DECEMBER 29, 2019



So anyway. We've had some rain the past couple weeks, featuring a few real dockwallopers. All the streams are running and couples can be seen strolling along the banks of the major ones draining the lakes to observe the age-old ritual of the salmon heading upstream to get it on at some piscine disco located in an eddy pool.

It has been quite a year this end of the 20-teens. The past ten years have seen the election of the first Black President who reigned for two terms with welcome grace and intelligence that was not appreciated by those who prefer the Executive branch to be led by someone dumb as an ox and possessed of all the grace and charm of an hyena.

At least that desire is what we must intuit by the nature of his predecessor and his successor, both quite challenged in the departments of intellect as well as magnaminity.

California has suffered several major catastrophic fire disasters in successive years.

The Rim Fire consumed more than 250,000 acres of forest near Yosemite National Park, in 2013.

The Thomas fire in Ventura, Santa Barbara consumed 281,893 acres, destroyed 1083 structures, and killed 21 people in 2017.

The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa Counties burned 36,807 acres and destroyed 5,643 structures including parts of the City of Santa Rosa and killed 22 people in 2017

The Camp fire in Butte County burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 18,804 structures including the town of Paradise and killed 86 people in 2018

The Kincade Fire became the largest fire of the year 2019, burning 77,758 acres in Sonoma and prompting large planned power outages affecting millions of people.

Local meetings have been held in several Marin cities to arrive at planned pre-emptive response to these devestating events. Some proposals make sense and some do not as one would expect.

People handle this new reality of Planned Power Outage Programs (PPOP) and potential fire disaster in various ways. The Villaflores family has taken to stockpiling gallon jugs of water. Because Tio Rubio has a taste for red wine and goes through a couple gallons a week they are not without plenty of those five gallon Gallo jugs. Then there are the plans for evacuation and where to meet and the dry runs with the children scampering to their positions and everyone shouting in mixtures of Spanish and English.

"What are we going to do with Cambio!" says little Nina.

"Cambio, what or who is Cambio?" says Tia Antoinette.

"Cambio -- esta el Gato. El est importante!" She was about to cry about leaving Cambio behind even before a fire had started.

"Can we not use a cardboard box when it comes to it?"

"No no no. They will not take him in the shelters. It must be very formal."

"All right all right. I will go get a carrier. All these things I must think about and get the flashlights and everything while Edwardo sits on the couch watching futbol."

California is a state which consists of an high percentage of people who have fled their families or who have had their families emplode. These orphans establish communities of friends that become surrogate families to replace what was lost or damaged.

The Household of Marlene and Andre is just this sort of a community.

From Little Adam, who was ejected from a moving car by his foster father as an unwanted object to Marlene who suffered terrible abuse from her uncle and Occasional Quentin about whom nobody ever cared at any time in his life all the members of the Household get through the Holiday Season by leaning on one another for support. Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris.

Life does not always supply you with a family that fits within the parameters of a Norman Rockwell painting.

If you say that all stories begin and end with families, then you must examine what you mean by a family, for not everyone has what you have. Remember Tolstoy who said, "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. " And do not forget Nabokov who turned the phrase around. “All happy families are more or less dissimilar; all unhappy ones are more or less alike.”

It comes down to point of view. If you come from a happy family, well fine. If you are currently in a situation where people are smashing plates against the wall and shouting about insurrection, well, your pov is going to be different.

Let's not harp on the bad things. Some good things did happen in 2019. A record number of women elected to Congress were key to Democrats reclaiming the majority in the House. Further on the distaff side, 34 African-American women graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. It's the largest class of African-American women to graduate together. Taiwan approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in May of this year.

Former President Jimmy Carter is still with us, doing good work after leaving office (unlike some GOP counterparts), along with Ruth Bader Ginsberg who successfully beat back pancreatic cancer. Both remain inspirations for us all.

Again a nod to the women. NASA astronaut Jessica Meir waved at the camera during a spacewalk outside the International Space Station. Fellow astronaut Christina Koch joined her in what was the first all-female spacewalk.

While it is not nice to celebrate the violent death of anybody, we can celebrate this one. ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a US raid in northwest Syria.

And look at this: December 18, 2019 the House voted to impeach Donald Trump and no matter what the Senate does at this point, he will go down in history forever and for all time as the third sitting US President to be impeached. Richard Nixon escaped by resigning in advance of a certain vote against him..

The year is spinning down to its last hours and a new decade shall begin. On the Island, Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez (nee Morales) still have their little apartment on Central Avenue across from the Mastic Senior Center and their child, Aurelio, stares up from the crib with big brown eyes and earnest anticipation of what discoveries the new year shall present.

The sound of the train horn keened from Oaktown across the estuary and wended its way through the redwoods of Marin'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, stirring the coyotes who began to howl their evensong which carried forth on the winds over Fairfax and White's Hill, ululating through Silvan Acres and the mist-shrouded niches of the San Geronimo Valley, coursing with faint gray shapes along the ridge-tops through the drifts of fog to an unknown destination.