Archive for November, 2010

Point Reyes Station’s annual Path of Lights, which includes sidewalks decorated with luminaria and the lighting of the town Christmas tree (between Wells Fargo Bank and the Palace Market) will be held this Friday evening, Dec. 3.

The festivities will include contributors to the new issue of The West Marin Review (Volume 3) signing copies at Point Reyes Books from 5 to 7:30 p.m. More about that in a moment, but first a word from our sponsors.

A raccoon friend of mine for the past several seasons picks a slice of bread off my kitchen floor Monday.

Also on Monday, a blacktailed buck grazes just below my deck as a doe and a couple of fawns graze nearby.

Four roof rats show up on my deck Sunday to share in the birdseed I put out for my feathered friends.

One of the Point Reyes Arabians looks over my fence from beneath a persimmon tree Monday. In the upper left is a stockpond belonging to the Giacomini family.

Grey fox on my deck last week shows no reaction when I use a flash to photograph him through an open door.

Wild turkeys eating with a blacktail fawn. Perhaps “birds of a feather flock together,” but they also flock with other creatures, as seen Sunday out my kitchen window.

And now back to the news. As the West Marin Review website notes, “In [the new] volume are Jonathan Rowe’s provocative, urgent essay about the future of irreplaceable places and Elia Haworth’s sweeping history of the farmers who settled in the area.

“The beauty of West Marin is evoked in vivid, colored woodblock prints by Tom Killion, in line drawings, watercolor, and photographs, in precise rendition and in abstract design.

“Some of the poetry is site specific — but The Review is not exclusive to West Marin. It seems that ‘place’ — wherever it is — is always a source of creative inspiration. Many of the essays and poems refer back to earlier homes, earlier times and lives.

“Fiction pieces include The Miles Pilot by Cynthia Cady, funny and painful and wrenching at the same time, and The Cat Lover by Jody Farrell, where reality and fantasticality link arms.”

The list of contributors to The West Marin Review is generally impressive, and many of them will be on hand to sign copies at Point Reyes Books. Although not particularly impressive myself, I’ll be among those with pen in hand should anyone want my autograph.

This fall four foxes began showing up on my deck just after dark each evening, as has been previously reported. Although skittish, they take turns grabbing slices of bread from my hand. They eat peanuts off the deck even when the door is open and we are only three or four feet apart.

However, this is also what the local raccoons do, which has led to several encounters. On more than one occasion, a raccoon has given a fox the evil eye, causing the reynard to scamper off.

A year ago, I dealt with the same problem; only that time the adversaries were a possum and raccoon. It took a bit of planning, but their historic suspicions notwithstanding, I was able to work out a ceasefire.

To bring both sides to the negotiating table, I placed a couple of piles of peanuts on it. Over several nights, I brought the peanuts closer and closer together until possum and raccoon were finally eating nose to nose in peace.

A week ago I began trying the same strategy in fox-raccoon negotiations, starting with peanuts spread fairly far apart.

As the peanuts moved closer together over several nights, so did both animals. Mutual enmity may seem like part of their God-given nature, but as Bertolt Brecht so aptly observed, “Grub first, then ethics.”

Sunday’s Trailer Stash, a musical fundraiser at Marconi Conference center to buy supplies for the Marshall Disaster Council’s emergency trailer, turned into a star-studded event.

Ted Anderson’s traditional Irish music, followed by Ingrid Noyes and the Marshall Community Chorus and Kazoo Band, began the bash, which ended with two songs by legendary folksinger Maria Muldaur. As a fundraiser, the event was both a musical and financial triumph. More than $2,500 was raised to outfit the trailer.

Maria Muldaur, who is probably still best known for her 1974 recording of Midnight at the Oasis, continues touring and dropped by with no advance publicity. She and another folk music great, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, together sang Richland Woman Blues by Mississippi John Hurt. She also treated the audience in the center’s Buck Hall to an a cappella version of It’s a Blessing by Mississippi Fred McDowell. In 2005, she recorded this “field holler,” as she called it, with Bonnie Raitt.

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, who happens to live in Marshall, likewise performed with little advance notice (except on this blog). Ramblin’ Jack played San Francisco Bay Blues accompanied by Corey Goodman on piano and sang the traditional song The Cuckoo, She’s a Pretty Bird, accompanied only by himself.

There were other surprises as well. The boogie and ragtime music of a young pianist named George Fenn greatly impressed the crowd, who responded with enthusiastic applause.

Two organizers of the event, Paul Kaufman (on piano) and Kristi Edwards (on flute), performed a happy parody of the 1926 song It All Depends on You. (“I can be happy, I can be sad, I can be good, I can be bad, It all depends on you. I can be lonely out in a crowd, I can be humble, I can be proud, It all depends on you.”)

In Paul and Kristi’s version, which the audience joined in singing, the words were: “We can be safe, We can be glad, We can be nervous, And we can be sad, It all depends on you. We will need lanterns, We will need shovels, Bolt cutters, hammers, To fix our hovels, It all depends on you.”

I happened to be sitting in the second row when Rick Pepper of Marshall (on steel guitar), accompanied by David Harris (on harmonica), cut loose with some gravelly voiced blues.

Not long after Pepper began belting out two Robert Johnson songs, someone sat down beside me.

I was concentrating on the performance, so I didn’t immediately look over to see who it was.

When I finally took a moment to see who had joined me in the second row, I discovered it was Ramblin’ Jack. “This is great,” exclaimed the Grammy Award winner as he listened to Rick and David.

A bit of a surprise for those who do not know him well, Corey Goodman, chairman of Marin Media Institute which has bought The Point Reyes Light, is also a first-rate jazz pianist.

The biotech entrepreneur from Marshall is perhaps best known in West Marin for being the first to expose Park Service misrepresentations regarding the Drakes Bay Oyster Company.

Corey is seen performing with Tim Weed, West Marin’s accoustic virtuoso, who plays everything from guitar to classical banjo. Tim’s collection of classical works for the five-string banjo, Milagros, is regularly featured on National Public Radio.

Also a singer and songwriter, Tim performs in many places. This Sunday, Nov. 21, he’s scheduled to play from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Station House Café.

Despite having a magnificent lineup, the Trailer Stash fundraiser didn’t draw a huge crowd. I’d guess only 75 to 100 folks found their way to this extraordinary concert, and notwithstanding the similarity of names, none was trailer park trash.

A storm in January 1982 dumped 12 inches of rain on West Marin in 36 hours, flooding roads all along the coast. Towns such as Bolinas and Point Reyes Station were cut off from the outside world. Slides were widespread, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard north of Inverness Park was blocked by mud.

As it happened, there were no sheriff’s deputies or Highway Patrol officers in the Inverness area when the slides occurred, and the Inverness Volunteer Fire Department became in effect the only law west of the Pecos. It requisitioned food from the Inverness Store and distributed it to townspeople. An emergency kitchen was set up in St. Columba’s Episcopal Church.

In October 1989, slippage along the San Andreas Fault, which runs down the middle of Tomales Bay, the Olema Valley, Bolinas Lagoon, and across the Golden Gate, caused the Loma Prieta Earthquake. The temblor, which measured 6.6 on the Richter Scale, killed 63 people in the San Francisco Bay Area and left thousands homeless.

West Marin got off relatively lightly although Highway 1 south of Stinson Beach was so badly damaged it had to be closed for 18 months.

This area was not so fortunate six years later when a wildfire in October 1995 razed more than 45 homes on Inverness Ridge and charred 11 percent of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It took an army of firefighters from around the state to douse the blaze, which at one point was consuming an acre of brush per second.

With disasters such as these fresh in people’s minds, the Marshall Disaster Council expects there will be more and has acquired an emergency trailer for the east shore of Tomales Bay. Here’s the story from one of the organizers.

Tiny, the Marshall Disaster Council mascot, with trained volunteers Rich Clarke and Paul Kaufman in the new trailer, which is designed to hold urgently needed emergency supplies. The trailer will be on display outside Buck Hall at Marconi Center for Sunday’s Trailer Stash — Musical Fundraiser.

By Paul Kaufman of Marshall

There will be a disaster; we just don’t know when. Residents along Tomales Bay’s East Shore (and hundreds of stranded tourists) could very likely be cut off from timely emergency and medical response.

The Marshall community is mobilizing to provide a cache of local emergency supplies. Thanks to a grant from the Marin County Office of Emergency Services, Marshall now has a brand new 7-foot-by-16-foot mobile disaster trailer.

But it needs to be outfitted with a cache of emergency supplies. While the Red Cross has helped with cots and blankets, Marshall still needs vital rescue and medical items including back boards, halogen work lights, a bolt cutter, a safety harness, fire axes, extinguishers, flares, and stand up tents.

In short, Marshall Disaster Council volunteers are trained and committed to help during a disaster. They just need the tools for survival; hence Trailer Stash — The Musical Fundraiser, which will be held at Marconi Center’s Buck Hall from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14.

The performers will include: Ingrid Noyes with the Marshall Community Chorus and Kazoo Band, ragtime pianist George Fenn, traditional Irish music by Ted Anderson, harmonica stylist Dave Harris, the golden voice of Rick Pepper, acoustic guitar virtuoso Tim Weed (left), jazz pianist Corey Goodman, romantic ballads by the Kristi-Paul Duo, and Grammy Award-winning folksinger Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.

Disaster Council volunteers are asking for a donation of $10 per person at the door or $25 per family. It will be a potluck, so please bring a salad, garlic bread, or soft drinks, and we’ll supply fresh Tomales Bay Oyster Company oysters raw, barbecued, or smoked.

A Day of the Dead altar in the Dance Palace with the first of many photos in remembrance of ancestors and friends who have passed away.

Story and photos by Lynn Axelrod

West Marin residents Friday celebrated the Day of the Dead with a show of Latino photography at Gallery Route One and with an altar and food at the Dance Palace.

Alex Porrata of Inverness has her hands full getting daughter Lu and son Ez to pose during the Dance Palace celebration.

By Mexican custom, on El Dia de los Muertos, the thin curtain between the living and the dead is joyously parted. The spirits of Mexican ancestors are expected to return to their living families. This reunion of the departed with their relatives and friends is celebrated with flowers, candlelight vigils, and lovingly prepared foods and sweets.

Day of the Dead is celebrated in different ways throughout Mexico.

In some regions, the first night, Nov.  1, is  set aside to honor deceased children and infants, or angelitos, while commemorations for deceased adults are held the night of Nov. 2.

Several photos at Gallery Route One show Maria P. Niggle cheerfully cooking. Here she joins the parade from the gallery to the Dance Palace.

In homes, an ofrenda, or altar, is set up and decorated with candles, papier-mache flowers, sugar skulls, and photographs of the deceased.  Their favorite foods are prepared to welcome and sustain them on their journey.

In cemeteries, gravesites are cleaned and freshened as flowers are brought to decorate the graves and tombstones.  More food is brought and incense and candles are burned to help the dead find their way.

In West Marin, the ongoing Latino Photography Project show at Gallery Route One, Raices y Sabores: Roots & Flavors, celebrates the bounty of family, friendship, and El Dia de los Muertos.

Maria Herrera and Sara Reynoso, 7 months, at the Gallery Route One show.

Brilliantly colorful photomontages at the gallery show coastal residents preparing traditional recipes that families have passed down for generations. Other photos show gatherings of friends and neighbors, both Latino and non-Latino.

Brief biographies highlight the ancestral ties to Mexico and the United States of people in the photos, as well as the photographers.

A parade heads out from the gallery to festivities at the Dance Palace.

After a reception at the gallery last Friday, an El Dia de los Muertos parade wound its way through downtown Point Reyes Station to the Dance Palace, where the hall was decorated with a colorful altar.

The room was festooned with skeletons, flowers, and special foods.  The annual custom of reuniting families and friends, living and dead, was symbolically celebrated once again.

Unlike Halloween, the Day of the Dead is intended not to be scary but to celebrate reunion.  This display is at the entrance to the Dance Palace’s hall.

Heroically cheerful despite bizarrely bad luck, Doreen Miao and her dog Tully back at home Sunday.

The victim of a freak traffic accident, Doreen Miao, 57, of Point Reyes Station, returned home last Thursday after six days in Marin General Hospital.

As readers of my Oct. 28 report in The West Marin Citizen know, Doreen and her dog Tully had been walking beside Highway 1 just west of the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road Oct. 25 when a passing car hit a buck as it bolted across the highway. The deer was thrown into Doreen, who was knocked down and suffered a compound fracture to  one leg, a broken clavicle, and rib damage. (In a production glitch, The Citizen printed the Oct. 28 report a second time on Nov. 4.)

Doreen on Sunday told me that all she remembers of the accident is walking along the highway and then being in an ambulance. Photographer Marty Knapp, who lives on nearby Tank Road, told the Highway Patrol, as well as me, he saw the oncoming car, saw the buck bolting toward the highway, heard an impact, but did not see it.

Marty said he was not immediately aware that Doreen was lying on the ground, but two neighbors who could see her rushed over to help.

The photographer added he feels certain the car hit the deer rather than hit Doreen. The sound of the impact was what one would expect if a car traveling 25 mph were to hit a 200-pound buck, he explained, far louder than if it were to graze a pedestrian. Despite the blow, however, the blacktailed deer managed to recross the highway and disappear.

The driver of the car stopped and told officers he had hit a buck, but he was not aware of Doreen’s being involved. His car received only minor damage, the Highway Patrol noted.

Doreen, a native of Shanghai who has lived most of her life in the United States, walks her dog Tully to the post office and back almost every day. After the crash, Tully, a miniature Australian shepherd, returned to the post office where townspeople recognized him.

Vickie Leeds, owner of Cabaline tack shop, took Tully and Doreen’s cat Maui to the Point Reyes Animal Hospital. From there, the pets were transferred to a kennel in Novato. Thanks to a neighbor who picked them up from the kennel, Tully and Maui joyfully returned home Sunday.

For the moment, Doreen is using a walker to get around her house, but she’s as happy to be home as Tully and Maui are.