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Landscape painter Thomas Wood is in the midst of a four-Saturday show at his small studio on the square in Nicasio. The show will wind up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 25, and anyone who hasn’t seen it yet really ought to take a ride to Nicasio.

“My paintings are meditations on nature,” Wood comments, and indeed all the works on display are landscapes (with a bit of the Petaluma River thrown in). Morning, the painting at the upper left, portrays the morning fog in the trees.

 

Wood <twoodart.com> has taken part in more than 150 exhibits. Works by Wood and Point Reyes Station photographer Art Rogers were shown together at West Marin galleries in 2008 and 2009. Last year he held a well-received show in Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery and sold a number of paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Petaluma River in downtown Petaluma.

Redwoods.

The marsh at Drake’s Estero.

Nicasio Reservoir changing hues. On our way home from Wood’s exhibit, my wife Lynn Axelrod Mitchell, and I stopped beside Nicasio Reservoir to try to figure out what is making a cove look light blue. It couldn’t be art. Could it be chemistry? (Lynn, by the way, shot all the photos in this posting on her Iphone because the battery in my Nikon was dead.) The shoreline at left is lined with foam, so I called Marin Municipal Water District, which owns the reservoir, to find out if it knew of anything dangerous in the water.

Update: I got a call back Tuesday morning and was told what looks light blue is probably some form of algae, which also occurs at Bon Tempe Reservoir. District staff, however, took water samples to confirm that the reservoir was safe.

 

 

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In California’s Official Voter Information Guide, which came in the mail this past week, most of the 125 candidates listed make grand declarations of their political stands, as might be expected. A surprising number of candidates, however, seem off the wall, airing bigotry and conspiracy theories.

• “Abolish the insurance companies,” declares Nathalie Hrizi, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate for insurance commissioner, but gives no rationale.

• “Capitalism enables corporate masters to exacerbate crisis of health, poverty, oppression, climate change and war in allegiance to profit,” writes John Thompson Parker (left), Peace and Freedom Party candidate for the Senate. “Ownership of production and finance must be controlled by the people. This senate campaign is about building that socialist systematic change.”

• “I believe God wants to use me to help Him make America Righteous Again,” announces Chuck Smith (below), a Republican candidate for the Senate.

• “Those who enabled the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting crippling lockdowns must be held accountable,” says another Republican candidate for the Senate, Mark P Meuser.

• “Our leadership has used the COVID-19 pandemic to turn the state into a big pharma dictatorship,” insists gubernatorial candidate Serge Fiankan (below), who gives “no party preferance.”

• The wildest rant, however, comes from Don J. Grundmann, who also lists no party preference and did not submit a photo. “The poisonous fake vaccines don’t work, stop infection or transmission,” he claims…. “Masks are useless/joke against a virus. Vaxxing children is a crime. Covid is biological warfare against humanity. Vaccines kill you.” Grundmann’s declarations also include: there are “only two genders. Transgender does not exist, only psychotic broken people…. Climate change is a total lie.” He quotes a website that says Vice President Kamala Harris “is a house Negro” (i.e. “a black person who rejects cultural identity to please the white man,” to quote The Urban Dictionary).

• On the other hand, gubernatorial candidate Mariana B. Dawson, who lists no party preference, defines her beliefs with one short sentence: “F [uck] all politicians.”

More than a few voters may agree with her after perusing some of the candidates’ statements.

 

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The saloon keeper who had owned the Old Western in Point Reyes Station since 1977, Judy Borello, died two days ago. 

The saloon is now on the market, but Ms. Borello continues to have a loud voice (or moo) in the town. Here’s the story as SparselySageAndTimely originally told it in 1986.

Judy Borello at left.

This story really begins in the 1970s with the late historian Jack Mason of Inverness. Back then before the new county Public Safety building was built in Point Reyes Station, there was a lifeless town clock on the old firehouse. Mason, who then wrote Funny Old World for The Point Reyes Light, periodically used the column to decry the sad condition of the clock.

So when the new county building opened in 1984, directors of the Point Reyes Business Association agreed the structure should be adorned with a town clock that worked. A question then arose as to whether the clock should set off a noon whistle like those in Inverness, Bolinas, and Stinson Beach. Photographer Art Rogers jokingly suggested a moo would be even more appropriate for this cow town. A few months later, however, the association sent away for a town clock sans whistle or moo.

By the time the mechanism arrived, the business association had a new president, saloonkeeper Borello, and she agreed to resurrect the once-proposed moo. Ms. Borello told her plan to Nicasio artist George Sumner, and he offered to get help from filmmaker George Lucas.

Lucasfilm vice president Eric Westin is a friend of Sumner, and he lined up a Lucas technician, Rick Brown, to provide a moo recording, which Brown did. Ms. Borello then prevailed upon Gene Haley, a town electrician, to wire a loudspeaker system to the town clock.

Now the firehouse is a couple of blocks off the main street, sharing its neighborhood with a number of residences, and fireman Pete Valconesi suggested these neighbors might find the daily moo unsettling. President Borello said that was no problem; the loudspeaker could instead be mounted on top of her saloon. 

The moo debut

She then set about informing news media throughout the Bay Area that the noon moo would soon debut. The response surprised even the saloonkeeper. Within a couple of days, newspapers far and wide began reporting that the noon moos were already underway. A paper in London reported the moos were every hour on the hour.

When it finally did come time for the mooing to commence at noon, five television crews and several newspapers were on hand to record the event.

Unfortunately, some problems had developed. The move from the firehouse to the roof of the Old Western Saloon meant the mooing could no longer be connected to the new town clock. Instead, the sound system was given a clock of its own, which Ms. Borello said was “synchronized” with the town clock.

The fact that the mooing would not be in the vicinity of the town clock was a particular problem for the TV cameramen, who were left with only a loudspeaker to film. Saloonkeeper Borello solved the problem by having artist Sumner display in the Old Western his painting for the official Statue of Liberty poster.

“Why are you doing all this?” a television reporter asked Ms. Borello. “The moo is the soul and flavor of our town,” the saloonkeeper replied. But the media wanted more, so Ms. Borello decided to use the occasion to take a stand in a current town debate over whether the Martinelli ranch should be subdivided or bought for parkland. “We’ve lost a lot of ranches to the park,” the saloonkeeper declared. “We don’t want to lose any more.”

‘Moo power’

The pronouncement set the reporters off in a new direction. Several news reports said the noon moo symbolized ranchers organizing to fight parks; they dubbed the supposed movement “moo power.” The next morning, I received a call from a cattle rancher in Contra Costa County who wanted West Marin’s ranchers to join in a fight against the East Bay Regional Park System. I gave her the phone numbers of the Farm Bureau and the Old Western Saloon.

The publicity continued to build on itself although soon it was no longer clear just what was being publicized. Ms. Borello’s anti-government remarks received particular interest in the Midwest, where the Reagan Administration was being blamed for thousands of farm foreclosures.

Radio stations calling from Ohio, New York, Alaska all wanted to record the moo, and for awhile, the saloon complied, setting off the sound system and holding a phone receiver out the door to catch the moos blaring from the roof. Eventually, Ms. Borello began worrying about her neighbors’ reaction to all the unscheduled mooing and had a recording made that could be played on a tape deck in the bar.

To be available to satisfy late-night moo requests, Ms. Borello took a copy of the recording home with her at night and played it for the press when it called. When an overseas journalist called to record it one evening, Ms. Borello set the phone down on the bed and went to get her tape deck. Her husband Bob meanwhile went back to sleep and was soon snoring next to the phone.

When Ms. Borello came back on the line, the journalist commented, “That was the worst mooing I’ve ever heard.”

And even now the mooing goes on. Yestereday Lynn and I were sitting across the street at Toby’s Coffee Bar when a moo began blaring. A startled group of tourists at another table looked up to see where the noise was coming from, amused but not alarmed. I’m glad we still have the noon moo to remind us of Ms. Borello.

 

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We’ll begin with a bunch of the jokes that are now circulating in West Marin:

• Wi-fi went down for five minutes, so I had to talk to my family. They seem like nice people.

• My doctor asked if anyone in my family suffers from mental illness. I said, “No, we all seem to enjoy it.”

• I told my wife I wanted to be cremated. She made me an appointment for Tuesday.

• I’ve reached the age where my train of thought often leaves the station without me

• Camping: where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person.

• I really don’t mind getting old, but my body is having a major fit.

• If you see me talking to myself, just move along. I’m self-employed; we’re having a staff meeting.

• Life is too short to waste time matching socks.

• A dog accepts you as the boss… a cat wants to see your resume.

• I thought growing old would take longer.

• At my funeral, take the bouquet off my coffin and throw it into the crowd to see who is next.

• The officer said, “You drinking?” I said, “You buying?” We just laughed and laughed…. I need bail money.

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The following sounds like a joke, but it’s really a news item from The New York Daily News and occurred in the State of Washington on April 19:

“Washington firefighters rescued a woman after she fell headfirst into an outhouse toilet last week.

“The incident occurred at Mount Walker as the woman attempted to grab her phone, which she dropped into the toilet during an outing last Tuesday, the Brinnon Fire Department said.

“The department’s chief says the woman took apart the toilet seat and tied dog leashes to herself as she went to reach for the phone.

“They didn’t work very well, and in she went,” said Chief Tim Manly…. “After falling in, the woman grabbed her phone and managed to contact authorities, who saved her.

“‘I imagine that she was probably very fortunate,’ Manly said. ‘I don’t have any experience with that kind of a rescue, except for now, but I know that is not a good place to be.’

“Mount Walker is in the Olympic National Forest, which is about 55 miles northwest of Seattle.”

 

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It’s an insider’s look at an unconventional town. Bolinas – 2 Miles, which was published less than a year ago, makes for a fascinating read. Author Alex Horvath provides a look at the town’s pot growing, its art, its street people, and its culture.

 “You know you grew up in Bolinas when:

“• You knew every dog in town by name, and would even engage in stories about which dog had been in a fight, was in heat, etc.

“•You think it’s normal that you’ve seen every adult you know naked, sunbathing, and playing guitar on the beach.

“•The morning after you lost your virginity, the parents of the girl congratulate both of you.

“•Your mom had pot brownies specially made for your sixteenth birthday party…..”

The book contains a fascinating section on some of the street people in Bolinas. For example, ‘Tree House John [Bonuski]’ received a prize for being the ‘Favorite Bolinas Street Person of all Time.’ He was honored for both his longevity on the streets and for his service to the Bolinas Volunteer Fire Department.

Tree House John, who has a full beard, explained to Horvath how he came to grow it. “It all started long ago when a former friend punched me in the jaw,” he said. How was that related? “$14,000 in plastic surgery,” John explained.

Bolinas — 2 Miles is available from <Amazon.com> in either book or kindle form. It’s also available as an ebook from Apple products. And it can be borrowed from the Bolinas library.

Author Alex Horvath (left) formerly reported for The Pacific Sun and The West Marin Citizen and from 2000 to 2008 was a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Friday section, writing hundreds of feature articles. After The Chronicle, he worked for several national business trade publications, covering everything from commercial real estate to new prison construction.

From 2000 to 2008, Horvath maintained a website, <bolinas2miles.com> and a number of the book’s tales were originally published on the website.

He had been working for Apple computers until the Covid 19 pandemic two years ago caused him — like millions of other workers —  to get laid off. For the moment, he’s working for the state Economic Development Department.

Horvath now lives in Rohnert Park but misses Bolinas. “I want to come home,” is the last line of his book. “I want to come home.”

 

 

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Russia’s attempt to annex parts of Ukraine upsets many US citizens; we’re horrified by Russian massacres of Ukrainians; many of us wish we could counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cruel policies. Well, one Point Reyes Station resident has been moved to try.

Betty Grinshtein, an assistant cheesemaker at the Cowgirl Creamery, this summer will fly off to Lviv, Ukraine, which is at the Polish border and is the city where she was born.

Betty Grinshtein (left) at the Rotary Club’s Peace Garden. The garden on the main street of Point Reyes Station these days is frequently adorned with Ukrainian flags.

Grinshtein, 44, hopes “to volunteer with the International Rescue Committee and help them with translation work,” as well as “any projects they may have for me.” Her ability to translate should prove invaluable, for besides English she speaks Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, French and some Spanish.

She holds a BA in modern history with a minor in linguistics from UC Santa Cruz plus a master’s degree from San Jose State in teaching English to speakers of other languages. She has already spent six years teaching English to non-native speakers.

One of her goals for traveling to the war zone is to help some of the millions of Ukrainian refugees “navigate their stay in Poland.”

This summer she plans to fly to the Polish side of the border first for “safety…. I feel the Russians may still bomb Western Ukraine, and I’d like to come back alive.”

For those who would like to contribute to Grinshtein’s endeavor, a GoFundMe page has been set up at <https://www.gofundme.com/f/going-to-poland-to-help-ukrainian-refugees>.

 

 

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“Northern winter constellations and a long arc of the Milky Way are setting in this night skyscape looking toward the Pacific Ocean from Point Reyes on planet Earth’s California coast. Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major, is prominent below the starry arc toward the left. Orion’s yellowish Betelgeuse, Aldebaran in Taurus, and the blue tinted Pleiades star cluster also find themselves between Milky Way and northwestern horizon near the center of the scene. The nebulae visible in the series of exposures used to construct this panoramic view were captured in early March, but are just too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. On that northern night their expansive glow includes the reddish semi-circle of Barnard’s Loop in Orion and NGC 1499 above and right of the Pleiades, also known as the California Nebula.” — From NASA website, March 12. Photo by Dan Zafra.

Point Reyes and Drake’s Bay have always had a special allure, but it would be difficult to beat this enhanced view earlier this month.

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It’s been almost two weeks since my last posting — but not for the usual delays. My apparent turban seen here is, in fact, a wrapping of bandages.

In the past three weeks, my peripheral neuropathy (which deadens nerves on parts of the soles of my feet) caught up with me and contributed to a series of falls. In addition, I pulled a groin muscle stacking firewood, and that contributed to a couple of even worse falls which took me to the West Marin Medical Clinic. The worst fall of all, however, occurred Wednesday night when I fell face first into our medicine cabinet and received a two-inch gouge in my forehead.

That, in turn, took me to Kaiser Hospital where I received a CAT scan followed by 10 staples to close the cut.

A gruesome pic, to be sure, but not nearly as bloody as some of the others my wife Lynn shot.

Well, that’s my organ recital. I hope to do better next week.

 

 

 

 

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Can events in nature foreshadow events in the human world — e.g. a devastating storm before a  big battle?  The storm may not cause the battle but merely symbolize events to come. 

 

Mass burial. The first nine days of Russia’s shelling of Mariupol in Ukraine led to bodies of civilians being dumped in mass graves. It’s a horrid scene. Widespread death is certainly becoming a metaphor for our time.

Appropriately enough, a vulture swooped down outside our front window today and put on an impressive display. My first thought was: that’s one big buzzard! My second was: this carrion eater reminds me of Vladimir Putin hovering over Ukraine. It’s hard to get that war off one’s mind.

A true diversion. Seven blacktail deer outside our kitchen door today.

The deer made Newy, the stray cat we adopted, curious, and she wandered over for a closer look. The deer were obviously curious about her too. Newy arrived at Mitchell cabin last year with a family of raccoons, and she enjoys watching wildlife as much as we do. In fact, sometimes she seems to think of herself as wildlife, but Lynn makes sure to get her in at night and makes her bed nice and cozy.

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Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed without a shirt, and this picture of him horseback riding barechested in Siberia in 2009 circulated worldwide. 
Perhaps it inspired this well-publicized spoof showing Putin riding a bear. “I have seen ‘photos’ of me riding a bear,” the Russian president has said. “I have not ridden a bear yet, but there are such photos already.” Is yet the operative word here?

In his apparent quest for Russia to regain its Soviet Union hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, Putin may yet be gobbled by a bear, for not even all Russians are happy with his invasion of Ukraine.

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Who’s waffling?

I bought a pint of “Organic Maple Syrup” to go with my daily waffle, but when I brought it home, I noticed it didn’t taste quite as I expected, so I examined the tub it came in.

Printed on a label atop the tub is a “California Proposition 65 WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food.” I checked the warning and found: “Lead and lead compounds are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause cancer.  Exposure to lead and lead compounds may increase cancer risk.”

Yet the syrup is promoted as “organic” and “non-GMO” (without genetically modified organisms). How can something that sounds so healthy also be dangerous?

It’s all craziness.

 

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Standing with Putin.

During Donald Trump’s controversial presidency, it was never a secret how much he admired Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin, whom he described as a friend. Amazingly, Trump’s fawning admiration only grew when Putin this week sent troops into the Ukraine, and Russia fired missiles into its cities.

Putin’s strategy has been for two political districts (oblasts) of the Ukraine, which are dominated by separatists, to become independent statelets friendly to and dependent upon Russia. On Tuesday, members of Russia’s parliament officially adopted Putin’s plan and recognized the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent of the Ukranian [sic] government.

“Russian MPs Greenlight Putin’s Recognition of Rebel Ukranian Regions,” A Moscow Times headline noted.

Russia meanwhile claims its troops in the Ukraine are only there as “peacekeepers” to defend Donetsk and Luhansk from the Ukrainian government.

Numerous people have been killed, and several Ukranian cities have been struck by Russian missiles this week. Putin’s imperialism offends much of the world, but Trump on Tuesday praised it as “genius” and “very savvy…. Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?”

By Saturday, however, Trump had decided Putin may not have been so smart when he directed an invasion of the Ukraine. “I just think it’s a shame that this is going on. It’s something that should not be going on,” Trump said. “Thousands of people, I mean, this can lead to much bigger than this one area,” Trump warned.

“This could lead to a lot of other countries and can lead to world war…. You never know how it starts, in a world war.”

Trump, meanwhile continues to portray public events as all about himself. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, he claimed, “all happened because of a rigged election.” If Trump had been declared the winner of the 2020 national election, he told Fox News, “this would have never happened.”

 

Trump toadying up to Putin on a 2020 political pin.

When Russia appeared to be preparing for an amphibious landing in the Ukraine, Trump mistakenly commented on Fox News that US troops had carried out an amphibious landing and criticized Fox correspondent Laura Ingraham for reporting on this supposedly top secret US military action.

“You shouldn’t be saying that because you and everybody else shouldn’t know about it. They should do that secretly, not be doing that through the great Laura Ingraham,” he said sarcastically.

“No. Those were the Russians,” Ingraham corrected him. “Oh, I thought you said that we were sending people in,” Trump responded. “That’ll be next.”

Putin’s charm offensives seem to work.  In 2010, for example, he promoted himself as a good guy by singing Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill (click to watch) for a charity fundraiser. This Russian Television video of the event shows how he charmed celebrities like Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn, and Gérard Depardieu, all of whom are a clearly more sophisticated than “the Donald,” as his first wife, Ivana, called him.

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