Sonoma County


Past postings are numbered in the order they went online, with the most recent postings located immediately below the Table of Contents.

To go directly to stories without scrolling, click on the highlighted phrases following the numbers.

Weekly postings are published by Thursday.

529. Kremlin interferes with this blog: the full post-truth story

528. Words matter…. as if you didn’t know

527. Milk, cheese, and Donald Trump

526. Majority of voters go for Clinton but… Trump wins election; Kremlin, ISIS, & KKK celebrate

525. Undeterred by rain, small-town Halloween celebrations held throughout Pt. Reyes Station

524. Recalling the tribulations of a courageous contractor from Point Reyes Station

523. ‘Plutocracy’ to occupy four theaters, starting with two in West Marin

522. Pt. Reyes jeweler’s memoirs describe difficult marriages, Philip K. Dick’s science fiction, horse vaulting, and West Marin history

521. Park Service ousts Donald ‘Trump’ Neubacher

520. The transgender journey of an Inverness woman

519. I’m back and hitting the bars

518. A Staggering Debacle

517. Memorial set for Russ Faure-Brac of Dogtown

516. The zoo in my backyard

515. The Teddy Bear picnic and why to stay at home

514. Western Weekend this year proved to be especially colorful

513. Wake for Donna Sheehan of Marshall reflected her eccentric life

512. Memorial Day weekend chaos

511. MALT art show a testament to rural beauty

510. A trip to Tomales

509. Party for publisher who sells her newspaper

508. Birds, deer, a cat, a rat, a face in the flames, and another overturned truck

507. The adventures of Bigfoot

506. Art in Bolinas, hail in Point Reyes Station, and Emergency Response Team training in Nicasio

505. Wish get well at Toby’s; then Gather at Perry’s

504. The whole truth and a bit more

503. Caltrans meeting about replacing Green Bridge draws mixed responses

502. West Marin’s bridges to its past

501. Patrolling the CHP

500. A sparse serving of sagacity

499. Small town slumbering and cows stampeding

498. The highs and lows of St. Valentine’s Day weekends, past and long past

497. Presidents’ Day, Valentine’s Day; in Canada indigenous people to protest

496. Eastern Door newspaper exemplifies courage in a Mohawk community

495. Documentary by ex-resident of Bolinas tells story of Burundi-genocide survivor

494. Focusing on the birdlife around Mitchell cabin

493. Wandering around in early January

492. A gallery of critters around Mitchell cabin

491. Stunned to learn French, New Anus State Park, and other surprises in the world of news

490. Some Christmas surprises

489. In West Marin the drought symbolically comes to an end

488. Occasionally the most intriguing parts of newspapers are the miscues

487. Despite a series of downpours, Point Reyes Station steps out to celebrate the Yuletide

486. A visitor from New York

485. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times

484. The Comoros solution for undocumented residents

483. Finding refuge in my surroundings

482. Remembering the past in Point Reyes Station and Tomales

481. Point Reyes Station focuses on helping preschool and preparing for disaster

480. Little Nicasio was a happening place Saturday and Sunday

479. Mowgli taught me to love jungles

478. A Scottish journalist’s observations regarding the vote to remain part of Great Britain

477. Racoons waxing and Tricolored Blackbirds waning plus a mystery in the woods

476. The autumnal equinox is upon us

475. Grito de la Independencia in Point Reyes Station

474. Some Nicasio Reservoir history is seldom seen, and some is seldom recognized

473. Tomales Founders’ Day draws a goodly crowd despite a shorter-than-usual parade

472. It all happened between two vivid dreams

471. A photographic look at signs of life

470. All in one day: displays in Point Reyes Station & Inverness of arts, crafts, & public service

469. A word with you, if you please

468. Sorry I’m late, but here are a bobcat, albino robin, and five fox kits to make up for it

467. Nurturing nature

466. Riding an old narrow-gauge train and modern Amtrak plus driving the ‘Highway to Hell’

465. It was like winning a second Pulitzer Prize

464. Photography, drama, etchings, and paintings worth seeing this summer

463. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade and Saturday’s 4-H Fair draw enthusiastic crowds

462. White House Pool enchanting despite vandalism and poison oak

461. Humor — including blonde and similar jokes — that’s gone through at least 3 countries

460. My deer friends

459. A few of my photos in war and peace from West Marin to Southeast Asia to Central America

458. Animals provide relief from an animalistic world

457. Gala for just-retired popular librarian; preparing for disasters; odd news reports

456. America owes a lot to its weekly newspapers

455. Pining for a couple of old friends

454. Creatures of spring at Mitchell cabin

453. Gallery Route One exhibiting whimsical art with messages from three women

452. Save a spaniel

451. When words fail us

450. With spring 10 days away, late-winter rains give a boost to West Marin flora and fauna

449. A gallery of photos from Point Reyes Light open house, staff reunion, and book readings

448. Misunderstandings and other ‘small’ news plus a big ‘ol party

447. ‘Picturing the Point Reyes Peninsula’ exhibition opens in Jack Mason Museum

446. Readings from ‘The Light on the Coast’ draw crowd to Tomales Regional History Center

445. Jon Langdon’s ‘Beyond Geometry’; Mr. Badger goes a-huntin’; Gypsy cobs cloppin’ downtown

444. Point Reyes Station innkeeper and former jeweler Ann Dick a prolific writer at 87

443. Oldtimer says dams, not homes and ranches, had hurt salmon runs; now it’s the drought

442. Legends of the Celtic harp wow enthusiastic crowd in the Dance Palace

441. A gallery of local-wildlife photos

440. The Ghosts of Christmas Presents

439. The holidays are the time for us in West Marin to start preparing for disasters

438. The last days of fall

437. The Light on the Coast due to gleam this week

436. Using words well and not so well

435. My 70th birthday

434. The Mitchell cabin perspective on protection and food for wildlife

433. Guatemalan murder suspect, who was hunted via social media, caught in Mexico via TV

432. Mulling a potential flap at the confab

431. My frantic flight from Latin

430. The Fall of Nicasio and Point Reyes Station

429. A dead buck, buzzards, flies…. and who else?

428. With federal parks here closed, art exhibits getting more attention

427. From Paris’ Montmartre to New Orleans’ Storyville to San Francisco’s Tenderloin

426. Masterful new book set in Alaskan wilderness is a story of conflicts that echo West Marin’s

425. The pressure on journalists as the NSA pushes US toward becoming George Orwell’s ‘1984’

424. The US government’s love-hate relationship with Syrian brutality

423. Tomales Founder Day parade and party in park draw a huge crowd

422. A visit from Pepé Le Pew

421. A young leviathan dies at Stinson Beach

420. Images of many types of dogs at Inverness Fair

419. First the grim news, then the gay

418. Don’t believe everything you read; newspapers will survive

417. Don’t Bogart that smoke detector, you roach

416. Wildlife relish outdoor dining at Mitchell cabin

415. ‘The town that West Marin forgot’ celebrates its park with food, auctions, rock ‘n’ roll, and grand opera

414. Raccoon-noitering

413. Thoughts about our infatuation with animals

412. Fox News in Point Reyes Station

411. New Age detritus found to be littering roadside in Lagunitas

410. Western Weekend 2013: good weather, good fun; close call

409. The mysteries of words, birds, and the NRA

408. Remembering massacres under Guatemalan President Ríos Montt

407. My good buddy gets hit by a car and dies

406. Tormented by computers, comforted by spring

405. Way out west in West Marin

404. Enduring a week of terrible events

403. Bicyclist killed in Inverness Park

402. Of cats and bobcats, burros and burrows

401. Google boggles blogger

400. Exhibition of portraits of ‘Tomales Neighbors’, past and present, opens to kudos

399. Deus ex machina

398. Proposed law would end trapping of bobcats for their pelts

397. Postal Clerk Known for Feralhood Retires

396. Whatever Happened to Our Curiosity?

395. Filmmaker Ole Schell, formerly of Bolinas, with jookin’ dancer Lil’ Buck, actress Meryl Streep & cellist Yo-Yo Ma in China

394. The Point in Winter

393. When critters watch but don’t bother to bother each other

392. Quotes Worth Saving IV

391. Inverness museum exhibit on Swiss immigrant who came to be called ‘Mr. Point Reyes Station’

391. Our fascination with how words are used — some examples from across the pond

390. A collection of favorite wildlife photographs snapped around Mitchell cabin

389. Counting curves on Highway 1

388. The winter solstice of 2012

387. Shoreline School District blessed compared with a number of others

386. Pearl Harbor Day, Point Reyes Station’s Christmas tree lighting, and a new era at MALT

385. Quietly photographing all natural neighbors

384. The old codger connects Thanksgiving, turkeys, and NATO missiles

383. Feeding time

382. What a week for the press!

381. Our political D-Day

380. Marin agriculture as photographed between 1920 and 1950 by the county’s 1st farm advisor

379. Zen and the Art of Motor-mouth Maintenance

378. Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, a reminder of the Croatian immigration to Marshall

377. North Bend Ranch — rich in narrow-gauge railroad history — put up for sale

376. Young Kosovar refugee, whose diary West Marin read during war, sends an update

375. At the end of our line we found Cazadero

374. Typical-graphical errors and other journalistic confusion

373. Why Marin needs to approve Measure A

372. Tomales Founders Day parade bigger than ever

371. A convoluted look at language

370. Not quite what you’d expect

369. Jack Mason Museum opens exhibit on Inverness Yacht Club 100 years after it was first launched

368. Tomales High turns 100 years old as NASA’s Curiosity lands on Mars

367. Wild scene from my deck as photographed over two weeks

366. Far West Fest hot as a wildfire and lasts longer

365. The story of a ‘Deputy Sheriff in Wild and Wooly West Marin’

364. Drakes Bay Oyster Company struggles on against Park Service

363. Fighting a thorny intruder in West Marin

362. Unintentional double entendres in the press

361. Summer brings a new assortment of wildlife to Mitchell cabin

360. A short trip to exotic Gualala

359. Pictures from a fun-filled Western Weekend in Point Reyes Station

358. Marin County agriculture brought in $70 million last year

357. The agony and the ecstasy of Spring

356. History and merriment combine at Nicasio sesquicentennial celebration

355. Most 2nd District congressional candidates want US to legalize medical marijuana

354. Old Farmer’s Almanac still fresh after 220 years

353. A photographic history of Inverness Park

352. On eve of June 5 election, Supervisor Kinsey describes his grueling schedule

351. Glimpses of the narrow-gauge railroad

350. Senator Feinstein says Park Service employees ‘feel emboldened to once again fabricate science’

349. A drought for livestock but not for people

348. The origins of Point Reyes Station

347. More shenanigans by the Point Reyes National Seashore

346. Surviving another earthquake

345. Turkeys — both avian and human

344. Crowd at memorial honors beloved Realtor

343. Former National Seashore Supt. Neubacher & his boss Jon Jarvis becoming a political problem for the Obama administration

342. Grim times abroad and tranquil days at home

341. Using social media to hunt for Guatemalan murder suspect in US

340. The Great Storm of ’82 in pictures

339. Caught in the great storm of 1982

338. A roundup of wildlife at Mitchell cabin

337. Seasonal greetings can be confusing

336. Christmas Day visitors

335. How our Christmas turkeys got their name

334. A Christmas Carol

333. Who’s been naughty or nice

332. A gallery of visits from wildlife

331. The changing of the seasons

330. Artist Thomas Wood’s studio show captures nature’s beauty

329. Save America’s Postal Service

328. Symposium on National Seashore misdeeds; pancake fundraiser for firefighters & Disaster Council; barn dance — all in Pt. Reyes Station

327. Occupy Wall Street protest expands to Point Reyes Station

326. Joel Hack to retire as publisher of The West Marin Citizen

325. Women of West Marin

324. E Clampus Vitus gives further recognition to Duncans Mills’ trove of coastal history

323. Ungulates in the news

322. Incurring the raccoon gaze

321. Point Reyes Station’s Dance Palace celebrates 40th anniversary

320. Tomales Founders Day parade and picnic

319. Newswomen heroic in covering combat

318. Gopher it

317. Inverness Fair provided an antidote to Weltschmerz

316. Saturday’s opening reception for an exhibition of Elisabeth Ptak’s collages

315. Living among the wildlife

314. The threat from a runaway sand dune

313. Saturday’s Far West Fest

312. What’s in a name?

311. Tomales’ party in the park

310. The frustrations of home maintenance — a lesson learned from ‘The Arkansas Traveler’

309. The turtle

308. Hats off to Safeway

307. As expressions come and go, do you know what you’re saying?

306. We’re back following an unknown hacker’s vandalism to this blog

305. The sun shone on Sunday’s Western Weekend parade

304. The Western Weekend 4-H Fair and barn dance

303. Words, pictures, and the press

302. Memorial for Jonathan Rowe who led creation of the commons in Point Reyes Station

301. Goddamn winter’s back

300. This blog turns 300

299. Charge ahead! or pay cash

298. Daughter dies in Nevada County

297. What does the Easter Bunny have to do with Jesus’ resurrection?

296. West Marin update

295. Tales from West Marin’s forgotten past

294. When everything goes wrong

293. Writer Jonathan Rowe dies unexpectedly at 65

292. Some of the creatures that visited my cabin in a single day

291. Finding small absurdities in the midst of major crises

290. Bolinas exhibition takes an artistic look at the world

289. A fox at the table

288. The common people are revolting

287. How two resourceful women coped with crises

286. Have a happy and trippy Valentine’s Day

285. Quotes Worth Saving III

284. Facebook, the bizarre culmination of mass communications

283. A Great blue heron, mondagreens, and three cheers for Ghana

282. Video of two tributes to Missy Patterson during her memorial reception

281. Wishing a healthy, happy new year to West Marin’s critters — you included

280. ‘Tis the time of Janus, the god who looks forward and back

279. The death of a West Marin matriarch

278. Improbable politics in Wasilla, St. Petersburg and Point Reyes Station

277. Faces along the Path of Lights

276. Literary and civic news sponsored by the creatures of West Marin

275. Another round of inter-species peace negotiations at Mitchell cabin

274. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott takes turns performing with Corey Goodman and Maria Muldaur at amazing fundraiser in Marshall

273. Trailer Stash — a musical fundraiser to prepare Marshall for disasters

272. Day of the Dead celebration in Point Reyes Station

271. Point Reyes pedestrian home from hospital after being struck by deer

270. Have a happy (or scary) Halloween

269. Anastacio’s Famous BBQ Oyster Sauce — a part of West Marin’s Latino heritage — further refined

268. This fall’s wildlife census for my hill

267. Culvert project at White House Pool aims to reduce flooding along the levee road

266. Greetings from your governor

265. Bolinas boy makes good with documentary on fashion models

264. Scotland’s ill-fated colony in Panamaand why I read the Economist

263. Avoiding more victims by capping a sticky gusher

262. Crafting the Considerate House

261. West Marin remembers Duane Irving

260. The art of boating

259. Firefighters in action

258. Do you like coyotes and bobcats? How about rats?

257. Los mapaches con cacahuates; también fotos de los cuervos y venados

256. Proposal for ceasefire in West Marin ‘newspaper war’

255. The young creatures of summer

254. Eli’s coming — causing momentary dismay at The Point Reyes Light

253. Under the volcano and in the eye of the storm — a firsthand account

252. The duel between The Point Reyes Light and The West Marin Citizen

251. Santa Muerte and El Cadejo

250. Wildlife around my cars on the Serengeti Plain of West Marin

249. A big Western Weekend Parade in li’l old Point Reyes Station

248. 4-H Fair and Coronation Ball keep alive Western Weekend’s agricultural traditions

247. A tail for West Marin to bear in mind this Western Weekend

246. Point Reyes Light sells and will incorporate as a nonprofit

245. Point Reyes Station area blackout rumored to have been sparked by bird

244. Planned Feralhood desperate for a new home

243. John Francis takes a walk down under

242. A day in a small town

241. Point Reyes Station’s notorious curve is scene of yet another vehicle crash

240. The Mother Goose method for getting rid of thistles

239. A benefit so that handicapped kids can go rafting

238. Where angels fear to tread

237. The Chronicle, hang gliders, and horses

236. Crowd celebrates 80th birthday of Marshall artist-political activist Donna Sheehan

235. A classic revisited

234. Nature celebrates spring

233. More on diplomatic news we’ve been following

232. Sportscar flies off embankment; no one hurt in miraculous landing

231. A chat with the Trailside Killer

230. Life and death on my hill

229. Valentine’s Fair raises money for Haiti relief

228. Historic irony as milk truck overturns in Marshall

227. Encouraging my bodhisattva possum on her path to enlightenment

226. Benefit for Haitian earthquake survivors filled with mixed emotions

225. What drought? Nicasio Reservoir overflows

224. Disconcerting standup reporting

223. The storms begin; schools close; a near miss at my cabin

222. Spare the rodent (or rabbit) & spoil the diet

221. Lookin’ out my backdoor: some of my favorite wildlife photos

220. Careening through the holidays

219. Chileno Valley journalist working in Abu Dhabi brings new wife home for visit

218. Just what would Mayberry be like on acid?

217. The foxes of downtown Point Reyes Station

216. Interpreting dreams

215. Let’s talk turkey

214. You’ll Never Walk Alone — an unlikely story

213. A wistful walk on the bottom of Nicasio Reservoir

212. Progress in the backyard peace process

211. John Francis leaving; 4 other artists turn pages but sticking around

210. What we inherit

209. Over 200 show up at fundraiser to help pay injured ad manager’s medical bills

208. A community helping one of its own

207. A country mouse in the Tenderloin

206. News of the week reported through pictures

205. Update on injured ad manager of West Marin Citizen; benefit planned; and will there be a race?

204. Startling weather; amazing stepdaughters

203. Talented-animal tales

2o2. Saga of The West Marin Citizen ad manager’s recovery spreads around the globe — not always accurately

201. And you were there

200. Hospitalized ad manager of West Marin Citizen coming home; friends volunteering to provide meals

199. Scenes from the Inverness Fair

198. Great progress for injured ad manager of The West Marin Citizen despite problems with convalescent hospital

197. Thieves use ruse to clean out till at Station House Gifts

196. Anastacio’s Famous BBQ Oyster Sauce goes on sale

195. A hillside of wildlife

194. Kaiser Permanente’s ‘Sicko’ machinations shock injured ad manager of The West Marin Citizen

193. Immobilized by multiple injuries, ad manager keeps selling from hospital bed

192. All creatures feathered and furry

191. The wildlife of summer around my cabin & an update on Linda Petersen’s condition

19o. West Marin Citizen advertising manager hurt in crash; her popular dog Sebastian dies

189. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade

188. The Western Weekend Livestock Show

187. Western Weekend parade will be Sunday despite reports to the contrary

186. The purple couch beside the road

185. A funny thing happened at the car wash Friday & other odd events

184. My brush with a badger

183. Scientists find no evidence oyster farm harming Drakes Estero; more likely restoring it

182. Why bottom of Drakes Estero can never become part of a wilderness area

181. Badger, Ratty, and the sensual raccoon

180. ‘And how the wind doth ramm!/ Sing: Goddamm — Ezra Pound

179. A tailgate gallery of bumper-sticker humor; Point Reyes weather both Arctic & tropical

178. Crowd in Inverness Friday calls for reviving park’s Citizens Advisory Commission

177. Flying over Northwest Marin

176. Spring meditations in a Miwok cemetery concerning the news of West Marin.

175. Two warning signs of Spring

174. Tomales may be little but it’s lively

173. Doe stalks cat; raccoon emulates Scripture — for the rain it raineth every day

172. Three-year drought comes to a symbolic ending as Nicasio Reservoir overflows

171. Pot busts at my cabin — again

170. Happy Valentine’s Day (as it’s evolved)

169. Blogging about blogging

168. Thinking about words

167. Point Reyes Station celebrates President Barack Obama’s inauguration

166. A reader in Ghana

165. The bittersweet story of a hardy little tree

164. A parting look at 2008

163. Blackout hits Tomales Bay area

162. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVIII: Way Out West in West Marin

161. Chileno Valley Ranch as depicted by a rancher-artist who lives there

160. Nature’s Two Acres XXXVIII: This time it’s a tale of two bobbed cats

159. Thanksgiving in Point Reyes Station

158. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVII: a bobcat at my cabin

157. Quotes Worth Saving II

156. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXVI: The migrating birds of fall; or ‘Swan Lake’ revisited

155. Election night euphoria

154. The fun and anxiety of preparing for a disaster

153. Porky Pig, Demosthenes, Joe Biden, and ‘K-K-K-Katy

152. The political zoo.

151. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXV: Mr. Squirrel

150. A coyote at my cabin

149. Preparing for the fire season

148. Telling the Raccoon ‘Scat’

147. Faces from the weekly press

146. Tomales, Tomales, that toddling town

145. How park administration used deception & sometimes-unwitting environmentalists to harass oyster company with bad publicity

144. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXIII: Photographing wildlife indoors and out

143. What government scientists elsewhere had to say about the park’s misrepresenting research to attack oyster company

142. Landscape photos & paintings in Stinson Beach

141. What’s in the Inspector General’s report on the park that newspapers here aren’t telling you

140. Point Reyes National Seashore Supt. Don Neubacher seen as ’scary’

139. A demonstration to save Point Reyes National Seashore deer; park administration dishonesty officially confirmed

138. The good, the bizarre, and the ugly

138. Alice in ‘Wilderness

137. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXII: The first raccoon kits of summer

136. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXXI: The pink roses of Point Reyes Station

135. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXX: Baldfaced hornets

134. Scenes from my past week

133. Artist Bruce Lauritzen of Point Reyes Station draws a crowd for opening of exhibit

132. Kite day at Nicasio School

131. Sunday’s Western Weekend Parade in photos

130. Early projections hold: Obama, Woolsey & Kinsey win… Leno easily bests Migden & Nation

129. Western Weekend’s 4-H Livestock Show fun — but smaller than ever

128. Humane Society of the US says National Seashore claims about deer contraception are misleading

127. Lt. Governor John Garamendi joins battle to save fallow & axis deer in Point Reyes National Seashore

126. Nature’s Two Acres Part XXIX: Cold-blooded carnality… Or, why be warm blooded?

125. Nature’s Two Acres XXVIII: The first fawns of spring

124. The Beat Generation lives on at the No Name Bar

123. ‘Still Life with Raccoon

122. Nature’s Two Acres XXVII: Animals about town.

121. Newspaperman from Chileno Valley describes his life in the United Arab Emirates

120. Point Reyes Station and Inverness Park demonstrators call for a pedestrian bridge over Papermill Creek

119. Seeing history through newsmen’s eyes…. or the pen is mightier than the pigs

118. Five Faces of Spring

117. Supervisor Steve Kinsey defends further restrictions on woodstoves in West Marin

116. Prostitution in New York, Reno, and Point Reyes Station

115. A country without the decency to ban torture

114. National Seashore’s slaughter of deer traumatizes many residents here; ‘we demand a stop’

113. A tale of Kosovo, West Marin, and a bored battalion of Norwegian soldiers

112. Dillon Beach sewage spill update

111. ‘Drive-by journalism’

110. Sewage spills into ocean at Dillon Beach

109. Nature’s Two Acres XXVI: Which came first, blacktail or mule deer? Hint — their venison is oedipal

108. Nature’s Two Acres XXV: Talking turkey

107. Here’s hoping ‘the goose hangs high this Thursday for Valentine’s Day

106. Signs of bureaucratic contamination

105. A final thought about the Caltrans worker who just did his job — and saved the day

104. Statewide campaign to legalize hemp and marijuana comes to Point Reyes Station

103. Heavy news media presence briefly halts axis-deer slaughterin the Point Reyes National Seashore

102. Storm damage bad but could have been tragic

101. Nature’s Two Acres XXIV: Buffleheads, Greater Scaups, and the 16.6 million wild ducks shot annually

100. Lawsuits against and by Robert Plotkin settled out of court

99. Nature’s Two Acres XXIII: Bambi, Thumper, and Garfield

98. Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposal to close Tomales Bay State Park to save money could prove expensive

97. Old Christmas trees, wild turkeys, and the famous cat-and-rat scheme

96. Blackouts, newspapers in the news, and poetic frustration on the prairie

95. Hurricane-force wind & heavy rain take heavy toll on West Marin

94. Marin County gets a bum rap from itself

93. ‘Eco-fascism in the Point Reyes National Seashore

92. Guess who came to Christmas dinner

91. Yuletide greetings from Santa Claws

90. Assemblyman Jared Huffman’s ominous mailer

89. Nature’s Two Acres XXII: They’re hundreds of times more deadly than cynanide… and headed this way

88. Non-native species stops traffic in Point Reyes Station

87. Blackouts bedevil Point Reyes Station area

86. Urban legends

85. Nature’s Two Acres XXI: Coyote influx benefits some birds around Point Reyes Station

84. Winter Moon Fireside Tales — an undiscovered gem draws only four ticketholders opening night (but more for second show)

83. Striptease in Point Reyes Station… well, sorta

82. Our Lady of the Chutzpah — the many faces of State Senator Carole Migden

81. Stefanie Pisarczyk (AKA Stefanie Keys): a woman of two worlds

80. Point Reyes Station’s ‘Path of Lights’

79. Lessons to be learned from the oil spill

78. Nature’s Two Acres Part XX: Where coyotes howl and raccoons roam free

77. West Marin Community Thanksgiving Dinner celebrated in Point Reyes Station’s Dance Palace

76. Giving thanks for an abundant harvest

75. Being a Gypsy isn’t enough; KPFA fires host criticized for not being a ‘person of color’

74. Nature’s Two Acres Part IXX: ‘Things that go bump in the night’

73. Point Reyes Station pharmacist decries health-insurance practices

72. Farm Bureau president quits; defends independence of wife who disagrees with his political position

71. Ship hits Bay Bridge; spilled oil drifts out Golden Gate and mires birds on West Marin coast

70. California photo book’s release celebrated with gala on Inverness Ridge

69. Coastal Post’s December issue to be its last, assistant editor says; publisher contradicts her

68. West Marin’s ‘Mac Guru’ leaving town — a friend with a knack for surviving

67. One last warm weekend before the season of darkness

66. Ranching matriarch Hazel Martinelli dies at 101

65. Nature’s Two Acres Part XVIII: Seasonal sightings

64. White House Pool: a public park where management listens to the public

63. Tuesday’s Marin County Farm Bureau luncheon for politicos

62. Hawks on the move

61. Point Reyes Station’s Hazel Martinelli celebrates 101st birthday with party at son’s deer camp

60. Vandals dump sewage at West Marin School

59. Paving Point Reyes Station’s main street at night

58. Bolinas firehouse and clinic opening party Sunday

57. Nature’s Two Acres XVII: As seen by an old, almost-blind dog

56. Despite public-be-damned management, it’s still a beautiful park.

55. Language, politics & wildlife

54. Truth becomes an endangered species at the Point Reyes National Seashore.

53. ‘Possums,’ a sequel to the musical ‘Cats’

52. The KWMR/Love Field ‘Far West Fest’

51. Quotes Worth Saving & the Inverness Fair

50. Watching the Point Reyes National Seashore obliterate cultural history

49. Congress sees through Point Reyes National Seashore claims

48. Music, wildlife, and the cosmos

42. Garbage in, garbage out

41. 76-year-old Nick’s Cove reopens

40. What we didn’t celebrate on the Fourth of July

39. Ship’s flare or meteor

38. The death of a salesman: Andrew Schultz

37. Preventing fires at home while The Point Reyes Light feels the heat

36. Monday’s demonstration against The Point Reyes Light

35. Inverness Park fire Friday razes art studio

34. Western Weekend retrospective; anonymous satire of Point Reyes Light distributed at parade; Light’s use of unpaid interns may run afoul of labor laws.

33. Sunday’s Western Weekend parade and barbecue

32. Many fail to find Western Weekend livestock show; a new newpaper debuts in West Marin; The Point Reyes Light reports a former bookkeeper is in jail on embezzlement charges.

31. Nature’s Two Acres Part XVI: A gopher snake & other neighbors

30. New newspaper to be published in West Marin

29. Mermaids, cows, Horizon Cable, and Russia’s Internet war on Estonia

28. Nature’s Two Acres Part XV: ‘Among animals…one finds natural caricatures.’

27. Nature’s Two Acres Part XIV: ‘The world, dear Agnes, is a strange affair.’

26. Sheriff Bob Doyle stays the course despite blunder

25. Nature’s Two Acres Part XIII: ‘Who’s the Head Bull-Goose Loony Around Here?’

24. Nature’s Two Acres Part XII: April showers ‘cruel’ with ‘no regrets’

23. Nature’s Two Acres Part XI: The perky possum

22. Former Point Reyes Light columnist John Grissim, the late pornographer Artie Mitchell, Brazilian President Lula and the advent of orgasmic diplomacy

21. Nature’s Two Acres Part X: ‘Nature Red in Tooth and Claw’

20. Nature’s Two Acres Part IX: Point Reyes Station’s blackbirds

19. Nature’s Two Acres Part VIII: ‘Mice & rats, and such small deer’

18. The Gossip Columnist

17. Saying Yes to Change: A former Point Reyes Station innkeeper finds true joy by moving in with a working-class family in a poor neighborhood of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

16. The Bush Administration at Point Reyes Part II: Whatever happened to the Citizens Advisory Commission to the GGNRA & Point Reyes National Seashore?

15. The Bush Administration at Point Reyes: Part I

14. Marin supervisors refuse to tilt at McEvoy windmill

13. Nature’s Two Acres Part VII: Rats v. dishwashers

12. Nature’s Two Acres Part VI: How Flashing Affects Wildlife

11. Nature’s Two Acres Part V: By Means of Water

10. Bankruptcy court trustee lets Robert Plotkin hold onto some of his Ponzi-scheme ‘profits’

9. Big Pot Busts at My Cabin

8. Storm-caused fire razes Manka’s Lodge and Restaurant in Inverness

7. Nature’s Two Acres Part IV: Christmas turkeys & where the buck stopped

6. Nature’s Two Acres Part III: Insectivores and Not

5. My background: Biographical information on newspaperman Dave Mitchell

4. Nature’s Two Acres Part II: Living dinosaurs actually found around my cabin

3. Nature’s Two Acres: A Point Reyes Station Photo Exhibit

2. Robert I. Plokin

1. Introduction to this site SparselySageAndTimely.com plus an account of orphaned fawns being released in Chileno Valley.

In 1886, West Marin became linked to the tiny town of Cazadero north of the Russian River by the North Pacific Coast Railway’s narrow-gauge line.

The first North Pacific Coast train from Sausalito had on Jan. 7, 1875, arrived in Tomales by way of the San Geronimo Valley and a depot in a cow pasture that would become Point Reyes Station; not surprisingly, the advent of train service set off construction of homes and businesses around the small depot.

By the following year, another long stretch of tracks — from Tomales through Occidental (then called Howard’s) to Monte Rio — had been completed.

A train of picnickers prepares to head home after partying in Cazadero in the 1890s. Photo from Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods by Bray Dickinson.

In 1876, the North Pacific Coast Railway tracks were extended west along the south bank of the Russian River from Monte Rio to Duncans Mills. There the tracks for a logging train crossed the river and doubled back upstream.

In 1886, the logging-train tracks became the first section of an extended line that ran up Austin Creek to its terminus, which the Postal Service had named Austin after the creek. The town had previously been known as Ingram’s after a hunting resort there, and resort owner Silas Ingram, who was also the postmaster, was annoyed by the feds changing the name, which had helped promote his resort.

To quote Dickinson’s book: “A United States Post Office had been established here on April 1, 1881, with Silas D. Ingram as postmaster. The name of the post office was changed [back] to Ingram’s on June 25, 1886 and on April 24, 1889 [was changed] to Cazadero.” The word is Spanish for hunting ground.

Dickinson adds, “The first regular passenger train from San Francisco arrived at Ingram’s on April 1, 1886.” The trip had begun with travelers crossing the Golden Gate on a North Pacific Coast ferry. The ferry docked in Sausalito, and the engine house for the railway was in Point Reyes Station.

The CazSonoma Inn.

In the early 1970s when I lived in Monte Rio while editing The Sebastopol Times, I frequently heard good things about the Cazanoma Lodge in nearby Cazadero but somehow never found time to check it out.

A couple of weeks ago after Lynn and I finished some maintenance on a cottage she owns in Forestville near the Russian River, she and I on a lark decided to visit Cazadero, which neither of us had seen in years.

I was still curious about the Cazanoma Lodge, so we agreed to make that part of the trip. From Highway 116, we drove up the Cazadero “Highway” in the shadow of giant redwoods until we spotted a sign beside Kidd Creek, a tributary of Austin Creek. As the sign revealed, the lodge has been renamed the CazSonoma Inn, and we drove three miles up a dirt road to reach it.

Running the inn these days are Rich Mitchell (no relation) and his wife Renée. Rich, who is seen here in the inn’s charming dining room, is a genial host. A poet and author, the innkeeper relishes literary discussions.

Lynn enjoying a snooze in our room called the Creekside.

After making reservations earlier in the week, Lynn and I drove to Cazadero Friday and checked in at the CazSonoma Inn. Our room, which included two queen-sized beds and a large bathroom, overlooked a mill pond along Kidd Creek. Including breakfast the next morning, the tab came to $150 for the night.

The mill at the bottom of a small tributary to Kidd Creek was built in 1941 but hasn’t turned for two years, Rich told us.

The innkeeper gave us some fish food, which looked a bit like dog kibble, to throw into the mill pond near a pair of old duck decoys. Each time we did, we set off a feeding frenzy of trout.

I wanted to take a photo of Rich in the inn’s pub, which overlooks the mill pond, but he insisted we trade places. (Photo by Rich Mitchell)

Raymond’s Bakery beside Cazadero Highway has become well known for excellent pastries since opening 10 years ago. By now it is a popular meeting spot for local residents. Here Lynn chooses one of the bakery’s “award-winning” oatmeal cookies.

As it happened, Lynn and I were drawn to Cazadero Friday by the bakery as well as our inn. On Friday evenings, Raymond’s sponsors music outdoors under a stand of redwoods, and we heard a fine bluegrass band called Out of the Blue. Pizza, beer, and wine were served at picnic tables. There was no cover charge. A pizza large enough for two of us cost $18.

In the center of town is the Cazadero Store, which was built in 1882. The North Pacific Coast trains used to stop out front. To the right is the town post office.

On the north end of the small downtown is the non-denominational Cazadero Community Church. Over the door hangs a sign reading: “Heavenbound Express.”

Immediately north of the Community Church is St. Colman’s Catholic Church built in 1920.

Berry’s Mill when it dominated the downtown. (Russian River Historical Society photo)

My home in Monte Rio had been built with redwood from Berry’s Mill, so I stopped a couple of times to take a look at the mill back in the 1970s when it was still sawing logs into timber in downtown Cazadero.

“The story of Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard began in 1941,” notes the mill’s website. “Twenty-year-old Loren Berry was working as a logger in the small town of Cazadero. His family had been living there since 1886 when Loren’s grandfather bought the town of Ingrams and renamed it Cazadero.

“In those days, logging was done in and near Cazadero to convert forests to grazing land. Sawmills were needed to process the logs. In 1941, with the financial backing of his father, Loren built and began operating Berry’s Mill and Lumberyard. Most of the lumber was sold to farmers.”

During World War II, “Loren left Cazadero, joined the Army, and continued building and operating sawmills in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific. At the end of the war, Loren returned to Cazadero with a new philosophy of forest preservation and management. Rather than clear-cutting and burning forests to create grazing land, Loren promoted sustained-yield cutting and replanting.”

The old mill was destroyed by fire in 1989. With the help of townspeople, the Berry family rebuilt the mill but later relocated their operation to the Russian River end of Cazadero Highway.

A turnaround for locomotives was on the north end of Cazadero, the same as in Point Reyes Station. When the railway east of Point Reyes Station was  converted to standard gauge in 1920, the narrow-gauge line ran only between the two towns. Photo from Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods.

The Austin Creek disaster. Drawing by a San Francisco Examiner staff artistfrom Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods.

On Jan. 14, 1894, heavy rains swelled Austin Creek to where a trestle collapsed with a train from Cazadero on it. Seven men died, including the engineer, fireman, station agent, and town postmaster. The corpse of station agent Joseph Sabine was not found for 10 days.

Writes Dickinson: “By the 10th day, everyone was ready to abandon the search as hopeless just as an elderly Spanish woodchopper asked if they would let him help. He fastened a lighted candle to a piece of board and then chanted ‘mystic’ words as he set the candle adrift.

“Some distance downstream the board circled about in an eddy, then floated up to some tangled brush. The candle went out. ‘There you will find the dead man,’ said the old Spaniard. And so it was.” Dickinson adds, “It is difficult to determine how much of this story is true. However, those who were there for years repeated the story as true.”

The Cazadero depot in 1903. Photo from Narrow Gauge to the Redwoods.

On July 31, 1933, the 7.2-mile section of narrow-gauge line that connected Cazadero and Duncans Mill closed because traffic along it had mostly disappeared. The last narrow-gauge run from Camp Meeker south to Point Reyes Station had already occurred on March 29, 1930.

After almost 45 years of contributing to each other’s well being, Point Reyes Station and Cazadero were forced to go their separate ways. Their histories, however, are forever linked. Both towns are still small, but Cazadero today bears more of a quaint resemblance to its 19th century roots.

For a town with only 85 residents, Duncans Mills, which is on the Russian River just upstream from Jenner, contains a surprising amount of history from the Marin and Sonoma county coasts.

West Marin oldtimers may recognize this narrow-gauge passenger car from the North Pacific Coast Railroad, which operated from 1875 to 1930 between Sausalito and Cazadero. Point Reyes Station’s present post office was the town depot, and the Red Barn (now painted green) was the engine house.

For the rail line’s first year and a half, the northern terminus was in Tomales, but after a 1,700-foot-long tunnel was dug through “Tunnel Hill,” the line was extended to Valley Ford and Occidental (then called Howard’s) and on to the Russian River area.

After the line shut down in 1930, this passenger car, which is now being repainted, was the Point Reyes Station library until 1957. The late Mike Contos bought the car in 1957 and kept it at his trout farm, which was located where Point Reyes Station’s Caltrans corporation yard is today. The late Toby Giacomini, who at one time owned Toby’s Feed Barn and Toby’s Trucking, bought the rail car in 1975 and moved it downtown to where West Marin Storage is now located.

Millerick Brothers of Sebastopol purchased the car in 1981 and kept it at Millerick Brothers Boat Yard until 1983 when Duncans Mills Trading Company bought it. The old rail car was then moved it to the Duncans Mills Depot Museum, where it is currently being restored for the fourth time.

After a ceremony that took note of the history of this 140-year-old barn in Duncans Mills, Clamper Kevin Dixon of Vallejo (at left) from Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 indicated with a gesture what a great day it was.

On Saturday, two chapters of E Clampus Vitus dedicated a plaque in Duncans Mills, memorializing another piece of coastal history, Moscow Barn at Casini Ranch Campground. The structure is so old that President and former Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant is believed to have stabled horses there at one time.

The “plaquing” was carried out by Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 (Napa, Glenn, Colusa counties “and protector of Solano”) and Yerba Buena 1 (“the Mother Lodge”), which is based in San Francisco.

It was the second time a group of Clampers had dedicated a plaque in Duncans Mills. Back in 1989, Yerba Buena 1 placed a plaque on the Blue Heron Restaurant and Tavern, recalling an odd bit of town history. In 1877, Black Bart for a second time robbed the stagecoach between Fort Ross and Duncans Mills. The outlaw would eventually rob a total of 28 stagecoaches while never firing a shot. What made the second robbery worthy of Clamper recognition is that for this heist, Black Bart wrote a short poem and left it with the stage.

Clampers, by the way, have also left their tracks in West Marin. In 1998, the two groups dedicated a plaque to Tomales’ historic downtown, mounting it on a traffic island in front of the William Tell House. In 2008, they placed a plaque in Tomales Town Park, marking the site of the house of Warren Dutton, a co-founder of the town. The house was destroyed in the 1920 town fire. Yet another plaque was mounted at the Point Reyes Lifeboat Station.

The leader of each chapter or lodge of the Clampers is known as the Noble Grand Humbug. Here Jim “Woody” Morton (at left), the Humbug of Sam Brannan 1004 jokes with Nils “Hagar” Anderson, Humbug of Yerba Buena 1.

The “right temperament” to be a Clamper, said Dean Hamlin of Santa Rosa, ex Humbug of the Sam Brannan chapter, “means you have to have a sense of humor, the ability to laugh at oneself and with others, and have a sense and appreciation of history.”

Loren Wilson, who once lived on the Cereni Ranch just north of Tomales near Fallon, is an ex “Sublime Noble Grand Humbug” of all the Clampers, as well as a past Noble Grand Humbug of Sam Brannan Chapter 1004 and a current Clamper historian.

Gina Casini and her brother Paul Casini own Casini Ranch Campground where historic Moscow Barn is located. Paul noted their grandfather once managed a dairy ranch for the LaFranchi family on the site. In 1928, he bought the land from them. Gina said her grandfather then started the campground “and charged two bits.”

In 1919, the Christian Brothers had bought the neighboring land where the barn was located to start a retreat for boys. The barn’s stalls were converted into a recreation hall that was also used as sleeping quarters, Paul said, and the hayloft was converted into a chapel. By 1973, he added, the barn was no longer being used and was in disrepair, so the Christian Brothers decided to have it torn down and offered the Casinis the lumber.

However, his father had been baptized in the chapel and played in the barn as a boy, and he was fond of the building, Paul said. His family then moved the barn 1,500 feet to their property. On the way, the barn had to travel down a slope, and Gina said she’d been amazed it didn’t shake apart. Fortunately, the barn arrived safely and her father then restored it.

Humbug Morton and Gina Casini during the plaquing.

Gina told the crowd of almost 200 about going to movies in the barn as a youth. More recently she’s taught line dancing there and would like to do it again, she added. Nowadays, however, the former livestock barn is primarily used for weddings and other group events.

Following the comments from Gina and Humbug Anderson, he in accordance with tradition asked the group, “And what say the brethren?” In unison they shouted back, “Satisfactory!” Anderson then read the plaque to the crowd and again asked, “And what say the brethren?” Again the response was: “Satisfactory!”

The two humbugs then “anointed” the plaque with bottles of beer.

This week I’m reprinting a magazine article by award-winning guitarist and composer Moro Buddy Bohn, who lives in the hamlet of Salmon Creek just north of the town of Bodega Bay.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, Moro in 1963 recorded his first album, Buddy Bohn — Folksinger. In 1965, he performed on the Andy Williams Show, and in 1967, he toured with the New Christy Minstrels as a guest guitarist. From 1968 to 1970, Moro played at a private club, the Factory, which Paul Newman owned in Los Angeles.

In 1970, he recorded his second album, Places, and in 1972, he recorded his third album, A Drop in the Ocean, performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. One of Moro’s compositions, Vermouth Rondo from A Drop in the Ocean, became an international hit, and Moro used the royalties to build his home and recording studio at Salmon Creek.

An online biography notes he performed for King Fredrick IX of Denmark, Maharaja and Maharani of Gwalior, Queens Sirikit and Elizabeth II, Duchess Francesca in Granada, shaikh of Hofuf, King Bhumibol of Siam, His Highness, Shaikh Shakhbut II bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, for some friendly Bedouin champagne smugglers (while crossing the Arabian Desert as guest of their camel caravan), for the Maharaja of Sandur, Baron and Baroness Peiris of Sri Lanka, the International Council of Europe, and more.

Approximately 40 years later, Moro is now trying to get California State Parks to deal with a man-made threat to his home.

Moro Buddy Bohn on the beach near his Salmon Creek home. (Photo by Mary Barnett)

By Moro Buddy Bohn, Reprinted from Ocean magazine http://www.oceanmagazine.org/

A sand dune tsunami is swallowing our little beach forest at Salmon Creek Beach near Bodega Bay.

In the early 1980s, heavy equipment uprooted vegetation in a section of coastal dunes. With ground cover gone in this area, sand began drifting through the gap and creating this dune, which is now crossing public land and will soon reach private land. Plants and a small forest are being buried by the advancing dune.

Unfortunately, the forest’s trees, shrubs, and grasses, which were planted here by California State Parks, are what park ecologists now call non-native exotics. Here’s what has happened.

By the 1950s, human encroachment had destroyed the native dune grasses that stabilized Salmon Creek Beach for centuries. Unstable sand was burying plants and threatening the remaining plants, homes, roads, and even Bodega Bay’s fishing industry. According to US Department of Agriculture figures, drifting sand had created 1,000 acres of desert around Bodega Bay. To save the harbor, repeated dredging was necessary.

Attempts to re-stabilize the dunes with native grasses were unsuccessful, so the USDA imported the deep-rooting European dune grass, which had proven durable — even with human abuse — along the Mediterranean coast.

Beginning in 1952 under the leadership of the Gold Ridge Soil Conservation District, individual farmers, Bodega Bay Grange, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, Sonoma County supervisors, the State Division of Soil Conservation, and the State Division of Beaches and Parks, European grasses were planted around Bodega Bay with resounding success.

With the sand stabilized, it was possible to beautify our vast beach by planting a forest on it. So State Parks rangers brought in and planted — right in the sand — the most beautiful and hardy specie of tree they could find.

An archway in the forest. (Photo by Moro Buddy Bohn)

State Parks chose the Monterey cypress, which had proven itself along the Central California Coast, and brought in a few Monterey pines as well. Among the trees, they planted lupine with its fragrant yellow blossoms, myoporum, flowering iceplant, and other shrubs including rosemary bushes.

The beachfront paradise attracted an array of wildlife from near and far. By the early 1980s the beach forest’s aromas from flower blossoms, rosemary, and pine cones mingled with the fresh, salty air. Birds sang to the accompaniment of surf. Passageways formed through the tree branches, leading to quiet sanctuaries where the quail, rabbits, deer, and birds stopped to rest and munch on seeds or delicate, succulent blossoms.

For part of the year, Salmon Creek’s lagoon is cut off from the ocean by a seasonal sandbar. (Photo by Moro Buddy Bohn)

But it was too good to last. During the early 1980s a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vessel got beached here in a winter storm. Heavy equipment was brought in to float the ship, and a section of the European grass was uprooted.

The Army Corps offered to replace the European grass. But by then nativism had taken possession of ecological thought, and replanting of “alien invader” grass was unthinkable to State Parks.

The denuded sand became a moving dune — a mass of windblown sand 40 feet high — covering the forest and its bird and animal habitat, approaching our roads and homes. Strong onshore afternoon winds continually pile up more sand. Only a small section of the forest still survives.

State Parks has placed an ecologist in charge. He says the forest is “alien, non-native, exotic, invasive” tree, shrub, and grass species that have no place on the Sonoma Coast — even though the forest was created by State Parks.

State measurements confirm that as a result of human activity a buildup of sand is steadily smothering this forest. Beachgoers, heavy equipment, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, horses, and the dragging of driftwood logs to build fires have destroyed native plants, which had stabilized the dunes. Ironically, the state has refused to let humans — including the Army Corps of Engineers — undo the damage caused by humans. (Photo by Moro Buddy Bohn)

The state ecologist hopes the beach will run out of sand with which to supply the dune before it reaches our homes. He says he’ll bring in a bulldozer to save the homes if needed. At that point the forest will be gone, and along with it a large variety of nesting birds and other animals.

Today’s ecologists with whom I’ve spoken seem pleased with the dune’s progress because they’re anxious to be rid of any “invading” Monterey cypress trees.

For 28 years I’ve watched as the dune has gained size and groundspeed, measured by our ecologist each year since 2003. Its average annual movement these last eight years is more than 12 feet, about 3 inches per week.

The trees slowly suffocate, at 3 inches per week. Macabre. Trees sense their environment and communicate with each other in various ways. One is with pheromones. These trees are being buried alive. Meanwhile, swallowed, they stabilize the dune, strengthening it.

The dune’s cutting edge will begin swallowing the last vestige of forest within two years and arrive at private property in four to five years.

The runaway dune near the center of this photo is advancing on homes in the hamlet of Salmon Creek at the rate of about three inches per week. A parking lot for beachgoers is to its right. The creek itself is at the far right. Moro would like to see the state use a bulldozer to flatten part of the dune so that any of a number of groundcover plants can be mechanically planted to stabilize the sand and stop the dune’s advance. There are several native plants that could do the job — if the state were just willing to do its job. (Google satellite photo)

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Turnout was light today, Tuesday, for California’s state primary elections — mainly because the state had already held its presidential primary on Feb. 5. Waiting for voters at the Point Reyes Station polling place in the firehouse are election workers (from front): Doug Long, Cathleen Austin, and Cindy Knabe.

US Senator Barack Obama today clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, as numerous news organizations early this afternoon began projecting he would.

Acknowledging her opponent’s commanding lead in delegates to the nominating convention, Senator Hillary Clinton told Democratic politicos in New York that she is willing to be Obama’s running mate.

220px-barack_obama.jpgSenator Obama, 46, is the first black presidential nominee of a major US political party.

Obama was born in Honolulu to a Kenyan father and a white American mother, who met at the University of Hawaii. His parents soon separated, however, and eventually divorced. His mother’s second husband was Indonesian, and when he was six, Obama moved to Indonesia for four years. He then returned to Hawaii where he lived with his maternal grandparents while attending 5th through 12th grades.

Obama graduated from Columbia University where he majored in Political Science, specializing in International Relations. In 1991, he received a law degree magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

From 1993 to 2004, Senator Obama taught Constitutional Law parttime at the University of Chicago Law School while also working as an attorney. He was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 and the US Senate in 2004.

100_5259.jpgMeanwhile, this news blog at 10 a.m. today (which is when I got up) projected Supervisor Steve Kinsey and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey would easily win their races.

Incumbent Kinsey (left) ran unopposed in the nonpartisan Marin County race for the Fourth District.

He will now serve his fourth term on the Board of Supervisors, representing all of West Marin, along with pieces of Larkspur, Corte Madera, and San Rafael.

lynn_woolsey.jpgIncumbent Woolsey (right), who represents Marin and Sonoma counties in the US House of Representatives, likewise ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

In November, Woolsey will face Michael Halliwell, who was unopposed in today’s Sixth District Republican primary. Woolsey has already served eight terms in the House, where she has one of the most liberal voting records of any member.

photo50.jpgUpdate on the State Senate Democratic Primary: With 43 percent of the vote, Assemblyman Mark Leno handily outdistanced Assemblyman Joe Nation (29.3 percent) and incumbent Carole Migden (27.7 percent) in the Third State Senate District.

The district includes Marin County and parts of San Francisco and Sonoma counties.

Leno (left) will face Republican Sashi McEntee in November’s general election. McEntee ran unopposed in today’s Republican primary.

The Third State Senate District — like Woolsey’s Sixth Congressional District — is overwhelmingly Democratic, and a victory in either Democratic primary is often tantamount to election.

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The moon was full Saturday night, and in the Giacomini family’s pasture next to my cabin, a coyote howled off and on from 12:30 to 3:30 a.m. Sometimes I could hear a second coyote answering from the Point Reyes Station Mesa.

During the past five winters, I’ve seen a coyote in my backyard stalking fawns, which bounded away while the coyote was squeezing under a barbed-wire fence; I’ve seen a coyote on Highway 1 downhill from the cabin; and I’ve found coyote tracks in frost on my steps. I’ve also seen coyotes twice on Limantour Road and once beside Nicasio Reservoir. Twice recently, my houseguest Linda Peterson has seen coyotes along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near the Mount Vision Overlook turnoff, where she shot this photo. [Update: Since this posting went online, Linda has spotted (and photographed) yet another coyote.] In short, coyotes are again common throughout West Marin.
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Coyotes were once so common here that the town of Olema took its name from the Miwok Indian word for coyote. But in the 1940s, sheep ranchers using poisoned bait were able to eliminate coyotes in West Marin and southwestern Sonoma County, and there were none here for 40 years.
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In 1972, however, the Nixon Administration banned use of the poison 10-80, primarily because it was non-specific and killed many other animals too. Coyotes, which had never disappeared from northern Sonoma County, then began spreading south. Since they began showing up here again in 1983, they have put more than half the sheep ranches around Marshall, Tomales, Dillon Beach, and Valley Ford out of business.

In West Marin these nights, they can be heard howling as far inland as the San Geronimo Valley, and for listeners who aren’t sheepmen, the high-pitched, barking howls are a beguiling reminder of life on the western frontier.
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Frontiersman Davy Crockett (1786-1836) liked to claim his reputation as a hunter preceded him into the forest. As Crockett told the story, he once treed a raccoon that resignedly cried out: “Don’t shoot, Colonel! I’ll come down! I know I’m a gone ‘coon.” This here raccoon was lucky to merely be shot with my camera.

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An old friend, Joy Adam, who has been living in Germany for 20 years, dropped by my cabin Saturday night and cooked some spicy dishes from India as a birthday dinner.

Here one of the guests, Gabriela Melano of Nicasio, has a through-the-glass encounter with one of this hill’s roaming raccoons.

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On Friday, I had turned 64, and my former wife Ana Carolina in Guatemala had emailed me the lyrics to the Beatles’ song When I’m 64. During Saturday’s birthday dinner, Nina Howard of Inverness, Joy, and Linda used a printout of the lyrics to serenade me with; “When I get older, losing my hair/ Many years from now/ Will you still be sending me a valentine/ Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?/ If I’d been out till quarter to three/ Would you lock the door?/ Will you still need me/ Will you still feed me/ When I’m 64?”

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I’d already had a earlier birthday dinner Friday at the Station House Café with my houseguest Linda plus Linda Sturdivant of Inverness Park, her partner Terry, her daughter Seeva, and our mutual friend Cheryl Keltner of Point Reyes Station.

Sixty-four didn’t sound that old when all of them sang Happy Birthday to You on Friday, but on Saturday after paying attention to the words to the Beatles’ song, I found myself wondering about my Social Security.

As it happened, I was sitting at my dining-room table when I spotted Ms. Raccoon looking over my shoulder, so I asked her what she thought about someone turning 64. Using my camera, Nina snapped this photo as Ms. Raccoon stuck out her tongue in reply.

Many of us in West Marin have gotten to know radio newsman Peter Laufer although his homes are in Fairfax and Bodega Bay. Ten years ago he was part of Víctor Reyes’ Spanish-language classes that meet every Tuesday evening at Susan Sasso’s home in Olema.

Photojournalist Ilka Hartmann of Bolinas found herself traveling part of the way with Peter when both rushed to Germany in 1989 to document the fall of the Berlin Wall. I first met him roughly 29 years ago when he interviewed my former wife Cathy and me about the Synanon cult for KNBR radio in San Francisco. Three years later I ran into him again in El Salvador. I was covering that Central American country’s civil war for the old San Francisco Examiner while Peter was reporting for NBC News.

Over the years we’ve kept up contact, and when we had lunch together last August in Fairfax, he told me how lively his Sunday morning radio show on KPFA had become. Subsequently listening to his show, I realized that while Peter did not shy from closely questioning his interviewees, he was invariably polite to them. A true professional.

100_5910_1.jpgSo I was startled yesterday at a news release Peter sent to the press. Without warning, KPFA had dumped him. The firing came only two days after Peter had moderated a fundraiser that collected thousands of dollars for the non-commercial FM station. It was a case of a legendary radio station firing a legendary talk-show host.

And Peter is a legend in his own right. He has authored more than a dozen well-received books of social and political criticism; his most recent works probe the lives of soldiers opposed to the Iraq War and promote open borders with Mexico. (This photo is from his book Iron Curtain Rising.)

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Peter created the National Geographic World Talk radio show and is co-anchor with publisher Markos Kounalakis of the program Washington Monthly on the Radio. Ironically, Peter noted, “the firing came on the eve of a feature article in The San Francisco Chronicle by Ben Fong-Torres about me and my talk-radio career.”

In the article, Fong-Torres cites Peter’s book Inside Talk Radio: America’s Voice or Just Hot Air? and comments, “Laufer knows his stuff. He’s qualified to offer an update on the state of talk radio — albeit from a decidedly left-of-center viewpoint.” As the article notes, Peter founded talk stations in Berlin and Amsterdam, and has a talk-radio career that dates back to the first-ever talk station.

So why was Peter taken off the air? To quote his news release: “Laufer believes — based on letters and email, along with op-eds in the alternative press — that a group of malcontent KPFA listener-activists orchestrated a smear campaign against him because he is, as these critics wrote, ‘not a person of color’ and because his credentials are ‘too mainstream.'”

Peter’s radio career has been mainstream in the sense that he has won virtually every prestigious award in broadcast journalism. His worldwide reporting, for example, resulted in a Polk award for a documentary on Americans in prison overseas. Here in the Bay Area, he shared a Peabody award as a member of the KCBS news department when he co-anchored the station’s coverage of the 1989 earthquake that devastated the Bay Area.

As for his not being a person of color…. This criticism seemed so off the wall that I asked Peter about his ethnic background and was surprised to learn he comes from Gypsy stock. His father was, in fact, born in Hungary.

Hitler’s death camps, of course, gassed Gypsies — along with Jews, homosexuals, and Communists. And Slovakia is currently barred from entering the European Union because of its mistreatment of Gypsies. These days, however, to be able to understand oppressed minorities, it apparently isn’t enough to belong to an oppressed minority. You also have to look the part.

“If you can’t count on KPFA for tolerance of a diversity of views, what can you count on?” Peter asked. “Of course I harbor no desire to return to their airwaves after being treated in such a shabby fashion.”

So what’s a fan of progressive radio to do? Personally, my donations to non-commercial radio are going to KWMR 90.5 FM, community radio for West Marin.

Update announcement from Peter late Tuesday: “Peter Laufer and Bob Agnew, the program director of Green 960 — the Clear Channel, progressive, talk-radio station for the San Francisco Bay Area, have agreed to test Laufer’s Sunday morning talk show on the AM dial begining Sunday December 2. Laufer expects to lure his loyal KPFA listeners over to the wild world of commercial radio.”

Let’s start with the wildlife and move on to language and politics.

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A female Anna’s hummingbird at my cabin. The website Hummingbirds in Motion reports, “The hummingbird (scientific family: trochilidae) does not fly in the same way other birds do. They can fly forward, backward, up, down, and even upside-down. The motion of their wings changes its angle with each flap. Unlike other birds, hummingbirds flap their wings horizontally in the shape of a figure 8. They also expand and contract their tail feathers, which allows them to hover in mid-air. However, hummingbirds flap their wings like this on an average of 50 times per second, and during courtship they can flap their wings up to 200 times a second.”

100_4979.jpgRed-winged blackbirds, with a few tri-color and Brewer’s blackbirds thrown in, forage outside my kitchen window. Stanford University researchers say the diet of the locally ubiquitous red-winged blackbird “includes few spiders; grass and forb seeds; rarely fruit. Young [are] fed 100 percent insects.” And what, you non-gardeners may ask, is “forb?” Wikipedia notes, “A forb is a flowering plant, with a non-woody stem, that is not a grass. Since it is non-woody, it is not a shrub or tree either. Thus most wild and garden flowers, herbs and vegetables are forbs.”

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Male red-winged blackbirds fight ostensibly over seeds but mainly to establish their place in the flock’s hierarchy.

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Harbor seals sunning themselves at the mouth of the Russian River in Jenner. Harbor seals spend roughly half their time on land and half in the water. They need their time on land to maintain body temperature, meaning that people should view them from a distance lest they be scared back into the water.

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A blacktail doe watching me on my deck.

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A young buck in the shade of my persimmon tree. Blacktails love both the tree’s fruit and its leaves.

Turning now to language… As we were chatting last week, Inverness Park resident Linda Sturdivant was toying with her blonde locks when suddenly she said, “I don’t like the way my hair looks. I’m going to go home and dye it.”

“You don’t need to diet,” I assured her.

“I always dye it,” she responded.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it makes my hair look better.”

“Why would your hair look better if you diet?”

To an eavesdropper, we would have sounded like George Burns and Gracie Allen, with me playing the role of Gracie.

As it happens, former Point Reyes Station resident Sheila Castelli sent me a similar story last week from her new home in Taos: “The County Ag Fair was this past weekend at the ‘One Eye Gonzales Building,’ as announced on the radio. I thought this a quite funny name for such a substantial building. But I happened to see a banner in town for the fair, and it actually is the Juan I. Gonzales Building.”

Obviously words mean different things to different people. Nina Howard of Inverness and I were discussing the meaning of the word “politics” a few months back. “Can union organizing be considered politics?” I asked. “Or are politics limited to government?”

“If they’re not, they should be,” replied Nina flatly. End of discussion.

Unfortunately, political rhetoric in this God-forsaken country no longer bears much resemblance to rational thought. Take, for example, the campaigning of Republican presidential hopeful Fred Thompson, formerly a lackluster senator from Tennessee. In courting the conservative vote, Senator Thompson has claimed “the Virginia Tech massacre proved that students should be allowed to carry guns on campus,” to quote the Sept. 1-7 Economist.

If Senator Thompson were right, highschoolers should also be packing heat to defend themselves. Year after year, they’re far more likely than college students to be gunned down in the vicinity of their schools.

To keep order in a well-armed classroom, teachers would, of course, have to be able to outgun their students, but that would merely require state-of-the-art weaponry plus a mastery of marksmanship and fast draw.

Senator Thompson may argue that because college students are older, they would be more responsible with their guns than high school students, but don’t believe it. Around the time I was a student at Stanford, members of an on-campus fraternity got drunk one night and shot out windows in a women’s dormitory across the street. That couldn’t happen at a high school because the students wouldn’t be old enough to drink.

As Winston Churchill aptly observed in 1920: “Politics are almost as exciting as war — and quite as dangerous.”

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Another snake in the grass… Friday morning, I spotted this small gopher snake warming itself in the sun near the top of my driveway. Gopher snakes can grow to nine feet long and often live to be teenagers. In captivity, they sometimes live into their 20s. The snake has a large shield on its nose for burrowing in search of small mammals.

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There was a time in these parts when “W.M.” stood for “West Marin,” but in 1998, Waste Management appropriated the initials for its new, shiny containers which hold our home and yard debris. It now appears that this coast will soon be able to reclaim the abbreviation. These containers are at the foot of Balboa Avenue overlooking White House Pool.

Waste Management of Houston, the conglomerate that for most of July stopped picking up garbage in Oakland and other East Bay cities, may soon stop picking up garbage in West Marin. Here, however, another garbage company is waiting in the wings to take over the conglomerate’s role, so no interruption of service is likely.

In short, what’s in the works is not a big change in garbage but a change in Big Garbage. Waste Management has begun preparations to sell its West Marin franchise to James Ratto. A native of Italy, Ratto has been in the garbage business 51 years and has owned or been a significant investor in about three dozen garbage companies around California. He locally runs The Ratto Group of garbage-pickup operations in Sonoma County and is an owner of Fairfax Garbage Disposal and Novato Disposal Service. Waste Management owns garbage companies throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Marin County’s only dump, Redwood Sanitary Landfill in Novato.

Waste Management also holds separate franchises from Bolinas Public Utility District and Stinson Beach Water District to pick up garbage in those towns. For more than a month, the boards of both districts have been aware Waste Management wants to sell Ratto the franchises for their towns too. Indeed BPUD’s board was preparing to discuss the pending “sale of assets” this Wednesday night, district manager Jennifer Blackman told me earlier in the day.

Jeff Rawles, deputy director of the Marin County Department of Public Works, on Wednesday told me DPW is still waiting for a letter of intent from the corporation before drafting a Board of Supervisors resolution to change the franchise for garbage pickup in West Marin and other unincorporated areas. Referring to Waste Management staff, Rawles noted, “I talked with them. We’ve said, ‘Where’s your letter?’” The county is still waiting for it, Rawles added, but “we’re proceeding under the expectation they’re going to sell.”

Rawles noted that The Ratto Group (through competitive bidding) previously “took over most of Waste Management’s business in Sonoma County.”

Meanwhile, non-union garbagemen this past week began carting off some of the mountains of trash that have been steadily rising along streets in Oakland and other East Bay cities since July 2. On that date Waste Management locked out nearly 500 drivers who belong to the Teamsters Union. The Teamsters’ Alameda County contract with the conglomerate ran out June 30, and thus far negotiators for the two sides have been unable to agree on a new contract. Still at issue are pay, pensions, benefits, and worker discipline.

Waste Management said it locked out its drivers as a preemptive move lest they strike, but the logic of that gambit escapes me, for the effect is the same either way. The union, in turn, has said its members would rather be driving, but as management’s lockout continued, the Teamsters last Friday began picketing Waste Management’s garbage operations in Sonora and Stockton plus its recycling facility in Walnut Creek. With recycling drivers now staying home in Walnut Creek, Tom Ridder, Waste Management’s district manager here, spent Wednesday driving a truck in that city and was not immediately available for comment on the pending sale.

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With lettering almost as large as “Inverness Park” on the county roadsign, the Waste Management logo on its debris containers helps frame the gateway to town. The ubiquitous containers have created a leitmotif for West Marin’s scenic roadways.

In 1990, the County of Marin gave Shoreline Disposal a 25-year franchise to pick up garbage in West Marin, but Waste Management bought Shoreline in 1998 and took over the franchise. County government then ordered an audit of Shoreline’s books and eventually concluded the company had overcharged West Marin residents by as much as $479,000 in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Waste Management in 1999 negotiated a $244,000 settlement, but the money was not returned to the residents. The county held onto it, with most of the money earmarked for educating residents here about proper disposal of waste. That’s a lot of education. Or waste.

The West Marin franchise provides for the garbage hauler’s pickup rates to be reviewed every four years, and this year is that year, Rawles said. The county determines whether the hauler’s recorded costs and revenue are accurate, and if they are, the county allows a 10 percent profit, the DPW deputy director said. He predicted a change in rates and said it is unlikely they will be lowered. In Bolinas, the hauler is annually given a rate increase equivalent to 85 percent of the rise in the federal Consumer Price Index, Blackman said. Garbage rates in Bolinas, however, cannot go up by more than 8 percent a year unless BPUD’s board agrees there is an extraordinary need, she added.

And then there is the question of how all this affects the West Marin Sanitary Landfill, the Martinelli family’s dump in Point Reyes Station that closed in 1998. In 1996, Ratto argued there should be a transfer station at the dump so that a few large trucks occasionally — rather than several smaller trucks frequently — would transport coastal garbage over the hill. Waste Management would not be selling its West Marin franchise if it were very profitable, and driving up its costs has been the need for garbage trucks from the coast to regularly travel all the way to Redwood Sanitary Landfill north of Novato for unloading.

The Martinelli family would still like to have a transfer station at their Tomasini Canyon site. No doubt they could use income from it towards sealing and monitoring the landfill. However, Ratto, 67, is a tough bargainer and sometimes-controversial businessman, and he and the Martinellis several years ago had a falling out. It is, therefore, anyone’s guess as to whether the garbage-company owner would ever resurrect the transfer-station proposal.

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Nick’s Cove restaurant and cottages, which Croatian immigrants Nick and Frances Kojich originally opened on the east shore of Tomales Bay in 1931, reopened last week after being closed seven years for remodeling.

This past Sunday, owners Pat Kuleto and Mark Franz held a benefit party for the Tomales Volunteer Fire Department and invited the West Marin community to be the resort’s guests. For me, it was a pleasant reminder of how many oysters I can eat when I’m not paying for them.

The restaurant, bar, and cottages had gone unused for seven years because of an exhausting permit process. The five-year process ran up the cost of refurbishing Nick’s Cove from an initial estimate of $3.5 million to an eventual total of $14 million, investors Pam Klarkowski née West and her husband Rick Klarkowski told me during the party.

When I had a moment to chat with Pat Kuleto, I commented that given all his permit hassles, I suspected there must have been four or five time times when he wished he’d never bought Nick’s Cove from Ruth Gibson (at a cost of $2 million back in 2000). “More like 400 or 500 times,” Pat responded. The restaurateur said that during his career (of more than 35 years) he has designed 190 restaurants. (Among them is San Francisco’s “beloved” Fog City Diner, which opened in 1985, the Nick’s Cove website notes.)

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Pat Kuleto with his girlfriend Sarah Livermore, a singer who performed at Sunday’s party.

With 34 government agencies and citizen groups each wanting its own concerns addressed in the permit process, remodeling Nick’s Cove was “three times harder” than even the most difficult of his other restaurants, Pat said. In a sarcastic commentary, the Nick’s Cove menu this week facetiously included red-legged frogs on its list of appetizers. The frogs, which are a “threatened” species because non-native bullfrogs here eat them, supposedly were served with plenty of red tape and cost $2 million apiece.

It’s worth noting that the same county, regional, and state bureaucracies, as well as citizen groups, have managed to intimidate potential buyers from trying to restore the historic Marshall Tavern south of Nick’s Cove. Very few people can afford the red tape Pat encountered.

I asked Pam how many investors Nick’s Cove has. She didn’t know but said there were definitely more than 20. “Even a winery wanted to invest,” she said. “We’re not expecting to make our money back the first year,” her husband added.

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Little Rock cottage on pilings over Tomales Bay rents for $975 a night on weekends in August.

Nor is the restaurant alone expected to repay investors. If all goes as planned, more than a third of Nick’s Cove’s income will come from overnight guests staying on both sides of Highway 1. The lodgings include four waterfront cottages, and July and August are high season. On weekends during July, the two-suite cottages rent for $680 per night while the two smaller cottages go for $595. In August, the weekend rates will be $850 per night for the smaller cottages and $975 for the two-suite cottages. On the other hand, the mid-week rate in July for the smaller cottages is a mere $440 per night.

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The bar at Nick’s Cove

Prices in the restaurant at Nick’s Cove range from $7 for a mixed-lettuce salad, to $12 for a gourmet hamburger, to $16 for fish and chips, to $24 for a grilled pork chop with peach chutney, to $32 for a 16-ounce, rib-eye steak.

visionaries_collage.jpgNick’s Cove executive chef Mark Franz (on right with his partner Pat Kuleto), has been on the “culinary scene” for 26 years, notes the resort’s website.

In 1997, Mark opened San Francisco’s Farallon restaurant, which was designed by Pat. Mark’s “coastal cuisine” at Farallon has received acclaim in Bon Appetít, Food & Wine, and similar magazines.

Several hundred guests showed up for Sunday’s party at Nick’s Cove, a lively event with a band and dancing in an outdoor dining area. Singing with the band was Pat’s girlfriend Sara Livermore. Chef Alex Klarkowski (below at right) and his older brother Ben barbecued oysters beside the bay all afternoon. Tomales firefighters, who parked two firetrucks outside the front door, sold raffle tickets while Marshall activist Donna Sheehan worked the crowd, trying to get people to complain to Caltrans about the lack of mowing this year along Highway 1.

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Standing at the end of Nick’s Cove’s long dock and looking back at the restaurant and cottages, I remembered happy times when I used to keep a boat in Inverness and would periodically sail to Nick’s Cove for a meal, sometimes sailing home after dark. Thanks to Pat, Mark, and innumerable investors, a new generation of sailors can enjoy the same wonderful outing.

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