General News


Two middling-large celebrations were held this past weekend in Point Reyes Station. Both were fun — but reflected grim reality.

Saturday was Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. Among families from south of the border, it’s a day to pay homage to loved ones who are no longer with them. In West Marin these days, a number of Gringos also observe Dia de los Muertos. (The word Gringo, by the way, did not originate in Mexico but in Spain during the 1800s. For some Spaniards, Gringo was used to mean Greek (Griego) and referred to people speaking a language that was Greek to them.)

In Point Reyes Station, the celebration began at Gallery Route One with a parade featuring music, dancing, and colorful costumes. Leading music for part of the march were Debbie Daly on accordion and Tim Weed on banjo.

Artist Ernesto Sanchez provided face painting at his studio in Point Reyes Station. Adults and young people both took advantage of the offer.

Main street merchants, including Chris Giacomini, owner of Toby’s Feed Barn, and Sheryl Cahill, owner of the Station House Café, went outdoors to watch the parade go by.

After dancing and making music for the entire length of downtown, all three blocks of it, the marchers headed for the Dance Palace Community Center. Providing special color, music, and dancing were the Aztec Dancers, who regularly perform in Point Reyes Station parades.

Inside the Dance Palace, artist Sanchez had created a giant altar where members of the crowd placed pictures of loved ones no longer with us or mementos of their time on earth. Here Socorro Romo, the program director of West Marin Community Services, rests in front of the altar.

Following these rites celebrants enjoyed Mexican food, drinks, and traditional music.

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But Point Reyes Station was just warming up. On Sunday morning, the annual Pancake Breakfast was held in the town firehouse. It’s a benefit for the Point Reyes Disaster Council which helps residents prepare for — or deal with — wildfires, major earthquakes, and flooding.

The council sprang into action during the recent wildfires in the wine country, which forced hundreds of evacuees to seek shelter in Marin County. Although the disaster was not local, the council acted as an intermediary between various organizations helping evacuees, numerous volunteers, and people staffing shelters.
At the firehouse, firefighters cooked a variety of pancakes (regular, vegetarian, or gluten free), sausages and eggs, which they served along with milk, orange juice and coffee. Seen frying sausages is Ken Eichstaedt, manager of Inverness Public Utility District; the district administers Inverness Volunteer Fire Department’s finances.

Approximately 400 people showed up for breakfast in the firetrucks’ garage.

A raffle to raise funds for the Disaster Council was also held, and youngsters had a chance to ride around town in a firetruck.

The Point Reyes Disaster Council’s account of how it came to be, what it does, and how to take part can be found at pointreyesdisastercouncil.org.

 

At least 42 people have lost their lives and another 90 are missing in Northern California’s ongoing rash of fires, the deadliest in the state’s history. But the end appears to be coming soon. “Full containment of all the fires is expected Friday,” Cal Fire Incident Cmdr. Bret Gouvea said today (Wednesday).

Fighting the fires have been 1,100 firefighters, a number of them arriving from other states and from as far away as Canada and Australia.

Some 200 to 250 homes have been lost in Mendocino County fires, State Sen. Mike McGuire told KWMR yesterday (Tuesday). Another 100 to 130 homes were lost in Lake County, he added.

More than 3,000 homes and businesses were lost in Santa Rosa’s inferno but only one fire station.

In all of Sonoma County, 21,000 acres have burned, and 75,000 people were evacuated. Four Marin County firefighters lost homes in the fires, as did another six Marin County employees, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said on KWMR Monday.

As of yesterday, 36,000 of Sonoma County’s evacuees were being allowed to return home.

When the evacuations began Oct. 9, hundreds of Sonoma County and Napa County residents headed for Marin County. More than 200 people were in and out of the Dance Palace, with 80 sleeping there that first night. Another 20 spent the night sleeping in their cars nearby, so they could be with their pets. 

The evacuees’ love for their pets was epitomized in this widely circulated photograph of Lauren Mesaros of Santa Rosa escaping the fire with her pony Stardust in the backseat.

On Tuesday, Oct 10, most of those at the Dance Palace relocated to Marconi Conference Center in Marshall. The Dance Palace, however, continued to provide some of their food. The conference center, which is officially an emergency shelter within the Point Reyes Disaster Council plan, provided beds for about 120 people Tuesday night.

San Geronimo Valley Community Center meanwhile provided shelter for 35. Tomales Bay Resort (the former Golden Hinde) took in 80 or so.

In all, 500 evacuees were sheltered in West Marin, many of them in private homes. Dillon Beach homeowners were impressively forthcoming. Last weekend, about 231 evacuees were estimated to have found beds in Dillon Beach homes, and more than 135 received campsites in the town’s campground, Lawson’s Landing.

The numbers in all locations in West Marin fluctuated as evacuees would leave in the day to check on their homes up north. Many would return, but as the week progressed more were able to go back to their homes because the air quality improved or they would relocate to shelters nearer their homes or former homes.  

Dry conditions and high winds that, according to Sen. McGuire, gusted to 79 mph so far are getting much of blame for the fires, but wind damage to power lines is also being cited. Yesterday a Santa Rosa couple filed the first lawsuit against PG&E.

Not yet getting much attention is the fire’s likely effects on landfills in the area. There will be so much debris, State Sen. McGuire predicted, that it will add “over a decade’s worth of garbage into the landfills.”

 

Folks in several West Marin towns today stepped forward to aid victims of two of the 16 massive fires blazing 30 to 50 or more miles away. The Dance Palace Community Center in Point Reyes Station and the San Geronimo Valley Cultural Center are providing shelters for tonight, as is Marconi Conference Center in Marshall. Lawson’s Landing in Dillon Beach is providing campsites while the Presbyterian church in Tomales is providing food.

West Marin School’s gym cannot be used as a shelter, as many had expected. School is in session, and the gym is needed because there is so much smoke in the air children cannot safely take recess outdoors. At the same time, numerous West Marin residents have offered the evacuees a bed. All told, more than 200 evacuees from Sonoma and Napa counties are receiving a night’s lodging in West Marin.

The Dance Palace Community Center, as did the others, provided food. It also offered clothing to evacuees. Since the majority are Spanish speaking, bilingual local volunteers have been assisting as translators. Other West Marin residents have told evacuees they can stay in their homes.

In Sonoma County, the Sheriff’s Office reported, seven people [later revised to 42] are known to have lost their lives to the fires, and hundreds more are unaccounted for. In Napa County, at least two lives have been lost. The fires have also destroyed more than 5,700 homes and businesses in the two counties. Eight people have died in Mendocino County fires, and three have perished  from fire in Yuba County.

At midday today (Monday), the California Department of Fire and Fire Protection reported that in neighboring Sonoma County: 1,500 acres were burning at Highway 37 and Lakeville Highway; 5,000 acres were burning north of Glen Ellen; and 1,000 acres were burning in Geyserville.

In nearby Napa County, Cal Fire also noted, fires that are still spreading had by mid-afternoon burned:  25,000 acres in Calistoga; 25,000 acres south of Lake Berryessa, and 3,000 acres west of the City of Napa.

Smoky sunrise — When I awoke this morning, the smell of smoke was in the air, and the rising sun glowing through the haze formed a red disk on the horizon. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

My fiancée Lynn is coordinator of the Point Reyes Disaster Council, and although today’s fires aren’t technically Point Reyes disasters, she soon began getting phone calls from people wanting to know if shelters would be opened here? Where would supplies come from? Lynn has ended up spending her day as an intermediary between various organizations, numerous volunteers, and people staffing shelters at the Dance Palace Community Center and at Marconi Conference Center.

In the midst of all this, I set off for Kaiser in San Rafael where my new eye glasses were ready to be picked up. However, before I left town, I dropped off Lynn’s mail at the postoffice, which turned out to be closed for Columbus Day. The detour, however, let me see an unexpected mass of cars and trucks jamming Point Reyes Station. There were so many that Green Bridge Gas & Auto, the only gas station in the area, had run out of gasoline. 

Volunteering at the Dance Palace, where West Marin residents donated piles of clothing for survivors of the fires. Some evacuees had lost much of what they owned.

One of West Marin’s many wonderful qualities is how quickly community members volunteer to help when there’s almost any kind of dire need. Wearing my new eyeglass lenses while driving home, I began checking the passing scene and soon noticed another group of volunteers. A series of horse trailers was heading east on the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road. I’ll bet those folks are en route to helping evacuate horses, I thought.

As it happened, not long after I got home, Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber called to speak with Lynn about a Disaster Council matter. I gave him her cell phone number, and while I had him on the line, I used the opportunity to ask about all the horse trailers. The chief said they’d probably be used to evacuate not just horses but other large animals as well. Mystery solved.

The Marin County Fire Department from the start was well represented on the front lines. The county reported dispatching 22 engines, 5 ambulances, 3 “chief officers,” 1 bulldozer, 1 hand crew, and 7 special firefighters to help neighboring fire departments. Eventually, almost 8,000 firefighters from all over were attacking the blazes, along with 550 firetrucks (including 170 from out of state), 73 helicopters, and more than 30 airplanes.

Meanwhile over at Civic Center, the Marin Sheriff’s Office and the Red Cross have opened a shelter in the Veterans’ Auditorium and report having served meals to 675 evacuees. Terra Linda High School has opened a shelter to house 49 people. Altogether, Marin County is sheltering at least 2,000 evacuees.

Olema Hill, Sept. 21. Nor is West Marin invulnerable to wildfires, having survived five in the past month alone. Thankfully, all of those were contained before they could do much damage. This fire was limited to eight acres. (Photo by Richard Dillman)

Still to be determined is why more than a dozen major fires broke out around the same time Sunday night in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties. One hypothesis blames a combination of dry vegetation and high winds that damaged power lines and spread the resulting fires rapidly. Fire officials are investigating.

A combination of computer problems and a Donald Trump-induced lethargy convinced me to give this blog a break for eight months, but now I’m back — although probably not on an every-week basis as I was for 10 years.  To keep going I just have to remind myself that there are more important things to think about than The Donald.

Here’s an example. My neighbors and I have been seeing far more jackrabbits this summer than in previous years. Neighbor Carol Horick wonders if the abundance is an indication of there being fewer foxes around. There does seem to be a smaller fox population this summer although last week I heard both coyotes and a fox after dark, so the rabbits’ predators have not totally disappeared.

The behavior of young jackrabbits toward each other parallels the behavior of young deer. Like fawns, rabbits at play tend to chase each other in circles around my fields, kicking up their heels in excitement. Moreover, at feeding time, rabbits and deer comfortably graze side by side. Neither seems to worry the other.

Nor are deer the rabbits’ only dinner companions. In this photo by Lynn Axelrod, three rabbits and a quail dine together on the hillside above our kitchen. 

Along with the deer, rabbits, and quail, raccoons are daily guests. Here four raccoon kits try to squeeze into a bird bath on the railing of our deck. They’re roughly 20 feet above the ground, so a fall would entail a painful landing. But although they do stumble around at times, I’ve never seen a raccoon fall to the ground. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Getting back to Trump. (It’s hard to steer clear of him these days.) San Francisco Chronicle columnist Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and former speaker of the California Assembly, last week wrote that Trump’s political “movement” is not really part of the Republican Party but rather the start of a third party.

As I recall, the most successful third party presidential candidate in US history was former Republican President Teddy Roosevelt. In 1912, he picked up 27 percent of the vote as the candidate of the “Progressive Party,” which was referred to as the “Bull Moose Party.” If Brown is correct and Trump is likewise forming his own party, I suggest we refer to it as the “Bullsh-t Party.”

Fleecing à la Trump: A story going around the county begins with a man getting into the shower just as his wife is getting out. Suddenly the doorbell rings, so she wraps a towel around herself and goes downstairs to answer it. When she opens the door, their neighbor Don is outside. After looking at her attire for a moment, Don says, “If you drop that towel, I’ll give you $800.”

The wife thinks about this for a few seconds and then drops her towel. After looking her up and down, Don hands her $800 and goes home. When she returns to the bathroom, her husband asks, “Who was that at the door?”

“Just our neighbor Don,” the wife replies. “Great,” says her husband. “Did he mention the $800 he owes me?”

 

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.

Like many of my friends and neighbors, I’m having a hard time coming to terms with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency; however, I’ll dilute my despondency with joyful pictures from a current exhibit on West Marin’s milk, butter, and cheese industry.

To get our minds off politics for a couple of hours, Lynn and I on Sunday took a drive up the bay to Tomales where the Regional History Center on Saturday and Sunday afternoons is holding an exhibit: “From Milk to Butter & Cheese: 160 Years of Local Creameries.”

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The exhibition is in conjunction with one showing through the end of the year at the Bolinas Museum. That exhibit is called, “Bounty: Fine Food Production in Coastal Marin from 1834 to the 21st Century.”

Seen in an historic photo from the Tomales exhibit, a rancher while milking a cow gives a cat a squirt.

Environmentalists I’ve talked with worry about Trump’s financial advisors’ denying climate change, calling for renewed coal mining, and sounding as if they’re willing to sacrifice public land for short-term revenue.

         Latino families throughout West Marin are uneasy because many of them have at least one relative who might be deported under Trump’s anti-immigrant proposals.

mb-boissevain-marins-1st-farm-advisor

M.B. Bossevain was Marin County’s first farm advisor. He is seen here in the Tomales exhibit standing in a patch of sweet clover.

         Black acquaintances resent Trump’s lack of respect, and they fear he may appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn major civil rights victories. After all, Steve Bannon, the Breitbart News Network executive chairman who will be Trump’s senior counselor, is known for his white-nationalist views.

         The Huffington Post quotes Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as saying Trump’s choice of Bannon “signals that White Supremacists will be represented at the highest levels in Trump’s White House….  It is easy to see why the KKK views Trump as their champion.”

         I may not live long enough to see this country recover from the potential damage of a Trump presidency, but sometimes my mortality seems almost consoling. A neighbor, who has resigned himself to one or two terms of Trump, remarked today, “Well, at least I probably won’t live that long.”

nicasio-valley-creamery

         In keeping with this melancholy mood, the country this week is simultaneously mourning the death of singer/composer Leonard Cohen. For the last two nights I’ve played his mournful, sometimes hymn-like, music during dinner, which made the meal feel like the Last Supper in a Parisian bistro.

A storage area for the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company (seen in the Tomales exhibition).

I delayed this posting for a couple of days, hoping I would be celebrating most American voters having preferred the decency of Hillary Clinton to the demagoguery of Donald Trump, but as of this morning, the uncouth bigot had won the election. Clinton carried this county with 78 percent of the vote and carried this country by more than 100,000 votes, as of this evening’s count. (Update: The count as of Dec. 20 had Clinton receiving almost 3 million more votes than Trump.) Yet she trailed 228 to 279 in the Electoral College, which ultimately is what counts.

reshoot-1

Although immigrant bashing was at the core of Trump’s campaign, the candidate is for the second time married to an immigrant, Melania of Slovenia. His first wife, Ivana, was from the Czech Republic, but they divorced after he started having an affair with Marla Maples, who would become his second wife.

The now-well-known picture of the bromance between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Trump first showed up in May as a mural on the back of a barbecue restaurant in Lithuania. The nude photo of Melania first appeared on the cover of Gentlemen’s Quarterly in January 2000, shortly after she started an affair with Trump despite his still being married to Marla Maples.

Putin and Trump more than once expressed their admiration for each other during the campaign, and Putin was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Trump on his victory. In the Russian Duma (lower house of parliament), members broke into applause when Trump’s victory was announced. I personally will certainly be uncomfortable that a US president is chummy with Putin, one of this country’s longstanding adversaries. No doubt many Americans (and almost all Ukrainians) feel the same way.

In the Middle East, Islamic extremists are also celebrating Trump’s victory, which they see as a sign of America’s fragmentation, The Washington Post reported today. They also believe that Trump’s outspoken contempt for Islam is alienating Muslims everywhere. Meanwhile in North Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan is so pleased with the election results it will hold a victory parade on Dec. 3.

buck-stalking-doe

À la the Donald, bucks around here openly stalk females and try to poke them although the does usually trot off before they can.

When I discussed the election downtown today with Point Reyes Station residents, their comments ranged from bitter to sarcastic.

This is not a community that wants to deport immigrants — even those who marry Donald Trump.

Fortunately local races in West Marin were far more polite than the presidential race despite being hard fought. Many voters had strong feelings about the Board of Supervisors candidates, but neither side saw the election as an armageddon.

political-signs

Local elections can be messy, as has been evident along West Marin’s roadways for the last few months. Hopefully, all those messes will soon disappear. Residents unhappy with roadside campaign signs tore down some of them even before the election.

In the end, Fourth District supervisor candidate Dennis Rodoni beat Dominic Grossi 53 percent to 47 percent. In the race for Superior Court judge, Sheila Lichtblau beat Michael Coffino 52 percent to 48 percent.

The high-light, so to speak, of the California election returns was the passage of Proposition 64, which by a 56 percent to 44 percent vote legalized recreational marijuana. Also highly significant was the passage of Proposition 63; by 62.6 percent to 37.4 percent, Californians approved a variety of gun controls.

As the national election results dribbled in last night, I found them so worrisome, I stopped watching the news. By the time I went to bed, the presidential battle had been lost, and I dozed off wondering if I should move back to Canada, where my mother was born, or hunker down in place. For the moment, I’m opting for hunkering, but that could change.

november-sunset

Sadly, I can see the lamps going out all over America, and I fear we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime, to paraphrase British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey on the eve of World War I.


raccoon-snoozing

 

 

Like Rocky Raccoon (right), what we all need now is a good rest.

 

 

 

 

I originally wrote this posting as a book review for the Sept. 1, 2016, Point Reyes Light where I was editor and publisher for 27 years before retiring 10 years ago.

There was no stir in West Marin last Friday, Aug. 26, when a federal judge curbed a new North Carolina law that restricted transgender students’ access to restrooms.

While the case may seem a continent away, the ruling in favor of three plaintiffs has significance even for residents here. An Inverness resident and former West Marin School bus driver has been going through a transition from male to female and, less than a month ago, published a book describing her experiences.

Leslie Scott, who had been known as Scott Leslie, tells her story in “Outside-In, Inside-Out: A Transgender Journey.” It’s an informative autobiography that is at times humorous and at times painful.

Many people mistakenly equate being transgender with being a transvestite. The book, however, explains, “True transvestites have no interest in changing their gender; they just like wearing the clothes [and] aren’t considered members of the transgender community. And so the term ‘cross-dresser’ is now preferred.”

When Leslie was a young boy, he was harshly scolded for playing dress-up with a neighbor girl. Each time his mother saw him dolled up, she flew into a rage—even though the girl’s mother had dressed him and applied his makeup.

After the second time, Leslie’s mother would not speak to the girl’s mother, and, she writes, “I never again had any kind of a ‘real’ friendship with any girl. I guess I never as a man had any kind of ‘real’ friendship with any woman either.

“And though I always preferred the company of girls and women, there was always the feeling of a nameless, underlying taboo about it, and such a friendship never seemed, at least until recently, like something I would ever be allowed to really know.”

In the 1970s, Leslie moved to San Francisco. “I lived in the Castro District before and after it was taken over by the gay scene,” she wrote. “I had no end of opportunities to experiment with homosexual liaisons, the idea of which did sometimes intrigue me, but the idea was all that ever happened.”

male_mug

Scott Leslie (before transition, left) worked as a security guard for Renaissance and other fairs, did “roustabout-type jobs, including truck driving, garbage detail, outhouse servicing,” and studied to be a peace officer and a journalist.

Ultimately, Leslie earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of California at Riverside. Throughout his adult life, he covertly experimented with cross-dressing, but inevitably threw out the clothes.

He had several serious girlfriends, one of whom became his wife for nine years.  Coincidentally, they both had a stammer, and both “were enthusiasts of all things Scottish or Highland, meaning games, dancing and bagpiping.”

In 2005, Leslie became a bus driver for West Marin School and discovered that he “liked” the driving and “loved working with the kids.”

“What put me on the road to actual gender transition,” she relates, “was a tiny baby step, a venture so small that I could convince myself it was no more than a whim or a lark: I set out to grow breasts.” Leslie ate fennel seeds—rich in plant estrogens—for a couple of weeks, which caused him to start developing breasts. But he was startled when his therapist noticed something different about him.

“I realized that the phytoestrogens—i.e., plant equivalents of estrogen—in the herb were affecting my demeanor, and I panicked: I ‘straightened up’ and tried to look more masculine, and when I got home I dumped the herbs and again purged my wardrobe of things feminine,” she wrote. But the seeds had worked, and Leslie now had breasts: they “were very small, but they were noticeable.”

In 2010, the full transition started. She began by regularly drinking an herbal mix of her own creation. The results were immediate, and in six months she switched to estradiol, a medical form of estrogen, and spironolactone, which eliminates testosterone.

It wasn’t always easy, and “sometimes I would be driving my school bus back to the yard at the end of the day, feeling my body changes in wonder, and suddenly I’d panic, asking myself, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ I learned to reply with one word, ‘courage,’ to get through the angst attacks,” she wrote.

Although she was keeping the transition private, the author stated that “other people noticed a change: my colleagues at the school commented on how much happier I seemed and how much more involved I was with the children, especially the youngest students, to the point where the annual Young Writers book was dedicated to me.

Leslie Scott“It doesn’t get any better than that; I cried at the presentation. Indeed, I did a lot of crying—and laughing—during that period, as my body adjusted to the hormones.”

Leslie Scott (after transition, left)

In 2012, Leslie went on her first Trans March in San Francisco; afterward, she came out to the school and the community. “The response was mostly positive and supportive,” she relates. “The few exceptions were people who simply didn’t seem to understand what I was doing.”

Two years ago, Leslie took the biggest step of all and was surgically reconfigured into a woman. The operation was paid for by Kaiser, which sent her to a surgeon in Arizona and paid for her flights and room.

The surgery was complex, and the book includes the doctor’s description of how he fashions vaginas and clitorises from penises and labia from scrotums. Included in the book is a small photograph of Leslie’s vulva as it appeared a few weeks after her surgery.

So why should someone peruse all this? “Outside-In, Inside-Out” is not only a good read, it is also relevant as the rights of transgender people become political issues around the country.

In May, the United States Department of Justice issued a directive that said students have the right to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities. Several states responded by suing the federal government, and North Carolina passed a law that mandates the use of restrooms be determined by the gender on one’s birth certificate.

That law, however, amounts to illegal sexual discrimination, as the judge in Winston-Salem wrote in Friday’s temporary restraining order.

Interviewed in Point Reyes Station that day, Leslie said she hopes her book’s readers “will take away an appreciation of how difficult and scary and painful gender-transition is. There are times I’ve felt overwhelmed by the enormity of it. This is a very painful subject, but any major life change like this is grist, at least at times, for the humor mill.”

“Outside-In, Inside-Out: A Transgender Journey” is available at Point Reyes Books, and online from Amazon and at the author’s website, lesliescott.org. It’s also available at Book Passage in Corte Madera and Copperfield’s in Petaluma. I’ve been told it will also be for sale at the Book Passage store in San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

 

 

Hello again. After posting on this blog every week for 10 years, I abruptly stopped without explanation 14 months ago. Well, I’m back. Here’s what happened.

Keeping me away had been some damnable eye problems: first, temporal arteritis (an inflammation of the artery through my temples that feeds blood to my eyes); second, botched cataract surgery on my left eye.

The temporal arteritis began with an extreme headache in my scalp that ultimately required half a day in Kaiser’s emergency room. I was prescribed a lengthy — perhaps too lengthy — regimen of Prednisone (a steroid). It stopped the pain and prevented me from going blind, but some of its side effects are still with me. My balance standing and walking is not what it should be.

The botched surgery, which occurred in January, is also continuing to take its toll. I should have been forewarned when the surgeon often seemed impatient discussing the operation in advance. During the surgery, she nicked the inside of my left eyeball, causing the lens to start falling out.

The result was double vision and poor focus. I’ve now received two more operations from another surgeon to repair the damage. The lens has been stitched onto the eye’s retina, and my vision is improving. I won’t need another operation if the progress continues, but that won’t be determined for sure until November.

In any case, as a result of my Prednisone problems and damaged left eye, I needed some R&R and stopped posting.

A secondary problem with the cataract surgery was to postpone dental surgery that was glaringly needed as a result of breaking off two front teeth last December. Because of the eye surgeon’s concern that the dental surgeon’s painkillers could interfere with her cutting into my eyeball, I had to spend half a year without two prominent teeth.

In an unsuccessful effort to hide the gaps, I began wearing my moustache extra long. Finally, after the last eye operation, I was able to get my dental surgery, which, in turn, meant I could resume trimming my moustache back and no longer feel slightly self-conscious whenever I smiled in public.

Dave Mitchell at the No-Name Bar in Sausalito

The No Name Bar in Sausalito is an unusually friendly place, and now that my moustache and teeth are fixed, I can again openly enjoy the Michael Aragon Quartet. (Photo by David Fischer)

Like many people in frustrating circumstances, I’ve dealt with my woes by hitting the bars. I was already going to the No Name Bar in Sausalito almost every Friday night to mingle with Bay Area illuminati and listen to great jazz. As it happens, I’m a fan of the Michael Aragon Quartet, which has performed at the No Name virtually every Friday for 33 years.

The No Name has a patio out back where there’s frequently a chess match, and smoking is permitted. People mingle easily as if they were all at a cocktail party. My usual “cocktail” at the party, by the way, is an Irish coffee.

Sarah Burke, server, and J.J. Miller, the barkeep, at the No Name.

I don’t know if it’s coincidence or merely that I like coffee, but the other bar where I hang out is Toby’s Coffee Bar in Point Reyes Station. Most days in early afternoon, I sit at an outdoor table reading the morning Chronicle, drinking a mocha, and chatting with friends as they walk in and out of the post office next door.

Toby's coffee bar in Point Reyes

Reading The San Francisco Chronicle while getting a tan at Toby’s Coffee Bar. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

It’s a cheerful spot, and I spend enough time there that a few townspeople have started to refer to my table as my “office.” Were I consuming booze instead of coffee, by now I’d be one of the town toss-pots (the term at the end of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that Shakespeare uses for sots).

Barista Jenna Rempel of Inverness at Toby’s Coffee Bar.

Barista Jenna Rempel of Inverness at Toby’s Coffee Bar.

Because I’m now living life in the slow lane, I’m able to resume blogging, but it remains to be seen whether I’ll be able to do so every single week as in the past. At least for the moment, I have enough material on hand to keep going for a while. So goodnight for now. It’s good to see y’all again.

Lynn and I took Amtrak halfway across the country and back three weeks ago on a frustrating trip that went nowhere but cost a fortune to get there.

Here’s what happened. I am a member of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, which this year held its annual conference in Columbia, Missouri. The conferences move around. Next year’s will be in Australia. Last year’s was in Durango, Colorado.

Lynn’s and my conference fees came to $1,250, but we considered it money well spent. Last year’s conference was the first we had attended, and both of us were impressed by the community-newspaper editors from around the world whom we met.

Organized discussions ranged from newspaper ethics to how to cover major disasters. Moreover, the group presented me with its Eugene Cervi Award for my years as an editor, and I returned to West Marin just glowing.

This year’s conference was scheduled for June 24 to 28 in Columbia. Lynn and I decided to travel by Amtrak as we had last year, for we had thoroughly enjoyed the ride. We would take the train to Ottumwa, Iowa, rent a car, and drive the rest of the way to Columbia, so we reserved a sleeper compartment for $1,329 roundtrip.

However, as I’ve noted here before, a year ago I came down with temporal arteritis (an inflammation of the artery in one’s temples that feeds blood to the eye). Left untreated temporal arteritis can cause blindness, so the doctor put me on a 10-month regimen of Prednisone (a steroid). As the months went by, he had me slowly taper off on the dosage until it got down to nothing just before we left for Columbia.

There are numerous problems with Prednisone, however, and in my case one side effect was being constantly weary. Another was frequently losing my sense of balance. Falling down on stairs became commonplace but caused no serious injuries. However, a fall while weed-whacking on Memorial Day and another fall at the end of May bruised my ribcage to where it became painful to walk.

Nonetheless, Lynn and I were determined to travel to Missouri for the newspaper conference. We already had a roundtrip ticket to Ottumwa on Amtrak, and we reserved a car from Enterprise in Ottumwa for $175 per day.

And so it was that on June 22 we drove to the Amtrak station in Emeryville where our train was more than an hour behind schedule, but Amtrak is notoriously late much of the time, so we thought nothing of the delay. Because Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks it travels on, its trains have to give way to any freight trains that come along.

Our engineer was trying to make up time, we were told, but the train was about four hours behind schedule by the time we reached Colorado. And in Colorado things really slowed down. Track maintenance caused more than a few delays, and when we finally reached Nebraska, these delays seemed nonstop.

Part of the problem resulted from a rainstorm in Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. In some places the tracks were flooded, and in others, springs gurgled up between the rails.

The view along the tracks in Nevada sometimes seemed a pretty good symbol of our Amtrak trip. (Photos by Lynn Axelrod)

We crept through western Nebraska, getting a good chance to inspect everyone’s back yard. They’re much tidier in Nebraska than in Utah, Nevada, and California where abandoned car parts and dilapidated buildings dominate the scenery in a some places.

I slept most of the way but got up three times a day for meals. After a couple of days, however, the lurching of the train was aggravating the pain in my ribs. Getting to the dining car or the restrooms required walking down narrow corridors in several cars, and despite trying to be careful, I was occasionally thrown against the walls of the corridor.

So I downed a bunch of Ibuprofen. Bad idea. With nothing such as yogurt available to buffer the painkiller, I was sick as a dog by the time we reached Ottumwa. That convinced us to spend the night in a hotel before traveling on. We rented a room near the train station for $90 per night, and I climbed into bed. Lynn meanwhile headed out to pick up the Enterprise rental car we had reserved. The agency, however, told her that because of the rainstorm, no vehicles were available or would be for several days .

Hertz was out of cars too, but Lynn finally found a family business that had a car for rent at $220 a week, and she took it. By the next morning, however, I was ready to go home. My stomach was still queasy, and my walking was reduced to shuffling because of my balance problem.

Amtrak told us the next train west would be that evening, and the only compartment available was a “family room,” which provided more space for stretching out but cost an additional $822. We bought a ticket and returned to the hotel to sleep all day for an additional $90.

Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River was one of the more attractive towns where the train stopped.

When we arrived at the Ottumwa train station that evening, Lynn and I encountered a new set of problems. Our train couldn’t get to Ottumwa because of the bad weather, so we would be put on a bus for a four-hour ride to Omaha where we would catch the train which would arrive from Chicago by a circuitous route. We had become resigned to our fate and agreed to the arrangement.

The bus was full of Amtrak passengers, and when we all got to Omaha about 11:30 p.m., we learned our train wouldn’t arrive until the next morning. Lynn and I were irritated. Several passengers who were heading to the airport in Denver were angry about missing their flights. Much of the throng spent the night in the train station. Lynn and I rented a hotel room nearby for $188.

The next morning Lynn and I arrived at the Amtrak station early only to have our train show up an hour and a half late. Our family room was relatively comfortable for resting. That was good because we kept falling further and further behind schedule. The delays were felt even in the dining car which began running out of various foods.

Amtrak serves good fare, but at the end of the trip all it could offer for our last meal was a bowl of rice with three spoonfuls of beef stew on top. The good part was that we were always seated with other passengers who inevitably were intelligent, friendly people.

Twelve hours behind schedule our train finally rolled into Emeryville, and just over an hour later we rolled back into Point Reyes Station. Unfortunately when we began unpacking, we discovered we’d left a $500 camera and a $40 pocket knife on the train. Lynn called Amtrak, but no one had turned them in. At least no one broke into our house while we were gone, we told each other, but then we discovered our stapler was missing. I just about became unstuck.

Our trip to the Midwest had cost more than $4,400, but I wouldn’t have minded had we actually reached the ISWNE conference. From what I’ve now read in ISWNE’s report on the event, those who did make it had a very good time and learned a lot.

 

 

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