JULY 22, 2018

A COFFEE-FILTER CONE TALE

 

So anyway. It is pretty clear from all the signs that Summer has advanced upon us all n regardless of the bad politics and the inanity of the Carrot-topped One.

Mornings are veiled with fog in the North Counties, and a fog bank persists through the day offshore. The Island experiences high fog to late morning and then a torrid afternoon, but not as serious as the rest of the Bay.

It really is a war against an implacable enemy

Fires are burning outside Yosemite now, and CalFire reports several efforts going on. In talking with the Schell-Vista staff in Sonoma, they describe this time as the time of War. An attack is reported and they mobilize resources and go to war against destruction. Having been on the front lines, we can say that is certainly similar. Things blow up, sometimes with spectacular results. Helicopters come roaring in. People die: Civilians and firefighters. It really is a war against an implacable enemy that does not care about conventions or limits. Firefighting is facing enormous forces much larger than any individual. You see something thirty feet high approaching you at thirty miles an hour, destroying everything its path and you begin to research your idea of a Deity very quickly.

Mr. Howitzer has gone looking for another boat to replace the missing Indomitable. Coincidentally with its disappearance also vanished the crew he had hired to work on it during dry dock and so he had hired private detectives in addition to leaning on his best connections to pressure the Coast Guard and other agencies to hunt for the missing 80 foot yacht with the possible answer that it had been stolen.

It was a very sad ensign who handed to Mr. Howitzer pieces of the Indomitable's equipage, life jackets, teak planks, and the nameplate from the stern in the Coast Guard yard to which the magnate had been called by the inscrutable message, "We have found some of your missing boat."

"And the crew?" asked Mr. Howitzer.

"I am afraid, sir, they probably did not fare so well by these signs and the violent storms of a few months ago." The Officer paused. "We will probably be needing dental records should anything of them be recovered."

"If they are dead, good riddance,"

"If they are dead, good riddance," huffed Mr. Howitzer. "Wastrels and ne'er do wells the lot of them." And with that Mr. Howitzer stomped away.

The wastrels and ne'er do wells were at this time sitting on the porch at the new Household in Woodacre where they had fetched up after many travails. Nobody knows how he does it, but Snuffles the Bum had found a supply for .99 cent per gallon wine somewhere in ritzy Marin and they were tucking into this redolent burgundy with zest. Given his talents for survival and knack for living on the cheap, Snuffles could be termed not a ne'er do well so much as an ingenious and hapless savant.

Summertime had arrived, as noted by the succession of heat waves that up north and inland had more bite to them than on the Island, which took some getting used to.

Many things in Marin took a great deal of getting used to. The habit of encouraging foliage to envelope sizzling electrical lines instead of clearing space around them for safety caused the engineer in Martini to revolt on a continuous basis. Naturally such treatment was bound to cause what happened in Sonoma last October, but people continued to bubble along in their Bliss from day to day regardless. Until the next fire.

found just about everywhere in every CVS, every Walgreens, every grocery

Then there was the time Pahrump and Denby went in search of a coffee filter cone for the House kitchen not long after they arrived. In the East Bay and just about everywhere those injection molded filter cones made in the tens of millions by the Chinese and found just about everywhere in every CVS, every Walgreens, every grocery, every Dollar Store and every knick knack shop that sold tchotchkes for 99 cents was nowhere in Marin to be found. They come in either red or brown and generally, in other places, are considered more essential to have than a whisk.

They tried CVS. They tried Walgreens. They tried the hardware store. They tried the hoity toity Bed, Broom and Beyunt. They tried Safeway and Albertsnobs and Whole Foods. All to no avail.

Finally, in great despair and with a gleam of hope the two entered a Peets in San Anselmo; surely a place that sold coffee would have, if not the cheepie dollar thing, then one of those gold-plated mesh thingies that always sends a sludge to the bottom of the pot or cup but at least did the job half right.

Can I help you?" asked a blonde dreadlocked thing with about nine metal embeddments in her face.

"We would like a coffee filter cone."

"What is that?" asked the girl innocently.

"It is the plastic cone that holds the paper filter," offered Pahrump.

"I still do not understand what you are looking for," said the girl. "What does it do?"

"Look," said Denby. "You use it to make coffee. You boil the water and pour it into the cone that holds the filter."

"I have no idea what you are talking about" said the barista, who appeared quite honestly confused.

"Well what is all that stuff behind you?"

"Beg pardon?"

"What is in all those brown containers there?" Denby said, getting quite irritated.

The girl brightened up. This was a fact she knew. "That is all coffee! You want to buy some?"

"Well what do you think people do with the coffee when they take it home?"

"Well, they grind up the beans," said the girl. "If we do not grind up the beans for them? Would you like to buy some coffee?"

"And after they grind the coffee they put it in the coffee filter and boil the water and it drips through. That is the thing we want!"

"Ohhhhhh!" Said the girl, a tiny light beginning to shine inside her. "I think you have to buy the entire coffee machine for that!"

"O for pete's sake!" Denby and Pahrump said together.

At this point an older employee came to the rescue to inform them that no, Peets did not carry any of those plastic cones -- they were too cheap to keep in stock on the shelves. Also they no longer carried the Goldtropfen plated things in favor of selling coffee machines. She was not sure where you could find the old coffee filter cones anymore. "Try Bed, Broom and Beyunt," she said.

"You want to buy a machine?" offered the helper.

"NO!" said the two Householders and they left with tears in their eyes, heading off into the sunset to find someplace that would provide an old fashioned homey coffee filter cone that once was so omnipresent.

Eventually they went to the library and secured a public computer so as to buy filter cones from Amazonia.com. Everything was fine and dandy and they were going to get their coffee in a proper cone and they were quite happy until they realized there are no postal shipments in unincorporated Silvan Acres -- the post office there does not have a delivery truck -- and also neither one of them owned a credit card.

Pahrump wound up making a trip over to the East Bay on his scooter where he got off at the first exit and, going into the first convenience store he found in West Oakland, bought three cones for .99 cents each and furthermore he went down the street to make the trip worth it and bought two chickens at 99 cents per pound, chickens that had not been free range or organic in the slightest way, but which lived unhappily in squalor and slums until they were led to the cruel slaughter happy to die and be out of this miserable life.

still playin'. Until everyone's gone free.

After picking up a few more things he sadly left civilization to return to Marin County where he was welcomed as a hero with a libation of 99 cent wine which all of them drank in the heat of the summer night under the wildly blooming tulip magnolia until the star of Venus burned above the crescent moon that hung cheerily above the benighted backwaters of West Marin and Denby strummed outlaw love songs, still playin'. Until everyone's gone free.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the fog-shrouded Northbay's well-matriculated hills and slid over the sleeping bulk of Princess Tamalpais following the old, forgotten railbeds that once led along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard to the coast, as it also traversed the estuary to cross the Island and the old Beltline property, and die between the Edwardian house-rows while the living locomotive click-clacked in front of the shadow-shuttered Jack London Waterfront, trundling past the Ohlone burial mounds to an unknown destination.

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