Archive for January, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik on Monday wrote about designer Christina Kim interviewing famed restaurateur, author, and sustainable-farming-advocate Alice Waters. The interview took a somewhat surprising turn, Garchik noted, when “at one point, the conversation turned to tablecloths in Switzerland.” Now there’s one hell of an obscure digression.

But the culinary world is full of surprises. On Tuesday when I dropped by Toby’s Coffee Bar for my daily mocha, the blind Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli could be heard on the bar’s radio singing Time to Say Goodbye (click). It was a haunting duet with Sarah Brightman, but what impressed me was how skillfully barista Diciderio “DC” Hernandez could whistle along with it. Wow! I can’t even carry a tune whistling.

Rounded stingrays, the most common rays on California’s coast. National Geographic photo by Norbert Wu.

Odder but grimmer: Did you read where 156 people in Orange County were attacked by stingrays in just three days last month, 73 of them on Dec. 29 at Huntington Beach? Stings from the rays’ tails are painful and can get infected but are seldom fatal. Lifeguards said there are far more stingrays around than usual, apparently because of low tides and because unusually warm water this winter is drawing them back to shore .

Victims are usually stung while wading in shallow water, and the easiest way to avoid them, lifeguards note, is to shuffle one’s feet, which stirs up muck and scares them away.

Another odd story: Chronicle columnist Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the California Assembly, is well remembered for championing civil rights, economic reform and other liberal causes. However, his brief nod to burlesque and porno filmmaking seems to be mostly forgotten.

So let me remind you that Brown (center) as mayor deemed July 13, 1999, the official day of Tempest Storm, the “queen of burlesque,” (at left). He then went on to deem July 28, 1999, the official day of porno actress Marilyn Chambers (at right). Chambers starred in Behind the Green Door and other pornographic movies while Storm was known as a striptease dancer.

Perhaps President Trump will someday name a holiday after his former porno inamorata Stormy Daniels.

The nationwide protests that began a year ago when Donald Trump was elected president are continuing to grow. Immediately after the election, bumper stickers urging people to “Resist” became common around Marin. Lately, the protest has apparently been picked up by the business community. Two weeks ago, I saw a Mill Valley garbage truck with the message “Refuse” painted on its side.

On a happier note, all the bad weather we’ve been having of late is certainly good for the countryside.

The horse pasture next to Mitchell cabin had been totally eaten down by Thanksgiving, and Arabian Horse Adventures, which leases the land, had to drop piles of hay on the ground to feed its small herd.

But thanks to several rainy days in the past couple of weeks, the hills are starting to turn green again. Here one of the Arabians browses just beyond our common fence. Photo by Lynn Axelrod

Fellow grazers — The blacktail deer population on this hill has seldom seemed larger. In these photos, eight does graze downhill from Mitchell cabin while a smaller group dine uphill.

Watching all this (in the bottom photo) is a buck who seems intent on guarding the smaller harem from predators and other bucks. Before long he begins stamping on the ground with a front hoof. Why he does this is debated. Studies on whitetail deer suggest that bucks may be sounding an alert. Or they may merely be marking territory when they stamp since their hooves leave a scent.