "You and all of your friends are decent, hardworking, pious testaments to your several devout abueltas. It remains for me to fulfill the stereotype of the passionate Latino and exhalt the Machismo. I could fix you up with someone quite exciting, Jose. Perhaps Carla. Or Roxanne."

"Roxanne of the double-headed broadax? No I think I would rather keep my cojones safe and warm!"

"Eh, well I plan to use my purring engines of delight as long as I can keep them. To be interesting you have to remain interested, as my friend The Most Interesting Man in the World often said."

Ever watchful for trouble, Pahrump, Denby and Martini posted lookout with walkie-talkies in rotation along the only approach to the Marina. That way they would have a good advance warning should any of Javier's ex-girlfriends show up. If the avenging Valkries closed off the exits, they would escape via the water on Wally's boat. In addition, Martini rigged up defensive IED's at strategic locations. There was also a well-placed tiger-trap. To be used only if necessary.

Denby had invited Patrick and Fatou from work, feeling that perhaps the presence of sensible people would result in a calmer celebration this year. Fatou talked about what it was like to be from Africa to little Adam and his eyes grew as large as saucers.

"Ah, madame, vouz et tray jolie adjourdui," Martini said to Fatou who responded, "Are you trying to speak German to me?"

So it came to the late afternoon with the sun setting behind the towers of distant Babylon across the Bay and the boys were having a fine roister with Dos Equis in memory the the Most Interesting Man in the World and tequila and there was a fine chatter and a clatter inside the Parlor of the Native Sons of the Golden West and there was all sorts of Feliz Cumpleanos and even a Pinata tied to the tree and someone had brought along a real mule on loan from the Dickenson Ranch. They did not know what to do with the mule exactly so they each took turns riding it around until it decided that it had enough and so refused to take another step further.

Javier gave it some vodka which it seemed to like and its mood did seem to improve according to some people who knew mules.

The mule's name was Tandoori.

Denby had just come in to be relieved by Pahrump on watch duty when he commented, "What's that odd noise?"

Indeed there was a sort of thrumming in the air and a distant "fwoomp! fwoomp! fwoomp!", getting louder.

"That sounds like a whirlybird," Patrick said.

They went outside and looked up to see an helicopter coming in fast.

"Oh no!" Jose said.

"Pahrump! Run for it!" Denby barked into his walkie-talkie. "Now!"

"What is it?" Fatou said.

"Trouble," Denby said. "Run for your life!"

Just as the chopper arrived overhead and three women carrying swords and other implements of destruction descended Special Forces style headfirst on ropes, the water boiled and women emerged wearing scuba outfits and carrying spearguns.

At the same time a speedboat tore into the marina to ram Mr. Howitzer's replacement yacht, The Indomitable II as that vessel was slowly inching into berth, blocking all possible escape from that direction as the big ship took on water to settle its keel on the bottom. The women aboard the speedboat swarmed the Indomitable, tying up the captain and taking Mr. Howitzer hostage.

"But I hate these people!", Mr. Howitzer said. "They destroyed my first yacht and they are lower income, despicable bottom feeders to boot.

For answer, Angelica slapped him.

"I say!" said Mr. Howitzer. "I shall sue!"

Hiding under an overturned rowboat with Denby Fatou asked who these women were.

Former girlfriends and associates, whispered Denby.

Somewhere something exploded. Then followed an awful lot of screaming.

"Why are they after him?"

"I think they are upset in not being invited to the party," Denby said. "And . . ., uh I think they have other reasons as well."

"This seems a rather extreme response to being snubbed," Fatou said. "What else can they want?"

"They want to either kill him, emasculate him, or get him married," Denby said. Which is all the same thing to Javier."

"I think I can speak as a woman that this approach does not bode well for matrimony." She paused for a moment. "You have very odd friends."

After a few more explosions and screaming -- apparently someone fell into the tiger trap -- the welcome sounds of sirens and police radio replaced the sounds of chaos.

The rowboat shelter was abruptly snatched away and Officer O'Madhauen glowered down upon the two.

"Why the hell are you hiding under a rowboat?"

The Indomitable wallowed in the Marina, rammed by a speedboat. Smoke arose from fires at the Parlor and other places. People lay about groaning with terrible wounds. Jose had been impaled with a spearfish barb. Ambulances were arriving to tend to the wounded. Broken glass and blood lay everywhere.

"Cette lokal est tres romantique n'cest pas?" Denby said.

"Are you trying to speak German to the cop," Fatou said. "Your pronounciation is terrible!"

Later on, after the fires had been tamped down, the wounded removed for treatment, the FBI brought in to examine Martini's tiger trap, most of the wreckage removed and Javier once again having gotten clean away without a scratch, the Editor chewed his cigar to consider the involvement of innocent people like Patrick and Fatou. Both of whom returned home vowing to avoid any celebrations that involved Denby ever again.

The Time of the Virus, the Age of COVID, was coming to an end. All the Bay Area Counties were lifting restrictions next week and a terrible time of illness and of self-denial, which some people feel was worse, will terminate.

There will be other pandemics and other lockdowns coming up, for the relentless drive for profit will combine with the desperate usage of things like "bush meat" to release ever more virulent contagion's.

Looking down the rows of desks with their glowing computer screens in an office about to reopen after the long lockdown, the Editor wondered if we have learned anything, anything at all about the need for self-denial on behalf of the greater good when it comes to it, about the realization that the system for public health in country is broken or nonexistent when it comes with the problem of a pandemic and also in other areas.

He returned to his glass cube, doing all for Company.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MAY 16, 2021

FOXY LADY

This photo was taken by a neighbor using a digital SLR with telephoto lens. It is Spring and all the animal kingdom is awash with animal babies, providing loads of opportunity around here to capture fawns, fox kits, bobcats, coyotes and the occasional skunk. Many of these new families are taking up lodgings in backyards, under porch steps and sometimes on top of the patio table. The neighbors down the Hill were entertained by one solitary bear that took up residence in a tree until animal control and police got him to come down and scamper off.

MAMA SAID

So anyway. Now that the Bay Area has moved tentatively to the Orange Tier in many places eateries like Mama's Royal Cafe have started up again. Mama's always had a form of outdoor service, albeit with recognition that patrons experience the gritty ambiance of urban Broadway rather than the foo foo ferns of Mill Valley, but true Best Bay Beast Bay denizens do not care. Life involves a touch of City soot with your haut cuisine and that is a fact.

Mother's Day took place at Mama's with the surviving Household members in attendance along with friends from the Island.

Everyone who came to Mamas had either been sick with COVID19 or been vaccinated. Marlene was there with little Adam, Ms. Morales, Susan with little Sprocket in a pram, Mrs. Bliss with Mercy from Mill Valley, Marsha Barrows, Mr. and Mrs. Almeida, Pedro the fisherman with his wife, Suan and Sarah were there to commemorate their mothers who had passed away, and so it was quite a jovial group of folks who had known each other for 20 years and who were gathering together after the long season of the COVID lockdowns. Lionel, unable to chase after Jacqueline on account of the salon being closed for COVID, showed up with his mother.

"Is the Pampered Pup closed today?" asked Marlene.

"We closed for about a week and then opened right up -- hot-dogs being the quintessential take-out for sure. Arthur is minding the shop today," Lionel said.

"You still chasing that hairdresser, Lionel?" Mrs. Poole said. Lionel groaned.

"You see her much in church?" Mrs. Poole pursued.

"I do not think Jackie spends much time in church," Lionel said by mistake.

"O lord save us! Back in Baton Rouge a man was best to meet ladies while hearing the Gospel; that way he was sure to get a good 'un. You best not go around jukin'. You not going to find no fine ladies in a bar joint."

"That's the first I heard you speak against dancing," Lionel said. "I know for sure you and daddy went out to barrelhouse to Little Walter and Pinetop. Don't pretend to be a saint. Mother . . .".

"Now now. It's okay if you gots a partner already. That way there be no gambling or funny stuff."

"O mom!"

"Now looka here. There be a fine sister sitting right acrost from you right now. Why don't you . . .".

"Mom I gotta tell you something about Suan. Later."

Listening to this exchange Suan had to cover the lower half of her face. She was about to bust a gizzard trying to keep from laughing.

"Well what is it son? What can't you say right out . . .".

Lionel leaned over and whispered in his mother's ear. "Men don't have what she wants."

"Wha . . ? Ohhhhhh!"

Suan and Marsha redirected conversations by gurgling over the babies in attendance and Mrs. Poole offered the best of Louisiana swamp advice with the understanding that although California in the year 2021 was a vastly different place than the Baton Rouge of Earl K. Long babies remain the same everywhere.

After the babies got properly ooh-ed and aah-ed, and parenting tips got handed around people talked about what they did to get through the lockdown and who died or nearly died. Most of the Household, living in cramped squalor at the old farmhouse in Silvan Acres got terribly sick such that Martini and Pahrump with Denby's help built quarantine sheds out back along with an outhouse and a lime pit to toss the contents of the upchuck buckets.

Piedro and Jesus both had to go to Marin General ICU as they got in a bad way.

"That old Jesus almost didn't rise again," Mrs. Bliss.

"Now we are all vaccinated," Marlene said. Even Adam. Pahrump drove him over on his scooter to get his shots."

"You get sick," Mrs. Almeida asked.

"Nope!" Adam said.

"Adam." Marlene said.

"Well, a little," Adam admitted.

And so it was after the long, hard year, old friends met again glad to see each other's faces at the resumed tradition at Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown.

Others, like Mr. Howitzer, preserved their own traditions such as driving out to Colma with a Mossberg 352 to blast the crows Mr. Howitzer felt desecrated the old family plot that contained the remains of his mother.

So the day settled down as each went to their respective destinations. As Lionel and Mrs. Poole walked to his car and his mother commented, "That Suan is such a fine looking girl." She shook her head. "Such a waste."

"Mother! She is a good friend."

"You need to stop making friends and start makin' me some grandchildren," said Mrs. Poole.

At the Offices, the Editor took out a program that displayed a sepia-toned photograph of a woman with curly hair. "Celebrating the Life of Helen Ann X, March 1, 1923 - October 27, 2019.

Jose came in to drop off the mail from the PO Box and saw the program.

"She was quite an attractive woman in her day," said the Editor.

"My condolences," Jose said.

"It has been said," commented the Editor who put the program in his desk drawer. "Lets get back to work."

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MAY 2, 2021

ZIGGY STARDUST

We promised a friend we would post this video of the Martian helicopter doing a 360. Here it is.


WHAT'S GOIN' ON

Due to the COVID emergency we have all been pretty busy working through the weekends to get people vaccinated and tested, so that is the reason we have not been keeping up with your usual Island-Life requirements.

All of the health-care workers are burning the candles at both ends and it is not unusual to field emails at 10:30pm on Saturday. The current raft of disinformation that remains after the outgoing Administration of Lies and Deception does not help as we struggle to preserve life and health in the face of the worst health crisis since 1918.

In addition to these problematic issues we have the ugly resurgence of racist ideologues and the swelling of xenophobia in our communities.

Staffers of Island-Life have been working night and day around the clock, seven days a week in battle against this terrible pandemic. Recently we have word that Lifer Chris Benjamin of Austin has been released from ICU after three weeks on a ventilator. Chris is some 40 pounds lighter but happy to be recieved back into the arms of his devoted family.

MAY, MAY, THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY

So anyway.

The Island has been handling the COVID lockdowns with its usual stoic perseverance. The buckeyes have been erupting with green spikes and everything is burgeoning into the usual riot of Spring, that most dangerous season even as the dark clouds that lowered upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

May begins the Most Dangerous Season. Yes, Spring is the most dangerous season. Maybe it is different in other places, but here, wise men remain indoors and order pizza for dinner, hunker down by the TV to watch endless reruns of Monster Truck Destruction and Terminator I, II, III and IV. It's safer cuddled there in the dark lit only by the blackout curtain blocked TV set glow.

Bees dive-bombing the clover, hummingbirds bayoneting the jasmine that keeps throwing out punches this way and that while sending wafts of chemical weapons of mass disruption. Army ants on the march in great phalanxes and squirrels conducting reconnaissance forays add to the mayhem, while raccoons begin nightly raids. The daisy bush bursts with yellow ack-ack blooms while the poppies erupt with tiny explosions across the fields. Squadrons of swallows swooping and diving, ducks performing sorties, Canadian geese streaking overhead in formation and then, worst of all, there are the girls in their summer dresses.

Meanwhile, somewhere overhead, flying in stealth mode -- that naked, blindfolded, fat boy keeps firing off at random his erring arrows of wanton mishap, those IEDs (Improvised Erotic Designs), wreaking chaos in a wide swath more terrifying than Sherman's March to the Sea. Squadrons of women and girls swelling with fatal charms stroll on patrol, their smooth lithe legs flashing beneath their uniforms: thin summer dresses, haltertops, daisy-dukes, and god knows what else underneath that armor. If anything. It's all agitprop left to the imagination.

Save us all from Spring's violent terrors.

Observe Johnnie, happy and carefree as a lark, striding with ruddy cheeks and full confidence down San Pablo Avenue. But after him comes Jane, armed with those sharpshooter eyes, that flippy short skirt, and strappy high heels. Now Johnnie is down! His face wan and his appetite poor, his breath coming out in ragged gasps as Jane cradles his head among the wildly blooming, victorious daisies. Right in the heart, poor lad. A goner for sure.

Yes, Spring is the most dangerous Season. And now Denby was captivated by the nurse Mariah with her tatoos and everything besides. Her beautiful eyes glowing in that dark pit. His daydreams featured images of Mariah riding on top of him with her luxurious rope of chestnut hair flying about like a cowgirl riding a rumpus. In short, he was hopelessly smitten and tottally lost. Ah the poor sod.

As usual the Editor has been stocking up on Michelimas' One dish meals so as to remain safely indoors as the errant arrows of Eros go darting about, injuring the innocent and causing mishchief and mayhem everywhere.The Editor was disinclined to suffer misadventures of the heart at 72 and so approached the Season with the discipline of an ex-Marine. As the saying goes, once a Marine always a Marine.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

MARCH 21, 2021

SPRING

This image was taken of a new-born fawn a few hours after coming into this world. Mother was nowhere to be seen. It is typical for new deer moms to go search for food and abstract their scent from the area; new fawns have no scent and so cannot be easily detected by predators. Usually the mom will move the fawn from place to place, typically choosing locations that appear "safe", which might include your own front or back porch. Just take it as a gift and leave the critters alone.


NO MATTER WHAT

So anyway.

Last week, the local Non Compos Mentis chapter of the Loud Boyz met with local chapter of the Flat Earth Society at the rented Native Sons of the Golden West parlor down by the marina. Wally finds both groups quite repellent, but anybody can rent the place and these two groups are among the few inane enough that gathering a number of people inside an enclosed space during a Pandemic does not seem something to avoid. Who else are you going to get to pay good money for meeting hall during times like these?

Bernard Stacheldraht and members of the Loud Boyz have been lately been trumping the story that Baby Booby's dog Twaddles has not died, or if so shall rise again to lead the Nation in trimphant Booby-ism. This story is cited as originating from P-Anon, a cult group that has many things to say about the Deep State and the idea that the world is, in fact, not round but flat and cornered by metaphysical stakepost locations in all cities named Springfield.

Everyone brought their semiautomatic weapons, of course, to demonstrate their rights in this here White America, except Bill Dullerd took some flack for bringing an AK-47 which some of the Boyz found to be unpatriotic.

Advance a week or two and we all saw the Counties clawing up out of the purple tier into the Red and then marching steadily to Orange as the COVID cases continued to decline and the ICU's cleared out. Those who were going to die did so and those who did not stepped out of the isolation wards blinking in the bright sunlight of the new Spring, welcomed back by families and friends to a changed world.

Padraic and Dawn threw open the doors to the Old Same Place and opened out the back where Padraic and members of the Household had prepared a socially distancing open-air patio and so it was that just in time for St. Patrick's Day the Old Same Place bar began slinging Gaelic coffees after an entire year of being closed up tight. As per tradition Suzie was made to wear an embarrassing green miniskirt as she hustled back and forth between the bar and the outside tables. There was even a 20 foot long slab of redwood with a brass rail and stools and officially certified lines feeding back to the inside so as to bring the Guinness to outdoor taps and it was like old times again with a cheerful chatter and a clatter from within and from without.

Except Padriac kept going to the front to look up and down the street with an anxious air of expecting someone. The night advanced and the outdoor lights came on and the heat towers created by Mancini warmed the people there as the nights remained chilly with frost even as the days advanced past recent rain storms into sunny skies. Then it was members of the Angry Elf gang appeared. Kring and Narita and the Cackler and others besides - Tarpey and Lyons and Gregory and Humphrey Chimpden Evermore, the four of them and roar of them, and none of them wearing masks as per house rules.

O do tell me all! Tell me, tell me, tell me all.

O I will tell you how it was that night that terrible night. You will die when you hear. When the old Narita farted and then you know.

Yes, yes I know. Go on. Hike up your sleeves and loosen up your talktapes and don't be dabbling.

Alright then. Padraic confronted the awful old crew of reppes, saying "No mask no service!"

"We are not here for service! We are not servants," said the leader of the day, Kring, and O he was sinistrous. And the cut of him! And the strut of him! How he held his head up as high as Tamalpais with a hump of grandeur on him like a walking weasel rat. And it was not revealed all their sinistrous plans until later that eventful evening.

Tarpey yanked on the hem of Suzie's miniskirt, causing it to go askew and some of the drinks on her tray spilled.

"Hey!"

The Cackler did what he does to terrorize people.

The Angry Elf gang is so named because its ringleader, living in the Gold Coast, is diminutive of stature and endowed with a furious temper that expresses itself in large acts of destruction at times. His group practices extortion, blackmail, credit card fraud, and basic strong-arm threats along with selective arson that often features car and dumpster fires.

Padraic demanded the crew leave. And in response, the various members lounged about as if they were waiting for something.

"We are wantin' nay trouble here".

The Cackler laughed his distinctive laugh and all else were silent.

Padraic turned away and was facing the back where the lines came in when Dawn said to him urgently, "He is here again!"

"Och, begorrah!, " Padraic said as he turned.

And there he was. As small as Life standing all of three feet tall in his boots, the Wee man in his tall hat, his green waistcoat, and his buckled shoes and his merry beard.

"We have some troubles here," Padraic said.

"So I see," said the Wee Man. "Here is a drinking establishment and quite a few have no cruiskeen luin before them. And they seem to have forgotten this is a masked ball. Well then!

The Wee man clapped his hands and as the lights blinked out then on, a tall glass appeared before each of the gang members. Along with a golden mask that sat there on the table.

"Since you believe wearing a mask is a matter of personal choice I place one before each one of you to make your decision according to selfishness or to communal safety." Said the Wee Man.

"I aint gonna fall for that and we are glad you fell into our trap. You done embarrassed the Angry Elf in the past and we cannot let these actions go unpunished. Go for it guys!"

Then their trap was revealed. They had come to the bar not to enjoy Life and celebrate the ending of the long quarantine, but to exact revenge.

Tarpey placed what looked like a golden coin on a spot upon the floor.

"Gold!" said the Wee Man and he made a motion to go for this coin.

"No!", said Eugene Gallipagus, who had often been plagued during high school on account of his name. "Let me bring it to you; I think this is a trap!"

And as Eugene roughly shoved the Wee man aside, stepped over to the coin and a trapdoor opened and he fell through, screaming.

Next, Tarpey, Lyons and Gregory attempted to wrestle a substantial iron cage through the front door but were foiled when the Wee Man caused the door entrance to shrink so that the device could not fit through.

Finally, the evil crew revealed iron pokers they had brought underneath their coats and Kring brought out a 1911 style pistol, all of them surrounding the Wee Man.

"Lead bullets do nothing to me," said the Wee Man.

"Iron, the most common thing, slays leprechauns," said Kring. And the Cackler laughed. "These bullets are tipped with iron; the only substance that can kill leprechauns."

"And so you would commit murder here in this place when your master has stated year after year he would try as he might to avoid killing anyone."

"I am not the master," said Kring. "So I can do what I want. And you are not a person; you are a myth, so this is not murder."

"There are people all around us. Your iron bullets can go far and hurt innocent people."

"No one is innocent in my world," said Kring. "I do not care about these people," he said as Eugene screamed from the pit where he had been impaled on iron spikes. "But that is why we first are going to go at you with these iron staves.

Seeing the crew about to move on the Wee Man, Suzie flung herself upon Kring to bring down his pistol as Padraic brought out his shillelagh and started laying about in earnest while Dawn battered Narita with a pan. The pistol discharged into the floor. Lynette and Susan, seeing their favorite LGBTQ watering hole threatened had learned a thing or two since Stonewall and Lynette tased Tarpey while Susan maced the face of Lyons as the Wee Man dived down to crawl amid the scrambling legs of others. The Man from Minot tackled Gregory and the two went down like a ton of bricks. Others took part in the brawl that degenerated into a savage atavistic orgy of violent chair smashing and table jumping until the Wee Man leapt up onto a stool to raise his hands.

The flashing lights of Officer O'Madhauen's cruiser appeared outside as the Wee Man commanded all the members of the evil crew imbibe their beverages before going. Which magically they did and they all filed out the front door and fell down and were all booked on public drunken and disorderly.

"My friends," said the Wee Man. "I have scant time for farewells. May each of you be spending at least an half hour in heaven before the Devil knows you are dead!" And herewith he clapped his hands and the lights went out even as Officers O'Madhauen and Popinjay entered the door.

When the lights came one each and everyone was grasping at their waistbands and some staring down into the space between their belts and their bellies.

"Christ on a bicycle, the sodding pervert had done it again!" Padraic said. "He's turned me knickers into golden threads!"

Suzie ran off to the restroom to change into something she knew from previous years needed to be provisioned.

"Where's the riot?" Officer Popinjay said. "What the hell happened to my boxers?"

That was St. Patrick's day this year.

At the Island-Life Offices things were considerably more grim. As the Editor closed up shop for the night and the night clicked over to the next day of the new Spring he had news over the transom that in these final days of COVID, just as hope arose above the horizon like a teletubby sun, a dear friend had been put on ventilator and was fighting for his life.

It is 1968 all over again and our buddies are dying because of government stupidity and the complicity of idiots.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

MARCH 01, 2021

PUT ME ON THAT WIND HE RIDES

This image of a kestrel was taken by a neighbor near Lucas Valley. Because of our duties serving healthcare in this time we do not have time to go out and get images for island-life as we used to. So we are grateful for any submitted photos of the Bay Area.

Leave it to John Hiatt to have the best lines featuring a hawk. Google "Before I Go" and crank up the bass. I like my bass loudy. I mean loud-ee. Louder . . . .

PSA: COVID-19 DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGNS

There is an extraordinary amount of disinformation out there about COVID-19. One fact-checker found over 781 outright lies and myths about this disease and the response to it.

Recently someone posted an anti-vaxxer video that purports to come from the UK asking 25 questions the narrator believes need to be answered. The video is cleverly done and the viewer has no idea the mission is to debunk the validity of vaccination until the end. When I protested that this video was loaded with disinformation and the sort of thing that propels people to abandon their senses and do stupid things, the poster insisted the questions need to be asked although it seemed to me the phrasing of the questions were meant to answer themselves with untruths, starting with the myth that there is no COVID pandemic.

All right everyone has the right to ask any question they want. And informed people have the right to provide reasonable answers. Since I work in healthcare the answers are pretty available. Each question begins with the rhetorical "If there is a pandemic." I have summarized most questions because I am a lousy typist

COVID QUESTIONS

1. IF THERE IS A PANDEMIC why don't we hear ambulance sirens . . .

Because most hospital cases are self-admitted or personally transported and many cases are told to stay home due to overcrowding in the ICUs

2. ... why are all the undertakers saying that business is normal with no uptick . . .

In fact it is not. A person just retrieved ashes of a relative saying the coroners and undertakers are swamped. And this answer also relates to five more questions that make false assumptions about what COVID does. Most people do not die, but that does not mean they get off scott free. Many people suffer long term adverse affects or die much later due to organ damage and sepsis caused by the virus which by then has left the system.

3. .. why don't we see lines of people burying their loved ones?

The answer here also relates to the sparse wedding ceremonies; you do not see a lot of those right now either. COVID distance protocols mandate no crowds. It also is the start of an overemphasis upon the mortality index over the debilitating nature of the disease.

4. ... why do all the statistics state the death rate was within normal parameters last year?

Misleading question. See answer to #2. Also note no statistics are quoted. Also due to quarantine, deaths from other causes, including influenza and car crashes are way down.

5. . . . then why have almost all the normal influenza deaths disappeared.

Another misleading question which actually is answered by the answer to #4. If you use your head you will realize #5 answers #4. Staying indoors away from people and wearing a mask protected people from getting the flu.

6, . . . if the 1st lockdown worked, then why are we doing it again?

Because so many people did not believe COVID exists and that lockdown measures do work and so they actively worked to defeat the basic common sense actions that prevent spread of disease. Don't know about the UK but certainly here the simple act of wearing a mask got shunted from common sense health measure to political stunt. Disliking the lockdown and not believing in its efficacy resulted in political pressure to open up too soon and relax measures. So we got alarming spikes in hospitalizations resulting in new lockdowns. Our testing pavilions went from 4% positivity to 30% average positivity rates per day. Some cohorts, especially teens, spiked to 60% positivity rates. Also note that the numbers occur in stages. We see a spike in positivity rates a couple weeks after super-spreader events and certain holidays, then a week after that higher hospitalization rates, followed after another week before death rates rise. Also note most hospitals file MMI reports on a monthly basis per set schedules.

7. ... if the lockdowns did not work why are we doing it again?

See above. Another self-serving question. They did work.

8. ... why does the government listen only to a small ... group of its own experts and not the .... world-wide bodies . . .

Sounds like a UK-specific issue, but I can say that "the government" here was Trump who derided practically ALL experts in epidemiology and disease control including the WHO and his own Dr. Fauci. The questioner also does not list any factual basis or source for his statements.

9. . . . scenes of pandemonium in hospitals on TV

I dont watch TV. I can say the medical institutions in which I work people work professionally, calmly, and efficiently so as not to disturb patients. This does not mean they are not stressed to the max. And infection control wards are offlimits to TV cameras. ICU areas are secluded for a reason, and these are specialized areas with specialized staff operating highly sensitive equipment. Come barging in there like that asshole in the video busting into a hospital waiting room shouting like a maniac and Code silver will have a dogpile of security guards on top of you.


10. . . . why are there thousands of nurses out of work?

Another unattributed statistic. We are hiring up the wazoo like crazy. Of course you do have to be willing to risk your life every day. Because there is a pandemic. Not all nurses want to subject themselves to a disease.

11. . . . if the pandemic started in 2019, then how did all the governments order COVID 19 test kits the year before.

I have no idea from where this "information" comes. I could find nothing online stating this, although i did not exhaustively comb through "781 myths and outright lies about COVID". No one has reported this to Snopes or any other fact-checking agency.

12. . . . if used and discarded masks could be highly contagious, then why do we see thousands of them littering the streets and countryside?

Because people are stupid, careless, and just "going through the motions" and so toss them on the ground with disdain. Hospital waste is handled by special procedures.

13. . . . . why do rules and regulations differ from city to city and country to country?

Best argument for unified single-payer health care I have seen. Standards vary not only city to city but health district to health district. My agency spans four of them all with different rules for distancing, for openings, for testing, for vaccination and for responses to the multi-tier criticality status and it is driving our corporate leadership bonkers.

14. . . . if COVID19 does not affect children then why are the schools . . .

STOP! JUST STOP! It does affect children. They can be carriers and they can die of it.

15. . . . if masks work then why have we not been using them every year . . .

The masks do work in preventing virus spread. I read a peer-reviewed article in JAMA recently that looked at 90 studies going back to the Civil War. All of them indicated the high efficacy of masks. Why do we not use them? See answer to #12. People prefer complacency over safety.

And to answer in advance a few later questions: At my workplace the situation is as follows: All staff facing patients wear multiple masks, plus plastic face shields, plus gowns, nitrile gloves and booties. The distancing recommendations are 6 feet for momentary contact of no more than two minutes. No eating or drinking inside any building. No more than two people per room. Masks to be worn at all times by everyone, including non-patient facing staff. If you are in a room alone with the door closed and remove your mask, no one allowed in that room for four hours.

16. Why have we not seen people keeling over and dying in the streets?

Silly question. The disease is a progressively wasting one. The question focusses like many of the others on the mortality index instead of the debilitating nature of the sickness.

17. ... if crowds of people are to be avoided, then why are supermarkets that can hold hundreds of people open and the corner shop . . . shut?

Might be a UK think. All businesses in NorCal that remained open had to have body counters restricting the numbers of people who are allowed to enter at any one time. The numbers are figured as a percentage of occupancy. Here again we have rules imposed as a form of compromise of convenience against safety. I personally avoided the markets.

18. Why is the government calling positive PCR tests "cases" and not just "a positive result".

This gets into epedemiology and the multiple stats that are tracked. I assure you that you do not want to read the kinds of detail analyses I read each week, but prefer the summary stat of cases as compared against hospitalizations which is divided itself into ICU and critical care. A positive test indicates a potential carrier and therefore a potential spreader. It is a point in time indicator.

19. Why has the BBC and all reliable outlets failed to tell you that the WHO has published an update (12/20/20) saying that the PCR tests are unreliable and should not be used.

Tricky one. The screen shot implies false positives are the problem with PCR tests (there are several kinds at present), however the Harvard Review says false Negatives are the real issue in the swab tests while the blood test is inconclusive because some people who get COVID do not produce detectable antibodies. The truth is NO test is 100% accurate all the time. We use what we have and we go by the numbers. The test is accurate enough that in the thousands (we have tested over 18,000 people since last April) we have a good idea what is out there.

20. If a cough or sneeze droplet can carry over 30 feet then why are we socially distancing only six feet?

This is the first really good question. But it is answered partly in #15. Because if we really did what we are supposed to do, and by we I mean everybody without exception (including all the Loud Boys), the streets would be empty, there would be no traffic, there would be zero contact and all stores without exception would be closed a far more draconian situation than we are comfortable with. Heck people riot because of the minor inconveniences we do suffer. The 6 foot rule was meant for momentary contact; you are not supposed to sit in lounge chairs for hours with your friends for pete's sake.

21. why are you okay with rubbing poison into your skin 10 times a day?

This is about hand sanitizer. The type we use and endorse contains only denatured alcohol and a supportive gel. There used to be a type, which might still be available in the UK, that contained a Triclor chemical known to cause all kinds of nasty stuff. It was only recently banned.

22. Why do we need an experimental DNA-changing vaccine for a disease with a 99.9% recovery rate?

O Lord. Every phrase is disinformation here.
One: The mRNA meds have been researched for years, and they have always shown great promise to cure a lot of things besides COVID style virus diseases; they have never been implemented because the usual process for vetting via research and then the FDA takes many years
Two: None of the mRNA vaccines alter DNA in your cells
Three: The US FDA has authorized the vaccines to be used as an emergency response against a disease that has killed over 20,000,000 people and debilitated a great many more.
Four: From where does this 99.9% recovery rate statistic come?
Five: What do you mean by "recovery"? Is a subsequent BP reading of 210\119 a recovery?

23. If the vaccine works, then why do you still catch and transmit the disease after you get the vaccine?

This is true for a lot of vaccines. You can be a carrier of the virus but the virus cannot hurt you as badly as if you had not a body response developed by the VAX which disables the virus spike protein from allowing invasion of your cells.

24. If you have had the vaccine then why do you still have to wear a mask and socially distance?

The guy has already answered this question with #23. You can still be a carrier and so you wear a mask to protect other people, not yourself. The idea is to reduce the spread until such time everyone, save for the lunatic anti-vaxxers, is protected.

25. How many people do you personally know who have died from COVID and then compare that to the people you personally know who have vaccine damaged family members.

Three of COVID. Another question that places too much emphasis upon mortality index over debilitating consequences.

0 vaccine damaged family members.

. . . It is much easier to fool someone than to convince someone they have been fooled.

I agree.

. . . Turn off your television.

I agree.


ONE DIME BLUES

So anyway. Mr. Twaddle came up too close behind Mr. Blatt who failed to notice this fact when he backed up in traffic on the Nimitz just as Mr. Twaddle mistook his accelerator for his brake. There was a crunch between the Mercedes and the BMW. The two got out of their cars and started shouting at one another while the long line of people waited at the end of a long day at the end of a long week as a long pandemic was winding down as the two exchanged insults and threats of lawsuits.

Of course neither one wore a mask as the spittle flew through the less than six feet of free air between them. These two were of the sort who imagined mask-wearing to be an insipid assault upon their American Freedoms.

Of course also they stood in one of the free lanes blocking traffic there and in an effort to get around the arguing pair, Ms. Grimoire, a school teacher from Longfellow banged into the side of Tom Depuglia's truck and so now all southbound lanes of the Nimitz were blocked. Because Ms. Grimoire was a schoolteacher she could not afford to maintain her 1976 Volvo in the best of condition, and so something blew under the hood, sending up clouds of steam.

"What on earth happened?" Ms. Grimoire exclaimed.

"Looks like a head gasket I reckon," Mr. Depuglia said. And right then, as his dog, a Labrador-poodle mix, jumped down to depress the accelerator in neutral, sending the tach well into the red, there was a small explosion and something burst through the bonnet of his truck like some creature in a Ridley Scott movie.

"Vot de furk!" said DePuglia.

"You got a Ford and that is what they call a con-rod," said Ms. Grimoire. "I seen that before. I think it is real bad. You oughta get your dog outta there. The engine is still tryin' ta run."

Depuglia was enraged. If not for this old biddy he would be sitting down to watch the CPAC Moments of Truth followed by the cage match between Duran and McGregor with a stack of brewskis. He made the mistake of shoving the sextuangenarian school teacher just as Bear came riding up on his 1949 Panhead, splitting lanes as many people are irritated to see.

Bear has remained unchanged over the years. Despite the elegant Syvia's modest attempts to snip here and tuck there. He wears a leather vest over an oil-stained plain white shirt covering to the best of its ability a paunchy belly, torn levis, and one blue and one red sneaker with opposing colored socks. His beard supports a variety of wildlife that has diminished by liberal application of powdered insecticide by Silvia, a waifish woman with a pale yellow Yellen-bob, clean white dress shirt and modest dark slacks over sensible shoes who puts up with Bear parking his motorcycle in the livingroom for whatever relationship benefits Bear might offer.

These are his physical characteristics as a member of the 1%'ers. Some of you may know what this means in terms of Minority of Choice.

In terms of his moral character and general deportment let us report as follows: He came up and saw a brute abusing an elderly woman and so got off his motorcycle after splitting lanes (as many find irritating to see) and he decked Depuglia with a roundhouse punch that latter proved to have given him an hairline fracture of the mandible. He then assisted Ms. Grimoire into her car, before declaring before the stopped multitude, "What the hell is going on?"

Various people clued him in on what had happened and so his determination was to clear the road and clear the situation. Clearing the road involved grabbing the keys from the various individuals and bringing their cars to the shoulder. Clearing the situation turned out to be more interesting.

Quite a number of large fellows joined Bear in dragging Depuglia, Twaddle and Blatt to a shadowed place under the new overpass to High Street. "Okay, " said Bear. "You three will resolve this among yourselves. No time limit. No fishhooks. No eye-gouging. Go to it!"

The result was bloody, atavistic violence under the overpass, replete with shouting and cheering bandsections, which we shall not deign to illuminate here.

While the damaged vehicles awaited towtrucks on the shoulder, traffic resumed and people in the know cheered as they passed.

Bear arranged for transport of Ms. Grimoire's Volvo and herself to her apartment on the Island and gave her a few tips on secondhand replacements. As always, Bear remained a tarnished gentleman.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

FEBRUARY 21, 2021

THE CHICKEN AND THE HAWK

This handsome fellow lives around Fairfax. A lot of people have taken his picture.

SPEAK TO ME, SPEAK TO ME HEART

So anyway. This is the time of my sucky valentine. Live 105 had a weekend of dismal downs regarding the heart. In the time of COVID those that were single as of last March stayed that way with no chances. Those who had been hitched at the time soon drove each other crazy in their Quarantin-o-pods and seperated or else stayed married with hobbies until it was the kids staying home from school that drove them all crazy.

Dodd would have liked to have quarantined away from Mr. Howitzer, who continued to act like Mr. Howitzer, but only worse so. Dodd was ruled an Essential Worker -- by the Greatly Orotund People faction of the Island -- and so had to perform manservant duties at the Superspreader events hosted by Mr. Howitzer in his mansion. Mr. Howitzer did not call his soirees and Unmasked Balls Superspreader events but that is what they became as one after another the hoity toity of the Island contracted the disease. Mrs. Blather lost thirty pounds she definitely could afford to lose, however the deflated skin hung down in flaps, making her look like a creature from a Star Wars movie planet.

Mr. Cribbage hacked and upchucked and cursed the government along with Mr. Burberry, Mr. and Mrs. Pescatore, Ms. Pandora Thighripple, and all the partners of Dewy, Cheathem, and Howe. They had always cursed the government, or the IRS when Conservatives were in power, but never so accompanied with denigrations of liberal conspiracies that involved cooking babies in big vats of boiling blood, and the near certain hope that the prophecies of Q would realize themselves in a grand coup and roundup of all those nasty Liberals cooking this myth about a virus and the need for wearing masks. Even as each and every one filled their toilets with stuff more nasty than Liberal agenda.

"Masie! My bucket behind!" shouted Mr. Blunt.

"Mind if i open the window, Mr. Blunt? It is rather fetid in here," Maisie said. "And it will clear out the viruses."

"There is no virus!" Mr. Blunt shouted as he rolfed and shat, alternatively. "It is a Liberal agenda to take away our rights!"

"Mr. Blunt the Oximeter says your O2 saturation is dropping below 89%. I am going to have to take you over to the hospital to be intubated." Maisie was an experienced RN.

"What in the name of Richard Nixon does that mean?"

"It means you are going to have tubes shoved up your nose and you will be heavily sedated and in addition, you shall not talk so much," Maisie said.

"I say! I say! Q was right! It is all a Liberal Conspiracy! Silence me? Not so much!"

In the meantime, Maisie called for transport of Mr. Blunt, who, although being an asshole, was nevertheless a life under her charge. "Mr. Blunt, you are going now. They are here to take you away."

So anyway some more. Denby imagined he was home free this year from the curse of My Sucky Valentine. All the movie theatres and bars were closed. The Quirkyalones were holding meetings via Zoom. Wierd online cam sites were holding virtual sex sessions between consenting adults -- for a fee, always for a fee -- and there was always the risky bet of San Pablo Avenue where the world's oldest trade continues unabated in the slightest despite this plague. If your life is that desperate and without rules, then your life shall continue so.

So what does Denby do but go out, secure in the assurance that nothing can happen. He gathers his fishing gear and goes out to Bon Tempe lake to fish for bass, having secured a supply of bloodworms. Unfortunately, this is still a time of drought and the lake is far receded with no flowing inlets. The shores are swampy and many areas choked with algae. Not much action was happening close to shore and all the intakes were near dry.

Denby waded out and his Wellies got stuck in what turned out to be quicksand. Quicksand is one of those problems that does not let go of you easily, and you do not come out of that situation bright and sparkling. After some hours Denby dragged himself on shore without his pants or his boots but he did manage to retain his fly rod. For a while he lay gasping on the mucky shore before getting up to stumble back to the parkinglot without his pants or shoes. Another Valentines Day demolished into smithereens.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the Bay Area folks were celebrating Valentine's Day with various degrees of frustration and contentment. On a park bench a disconsolate, naked, fat boy with drooping wings sat with his martial weapons as Melisandre, Marin's one and only live unicorn tried to console him with nuzzles. What was Eros supposed to DO with this quarantine lockdown business? All the Quirkyalones were jubilating in their solitude and their zoom chats. There remained only the large numbers of the Maskless and the Witless who were as deserving of Love as a collection of hyenas on the savannah chasing the ephemeral flag of Q-Anon outside the gates of Dante's Dis.

In the Hospital where Denby worked, there was a corridor with rooms and doorways off to the left. To the right the big meeting rooms yawned in their COVID abandonment. Out of the doorway of one room a blue light spilled, flickering and shimmering with an ultraviolet hum. As Denby passed he would look in to see nurse Maria sitting there with her dog and all the lights turned off, her face illuminated by the computer screen. A little further down a reddish light coated the hall with warmth. There sat Shavia with her dreadlocks and her brown eyes. Turn a corner and a white glow emerged from a room where Amanda sat in silence, no lamp causing this strange effect but simply the purity of the heart of a nurse.

This, thought the Editor as he drew the curtain, is the real fount of Love.

"Look mommy! That man has no pants!" said a child in the parkinglot of Bon Tempe Lake.

A park ranger collared Denby. "Nice hat," said the ranger. "Come along now." Love would have nothing to do with the likes of Denby on this day.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

JANUARY 31, 2021

TAKE THIS JOB AND SHOVE IT

The Grand Lake Theater, designed as a single auditorium theater by Architects Reid Brothers for local businessmen Abraham C. Karski and Louis Kaliski, held its grand opening on March 6, 1926. On August 1, 1929, Abraham C. Karski and Louis Kaliski leased the theater to West Coast Theatres, Inc. for a period of 94 years, 4 months until November 30, 2023. The sign mounted on top of the Grand Lake Theatre is the largest rotary contact sign west of the Mississippi River. It measures 52 feet (15.85m) high by 72 feet (21.95m) wide and consists of 2,800 colored bulbs and was designed by Theodore Wetteland and furnished by Brumfield Electric Sign Co., Inc.

Renaissance Rialto, Inc. in 1980, purchased the theatre after nearly 9 decades of ownership by descendants of the original owners. Renaissance Rialto is owned by Island resident Allen Michaan.


Current owner Michaan is known to use his liberal politics as a guide in managing the Grand Lake. In 2004, he publicly announced that the theater would not enforce the R rating of the political documentary Fahrenheit 9/11. The Grand Lake has also received widespread recognition for Michaan's use of the marquee as a political message board. In outrage at the 2000 presidential election, he posted this message on the high-traffic side of the marquee: "This Is America — Every Vote Should Be Counted" Since then, and with much support from the local community, Michaan has regularly used one side of the theater's marquee to display a timely political message.

The theatre is one of three Grand Dame 1920's theatres in Oakland worth visiting (post COVID) simply to ogle the fantastic interiors, the others being the Fox and the Paramount, both fairly recently (by virtue of their age) restored to extraordinary glory.

COLD FEELINGS

So anyway. The pogonip came in to sock the Bay Area with dense fogbanks to announce the change in seasons, but then we got an atmospheric river pouring in and a few thunderstorms to accompany this event.

The Island Council Officially voted voted 4-1 with Councilman Tony Daysog dissenting to rename the former Jackson Park to Chochenyo Park after the language spoken by the island's original inhabitants, the Ohlone tribe. The language is being revived by surviving members of the tribe.

There has been a lot of this statue removal and renaming going on around the country, starting a good while back after the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others by law enforcement.

Located at 2430 Encinal Ave., the park was initially named Alameda Park by English immigrant Alfred A. Cohen, who developed part of the tract into the Alameda Park Hotel and the Alameda Park housing subdivision. The hotel's garden area was later transformed into the city's first public park. It was renamed after the seventh U.S. president in 1909.

The former Jackson Park was one of four in Alameda named after U.S. presidents, with others named for George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and WIlliam McKinley. Jackson was president from 1829 to 1837 and owned about 300 slaves, according to the city report.

He also signed the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which caused the killing and forced relocation of Native Americans, commonly termed "the Trail of Tears". City leaders said they want to disassociate from the name and build relations with the Lisjan people.

The State orders for lockdown eased for some areas on the 4th of January and so folks have been thronging like mad idiots to the outdoor eateries which have opened up despite the Bay Area remaining in the Purple level for risk. Marin County opened some gyms for limited use as did the Island.

People should be heartened to know that Good Vibrations in Oakland has remained open all the while as it is deemed an Essential Business. It has boarded up windows on account of protest realities and its location in the heart of Oaktown, but it is certainly open for ... uh ... business. Gotta love them sex-positive people. We give them some serious props.

Around the corner in the same district the LGBTQ Community Center is expanding it clinical offerings to the community with a medical clinic focussed initially upon STD testing, but soon to include full clinical services in the building that features the T-mobile store.

On the Island Ms. Sanchez continues to offer zoomed teaching on Emily Dickenson, but has been laboring night and day for vaccinations for herself and her students at Longfellow. The Depuglia Brothers have managed some kind of essential business designation and so they have continued to sow discord and disarray everywhere they go as they bolt and weld with great incompetence at all sites that will later have to rip out their monkeyshines.

Mancini has returned to Veriflo because in Richmond, a factory town, all factory work is essential. What is essential and what is not certainly varies from place to place and without up to recently any federal guidelines every single individual place had the right to enforce its own rules.At times it seems whimsy is the determiner.

Meanwhile the rest of us hunker down in our isolation pods, reading all the books we had put off for years and seeing all the movies on Netflix while trying to keep the children from going feral.

Far off in Washington DC is just now trying to repair some of the damage wrote by a deviant baba lacking all qualities save self-absorption.

Leaden skies yield to darkness and the screams of children kept inside too long yield to the howls and yips of the coyotes. The Editor strolls down the aisles, which have been sparsely populated of late, to his glass cube, where he sits before the pool of light cast by the desklamp. He has had the first injection for the Moderna Vax, and was scheduled for the second next week. One of these days soon we shall get back to something like normal..Yes we will.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JANUARY 17, 2021

INTO THE MYSTIC

This Chagall-like image taken by a Nextdoor neighbor of a recent sunset.

ONE, IN THE NAME OF LOVE

So anyway. Years ago, nearly half a lifetime, Eric sat down beneath the bleachers of the Jefferson High School basketbal court to introduce to Denby two competing ideologies that dealt with the most critical problem set in America. On the one hand you had MLK's idea of an all-accepting society to be arrived at via the process of Love and non-violent insistence on what what right.

On the other hand you had the idea that the White race was the Devil. All change must necessarily include violence and that the way to resolve the inhumane relationship of the Master and Slave was for the slave to shoot the master, for then in the place of a Master and a Slave you would then have one free man.

Denby said why are you telling me this? Why did you pick me?

I picked you at random, Eric said, fifty years ago. Because if one single White man can be redeemed, then that would mean there is a chance for all the rest, that there is hope for the entire race.

The years have passed in a white blur. The ideas of Franz Fanon only now are being considered best practice in psychiatry while his other, more political ideas remain simmering on backburners in black belt basements and cinderblock tenements.

Eric, like many of Denby's early associates, was murdered in Washington DC while Denby was travelling abroad. Now Denby walks the sandy beaches on the western edge of the Country, entirely alone, while his Country goes through a period of several crises featuring health and deep self-evaluation. Many of Denby's former lovers, friends, family are now dead and he walks now as the seasons change with the annual onset of the Pogonip steaming up from the sands to face the West, his back to his Country.

He works each day to help people trying to ameliorate the consequences of 400 years of systemic racism and can only hope the next generations will do something better. He knows he cannot single-handedly eradicate the poison of racism, but he does what he can to reverse the effects. There will always be racists, but there can also be law to govern what they do. And as one kind of Evil departs, the nation and the world waits to see what will become of this experiment in government begun a few hundred years ago.

What next, America? What next?

No more words tonight.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

JANUARY 10, 2021

NEW YEAR

This is the church that sits on the edge of Nicasio.

CRY, THE BELOVED COUNTRY

So anyway, wow. Wow! What an introduction to the new year we had. Hard on the heels of the Russian attacks via Solarwinds and the attacks on healthcare facilities, we had our own local attack that shut down access to our retired EHR systems for the East Bay CHCN heathcare consortium.

Then. Then an insurrection happens in the Nation's Capitol leaving dozens wounded, several dead and our Democracy in question around the world.

It is difficult to devise fiction, or even parody that can compete with events like these.

Nevertheless the old year spun down and collapsed in an exhausted heap as healthcare workers battled a terrible pandemic disease amid a great deal of indifference and ignorance and mis-information and the remains of our government struggled to keep itself afloat amid an ocean of lies and Consensus Reality, which operates by the supposition that if you continue to repeat the same lie over and over again, enough people will come to believe it to make it a defacto Truth. Such was the case with the elections and such has been the case with issues surrounding ourselves.

Time and the Historians will tell what to make of this fiasco, this insult to America created by the projectile vomit of a defeated bully and his hideous allies. Time wlll tell what to make of the end of this Pandemic.

As per Tradition Father Danyluk invited Pastor Nyquist over to the Catholic rectory to discuss matters of theology, social ills, troubles keeping the Flock in order, and to see in the new year while sitting in plush chairs before a roaring fireplace.

They talked about the current and past Popes and various differences, but in the end clinked their glasses together to mark the hidden unity of those who believe certain things in common. The rest is just baroque filligreee. Crosses with adornments and colorful pictorials or not.

In the rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint, Sister Perspicacious came into the room where the fire was become embers and laid blankets upon the snoozing forms of Pastor Nyquist and Father Danyluk, as in years past and so turned out the light as the old year fled into the shadows as the New Year ticked steadily towards the long distant dawn and the two old friends, supposed ideological enemies, snoring within a few feet of one another.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

December 27, 2020

STARRY STARRY NIGHT

The conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter is seen over Sausalito.

JUST A CHANCE FOR BETTER DAYS

It has been quite a year on the Island, my hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay.

The bicycle people had only just begun to enjoy their triumphs in lane re-routing, painting of dedicated lanes, installation of concrete berms when the big COVID hit the entire World, extending its fingers even into insular places like the Island.

Fires raged across the Golden State, which affected many of us here who owned farmstead property going back hundreds of years or who had family that had retired to the foothills of the Sierra. All of us knew friends whose homes were consumed as entire towns were laid waste.

Then came the disease. Pooh-poohed by some because this pandemic was politically and socially inconvenient, the pandemic swelled around the world from its first observation in the US in December of 2019, with the federal government slow to respond until March to acknowledge there was a problem.

Then, on May 25th, while the nation was dealing with local lockdowns due to the pandemic, a young man named George Floyd was brutally murdered while under police custody in Minneapolis, igniting a nationwide rage of protest. Black Lives Matter became a phrase common even here in our Bay Area Bubble.

While the Nation mourned and locked down, to greater and lesser degree depending on the reddishness of the State, and protest raged the Island held its own special course.

The largest impact upon daily Island-Life was the Pandemic. COVID19 quickly divided an easily divided people into two camps: the Maskers and the Anti-maskers.

Mr. Howitzer belonged to the Anti-masker group, formed by an allegiance to the White House Baby Boobie who naysayed and derided masks and the significance of the disease. Some time in June he held a Spring Fling party during which poor Dodd was the only person present who wore a mask and gloves. Dodd had no illusions about the virus and what it could do. Mr. Howitzer invited the usual financial Elites and even included a few rock-ribbed Republicans, most of whom had stepped back from supporting the GOP in view of the bad behavior and foul language erupting daily from the White House. While the Neocons shook bare hands, embraced one another and kissed one another's cheeks all night, Dodd remained behind the hosted wet bar and disappeared towards the end of the affair to emerge for cleanup once the majority of the guests had left around midnight.

Of course during the event Dodd was briefly talked about. Talking about people who are not in a position to defend themselves is a trademark of NeoCons.

"I see the manservant is wearing the Liberal Flag over there," said Mr. Tuckus of Tuckus, Dithering and Quibble, esq.

"Drank the kool-aid, yes," drawled Val Locust.

"I hear the disease is not much worse than the flu. My nephew Barnaby got it and was right as rain after a week of headaches and sniffles."

"Clearly a leftist conspiracy to increase the power of the government over individual rights. Damned Socialists!"

Two weeks after the party fully two-thirds of the guests had come down with COVID19. For a few individuals it was indeed like the flu. For the rest . . . it was not. First the diarrhea. Then the eyes inflamed like burning coals. O2 counts dipped below 89 which is worse than experienced by a mountaineer ascending Everest. The Blathers got put on respirators. Massive amounts of steroids were administered to the entire law firm of Tuckus, Dithering and Quibble. Blood clots in Mr. Stanchion led to DVT requiring Xarelto and in Mr. Tankk, Warfarin. Yes, that stuff which is also used to kill rodents. As the symptoms wore off, leaving quite a few people dozens of pounds lighter, the aftereffects began. Blood pressure readings of 201/119. Toes turned purple. Blood tests indicated liver, spleen, kidney and lung permanent damage from the sepsis caused by the virus.

Then, weeks later, the teeth started falling out of people's heads - COVID attacks the fine capillaries systems that nourish the maxillary regions. Mrs. Cribbage had to have an entire set of dentures made for her at age 42.

As for the Hoi Polloi, Marlene and Andre's Household was not exempted from the ravages of the Pandemic. Packed in to confined spaces in the old rehabilitated farmhouse, the disease quickly raged through the inhabitants much like it does in the poorer communities where people have no place to practice social distancing. Not when six people are sleeping per room. Mancini, Pahrump and Denby built the first quarantine shack for the first victim, Jesus. Martini quickly had one built for himself while still healthy, and then followed one after another shacks for Suan, then Tipitina, then, in May Denby himself, each shack becoming a little more rickety as the Household lost person-power to build them.

Pahrump built himself a dugout lodge of pine and redwood boughs, figuring the old ways were the best and he bathed in the dwindling waters of San Geronimo Creek.

Spring revolved through a very hot summer into the hottest autumn in memory.

On the Island Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez held their self-quarantine up in the 2nd floor apartment on Central Avenue across from the Mastic Center. Mr. Sanchez built a small office to work from home and made another for Mrs. Sanchez so she could continue to give instruction to her Longfellow students remotely. The one benefit here is that this situation allowed the new parents to care for their newborn infant without concern for daycare issues.

Others who have survived the Angry Elf Mafia attacks have bunkered down in their respective abodes, Zooming and Chatting like mad whenever possible and relying on the new system of take-out for diversion.

Some businesses have become quite innovative. Many of you might have enjoyed the Zoom Pizza Webinar, in which the main Zoomer arranges for pizza\sandwiches\Mediterranean food to be delivered during the Webinar. Borg Rubbitsom tried this on behalf of his business A Touch of Wonder, but somehow massage webinars did not go over so well as other subjects. "Now breath deeply with your eyes closed and imagine Brunhilde's fingers pressing . . . here . . . ".

The self-quarantine situation works better for some than for others. The Quirkyalone club has been going gangbusters since self-isolation has been enforced. If you think about it, Zoom and Webchat are the best venues for people who do not want to engage in any risk of icky exchange of bodily fluids. It is all about flirting with no sex ever involved. Just like Freshman college.

Others who are more driven need more direct outlets. Mr. Burby, solid East Ender and eminent Rotarian, found himself at 62, divorced and devoid of prospects in the era of COVID where Huggin' and Kissin' is Prohibited.

So Mr. Burby researched the available options and landed upon one solution that seemed to resolve all of his problems.

On a cold day in December the UPS man dropped off a long box that Mr. Burby quickly brought into the house via the garage. With the shades drawn and inquisitive neighbors rendered dormant, Mr. Burby unpacked what was to be his future wife: Elise, the Realdoll.

The camera pulls back from this scene to reveal the Editor reviewing the detritus of the year's end at his desk with the little lamp sending out such light and warmth as it could.

The train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island and then ricochet its way through the redwoods of Marin's well-matriculated hills and slide over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railheads that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and dripping redwoods to an unknown destination.

That's the way it is around the Bay. Have a great week.

 

 

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