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Needing a break from the political scene, I spent much of the past week photographing the critters that show up at Mitchell cabin.

Eleven blacktail deer grazing near Mitchell cabin last Saturday.

Following the deer up the hill were 21 wild turkeys.

Which led to an unusual stare-down.

For almost three years there’d been a dearth of possums around Mitchell cabin, but this past week two showed up on our deck after dark to nibble kibble.

Here a possum and raccoon dined together with no confrontations Sunday evening.

Raccoons, of course, are fairly comfortable around a number of other animals. Here four of them ate kibble alongside a skunk last fall.

And here a possum dined contentedly between two gray foxes just outside our kitchen door awhile back.

But the most integrated dining I have seen were this possum, fox, and raccoon, which I photographed together through the kitchen door in 2011.

Monday morning Lynn woke me up so I could see this sharp-shinned hawk on the railing of our lower deck. The young hawk’s expression is mighty stern, and I fear it may be hunting the birds that show up on our upper deck to eat birdseed. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)

In short, not all wildlife live in harmony around here.

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The president isn’t just two-faced (Huffington Post graphic).

 You may recall the violence when white nationalists including the Ku Klux Klan held a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, NC, in 2017.  They were protesting the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.  As The New York Times then reported, “Groups such as the Neo-Nazi movement and the KKK have felt emboldened since the election of Donald J. Trump as president.” 

David Duke, former imperial wizard of the KKK, told the rally they were “going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump to take back our country.”  However, a peaceful counter-demonstration then followed, and this prompted one of the white nationalists, James Alex Fields, 20, of Ohio, to speed his car into the group, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 34 others.

Fields was quickly charged with second-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding, but Trump refused to publicly criticize the white nationalist and instead falsely claimed there had been “violence on many sides.” In fact, Trump often amazes us by sticking up for disreputable public figures, such as Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, whom he says is “smart” and whom he credits with having “done an amazing job.” The result can make for some strange alliances.

From within Russia, US citizen Rinaldo Nazzaro runs an American Neo-Nazi group. He “left New York for St. Petersburg less than two years ago,” the British Broadcasting Company reported on Jan. 24.

“The American founder of a US-based, militant Neo-Nazi group, The Base, is directing the organization from Russia, a BBC investigation has found…. The Base is a major counter-terrorism focus for the FBI. Seven alleged members were charged this month with various offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder.

“Court documents prepared by the FBI describe The Base as a ‘racially motivated violent extremist group’ that ‘seeks to accelerate the downfall of the United States government, incite a race war, and establish a white ethnographies-state,'” the BBC added.

Perhaps Putin’s hosting one of our domestic terrorists is yet another international “favor” our president wants.

First Lady Melania Trump previously modeled for the British ‘Gentleman’s Quarterly’ magazine. Obviously Trump considers her “hot” since he has made a point of prizing “hot” women. Two decades ago, he went so far as to openly promote his teenaged daughter’s sexiness.

In 1997 when his daughter Ivanka was 16, she hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant, and while she was on-stage, Trump turned to the then-Miss Universe and asked, “Don’t you think my daughter’s hot? She’s hot, right?” 

Never before in this country’s history has there been such a bizarre administration, and hopefully there’ll never be another. 

Candidate Bill Bailey (at far right) listening to jazz in Sausalito’s No Name Bar last Friday.

Thankfully, American politics on the local level are generally more traditional and draw more reasonable candidates, at least in this county. In West Marin, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni is currently running for reelection against challenger Alex Easton Brown. In Southern Marin, the Board of Supervisors seat is open, and Bill Bailey is one of the candidates for it. He’s a technical engineer running on a platform of fiscal reform.

Bailey frequently shows up for the Friday jazz performances at the No Name, just as I do. I’m not familiar with his campaign, but I’ve come to recognize him. Even when he’s squinting into my camera’s flash, his low-key, movie-star looks are unmistakeable.

Joining Lynn and me and our homeless friend Billy Hobbs at the No Name Friday was another friend, Guido Hennig of Switzerland, an engineer who visits San Francisco annually for business conferences. Given our nation’s political turmoil, I asked him about Europe’s impression of Trump and was told that it’s generally not very good. No surprise there.

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The shoulder of Highway 1 uphill from downtown Point Reyes Station is not all that wide, as one unfortunate couple discovered Saturday. I have no idea why they left the road.

Creeping discrimination: We’ve all heard President Trump railing against refugees from south of the border because, according to him, many of them are murders and rapists. And last week he banned immigrants from still more Muslim countries as supposed threats to national security. Now, if you believe the headlines, the State of California wants to take all this a step further and get rid of all its teenagers.

San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 29, 2020

And:

Teenagers, I suppose, have always been considered troublemakers, but how far should we go in protecting ourselves? Perhaps we could let most of them remain in California but keep them under house arrest.

I

It certainly seems as if the sun is setting on that promising new world in which I grew up.

Many in the country, though, have been working hard on electoral matters, including informing voters who have been “deregistered” in various Republican-controlled states (i.e. letting them know how to check their registration to make they can vote). Voter suppression has been a method of disenfranchisement for almost as long as the Republic has stood, but now it is being confronted by various groups, including The Center for Common Ground’s Reclaim Our Vote project. Residents involved with Indivisible West Marin organized a talk last week by Andrew Miller, the ROV founder. There are ways to help, from telephoning to post carding to texting voters in other states.  All hope is not lost.    

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Our daily Rorschach test.

What we see in the clouds may sometimes reflect our feelings. This fiery sunset unfortunately brought to mind our crazed President and the danger he poses to world order, the environment, and social harmony.

Another sunset, but with a blacktail doe and no Rorschach test.

Looking at real creatures as opposed to those imagined in the sky is more certain to engender tranquility. Here’s a look at some of the ones I see virtually every day.

Two Arabian Adventures steeds in a feeding pen within a pasture next to Mitchell cabin. Since we haven’t succumbed to the national disaster yet, there’s nothing here for this buzzard.

Jackrabbits and towhees may have very different cultures, but they manage to coexist side by side peaceably.

There are more wild turkeys to be seen hereabouts than there were last year at this time.

Also abundant are blacktail deer, but that’s common. (Curiously, just now when I tried to type “blacktailed deer,” Spellcheck kept changing their name to “blackmailed deer.” This, in turn, raises the question: how would you blackmail a deer?)

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.

Silverfish are one of the oldest insects and may predate the dinosaurs by 100 million years. By now they’ve evolved into household pests that eat documents, photos, and clothes. So while I’m usually displeased at seeing a spider in the shower stall, I forgave this one because of his taste for silverfish.

Another encounter at home. A dove left its image when it crashed into the living-room window last week. Although initially dazed, the bird eventually few off.

A red-tailed hawk perches at sunset downhill from Mitchell cabin.

Waiting for the music at the No Name Bar in Sausalito a fortnight ago. Sitting from the left next to me are Friday night regulars Vivian and Ray, my wife Lynn, Paul Leclerc, and in recent weeks Billy Hobbs.

Sitting by the fire. Billy had been homeless for five years and was sleeping outdoors in Point Reyes Station when the rain and cold winds hit two months ago, so Lynn and I offered to let him wait out the bad weather in Mitchell cabin. Once he did, Billy was able to resume showering and getting his clothes cleaned regularly. Add to that a haircut and a beard trim, and he had dramatically cleaned up his act. 

Resting indoors by our woodstove. Being warm, clean, and well fed led to quite a metamorphosis for Billy, as regular readers of this blog know. Now his story has been read worldwide.

This week, his story reached journalists around the globe — not only throughout the United States and Canada but as far away as Ireland and Nepal —  when the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE) republished my Dec. 10 posting. In short, Billy has now become an internationally known artist.

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.

Like others, I have a love-hate relationship with the Internet, and one thing I love about it is email, which allows friends to forward some of the more intriguing humor they stumble upon. This week I’m posting a selection of some of the stuff that’s been sent along.

We’ll start with awkwardly worded headlines.

The San Francisco Examiner (where I was once a reporter).

The News & Observer of Raleigh, NC.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Some of the humor I receive is, of course, in the form of cartoons.

______________________________

Naturally much of the humor is slightly risqué.

“There are a number of mechanical devices which increase sexual arousal, particularly in women. Chief among these is the Mercedes-Benz SL500.” — Frank Sinatra

“It isn’t premarital sex if you have no intention of getting married.” — George Burns

“My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch” — Jack Nicolson

“According to a new survey, women say they feel more comfortable undressing in front men than they do undressing in front of other women. They say that women are too judgmental where, of course, men are just grateful.” — Robert De Niro

“You don’t appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman. Stuff you pay good money for later in life.” — Bob Hope

“It’s been so long since I’ve had sex, I’ve forgotten who ties up whom.” — Joan Rivers

“Sex is one of the most wholesome, beautiful, and natural experiences money can buy.” — Steve Martin

_______________________________________________

A second grader came home from school and said to her grandmother, “Grandma, guess what? We learned how to make babies today.” The grandmother, more than a little surprised, tried to keep her cool. “That’s interesting,” she said warily. “How do you make babies?” To which the girl replied. “It’s easy. You just change ‘y’ to ‘i’ and add ‘es.'”

One day a firetruck zoomed past with a Dalmatian sitting on the front seat, which prompted three children to discuss the dog’s duties. “They use him to keep crowds back,” offered one child. “No, he’s just there for good luck,” said another. The third child then brought the argument to a close. “They use the dogs,” she said firmly, “to find the fire hydrants.”

Caveat lectorem: When readers previously submitted comments, they were asked if they wanted to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people said they did. 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 that includes all photos by simply clicking on the headline above the posting. For the moment, no new comments are being posted as a result of international hacking.

Artist Billy Hobbs (left) and yours truly on the deck of Mitchell cabin. Billy was homeless for more than five years after his 25-year marriage broke up. For a year he spent his days sketching outside the Point Reyes Station Postoffice, which is where I met him. He had been sleeping outdoors when cold, wet weather set in. This prompted my wife Lynn and me a month ago to invite him to stay with us until the weather clears.

Billy is an intriguing artist, so this week I’m posting a small sampling of his drawings.

The Sacred Tree is Not Dead depicts the chief of the Northern Cheyenne, White Antelope, before he was killed by a U.S. cavalry charge despite having been assured he’d be left alone if he flew an American flag on his tepee.

Lao Tzu, a Sixth Century BC Chinese philosopher. Billy calls Lao Tzu one of his favorite philosophers because of his emphasis on slowing down to smell the roses.

How It Really Went Down. Making his last stand on June 25, 1876, at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer runs out of bullets and is killed, along with all 200 of his men.

Holding Up a Skull and looking through it was inspired by artist Georgia O’Keefe. 

A Pretty Woman. Billy hasn’t quite finished this drawing, but she’s still haunting.

Donald Trump, one of Billy’s rare political drawings. The president bends over to perform another scene from reality TV.

Caveat lectorem: When readers previously submitted comments, they were asked if they wanted to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people said they did. 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 that includes all photos by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

No more comments for now. This posting was slightly delayed by an avalanche of scam comments that began showing up on past postings, and it took a fair amount of time to delete them all. Among the hundreds of comments were ads for sex toys, “free” porn, NFL t-shirts, swimsuits, dating sites, and food. Some of the scam comments came from Thailand, China, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia, occasionally with words written in non-English script. Most probably were attempts to hack this blog. As a result, I’ve had all additional comments temporarily blocked.

More than once I’ve commented on wild turkeys intermingling with deer around Mitchell cabin.

Judging from this pair of Siamese twins, that intermingling has progressed to interbreeding.

Santa and Mrs. Claus find they have each other’s sacks.

Also delaying this posting was a false alarm from an eye doctor who thought I might be at risk for a stroke. After days of scans and blood testing, an MRI and visits to different doctors, it turned out that I’m not at risk although my wallet is a bit lighter.

KWMR is the radio station I most often listen to, but of recent I’ve started to also listen to a Sonoma County station, KHITS (104.9 FM). It’s all pop music from the 70s, 80s, and 90s presented with mirth, such as this oft-repeated exchange between two men. “Surely you can’t be serious,” says one of them. “I am serious!” the other man growls, “and don’t call me Shirley!”

Something is definitely wrong with the US Postal Service. For a month — just when people have been trying to send out Christmas cards —  the Point Reyes Station postoffice has been out of stamps and unable to get a new supply. Couldn’t district headquarters just mail a bunch?

Equally hard to believe: the friendly face of Point Reyes Station’s postoffice, the clerk Brian Stage, departed Saturday for a new postal job in San Bernardino where he has a good friend and housing is cheaper. During the roughly two years Brian worked in Point Reyes Station, he was homeless and living out of his car. The next time someone speculates about the causes of homelessness, you might point out that one of them can be working for the US Postal Service.

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Billy Hobbs last spring impressed me with this self-portrait that showed his face collapsing in a landslide.

Billy Hobbs first showed up in SparselySageAndTimely.com (click here to read) at the end of May when he wrote a letter to Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni, suggesting ways county government could help its homeless population. Billy, who will turn 62 at the end of this month, grew up in Lucas Valley. He has been homeless for five years following the breakup of his 25-year marriage.

For a year, he has spent his days sitting on a bench near the Point Reyes Station postoffice, drawing in sketchbooks. For awhile, he slept in the postoffice lobby but hasn’t in recent months, instead lying down at night outdoors under an overhang.

When the weather is good, I usually have my morning mocha at Toby’s Coffee Bar, sitting at a picnic table not far from the postoffice, and that juxtaposition led to Billy’s and my getting to know each other.

Billy last May drawing pictures inspired by Native American, Buddhist, and Greek history while sitting next to the Point Reyes Station postoffice.

He may have looked scruffy, but I came to realize that despite his dirty hands and clothes, Billy was worth talking to. Previously, he had lived and worked (primarily as a carpenter) in Montana, Mexico, Novato, Tiburon, Ross, San Anselmo, Fairfax, San Rafael, and San Francisco, which gave him insights into a variety of cultures. Nonetheless, because of his appearance, aggressive men occasionally demanded he leave town, but of course he never did.

Then came the last couple of weeks of cold winds and rain, which made Lynn and me worry about his sleeping outdoors, so we invited him up to Mitchell cabin.

The new Billy.

Staying here not only let Billy sleep warm and dry, it gave him a chance to resume taking regular showers and getting his clothes cleaned. Then Danny at the Point Reyes Barber Shop cut Billy’s hair and trimmed his beard. Voila, suddenly there was a new gentleman in town, and more than one person complimented him on his appearance.

For Lynn and me, watching it all happen has been heartwarming, but it’s also been another demonstration of how appearance alone can determine how people fare in society.

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Thanksgiving dinner. Lynn (right) and I (left) with Inverness architect Jon Fernandez, his wife Patsy Krebs, and his son Michael enjoying dessert following a bountiful Thanksgiving dinner last Thursday at Vladimir’s Czech Restaurant in Inverness. Beforehand, a couple of friends at different times expressed surprise that we’d choose Czech food on turkey day, but it turned out to be a good decision. In fact, it was the start of a series of social adventures.

The Michael Aragon Quartet

The next day, Jon and Patsy, Lynn and I headed to Sausalito’s No Name Bar where the Michael Aragon Quartet played its last performance after 36 years of Friday night gigs there. Drummer Michael Aragon, the bandleader, is retiring at 75 for health reasons. Sax player Rob Roth has been there with him 25 years, and keyboardist KC Filson has been there for 10 of them. The regular bass player, Pierre Archain, unfortunately was ill and guitarist Rob Fordyce filled in for him.

Michael is known throughout the Bay Area jazz scene, and the bar was packed with admirers who wanted to catch his last show.

Billy Hobbs

Saturday was wet and cold, which made Lynn and me worry about Billy Hobbs, the homeless man often seen sketching outside the Point Reyes Station postoffice. He sleeps outdoors nearby under an overhang, and periodic gusts of wind can blow the rain in a bit.

So we invited Billy to spend the day with us, and Lynn fixed a second Thanksgiving dinner, this time with turkey. With the storm not abating, we urged Billy to bed down here for the night, and he did.

On Sunday, the storm only got worse. When I drove to the bottom of our fairly long driveway in heavy rain to get our morning Chronicle, I found that the wind had dropped a large, dead limb across our driveway. Thankfully, no car was hit. Several pieces had to be moved, and I got a full baptism doing so.

Lynn, who was fighting a cold, put all of our clothes through the wash while much of my energy was spent carrying armloads of firewood up 50 steps to our house. Now that will get you warm. Billy meanwhile spent most of the day sitting by the fire arranging his sketches, which he hopes to make into greeting cards. 

Another get-together: While we stayed warm indoors, two blacktail bucks with no show of rivalry showed up to dine outside. The deer at left has a deformed right rear leg (probably hit by a motor vehicle) but manages to get around fairly well. And so in the end, it appeared that everyone had a reason to be thankful.

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