Entries tagged with “Toby’s Coffee Bar”.


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.

A guy is driving through Chileno Valley when he sees a sign in front of a ranch house: “Talking Dog For Sale.” He rings the bell. The owner answers and tells him the dog is in the backyard.

The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there. “You talk?” he asks. “Yep,” the Lab replies. After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says “So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country. I was able to sit among spies and world leaders because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.

“I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn’t getting any younger, so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals.

“I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog. “Ten dollars,” the rancher says. “Ten dollars!” the guy exclaims. “This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?”

“Because he’s a liar,” the rancher replies. “He never did any of that crap.”

More canine lore. Even after the brick Grandi Building in Point Reyes Station was reinforced a few decades ago by putting a steel frame inside the building, some concern remained that bricks would pop out of the wall during a major earthquake. That resulted in a warning being painted on the building, but within weeks, pranksters changed “PARKING” to “BARKING.” Nowadays motorists routinely ignore it. This year, the vacant building will turn 100.

Earthquakes are not the only threats to bricks in Point Reyes Station. Here a Western gray squirrel gnaws on a brick outside of Mitchell cabin. Why? “Because they have rootless teeth that keep growing, they must gnaw continuously to wear them down,” explains the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies. “Otherwise they would be unable to close their mouths and their teeth would continue to grow and eventually prevent them from feeding.” — Photo by Lynn Axelrod

Lynn and I were enjoying a couple of mocha coffees at Toby’s Coffee Bar Sunday, as we often do, when she noticed this sign on the front of the building. I had no idea what “orse” means, so I looked it up. Turns out its most common meaning in British English is “not comparable.” In short, there’s no stable that can compare with Five Brooks.

Further down the main street I spotted this small sticker on a steel beam that’s part of the Palace Market’s external frame. Chu is a Chinese surname, but that doesn’t explain the sign. I was laughing at it when a woman walked past, read the sign, and with a laugh remarked, “Well, it’s not me.”

A hummingbird flew into Toby’s Feed Barn Sunday and apparently lost its way among the skylights high overhead. There would be no practical way to get to it or catch it, so I’m just hoping it finds its way out soon.

More avian mishaps. Two red-winged blackbirds with injured legs have begun showing up at Mitchell cabin. Neither Lynn nor I could figure out what happened to them, so Lynn asked Dave DeSante, president of the Institute for Bird Populations in Point Reyes Station. His only guess was that they’d gotten their legs tangled in something unknown. So far, at least, they’re surviving. — Photo by Lynn Axelrod

•        •        •

A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and gently tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb and stopped just inches from a large, plate-glass window.

For a few moments everything was silent in the cab. Then, the shaking driver asked, “Are you OK? I’m so sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me.” The badly shaken passenger apologized to the driver and said, “I didn’t realize that a mere tap on the shoulder would startle someone so badly.”

The driver replied, “No, no, I’m the one who is sorry. It’s entirely my fault.
Today is my very first day driving a cab. I’ve been driving a hearse for 25 years.”