Island Life

Vol. 25 - No. 16Bay Area News and Views since 1998 Sunday November 20, 2022

{Formerly Island-Life}

Current Edition - Year 2022


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 20, 2022

TIME, TIME, TIME

This week's image comes from long-time Island-Lifer Carol Taylor who is kinda good with both charoal pencil as well as paints.

 

NOVEMBER'S GOT HER NAILS DUG IN DEEP

So anyway.

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.

Denby, having recouperated from his annual trip to the Land of the Dead, was back to work at the Hospital, pushing a mop and still mooning after that gorgous nurse with the long hair. Martini and Pahrump stood with Javier in a long line for a couple hours to pickup Thanksgiving fixing's and the turkey at the Valley food bank. When they got back to the Household, which does not participate in the annual 'Shoot, there was all kinds of celebration and jumping up and down. The plan was to brine and then deep fry the two 18 pounders. Towards this end Martini had constructed a scaffold from parts of an old engine hoist and set this contraption over a gravel pad ten feet in diameter. A propane burner made of parts scavenged from camping stoves had four jets fed by propane through a hose from a canister. The hose had come from the Pick-a-Part yard in the East Bay.

The first time Martini fired this thing up to test it, Adam expressed some concern about the integrity of the metal hose.

O the hose can take 800 PSI, Martini said.

There was a pop as the hose came loose at the jets and spurted a troubling jet of flame as it snake around the yard, setting a shrub on fire before Martini could shut off the supply at the canister.

Hose is fine, Martini said. But I'll have to scrounge up a better fitting . . . .

Do that, Adam said from where he had run to put distance between him and the canister.

Now is the time when the long shadows reach out to each one of us in the late afternoons and the air turns chilly, swirling red and brown leaves in circles on the ground. Fairfax streets are vaulted with brilliant red maples and San Geronimo Valley Road becomes as mysterious as an Ent Moot. Night fell through striations of clouds that had been gathering for days without promise of rain and the Editor sits at his desk within the pool of lamplight while beyond hung the curtains of muttering darkness, still doing all as he has for 23 years, all for Company.

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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 gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and redwoods to an unknown destination.

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

NOVEMBER 1, 2022

ALL THE LEAVES WERE FALLING

WAITING ON A TRAIN

So anyway. The straws have been drawn, the Chosen selected, and Rachel returned to her apartment on the Island and dear Henry. In short time Denby must perforce cross over to the Other Side when the veils between the worlds are thinnest.

The days of triple digit temps yielded to reasonable 70's as the nights descended to the forties. Massive spiders appeared on the hedgerows and fences along with crows and bats and shrouded figures with glowing eyes. At the hospital where Denby worked pushing mops and brooms at the early hours, two ofretas appeared with photographs of people who had passed beyond to the Other Place.

The fateful night descended like the contents of an inkwell knocked over by a soused drunkard, black drippings and a terrible mess everywhere..

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 trio of dogs set up the 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 his skull as if poured in molten steel. Just as it had each time 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.

"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 impossible wind.

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

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

"You look careworn. Much more than before. I wonder if these visits are any good for you. Are you taking care of yourself?"

"Ah, well. Is Tradition," Denby said. "There is not much time these days to take care of oneself anyway. Look at all the assholes who take care of themselves first before anybody else."

"You still have no family," Penny said. "That is not good."

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.

"Ah well, there is time . . . ".

"Time, yes, Time. Now Time is much less than before Time began, and you have much less time than that remaining." Pennie said.

"Well, the opportunities ended themselves," Denby said. "It could have been you or someone else. Now Time posts on proud Bolingbroke's proud horse . . . ".

"O fuck that! You always abstracted things to meaningless allusions instead of engaging! Why do you not embrace your truth!"

"Penny, are we having our first argument 20 or more years since you died? Is this what we would have ended up with had you not taken yourself out?"

"You can still hurt me," Penny said. "That enforces the law that I am not yet in the Place of Eternal Happiness. And maybe it is best things did not continue in that other world you still inhabit."

Denby spread his arms, although he could not embrace this phantasm. "Penny, I am sorry."

"In the end it is always the same old story. The guy says he is sorry." Penny said bitterly.

"I suppose men are all just made that way," Denby said.

In answer Penny stamped her foot. "Why cannot you just be perfect!" She then burst into tears.

A tall man with sensitive features appeared. "The perfection in theatre is that it's over the second it's done."

"William," Penny said.

"You get older, and people start passing away. And so if you're lucky - my mom died very young, for instance, and I have friends who died very young - but the point being that, I think if you're awake, you know you're going to pass on. And that the real treasure in life is the long term-relationships that you really value."

Denby realized what was happening. "You are an actor by trade. And now in this existence you can only repeat what has been said."

"My greatest offering is my concept. It isn't my face," William said. He made a series of motions with his arms that the two souls in front of him should embrace for in this way he could employ the actor's gift while avoiding the "ordo Vico di rerecordo", the endless recirculation of Time. .

Penny shook her head, for such a thing was impossible between a shade and a mortal. But she remained there with her arms out as Denby approached and embraced her and there, for the first time in five thousand years of recorded history, a man felt the body of a wraith and she the living warmth of a living human and for no knowing how long they held one another on that dismal beach for who carries a timepiece during times like these. Then, suddenly it was over and Penny evaporated from Denby's arms to once again become a translucent figure as a group of pinafore girls ran shrieking between them across the sands.

William turned to go as the glimmering appeared across the water, signaling the approach of the Ferryman with his eyes that are wheels of fire.

Souls from all along the beach began making their way to the stone jetty.

"I am so thrilled by the privilege of life, and yet at the same time I know that I have to let it go," William said, and so went down to the jetty, taking the obolu from out of his mouth.

Along came a man with a ducktail haircut, shouting, "Great Balls of Fire!" while dancing and playing an electric guitar.

Another man followed behind him, a distinguished looking Black man. Denby asked who he was.

"“I am the me I choose to be.”

A Black woman wearing a sort of naval military uniform came down from upslope and said, "And we aint stopped yet."

Next, a woman dressed in bulky robes and wearing a tiara came down attended by a train of corgis.

"Queen, what say you as our Nation of the United States and all the nations of the world face again our darkest hour?" Denby impulsively asked.

"I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice. But I can do something else. I can give you my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of our brotherhood of nations." And with that she descended to join the multitude of hoi polloi on that infernal skiff approaching the stone landing.

Finally, along with a multitude of other distinguished souls, a woman wearing eagle feathers and buckskin came down.

"What say you Sascheen?" Denby asked.

"I promised myself a long time ago that I would lead an interesting life." And so she departed.

Bevies of children ran this way and that down below along the glimmering beach, their pinafores fluttering like the feathers of birds. They were the silent Chorus for this goat dance of a ceremony, they were the promise of all that might have been and may be still could be, they were the Daughters of the Dust.

The fire of the Ferryman's eyes approached the stone landing.

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 the Southern City of Despair.

While the skiff remained in the process of loading, across the sands came the tolling of the iron bell announcing the end of Los Dias de Los Muertos.

Time for you to go, Penny said. I am sorry we don't have more time during your annual visits to talk. But something happened this time that was different, she said, recalling the impossible embrace. 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, for she had followed him as far as the gates, 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 the three dogs-heads 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 23rd 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 Midterms 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 of the bottle. "But no harm in asking."

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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 gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and redwoods to an unknown destination.

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

 

OCTOBER 23, 2022

LOOK! DOWN THERE! A HAUNTED PLANET IS SPINNING ROUND!

 

THERE'S A HALO 'ROUND THE MOON

So anyway.

Finally after a nearly intolerable season of searing hot weather, overnight the fogs rolled in over the headlands, the daytime temps dropped to something reasonable and everyone started putting away their fans, their window AC, and all of their summer desires. The trees flamed up in magenta and gold while the buckeyes dropped their poisonous fruit.

All the neighbors down the Hill in Fairfax and San Anselmo are putting up the usual seasonal fright displays in this ongoing effort to return to something like normal, although so much time has passed, no one can remember what it was like before acrylic splash guards at the cashier and social distancing. Unlike a bad movie or sitcom series will not no ever go entirely away, just like influenza, which ironically saw a big drop during the period all the sensible people wore masks.

Denby was sitting disconsolate on the porch of the Island-Life offices when Little Adam came to sit down beside him. Snuffles had his gallon jug up on the battered sofa which had been rescued from San Anselmo as a freebie and Pahrump sat there smoking a pipe with god knows what in it. Denby asked the kid how school was going at Lagunitas Elementary and learned that next year Little Adam would be going to that renamed school now called Archie Williams in San Anselmo.

"You mean Drake High School," Denby said.

"Yeah. I dunno why be they renamed the place after so long."

"Stupid White people," Pahrump said. "No special reason as usual. It do nothing for my people; only some peoples egos."

"Who was Archie Williams anyway," Little Adam said.

"He was alright," Pahrump said. "Decent enough to get a school named after him. Plenty of folks like that. Just no reason to rename Drake that way. Does nothing for us coastal Indians and nothing for Drake and nothing really for anyone else. Just a salve to bruised conscience."

"Name don't matter and where you are from don't matter," Denby said. "Study hard and apply yourself," Denby said. "You will come out ahead of where you would have been otherwise."

"So what happened to you," Little Adam said. "Why you got to go to the Other Place every year and why you so stomped on by the Big Folks around here."?

"Little Adam, " Denby said, "This is a lesson in that we do not choose our destiny and in many things we have no choice. Many times most of the world must simply endure what happens to it and what makes us as Peoples is our response to the Inevitable. A foreign power of immense size invades a slavic country. Well this country did not ask to be invaded and partitioned. What can this country do but resist with all its heart. That is what makes that country what it is beyond surrender.

So it is with the course of our Lives. We have no control over what happens to us; what defines our nature is our response to these evil acts. "

"I am not sure i understand," Little Adam said.

"That is okay. You will come to understand, just as the Apache, the Chumash, the Yurok, and the coastal Miwork have." Pahrump said.

Over at the Health Center where Denby works they are saying that COVID will become a seasonable problem and due to variations, require annual vaccination, just like for the flu. No, Bruce Willis will not be able to come in with all his guns blazing and angrily kill off all the bad guys; this situation is not like a Die Hard movie and besides, we understand Bruce has his own problems, big problems, to deal with right now.

Rachel, after the evening Drawing of Straws, arose from the cot in the outlying building COVID quarantine shack and had a cup of coffee with those of the Household who arose early. She then hitched a ride on Pahrump's scooter from the Valley to the San Rafael ferry landing where she bought a scone and some tea before taking the ferry from there to Babylon Terminal. At that terminal Rachel transferred to the Island ferry and so with wind blowing through her hair she arrived at the Island landing from where she took the Express bus across town to the bus stop on Central adjacent to the Senior Citizen's parking lot. It was a short walk up the block to the entrance at St. Charles, where she let herself in and marched up the stairs to her 3rd floor apartment and so opened the door to enter.

"Hello Henry!" Rachel said, as her cat arose langorously from the bed spread and approached her.

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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 gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and redwoods to an unknown destination.

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

 

OCTOBER 16, 2022

IT'S A DEAD MAN'S PARTY

People tend not to decorate so much in the Valley as the houses are spaced too far apart for much trick or treating. Down the Hill in San Anselmo, however, people really get into the spirit of the season.


GOIN' TO A PARTY WHERE NO ONE'S STILL ALIVE

So anyway, it has come 'round to that time of year for an Island-Life Tradition: The Annual Drawing of Straws. On a late afternoon this week, the dance instructor, Rachel, packed her bag, set out instructions for Carole before taking her hat from the hook and walking down the hall to hand over her key to the apartment. With a hug and a goodbye she descended the stairs of the St. Charles Home for Deranged Managers and Former Hippies to the street where she turned sharp left to walk past the Altenheim for Seniors to the bus stop. From there the bus took her to the Ferry Terminal where she got onto the ferry to Babylon. There she crossed over to the pier and awaited the ferry to Larkspur, on which she ate her sandwich of watercress and tuna, before going up on deck to let the crisp sea-salt air blow through her hair as the sun began his descent behind the sleeping breast of Queen Tamalpais.

From the Larkspur Landing, Rachel took the bus to Red Hill and there changed over to the shuttle that runs from San Anselmo to the coast, finallly reaching Silvan Acres in the San Geronimo Valley at dusk, that crepuscular time when things move from the hills down to the valley creeks and the pogonip starts to creep in ghostly strands over the ridges through the haunted trees.

Pahrump collected her on his fire-scarred scooter to bring her to the Household of Marlene and Andre and the new offices in exile of Island-life. There the Editor collected all the staff into the newsroom, all the Island-Lifers living in exile, including Februs the hamster, save no one could find Denby at first.

Where on earth was Denby? He was no in the converted barn that was now the offices. He was not in the restrooms. He was not in any part of the Household living quarters. No one had seen him leave the Valley, for the Editor had posted spies to make sure no staff tried to escape this hallowed Tradition. The Editor sent someone to check the restaurant At Swim-Two Birds, but he was not there nor hiding in the San Geronimo church.

It was Februs, in consultation with the tree squirrels of the area, who located Denby hiding up in the branches of a Monterey Cypress. Unfortunately for Denby, who categorically refused to come down, the Monterey Cypress is considered invasive by the local fire departments and orders to cut them down on behalf of fire control have been extant for some time.

"Come down now, Denby!" shouted the Editor upwards.

"No!" shouted Denby, seeking to avoid Tradition.

"I order you to descend immediately!", shouted the Editor.

"No!"

"You will starve up there!" said the Editor.

"I have granola bars and a sleeping bag and a board on which to rest." Denby said.

"All right then," said the Editor. "I will bring you down." And with that the Editor employed a chain saw borrowed from the fire department to cut down the cypress. And down it went, taking branches and leaves and Denby with it, who landed discomfit in a pile, surrounded by broken tree limbs and shattered timber.

AAAAAhhhhrrrrrg!"

So anyway. There stood the Editor armed with a chainsaw and Denby all messed up in his former treehouse and with tears in his eyes was compelled to march from that spot of destruction into the offices and the Tradition.

Rachel, who had no idea of any of these developments was finishing a cup of green tea with Marsha when Denby came in the door.

"Well I guess we better start," Rachel said. "Now that everyone is here."

The procedings followed the same outline as has been practiced for the past 22 years. Rachel took her hat loaded with straws around the tables at which staff members sat. Marlene and Andre, not members of staff, had supplied a platter of ham and cheese sandwiches which no one touched. Not even the kosher caprese rolls. Each staff member drew a straw from the hat held aloft by the statuesque Rachel. The tension in the room continued to mount as each staffer drew. Each held their straw in trembling hands until Denby was compelled to draw, at which all the staff, save Denby, exhaled sighs of relief. Once again, according to Tradition, Denby had drawn the shortest straw. As he had each time for the past 22 years.

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 that remained after the COVID lockdown.

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.

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

Denby walked out onto the porch and breathed in the dry, cold air of Fall. Once again he was Chosen for the Crossover as part of Tradition. 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. It is like this: no one ever chooses the Blues; the Blues choose you.

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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 gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog and redwoods to an unknown destination.

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

 

OCTOBER 09, 2022

DEER ON THE PARKWAY

This image of an injured buck was taken a while ago down the hill in either San Anselmo or Fairfax. We are seeing a lot of bucks appearing with severe antler and hind leg damage, due to either coyote attacks or being hit by automobiles or buck vs buck contests. Because of the drought, the deer have been coming down from the open space hills in search of water, with apex predators following.

EX MACHINA & WHAT'S GOING ON

The past few months have been rough as we have concerned ourselves with wrapping up a 2-year WAN topology redesign and implementation affecting 51 sites of a Federally Qualified Heath Center. This kind of work is not 9-5, M-F kind of work, let me assure you.

As a consequence it has been difficult to supply you with your weekly Island-Life requirements.

Sorry about that but in the health care world the patient comes first in nearly every decision, whether that decision point is valid or not. Often the decision tree results in bad outcomes, so it is critical for the Team to be alert for these potential misapplication of values that end up endangering the safety of patients and of staff.

You do know that COVID is not going away and that we are likely to live with it -- or not -- for years to come.

SUMMER HAS GONE AND PAST / INNOCENCE WAS NEVER MEANT TO LAST

So anyway. We heard Pastor Rotschue has enjoyed a resurgence after suffering the slings and arrows of slander and verbal ignominy. Good, good. More power to him.

tiny monsters breed in the doorways

Now is the Season when the days fade early and the nights bring on the fogs rolling in to ease the land's misery of heat. Now is the time when the afternoon shadows grow long upon the land even as the morning light delays arrival and the evening grows mysterious and dark earlier and earlier. Dull roars erupt suddenly without warning in the crepuscular times and tiny monsters breed in the doorways of unkempt houses with grounds strewn with the ragged shreds of spiderwebs and midnight howlings.

Ravenous ghouls, brain-eating zombies and bloodsucking vampires will appear in throngs - yep, you guessed it: the midterm elections are coming.

a mixture of dread and of anticipation

We approach with a mixture of dread and of anticipation Los Dia de los Muertos, the Days of the Dead, when the veils between the worlds are thinnest. One day soon, a selected Island-Lifer will perforce travel from this world to the next, propelled by an Infernal Tradition. For each year it is destined that one Island-lifer shall cross over to that land from which no none returns -- save for destined visitors of the like as Dante -- intrepid wanderer into the deepest abyss guided by Virgil, brave Ulysses - one who was never at a loss -- and our man of the Island -- he who assailed for decades because some spread the vile rumour he had insulted the goddess of the hearth, remained true to his immortal soul and so survived many trials.

Everywhere people put out their hallowed decorations, people gather in groups at the sidewalk cafes without masks, people ride the busses and enter establishments without face coverings; people just want to return to some semblance what is imagined as "normal."

Well, with inflation, monkey pox, Trumpism being what it is in terms of denial of reality, the Ukrainian invasion, and a certain Recession, "normal" does not look so achievable in the short or mid-term. It has been said some time ago that a return to "normal" is not possible now, nor ever. Every conversation must start with, "now this is the new reality."

a month-long orgy of fantasy role-playing and hedonistic pleasure

There is an annual Tradition in the Island-Life news room in which Rachel moves through the knots of trembling Lifers with her hat loaded with straws in a sort of game of chance to determine who will go to The Other Place to find and consult the oracle on matters of great import. This drawing will take place next week. In the meantime the Bay Area will enjoy after two years of COVID lockdown party after raucous party in a month-long orgy of fantasy role-playing and hedonistic pleasure featuring its crown jewel of parties, the Hooker's Ball where costumes are optional. Indeed clothing is optional for that one. But how to carry the KY and the little latex pouches? The word, dahling, is accessorize. Vaccinate and accessorize.

doggy version of Buddhist ahimsa

The days remain warm in the eighties, and disturbingly sunny and dry; we sure could use some of that stuff that is now drowning Florida and other places east of here, but it does not look like it is going to happen for yet another year. The nights in the Valley temps are dropping into the forties and the pogonip has returned in force over the hills of Belvedere and Tiburon. Little Adam, Pahrump, Marlene and Adam sit out on the covered porch-deck thing that extends to the left and the right of the front door to enjoy the fresh air and look up at the stars as they gradually appeared following the roseate glow subsiding to the West. Bonkers and Wickiwup, getting on in years with grey muzzles now and less zest for chasing squirrels, having adopted a sort of doggy version of Buddhist ahimsa, dozed on the grey unpainted wooden steps. Johnny Cash was out pursuing what the full moon would reveal in the San Geronimo Valley. The full moon had not appeared as of yet, so the outter arm of the spiral galaxy we call home revealed it self in all its glory.

Marsha was talking about missing the annual fireflies she remembered as a girl in New Jersey before all the horrible things happened that drove her beatup in that beatup stationwagon west to California. "They would come towards the end of summer, if I remember right," Marsha said. "But time has passed and I am not so sure what I remember any more. I do remember that when they appeared, blinking on and off in any old yard for hours, I felt truely happy. And maybe I have not felt so happy ever since."

There was mansions of glory and infernal refineries

Little Adam wanted to know all about New Jersey, for what he knew about the Garden State came from Bruce Springsteen songs, and those songs did not reference anything like fireflies. There was mansions of glory and infernal refineries and souped up hot rods and castle prisons made of steel set on hills. There was racing in the street that was unlike the Oaktown sideshows in their gladiator greatness. Everything in New Jersey had to be bigger than life. Because the Boss said it was so. It all sounded really exciting. New Jersey! The wonderland of the East, Hoboken, the Meadowlands and all.

The truth that Little Adam, thrown from a moving car by his mother's boyfriend, had barely escaped those very things that matched New Jersey's grime in Oaktown, which is certainly no playground for the downtrodden. He had been taken in and adopted by Marlene and Andre and was now living in Marin County, of all places, the most outlandish place on the planet. Still Marin does have Marin City, the Canal district of San Rafael and other places that make BMW drivers nervy, because poor people have to live somewhere.

the Jersey Girl whose face nobody loved

And of course there was the experience of battered Marsha and her reasons for needing to escape with her life so as to preserve it. Marsha, the Jersey Girl whose face nobody loved save the fist of a brute, the determined girl who threw what she had into a station wagon. taking with her the car keys, the shoes of a brute and a whole case of the Blues. The shoes she threw into the Pacific Ocean. The Blues she kept, because nobody chooses the Blues; the Blues choose you.

A sort of fog filled the glade in front of the porch, then, one by one, little winking lights appeared in the cooling darkness. Soon the glade was filled with what looked like fireflies, causing Marsha to jump up and clap her hands. "How is this possible!"

Well it was possible because Martini, the electronics wizard, overheard the whistful longing of Marsha and so started up a fog machine so as to provide a substrate to hold the holographic projection of . . . fireflies; easy enough to do for someone like Martini. In the next episode we will talk about wizards and muggles and other magical things, but for now others inside the house came out to gawk at this illusion of joy.

And so for a time the Household enjoyed fireflies in autumn while the rest of the world churned over missles, nuclear retaliation, mad Russians, hurricanes, and climate change.

"Wow!", said Little Adam.

the coyotes who began to howl their evensong

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

 

JULY 4, 2022

LUCK WILL STILL SMILE UPON US BROTHER UKRANIANS

All over the San Geronimo Valley, and we hear in places inland, the yellow firehydrants have sported new bright blue caps. Must mean something. Like support for a beleagured Democracy far far away but near to the heart.


SANDY THE FIREWORKS ARE HAILING OVER EDEN TONIGHT

The unofficial parade of Silvan Acres took place July 4th. Because we remain defiantly unincorporated, there were no politicians in attendance.

We always begin with an acknowledgment to Fire defence.

Must be over 1000 tig welds to make this thing.

Every parade deserves a Proud Parade Pig.

The party continued at the Dickson Ranch and members of the Household remained to push brooms and clean up the garbage after everyone had had their fun.

Some people like to go out dancing; other people like us have to work.

The Editor bundled his papers and set to work after an hiatus due to health reasons in the various staff assignments. The worst health reasons had to do with death and so these things are always hard for a commander to deal with.

The Editor stepped out onto the back porch and regarded the silent, black night on this July 4. No whizzbangs, no bottlerockets, no illeagal munitions. Only an absolute idiot would think of launching a sparkler in this severe drought with dead trees all around and fire danger at maximum. Such a person would be lynched within minutes.

Perhaps July 4th has always been more than BBQ and sparklers and whizzbangs. As the country confronts its first serious challenge to democracy in the form of a demogogue inciting violent insurrection, we should be thinking about just what the July 4th declaration was all about. So thinks the Editor.

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

 

JUNE 12, 2022

THIEVIN THIEVIN

Scumbag caught on camera before robbing a house.

CELEBRATION DAY

That time of year rolled around again for the most feared event in the entire Bay Area: Javier's birthday.

This time Javier relocated the festivities to Washington Park on the Island. Some said this was to confuse his former girlfriends as to his whereabouts and perhaps avoid ultraviolence this time. Padraic supplied beer barrels and BBQ equipment. Attendees chipped in for the hot dogs, chicken and burgers and all the fixings. Javier brought a couple bottles of Patron, for this year he would turn that magical age about which the Beetles had sung -- 64.

Denby brought his guitar for a few songs and Andre's band The Monkey Spankers setup to play music throughout. They were allowed to play so long as they limited the setlist to two hardcore punk songs per hour as part of extended negotiations. "How about rock-a-billy?" Andre asked, thinking of Social Distortion. Padraic and Javier had no idea what rock-billy was, but it sounded Country so that was fine. Social Distortion does not play rock-a-billy and so Andre was unclear on that avenue as well.

The Monkey Spankers set up and Padraic threw flesh on the BBQ. Seared Poodle had been considered, but hunting Poodles out of Season was frowned upon by the Poodle Hunting Council. The Poodle Eradication Group (PEG) had been lobbying for a year-round hunt without success for some time. Due to the mayhem and wanton destruction that takes place each Poodleshoot, the Council had decided no dice for Open Season -- not for preservation of the detestable breed, but for preservation of property.

On a related note, unbeknownst to Javier and everyone, there was a movement underfoot to shift the annual birthday celebration from populated areas to sites like the Blackrock Desert or the Mohave. Perhaps on top of Mount Shasta would be a good idea, if the uninvited ever brought flame-throwers. The real problem was in deciding what part of the Country would suffer the least damage as a consequence of one of Javier's birthdays. Perhaps a location that was both remote and instructive to idiots needing a lesson in violence, like West Texas or northern Idaho should be selected. As a result the Committee for Relocation of Javier's Birthday (CRJB) remained stuck. Well, stuck in Committee.

But for the longest hours the party continued without interruption. There was not much dancing, as the Monkey Spankers did not do dance music. Or the Blues.

Mangling the original text a bit, Mike Nix of the Monkey Spankers sang, "It's been 64 years and a million tears and look at the mess I'm in / A broken nose and a broken heart / An empty bottle of gin . . . ".

"Jose," Javier was saying. "I think it is time since you are of age, to claim your true Latin heritage of hot blood."

"Oh no," Jose said. "I do not like the way this is going."

Jose, it might be said, was a good, honest, religious, hard-working and decent man who always listened to his Abuelta.

"Jose," Javier continued. "You have heard about the legend of that gabacho Johnny Appleseed, yes? You need to be like him, but instead of trees you must do the women. It is in your nature as a Latin-X man. Un hombre con cojones grande!"

It might also be mentioned here that Javier, from Mexico City, was not exactly a good role model for Jose or for anybody for that matter. He was a man who consorted with the mistresses of narcotrafficantes, with women of loose character, and with other persons of ill repute. He was not a good example. As we shall shortly see.

"But wherever I have gone \ I was sure to find myself there \ You can run all your life \ But not go anywhere," sang Mike Nix.

"I think," began Jose. "That I am not so sure my path is the same as . . .".

There was a loud "CRUMP!" followed by a whistling sound and a sudden geyser of earth and grass in the open area of the park. This was followed by another explosion that detonated closer to the group.

"Good god," said Denby. "They are shelling us with mortars!"

Jose, Pahrump and Suan scrambled into action and racing to the upper baseball diamond part of the terraced park they quickly disabled several ninjas with squirtguns loaded with balsamic vinegar, which did not sit well with faces swaddled with absorbent cloth. The sortie party quickly disabled the mortars with baked potatoes

The group was driven back by others armed with scimitars and morning star flails. The Ninjas held back from killing them fully -- for the moment.

A loud thundering was heard by all and the party looked anxiously at the skies for a reappearance of last year's chinook helicopters. A platoon of women on Harleys roared into the meadow and dismounted armed with bladed weapons and flails.

Sharon swung a double-edged broadaxe at anyone and at random. Samantha made her razor-embedded whip over her head. Felicia hacked at Jose who defended himself by lifting a bar-b-que filled with hot coals and tossing the contents at her. She managed to jab Javier in the side, but she screamed as her clothes caught fire. Everyone else scattered to safety. Denby hid under an overturned rowboat with a work colleague named Kelly whom he had invited, since after last year's contretemps Fatou had categorically refused to attend any more dangerous functions. "This whole affair badly needs organization and a firm hand," Kelly said. "I am going to put Walter on this project right away. Should we survive."

Someone had re-enabled the mortar on the upper terrace which produced another loud "CRUMP!" and the main BBQ pit erupted in flames as the propane tanks exploded.

As the sirens wailed and the injured lay bleeding on the ground, people dispersed and the Harley's rode off without having found the mysteriously disappeared Javier, who had run into the canebrake stand there at the first sign of trouble.

As the islolated fires died, and peace and calm returned to the Island and the surviving members of the Household returned to the San Geronimo Valley, or got treated at Highland Trauma, the sun set on another idyllic day on the idyllic Island that some people imagine to be perfect and composed.

As the group of survivors debarked at the bus stop in Silvan Acres long after dark, someone asked Jose "Why do we keep doing this every year when so many of Javier's ex-girlfriends want to kill him?"

"Birthdays in the Bay Area are a Tradition," Jose said. "You cannot escape them."

The group got the gallon jug and soothed their rattled nerves on the porch.

As the hours of night ticked by, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.


MAY 28, 2022

THEN CAME THE LAST DAYS OF MAY

Memorial Day dragged itself around to the same time of year and Decorations were hung and grill-fests scheduled despite the inflationary prices.

Gas stands at $6.80 for premium around here. And other costs are also through the roof.

The Editor never minds Memorial Day. The comrades he lost long ago are not going to revisit this tormented Earth right now or ever. Thoughts and prayers do nothing to restore what was lost via violence.

Johnny was dear and slight. Raymond was sturdy and lived across the road. Both returned in a box.

The Editor did not attend the yearly celebrations on Decoration Day, nor did he attend the regular gatherings of his command with all the hats and paraphernalia. That was all living in the past, no different than the guy who raved up and down the avenue in rainbow colors, pushing a shopping cart of memory and deploring the loss of the past in the form of the '60's Revolution. The Revolution was just as asshat as the War, costing lives with equal abandon and just as disillusioned while not going anywhere.

On Memorial Day the Editor kept inside, avoiding the stench of BBQ that could only resurrect the smell of charred flesh after a napalm run over a ridge. All the old vets wearing their squadron jackets, their memorial battleship hats were living in the past, no different than the tie-dyed white-haired former hippie wandering the streets of downtown Fairfax, mind blown out by too much LSD. The Editor was irritated by them and their stories. There was nothing about the past he wanted to relive. Nevertheless some nights he still woke up sweating, voice hoarse from yelling in his sleep.

The only segment of that documentary by Ken Burns he watched he saw an actor portraying what had to have been Johnny P getting killed and so Johnny died twice before the Editor turned off the TV.

All of his companions were gone now after the Agent Orange and jammed M-16s were done. Nothing would bring back Raymond or Johnny P. All that was left is a granite wall bearing the weight of 58,281 names (as of 2022). Not Johnny, though; they found out he was underage.

Then came the Balkans. After that, Operation Desert Storm. Now Ukraine. It looks like it would never end.

The Editor poured himself a stiff one over ice. Looked like it was going to be another bad night.

As the clock ticked past midnight, the coyotes howled over the far ridge of San Geronimo Valley.

Just then, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.


MAY 08, 2022


SLEEPY TIME GAL


THE DAY WILL BEGIN LIKE ANY OTHER

So anyway. The title this week refers to a song by Richard Shindell titled "Spring", and if ever there was a time when we all needed a breath of renewal, of resurgence of life, of hope the time is now.

Mother's Day arrived on time this year and so the Household along with adherents all repaired to Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown for the traditional brunch and those who still had mothers among the living brought them along.

Well who were these people? What were their names and their dispositions? Marlene, head of the Household, brought, or was brought by, Little Adam as the sort of surrogate mom for he had been abandoned by his biological mother who died in a crackhouse some time ago. Suan showed up and so did Tipitina, although both had lost their mothers years ago. Jesus managed to get his mama from Mexico to appear because they were all Americans now and fully wanted to participate in the American Traditions. Pahrump appeared with his mother Flying Squirrel from the Pyramid Lake Rez, and Sarah appeared even though she did not know where in Mississippi her mother now lived.
Mancini was there with his mother, a fifth generation San Franciscan.

Mr. Howitzer never attended these celebrations as he always drove out to Colma armed with a 22 long rifle to dispatch the crows hanging around the family plot.

This year the weather was iffy, so the group dominated a big table inside and there was all sorts of catching up and joking and so on because people had not been in contact for so long during the COVID lockdowns.

"You people have no idea about lockdowns," Suan said. "They complain about wearing a mask even when in Shanghai, no one is allowed to leave their apartment, not even for food. Don't talk to me about your abridged 'liberties'!

The table included people from all over the United States as well as long-term Californios. The discussion about abortion rights and a woman's right to determine the use of her own body along with the state of the Economy and Ukraine was spirited and if the leaders of the world would only listen to the Mothers then many problems would be resolved without senseless death.

After the annual Brunch was over, each of the gals and guys seperated with their moms. Pahrump took his mom on his scooter to the Greyhound station. Marlene returned with Little Adam to the Household in the Valley along with Jesus and his mom, who spread out a sleeping bag on the floor. Mancini and his mom took the bus to the Oakland ferry for the return to San Francisco where they both got roaring drunk on tequila at Specs with an old poet named.

The day will begin like any other
Another sunrise in the east
It will reach across and touch you like a lover
It will tease you from a dream

And opening your eyes you will surrender
To the light that fills the room
And the hope that you have carried since September
You will offer up to June

Maybe will be certain
You can take it as a vow
Winter's just the curtain
Spring will take the bow

Looking out your window you will wonder
At the blooming in your yard
And evry opening flower will be a mirror
Of the quickening in your heart

The day will begin like any other
Another sunrise in the east
It will reach across and touch you like a lover
It will tease you from a dream
You won't remember

The day will begin like any other
Another sunrise in the east
It will reach across and touch you like a lover
It will tease you from a dream
You won't remember

Richard Shindell
© BMG Rights Management

Just then, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

MAY 1, 2022

THE LIZARD KING

LIVING IN A DUSTBOWL

We had some late showers last month, but are unlikely to see any more. Marin's reservoirs are nearly full, but the rest of the Golden State is going to see more dry, hard times. The Sierra snowpack, which produces the vast quantity of the State's water for industry and agriculture, is much lower than average.

In a survey at Phillips Station, the Department of Water resources Following a January and February that will enter records as the driest documented in state history, recorded 35 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 16 inches, which is 68 percent of average for this location for March.

Despite March and April rains, surveys done in April found found a shrinking patch of snow that contained only 4% of the location’s average water content. This year’s snowpack is the worst it’s been in seven years and the sixth lowest April measurement in state history.

What this means for homeowners is a continuation of water rationing, and a possible moritorium on new housing developments.

MAY, MAY THE LUSTY MONTH OF MAY

So anyway. With another harsh season of Fire Wars coming up, crews all over Marin are hard at work clearing years of underbrush and cutting trees and tree limbs in danger of bringing down powerlines. Every day and every weekend chainsaws echo across the dells and valleys. Even in unincorporated Silvan Acres which has no co-ordinated sewage system, postal delivery, or street lights. It does have the West Marin Fire District Marshall however, and there, like the incorporated cities further to the east, has orders to clear defensible space 100 feet from the domiciles.

Now this leads to any number of situations potentially unpleasant. If the homeowner does not comply, the Fire Marshal will engage any number of entities to raze every shrub and tree and vine imagined to be out of compliance by a crew of felllows who do not speak a word of English.

The supervisors, whose command of Spanish is usually limited, spread their arms wide and issue the orders "córtalo todo". This means in Spanish, "Cut it all down."

The landowner then pays for what transpires.

Say what you will about people from Mexico and Ecuador, but never say they are lazy. They will chop, saw, and cut with a ferocious will for a solid 8 - 9 hours and they will not stop until a full 8 - 9 hours of industrious hourly labor can be charged.

Mr. Blunt, who could not be bothered to clear out the wisteria overgrowth, returned from work in the City to find his sylvan acres had been converted from a green NorCal domain to one resembing Ojai, but without palm trees and cactus. His neighbors were quite happy as Mr. Blunt was that sort of Marinite who loved to toss lawsuits right and left like a kid tossing Black Cat firecrackers and his property became certainly one that could never support a fire of any type for not one stick was left standing from the ground where pines and redwoods and shrubbery had once sheltered a cool, shaded place and now the merciless sun baked any new attempt of greenery to survive on that full acre lot.

The Household got their marching orders via the Landlord who offered some discounts if the tenants would handle the Fire Marshall. The guy was a typical slumlord -- and if you believe for one second slum lords do not exist in Hippy Dippy Marin, you are living in a fool's paradise -- and so the gang set to with spades and axes and other implements of destruction to clear the place to its boundaries with San Geronimo only to realize that with a no burning order in place they wound up with hella piles of burnable debris and no place to put it.

At the edge of the property they found the owner there had created a practice area for downhill bicycle racers to practice with ramps and chutes and all kinds of crazy stuff. Turned out the owner had been a professional downhill racer and the Household had no knowledge of this aspect of professional sports, but she invited them in for lemonade and they all had a grand time talking about downhill racing which involves speeding down slopes and cliffs and dangerous leaps at tremendous speed and breaking bones and all kinds of cool, crazy stuff and also surviving in Marin and other places where people try to kill you, which the Household certainly knew a lot about and they all seperated with lots of hugs and kissy stuff, but still the Household had no place to put the debris.

So the initial idea was to part it out all over the landscape but that idea did not seem so good, for if it was burn fuel where it was, then it would become burn fuel other places, only distributed.

Then the idea was to bring it out to the ocean and dump it there but then the practicible nature of doing that while evading park rangers plus other objectionable authorities and such got in the way.

Martini made a sort of wood chipper from an old motorcycle engine and a lawnmower and so reduced the volume of the debris somewhat by drinking Red Bull and staying up for several nights in succession, but still there was this problem of heaps of debris, which they all suspected would not gladden the heart of the Fire Marshall.

It turned out that the downhill goddess came to the rescue. She was an icon in bicycle sports throughout Marin where bicycles are as revered as small dogs and perhaps more so, and so she enlisted an legion of bicyclists to carry in smallish parcels carried on trailers the debris from Syvlan Acres up over White's Hill, down through Fairfax, through San Anselmo, all along the Miracle Mile to San Rafael to the Jacoby Street County disposal center. Thousands of bicyclists thronged the streets and at the end of the day all the burnable fuel had been cleared from the Household property and the property owner harumphed over a deal well done and the bicyclists held a fine orgy of feasting at Marla's place in San Geronimo and all of this is perfectly true, so help me Spaghetti Monster God.

And so as the bonfires of the celebration subsided, with proper supervision -- and the Household retired from their labors and the bicyclists retired to their haunts and Marla gave the Household a poster of her standing naked in the desert on a bike as published in Outside Magazine. "I was a lot younger then," Marla said, brushing a whisp of gray hair from her forehead.

You never know who you are going to meet in Marin.

Just then, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

APRIL 17, 2022

YOU SHOULD BE DANCING

A group of blacktail deer were captured romping about in sheer frisky joy the other day.

 

COVID PSA

Briefly at the FQHC consortium we are seeing a spike in cases but a decline in deaths and hospitalizations. Many area are acting as if COVID is entirely over but as a Fully Qualified Health Care org we cannot drop back as we must consider the health of our target populations as primary in focus. Consequently masking is required inside all clinics, no food with meetings, meetings to be kept short and done primarily via Zoom, low room occupancy, persistance of parking lot triage tents, resperatory and other COVID services done outside in tents.

What this looks like going forward. Due to Zeno's paradox of never being able to achieve zero, we can expect annual COVID booster shots along with flu and Pneumonia for all populations across the board. We are unlikely to pursue new lockdowns as they are doing in China, due to economic impact. We will continue to live with this thing -- or not -- for years to come if not forever.

Yes a new pandemic can be expected at any undetermined time, worse or lesser than COVID-19.

For now, do not pretend the Thing is entirely over. A number of Bay Area Counties have reverted from Medium to High alert status due to higher infection rates.

A fourth booster for high-risk individuals is now available and this one covers the variants which have popped up since the last one.

You should use the reporting tool that tracks vaxxing for the CDC. They are not tracking you individually, but looking at the numbers by the millions and the info helps people like Dr. Fauci determine policy.


APRIL IS THE CRUELEST MONTH

So anyway. The buckeyes are spiking out with their savage daggers and small floral explosions are happening all along the byways.

We have entered the Most Dangerous Season.

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 Jonny, 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.

The Editor made his usual annual preparations to deal with the punishing effects of Romance by stocking up on Michelina's frozen dinners, cases of Glenfiddich, and plenty of cold showers. Blackout curtains go up at night and he retreats to the inner sanctums of the house so that no stray light or sound announces that anyone is at home. He will hide out like this for months until deep summer and everyone has safely mated someone else or left town and the leggy Joanne has turned her wandering eye from prospective boudoire partners to postmodern art.

Yes, Spring is the the most dangerous Seaon.

As the weather warms the Editor retreats indoors while Denby moons about the Hospital and only Javier, who enjoys violent excitement and physical danger goes about looking for trouble. As the most Interesting Man in the World once said to Javier, "My friend, to remain interested in Life you must BE interesting yourself."

And so the sun set on NorCal gilding the buckeye spikes before all light eroded from the trees. Marlene and Andre put away the remains of the Pesach seder. COVID restrictions had eased everywhere and so gatherings were permitted. The glass of wine at the end of the table remained untouched and so was decanted back into the jug.

Far far away the cannons and missles rained down on yet another Chosen People. This year in fear and sorrow. Next year in Truth and Justice.

Just then, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

MARCH 13, 2022

PARKING LOT


 

As it turns out there are lots of urban-themed songs that feature parking lots, but not a great deal about the problem of parking in limited areas. Wierd Al Yankovic are you listening? Here is a golden op . . .

WHATS THE BUZZ

Word has it that Marin is doing what all the slope-forehead knuckle-dragging States are not and making it easier to vote, not more difficult.

LEAD ME ON

So anyway. Gas is now $5.48 in the cheapest spots and $6.00 plus in some locations. In the Old Same Place Bar, Padraic prepared for the annual St. Paddy's day celebration. He got Suzi up in a green miniskirt uniform and stocked up on Guiness, which is good for you, and plenty jars of the Water of Life, Usce-que-bah.

In the middle-early hours in stepped old Vladimir Borotkin and all eyes turned to watch him as he walked slowly, balancing on his cane, to the rail at the bar.

Everyone knew his name. Everyone knew from where he had come. Everone knew he owned the cafe\restaurant called the Russian Tearoom over the Hill and downtown. They did not have much information about his family being incarcerated at Spravitelno-trudovoi gulag during the Soviet days. The gulag archapelago was a vast prison system intended to make the population quescent. It was devised by Lenin and further archetected by Stalin. It operated in secret for years until Alexandyr Solsinitsin published a detailed description of the gulag's atrocities.

The Soviet system, once anticipated as a welcome panacea to the worst excesses of Capitalism, quickly was seen by disappointed Western intelligentsia as a nasty piece of inhumane works relying upon a string of satellite faux republics to shelter its oppressed people from information and independence.

The gulag system engulfed hundreds of thousands of Russians, subjected them to years of inhumane abuse and at the end of their tenure, should a citizen survive so long, evicted them from the country. So was Borotkin's fate.

Now he lived in a foreign country as an exile, thrown out by the regimes. And all eyes were upon him.

The post-season games were all college so the overhead projection showed news from CNN. Faux News was not allowed in the Old Same Place and in this space, Barotkin began his monologue. St. Padraic's day celebration was in full swing, but the TV's displayed instead of March Madness sports, the terrible devastation taking place half a world away.

Borotkin sat there staring at the screens. His first name was Anatoly if you want to know. And of course all Russians have a diminuitive as well as a secondary patronymic which the readers of Tolstoy know well So Borotkin's full name was Anatoly Tolysha Diminya Irysa Schostikovich Borotkin. This name is because his great grandmother had blue eyes, which persist in his lineage to this day. And it may be that he has lineage extended back in time to the Ukraine. So!

As he sat watching the news he began to weep.

Members of the Angry Elf gang came in and saw the big Russain crying. They were Cackler, Brian Stinnge, Toshie Yakuza and Hymie Stumpf. The Angry Elf gang members all enjoyed seeing someone someone; they took real pleasure in someone elses tears and so they surrounded Borotkin.

Enjoying the show, eh Ivan? Cackler said before emitting that signature sound which had given him his nickname.

So, um, sad many Russia die before Mister Putin gets his way, Floozie said.

Putin zloy chelovek! My ne prosili ob etom! Borotkin said.

Stop speaking German, Brian said and shoved Borotkin. We speak English here. English and Japanese only.

Padraic came over to say, We're wantin no thruhble here.

We're just makin' this Nazi Ivan here feel welcome, said Hymie.

I am here because i am dissident, Borotkin said. Putin threw me out with my family!

Yeah sure. All you Ivans are spies, Brian said.

Lets take him outside and give him an American haircut, Hymie said. The Cackler laughed and grabbed Borotkin.

Padraic went back behind the bar to fetch his shilleleah and the gang produced several switchblades in response.

It was then the door flew open, a cold wind swept in and then . . . HE appeared.

O crickey, Brian said. It's HIM again.

Yes it was he: The Wee Man. All 48 inches of him from his buckled shoes to the top of his green derby. The Wee Man, for it was him, stroked his chinny chin chin and thought and thought.

What did he look like? For a start he wore a twill newsboy cap on a head of bright red hair. Red, too was his full beard and cobalt blue his eyes. He wore a green checked waistcoat which sported a gold chain that went into the side pocket and green checked pants. And on his feet a set of green suede brogans with tassels and toe tips that curled up and about in a merry way. He stood all of three feet in height.

The Wee Man produced a small derringer pistol which he discharged into the ceiling without so much as looking before putting the weapon away into his waistcoat. A bit of faery dust rained down and everyone remained quiet.

As to what the Wee Man really was, besides himself all day, which most of us can claim at nearly the same rate, the matter was open to speculation and never-ending discussion. Some say he came from the Spanish Armada that sank off the coast and others say he was of the legendary Firbolg that harried the ancient Romans loose from the Emerald Isle thousands of years before. Some say despite his stature he was related to the mythic giant Finn ni Cuchulain, Finn McCool, whose body extended the length of Howth, and that his apparent manifest physical size was merely a kind of trick, and some say that he was of the tribe of the Bann Sé that howl about the chimneys at night and cause the tree branches to toss about and wave by way of their long hair as they fly among the trees and so therefore a sort of faery, but with some disreputable attributions, including cigar smoking and farting.

Too bad you used up your single shot, Toshie said, producing a wicked-looking iron tanto. Iron, as one knows from folklore, is fatal to the Wee folk and the ancient Sé who still inhabit the old Gaeltacht.

Spring is coming, said the Wee man. I dearly love Spring and am so glad you brought something for all the cut flowers. With that he leapt up with a mighty bound to stand on a table surrounded by Not-From-Heres. He clapped his hands twice and all the lights went out. They remained out for five seconds and when they came back on, the Wee Man was seen sitting at the bar with a half-empty glass of Guinness. He wiped his moist lips and damp beard and sighed contentedly, Ahhhhh, Guinness is good for ya.

Instead of knives all the members of the gang held lilies and pink ladies. Toshie's tanto had been replaced with a lupine. Padraic's blackthorne stick had been replaced by a bouquet of yellow roses.

Once again the Angry Elf gang had been thwarted. But that was not all. Once again the Wee Man had turned the knickers of all the good people into apparel of spun gold. Which, if you did not know is not exactly the most comfortable material. The knickers of the gang had been changed to thistles and they all left quite suddenly in some discomfort.

Eto kakaya-to shutka. Ya dolzhen skazat' spasibo? Borotkin said staring down with his waistband open.

Of course you can, said the Wee Man. Dobro pozhalovat', my friend. He snapped his fingers and the news channel changed to a Foo Fighters concert. I am sorry magic cannot save your country or the one now being brutalized for it could not save even my own from uncivil war and a time of Troubles. I can only extend my deepest sympathies for what the Russian people are about to suffer and what the invaded are going through now. The Magic comes in the form of small kindnesses . . . here he picked up a lily from the floor where one of the gang had tossed it . . . that bloom like tiny miracles in Spring.

He then snapped his fingers and there was a bright flash and he was gone.

The man's a soddin' pervert, Padraic said. But I am startin' ta like him.

C'mon, lets get those knickers off ya, Dawn said.

You have not said that since the night we was married, Padraic said.

Just then, the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary to echo off of the embankments of the Island breakwaters 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.

MARCH 6, 2022

SHCHE NE VMERLA UKRAYINY, NI SLAVA, NI VOLYA

Furthermore, Trump is an ass.


A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

Usually we satirize public events, both national and international with buffoon comedy. Yes we sometimes get serious as when we did the pieces on teen self-cutting and rape, but normally we aim for the comedic as a way to reveal the buffoons for what they are, from politicians to capitalists.

We have now a situation so serious, so injurious to Humanity, so dangerous to the World, and causing so much pain to so many that we cannot turn this thing into even the Blackest Grande Guigonol Comedy. Tucker Carlson and Trump remain buffoons in the old style. Tired and old in their old jokiness that has been going on for years now. Putin, on the other hand, is a murderous criminal foisting the most dangerous event upon the world since World War II. By invading a sovereign nation and causing so much death and destruction and rattling the nuclear arms sabres, he not only causes wide-spread misery affecting millions, he destablizes the world economy struggling to recover at this point from COVID, his own nation's economy by way of the sanctions, and risks expanding this regional conflict into a global disaster, another WWIII costing a ghastly number of lives.

In the coming days, weeks and months, while a bull-headed man continues to insist on reducing a proud and independent Democracy to rubble, and as this conflict results in family struggles and difficulties in both Russia and the US, we will need to be resolute in purging our own land of dangerous buffoonery in the form of neo-nazi, White Power, fascist movements so that we can face a truely monumental Evil that has arisen in Russia and will soon find like-minded allies to form a new Axis.

This thing is not going to go away in the moment of a sound-bite. We may be living with what hopefully stays a Cold War, but know for certain other nations are going to suffer this invasion thing. Putin is not going to be done with Ukraine. He is too inflated with himself to stop there.

LIFE IS FULL OF DISAPPOINTMENTS, AND I AM FULL OF LIFE

So anyway. Denby got let out of jail by the Commissioner who could not find any fault in his actions the day the homeboys robbed the QuikeeKing restaurant, but he was fined $50 for walking around wearing oversized-suspenders and no underwear, which was not done in that district. The factory foreman girl, Erica, considered him hot property and so would not assist him in the slightest so Denby had some difficulty retrieving his clothes from the laundry and getting back to the sanctuary city of Silvanacres after yet another Sucky Valentines Day.

When he got back to work at the hospital the usual nurse was not there at the greeting station, so he missed flirting with Jennifer of Urgent Care. The nurse there was Tom and he was handsome, but he did not have anything there that interested Denby although Denby liked to call himself Straight but not Narrow.

The new Help-Desk Manager guy had Denby scrubbing the corners of the exam rooms, so he could not get out to see the delightfully tattooed Mariah at the Trust Clinic.

So all in all, the whole V-day thing turned out to be the usual wash. Nobody got anything and nobody got anywhere.

This is true for most Island-Lifers. We are common people and we go to work each day to jobs we do not particularly identify with so as to pay the rent and keep body and soul together. Island-Lifers have to pay the same high gas prices and inflated costs as everyone else. We are just like you. In fact. we are you.

Mr. LeBlanche just finished up at the Red Hill gas station filling his mini-suv gas tank and was shocked at the price, knowing it was soon to get even higher. Mr. Blanche was a French teacher at San Geronimo High.

"A bas cette Mssr. Putain!" Exclaimed Mr. LeBlanche. "A bas Mssr Putain!".

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.

FEBRUARY 20, 2022

I WILL SURVIVE

Actually the photographer reported the hare did in fact get away this time.


MY SUCKY VALENTINE REDEUX

So anyway. For some MLK day is an opportunity for a day off and get all teary-eyed and sentimental about the Civil Rights Movement like that was yesterday. The rest of us dream this dream every day in combat on the streets.

The new has begun and still the old stuff is still around. We still have Inflation. We still have the Trump appealling to the fascist fringes of the far Right along with the more myopic pieces of the once proud GOP. We still have COVID, thanks to the legions of maskless and unvaccinated slope-forehead morons acting as breeding grounds for yet more virus variants.

Harvey Pearvy is a friend of the Cribbages and Mr. Howitzer. He owns a liquor distributor, one of the biggest on the West Coast, and he was of the mind that the mask mandates and vaccination requirements were the most severe limitations on personal civil liberty since Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even worse so.

Harvey dragooned Denby into working on February 12-14th which normally is a time Denby avoids due to past difficulties, but this time around Denby figured work would keep him out of trouble during the dreaded V-day period.

So during his time off from the Hospital, it was Denby's job to fetch liquor from the warehouse, load up the truck and deliver the stuff to groceries and bars in Marin. It was lousy to work during a holiday, but this way Denby got to avoid the charms of the delightful Mariah with the long rope of hair that had enchanted him some time ago.

The Editor's solution to avoiding the allure of the the long-legged Joanne was to each year stock up on scotch and Michelina's one-pot meals and remain sequestered without ever going outside for a few days.

So there, Cupid. Take that.

How can a guy get into trouble pulling stock from a warehouse and delivering to various locations?

As it turned out the foreman was a gal named Erica and she was a short stick of dynamite with short hair, black jeans, black shirt and eyes that were limpid pools of blue so deep Denby felt he could dive in and drown.

She was from someplace in Eastern Europe by her accent and she was a terrible flirt. Denby fell head over heels, never mind Mariah; the American species of male is known for its peculiar ability to fall in love with two or more women at the same time.

"Ah Mister, I see you lifting theeeeze boxes you have theeeze bulges! O! So beeeg!"

So the flustered Denby drops a case and gets 100 proof all over his clothes next to the forklift. Which, by the way, he was not certified or unionized to drive. Mr. Pearvy was like that.

"You cannot go deliver smelling like you are drunk. Put all your clothes in warehouse washer we use for strapping machine."

Denby protested. He could not go around naked.

"There is warehouse overalls in team room next to laundry. Put on."

Yeah right, Denby said.

"I go take mandatory lunch. Bye bye. I think about you with overalls only and no underwears! Bye bye!"

So Denby went down to the washroom where the big industrial washers were, making sure to peak into the team room to make sure the orange overalls hung there first.

So he took off all his clothes and tossed them into a washer and entered the team room to find that the overalls there were either for midgits or for elephantine people.

He could not understand why this was until he remembered that the staff were either diminuitive Filipinas or immense Samoans because that was the kind of staff Mr. Peavey liked to select. He wanted submissives to work the administrative and he wanted massive brutes for the heavy lifting.

The story about how Samoans and large Hawaiians came to dwell in California involves George Sutter and is a long story recounted elsewhere. Suffice it to say that Sutter, a Swiss citizen, brought them here after becoming a Mexican citizen and then gold was discovered on his property. So we have the gold rush, Samoans, Hawaiians, Swiss adventurers, Mexicans and any sort of complicatoins that come into this story which is supposed to be short and simple.

So it was Denby sloughed on a set of overalls that hung on him like a tent and did not conceal his nakedness very well such that he could not exactly continue deliveries for a while.

Now of course was lunchtime and Denby was hungry. Erica had taken off and so had most of the wrecking crew so he was left to his own devices and so found himself outside looking for the lunch-truck. Every warehouse has one that comes around at a certain time to the parkinglot. But since this was an official holiday the truck did not come around so Denby was left to shamble in his oversized outfit down the road to where he remembered there was a taqueria. Soon as Denby came in the door, faintly smelling of liquor in his oversize suit the cashier buzzed the manager.

"Whaddaya wan'", asked the cashier.

The Manager appeared and looked dubiously at Denby wearing his oversized overalls and of course, his hat.

"Uh uno Burrito Grande, carne asada. Black Beans."

"Para esta," said the cashier flatly. She wanted this guy out of there."

"Uh, yeah, para esta."

Now it just so happened that some gangbangin' homeboys came by after robbing the Shane Company distribution warehouse down the street.

"Mane, after pistol-wippin' that mofo hired dick and grabbin' some slag I got a jones for some grub, " Alonzo said. "Let's get some burgers," He had learned most of his communication style from TV specials, which led at times to serious confusion among his mates.

"Skip the burgers," Long Round said. "We gotta skip out quick. Here be a taco joint. In and out fast."

So in busts about four guys with shotguns and hot iron ordering everybody to get the f***k down on the floor. Except for the cook.

While the boys went through the patron's wallets there on the floor Long Round issued his orders. "Uh, three big bowls of them tostada things - extra meat. About four super tacos. Beef. Always beef for everything. Hot sauce, sauer creme, the works. Bags of chips - with the salsa okay? With the goddamned salsa green and red! And what's up with the guy in the big suit on the floor?"

"Uh, uh, uh he jus' come in here. He not one of us, said the cashier."

"That's fine. Open the cash drawer before I blow your fool head off and gimmee all the money."

The gang collected their food, cash, and other valuables and split out the door and Long Round ordered everyone to not raise their heads or get up for 20 minutes.

"You stole all our watches," said one man. "How are we going to know how much time has passed?"

"Just estimate!" Long Round shouted. And the gang roared out of there and were down the road just as PD arrived in screaming squad cars and people started getting off the floor.

Busting in, the belated PD trained all their guns on Denby.

"What's up with this guy," shouted Officer Tantamount, who was kind of cute as a female officer of the force. Short in stature but a stick of explosive when she was riled.

"We do not know who he is," said the cashier. "He just showed up just before the robbery, and he is not one of us."

"Okay mister, you will have to come along with me to the station and answer a few questions."

"But I was just working down the way at the factory and wanted to get something to eat. That is all!"

"Yeah sure," said the officer. "I've heard all kinds of stories."

"Can I at least get my burrito now?"

"No food allowed in the squad car. Put your hands behind your back before I have to kneel on your neck to make you comply."

So it was that Denby spent another V-Day in jail and this time for crimes he did not commit at all. He lay there on the cot and observed that cloud cover had hidden the moon and stars on this night of nights. That lady cop sure was cute. Mean but cute.

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.

 

JANUARY 1, 2022

I WANT TO HEAR THE SCREAM OF THE BUTTERFLY

NOTHING CHANGES ON NEW YEARS EVE

So anyway. This year pass quietly into the next. No big explosions, no fireworks. Father Danyluk invited the Lutheran minister Pastor Nyquist again for a NYE libation in what has become a 21 year tradtion celebrated by both houses of the clergy.

Of course there are other collaborative traditions that lead up to this event. The Catholic parish can scarcely scrape up the vocal talent for an offkey barbershop quartet, let along the stupdendous choruses expected during the holidays, but it can field dollars and field animals for pageants in great numbers. The Lutherans boast quite an impressive, well trained, vocal ensemble they are most willing to loan out in service of the Lord.

As a consequence the annual Xmas Pageant features grand orchestral crescendos and magnificent arias, due substantially to Lutheran contributions in normal times. This year all celebrations were cancelled due to the Pandemic.

In return, Father Danyluk can offer the bounty of the Vatican wine cellar and other benefits. That part was not cancelled.

So it it is that each year Pastor Nyquist repairs to the rectory of Our Lady of Incessant Complaint to indulge in brandy and discussions of things theological of which we poor secular fools can barely imagine the consequences.

This year the two men talked about current events, expecially the effects of COVID upon the Faithful.

The entire Island-Life staff has been knocked down with illness, along with the administrations of both congregations. Everyone has been hard hit right at the start of the year,

It has been a trying year. No one has been spared. No congregation has been spared. For the first time in American history, all churches have been shut down for services. This has never happened before.

So on the final night of the turning of the year, our two clergymen are very conscious of the times and their position in grand events that dwarf the individual. The year for the Golden State has been fraught with drought, fire, disease, and any number of other disasters In the final hours the two men of spirtual conscionce held their final powpow.

Until in the early hours after the fireworks, after the ball had dropped, after all the hoopla, Sister Profundity entered the room to tamp down the fire and lay blankets over the laps of the two snoring there in their easy chairs and so put out all the lights, save for the single flickering electric candle, which could symbolize the faint hope of Salvation, the faint hope of change and anything getting better, or just the faint hope of an angel, or anything besides.

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.

 

DECEMBER 26, 2021

YEAR OF THE CAT

During the past few months of the drought we had a flood of bobcat and mountain lion photos coming over the transome. This was largely due to the predators following their prey down from the hills to the well-watered lawns in the towns.

Here is a bobcat looking out over a fence for any possibilities.


WHATS GOING ON WHATS GOING ON

Due to the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus we are back to selective lockdowns. Because so many people are vax hesitant and also resistant to common-sense preventatives like wearing masks and social distancing, there is a pool of variant breeders who will ensure by their irresponsible actions this thing continues and also continues to produce yet more variants.

The one good outcome from all of this features the Darwin Award actions of a certain group of people in the country who are now dying with higher frequency than folks livining in places gifted with commonsense and higher intelligence.

IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER

So anyway. The skies have gone all dense with high fog and the nights have gotten chill, for Norcal, and with the sun arising late and descending early, we have started to live in the crepuscular atmosphere of darkness from start of day to end.

Last Tuesday was the longest day of the year as the Solstice ticked over on the ancient stone clock and the sun's rays streamed through the portals of Stonehenge. Old Gaia sits there on the rickety porch of the world. Now is the time when Gaia tilts her weathered face creased with valleys, arroyos, hills, deserts, plains, mesas, continents and the liquid seas of her deep dark eyes away from gazing at 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.

Now is when the Goddess walks the cold furrows, morning the temporary loss of her daughter, gone to spend a pomegranate season with the Dark Lord below, and the sere stalks crunch beneath her sandals.

And so we passed through the longest night of the year. All shall be brighter henceforth as each day lengthens gradually minute by minute.

The 25th of December wound up on a convenient Saturday and all the usual suspects showed up on schedule: glittering angels, luminescent deer, fat inflateable red and green Santas, douglas firs bedecked with strands of tinsel and blinking bulbs, and Adam Sandler singing that song for all the kids in the neighborhood without a Xmas tree.

The Household, now fully vaccinated and full of juicy antibodies from contracting the Disease once again enjoyed a tree in a washtub, obtained by Pahrump, Denby and Tipitina from some place unknown. Lord knows they could not have paid much for it as no one has any money since the stimulus funds ran out. Martini again applied his electrical ingenuity by supplying lights in the form of LEDs from discarded circuit boards. Beer tabs and condom wrappers festooned the scraggly branches along with strands of yelllow and green CAT 5 cable. Gold ribbons and other tchotchkes rescued from the dumpster helped fill out the gaps. Topping this magnificence was an armless Barbie doll with pigeon feathers glued to her back.

The weather has been unruly with glorious, thunderous sheets of rain replenishing the parched earth, restoring the reservoirs all over the Bay Area and marching East to restore the Sierra snowpack. A great sigh of relief comes from many people who see the drought coming to an end.

Denby has been arriving at the Hospital where he works in the early hours before dawn as usual to push his mop down the long corridors where nothing sleeps. Nurses, Pa's cross from one room to another in white coats. Doctors wearing silver stethascopes peruse clipboards of information. The MAs type on silent keyboards in front of glowing screens. And back and forth, back and forth across and down the hall pass the Providers to and from rooms of various dramas, various fates.

Denby asks Dr. Rodrigo how many lives he has saved today and the Doctor pauses, looks up to reflect, says, "About three or four." Then bends back to his work.

In one room a code is announced and a new mother dies - her intentions fall to the floor. And the figure of a woman wearing a long white robe appears, her wings transluscent, glimmering behind her; she closes her eyes. Lightning crashes outside as the storm resumes and hail beats against the windows of the Team Room. Down the hall, a new mother cries as the placenta falls to the pan and the child is raised up to breath its first breath. And the woman in the robe appears above the new baby to open her incredible blue eyes.

Denby leans on his mop as the woman with wings passes in front of him, turns to look and then continues down the hall, padding in bare feet, unnoticed by the scurrying Providers. She pauses to lay a gentle hand upon Dr. Rodrigo's shoulder and then passes on to another room.

Denby, the hapless schlemiel who has been no good at anything in his life, a total failure in all his efforts at love, at work, at music, at saving people's lives, has one singular talent. Denby can see the Angels who walk among use while he is still alive. This apparition is someone's Xmas gift to him. He is still not sure how to make use of it. So he dips his pole and continues mopping the corridor on this Xmas Eve, Year 2021.

Back at the Household, the hours advance to midnight with all inside asleep in their cots, sleeping bags and hammocks. The decorated tree continued to blink through the night as the small creatures who live behind the walls came out to cavort and dance their usual dances until mama raccoon appears with three young ones who pull at the pinecones hanging from the lower boughs of the tree.

It was a peaceful night in Silvan Acres. No sirens rent the night air and no one got shot and no one 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, 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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