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I’m often amazed by the variety of wildlife around Mitchell cabin, but even more amazing is the variety that shows up on the cabin’s deck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A possum, fox, and raccoon peacefully dine on kibble together just outside our kitchen door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These critters dine peacefully even when I’m there to encourage them. I don’t encourage petting possums in general, but I happened to know this fellow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife Lynn feeds a couple of slices of bread to a fox at the kitchen door.

And they bring their friends. Here are three foxes that showed up for kibble on our deck.

A raccoon and skunk share a handful of roasted peanuts.

Roof rats are unusually numerous in Point Reyes Station this year, each evening showing up for birdseed that birds left behind on our deck. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A squirrel surveys the world from our birdbath on the deck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One surprising visitor on our decks awhile back was this blacktail doe near the hot tub on our lower deck.

 

 

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In California’s Official Voter Information Guide, which came in the mail this past week, most of the 125 candidates listed make grand declarations of their political stands, as might be expected. A surprising number of candidates, however, seem off the wall, airing bigotry and conspiracy theories.

• “Abolish the insurance companies,” declares Nathalie Hrizi, the Peace and Freedom Party candidate for insurance commissioner, but gives no rationale.

• “Capitalism enables corporate masters to exacerbate crisis of health, poverty, oppression, climate change and war in allegiance to profit,” writes John Thompson Parker (left), Peace and Freedom Party candidate for the Senate. “Ownership of production and finance must be controlled by the people. This senate campaign is about building that socialist systematic change.”

• “I believe God wants to use me to help Him make America Righteous Again,” announces Chuck Smith (below), a Republican candidate for the Senate.

• “Those who enabled the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting crippling lockdowns must be held accountable,” says another Republican candidate for the Senate, Mark P Meuser.

• “Our leadership has used the COVID-19 pandemic to turn the state into a big pharma dictatorship,” insists gubernatorial candidate Serge Fiankan (below), who gives “no party preferance.”

• The wildest rant, however, comes from Don J. Grundmann, who also lists no party preference and did not submit a photo. “The poisonous fake vaccines don’t work, stop infection or transmission,” he claims…. “Masks are useless/joke against a virus. Vaxxing children is a crime. Covid is biological warfare against humanity. Vaccines kill you.” Grundmann’s declarations also include: there are “only two genders. Transgender does not exist, only psychotic broken people…. Climate change is a total lie.” He quotes a website that says Vice President Kamala Harris “is a house Negro” (i.e. “a black person who rejects cultural identity to please the white man,” to quote The Urban Dictionary).

• On the other hand, gubernatorial candidate Mariana B. Dawson, who lists no party preference, defines her beliefs with one short sentence: “F [uck] all politicians.”

More than a few voters may agree with her after perusing some of the candidates’ statements.

 

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Christmas week seems full of unlikely events — especially this year. Winter begins on Tuesday, the longest night of the year, and Friday will be Christmas eve. Among the unlikely events at Mitchell cabin has been the debut of occasional chirps, such as a bird would make, every minute or so in the morning while my wife Lynn and I are still in bed. I thought nothing of the chirps, but they kept waking Lynn up.

Eventually she traced the chirps to a smoke alarm in the peak of the roof over our upstairs loft. I then noticed that the chirping stopped when I turned on our wall furnace or lit a fire in our woodstove. Clearly, the alarm was not warning of smoke but of cold air, which may interfere with the alarm’s batteries.

Lynn is in process of hiring a handyman to fix the problem, but he faces the problem of positioning a ladder to reach the smoke alarm since it’s directly over a steep staircase. Before we’re done we may have to build a temporary tower.

When I was a little boy living with my folks in Berkeley, I made a disappointing discovery regarding Christmas. On the morning of Dec. 26, I hurried down to the living room where our Christmas tree stood, but there was nothing new under it. “I guess Santa Claus just comes once,” my mother heard me sigh. No doubt she told me I’d have to wait a year for his return, but to a little boy a year might as well be forever.

Birds hunt and peck for birdseed among the Christmas lights on the railing of Mitchell cabin’s deck.

In a normal year, we’d attend or throw a Christmas Day dinner, but with people staying home because of the Covid pandemic, about our only preparation for the celebration has been to string Christmas lights on our deck railing and on our tannenbaum, which we bought at Toby’s Feed Barn. (By the way, the song “O Tannenbaum” is German for “O Fir Tree,” in case you didn’t know.)

One last unlikely event worth mentioning is Point Reyes Station’s noon moo. A loudspeaker above the Western Saloon blares mooing up and down Point Reyes Station’s main street at noon each day. The town a couple of decades back decided a noon moo would be less intrusive than a noon whistle, and so that’s what we got.

These days, the noon moo has become an 11:45 a.m. moo, which can be confusing. Radioman extraordinaire Richard Dillman awhile back corrected the timing, but it’s now slipped off schedule again. Another unlikely event this yuletide.

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This week I’ll reprint a bit of the humor that’s been emailed to me in the past week, including a few unlikely photos.

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A good looking man walked into an agent’s office in Hollywood and said, “I want to be a movie star.” Tall, handsome and with experience on Broadway, he had the right credentials. The agent asked, “What’s your name?”

The guy said, “My name is Penis van Lesbian.” The agent said, “Sir, I hate to tell you, but in order to get into Hollywood , you are going to have to change your name.”

Just a pinch

“I will NOT change my name!” the man replied. “The van Lesbian name is centuries old. I will not disrespect my grandfather by changing my name. Not ever.”

The agent said, “Sir, I have worked in Hollywood for years… You will NEVER go far in Hollywood with a name like Penis van Lesbian! I’m telling you, you will HAVE TO change your name or I will not be able to represent you.” The guy responded, “So be it! I guess we will not do business together,” and he abruptly left the agent’s office.

Five years later, the agent opens an envelope sent to his office. Inside the envelope is a letter and a check for $50,000. He reads the letter enclosed: “Dear Sir, Five years ago, I came into your office wanting to become an actor in Hollywood. You told me I needed to change my name. Determined to make it with my God-given birth name, I refused. You told me I would never make it in Hollywood with a name like Penis van Lesbian.

“After I left your office, I thought about what you said. I decided you were right. I had to change my name. I had too much pride to return to your office, so I signed with another agent. “I would never have made it without changing my name, so the enclosed check is a token of my appreciation. Thank you for your advice.”

Sincerely, Dick van Dyke

 

 

 

Praising the sun

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CNN (click to read full story) — Former President Donald Trump railed against his one-time close ally Benjamin Netanyahu in a new interview series, saying he felt betrayed by the then-prime minister of Israel’s video message to Joe Biden congratulating him on winning the presidency.

“It was early. OK? Let’s put it this way; he greeted him very early. Earlier than most world leaders. I’ve not spoken to him since. Fuck him!”
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Duck surfing a dam.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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When my New Yorker arrives in the mail each week, the first thing it does is remind me that I’m more interested in humor than in more serious matters. And it’s only after I’ve thumbed my way through all the cartoons and jokes that I take time to check out what the main articles are.

This week’s posting is going to be kept short because I’m having troubles with my computer program. For example, there’s an unintended space between the fifth and the sixth jokes. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

Birthday lunch. Maddy Sobel of Point Reyes Station (standing) took my wife Lynn and me out for lunch at the Station House Cafe Tuesday to celebrate my 78th birthday.

Because of Covid restrictions, the cafe’s only seating was outdoors in the garden, which was attractive but chilly enough to warrant my wearing a hood while eating.

Now in my 79th year, I’m enjoying myself but have problems walking and remembering things. In short, I am definitely slowing down.

When I was born on Nov. 23, 1943, the US was about halfway through our involvement in World War II. My parents and I were living in the Marina District of San Francisco, and though I was too young to understand what I was seeing, my parents later told of freight trains chugging past the Marina Green carrying tanks and other military vehicles to ships heading off for the war in the Pacific.

The one thing I do remember of the war was the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945. China had been our ally against Japan, and the surrender prompted a massive celebration in Chinatown. Hearing about it, my mother loaded great aunt Amy and me into our family’s Pontiac and drove across town so we could see it first hand. The merriment no doubt was exciting, but as a two year old, I found it terrifying. Firecrackers were exploding everywhere, and as we headed up Grant Avenue, they started raining down on our car from overhead balconies. The traffic was so heavy, mom couldn’t immediately drive away, and for the next couple of years, loud noises — even from kids’ cap guns — frightened me.

Merely growing up in the United States has meant my lifetime’s been filled with warfare: World War II (1941-45); the Korean War (1950-53); the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian Wars (1956-75); two wars in Iraq (1990-91 and 2014-17); and the Afghan War (2001-present). I never fought in any of these wars, but I did witness a couple of others. In 1984, while working as a reporter for The San Francisco Examiner, I was sent to Central America to cover the wars then being fought in El Salvador and Guatemala. All this left me with a sense that the world is never going to be peaceful, at least not in my lifetime.

Just keeping happy is enough for me these days. I spend afternoons carrying armloads of firewood into the living room and spend evenings sitting by the fireplace, smoking, listening to jazz from an earlier era, and chatting with Lynn when she’s not in the bedroom watching British murder mysteries on the TV. Keep calm and carry on, she says.

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

When I got home today, our cat Newy ran inside with a present for me in her mouth: a live sparrow. When she dropped it on the bedroom carpet, the sparrow took a few steps but didn’t try to fly. This allowed me to scoop it up with one hand and carry it outside where I released it seemingly unharmed under a bush.

 

The sparrow was Newy’s second surprise of the day. I had previously discovered she’d coughed up a series of hairballs on the staircase. They looked ickier than they proved to be when I cleaned them up, and they didn’t smell all that bad. Nonetheless, they were still a nuisance. (Note: After we took in this previously stray cat (above) a year ago, I named her “the Nuisance Cat,” but my wife Lynn changed the name to “Nui” and then to “Newy.”)

There’s a reason for the expression “what the cat dragged in.” Many cats, such as Newy, like to bring home presents for their masters. Along with several birds, numerous lizards have shown up in Mitchell cabin, thanks to Newy.

 

Here’s a blue belly lizard she dropped off on the living room couch.

 

Lizards, like the sparrow, often are in a dazed shock after spending time in the cat’s jaws, and this makes it possible to catch and pick them up as Lynn is doing here.

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And now for some nutty national news.

 

 

Rightwing conspiracy theories have moved beyond being just goofy to being downright dangerous. Police in Maryland say Jeffrey Burnham, 46, (above) murdered his brother Brian Robinette, a pharmacist, because Robinette has been administering Covid-19 vaccinations. The vaccinations are part of a government plot to poison people, Burnham had claimed, adding that his brother “Brian knows something.”

But apparently Burnham wasn’t really all that concerned about protecting people’s lives, for while he was eliminating his brother, he also murdered his sister-in-law, Kelly Sue Robinette, 57, and an 83-year-old friend of hers, Rebecca Reynolds, police report.

If the government really wants to reduce the population, using nutty people to do the job would sound more certain than administering millions of vaccinations.

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Some international news

 

 

My youngest stepdaughter, Shaili Zappa, 28, flew back to Guatemala Tuesday after a nine-day visit.

Shaili is the third daughter of Ana Carolina Monterroso of Guatemala City, my fourth wife. Her sisters are Kristeli and Anika.

A little over a decade ago, Shaili attended West Marin School while Anika and Kristeli attended San Marin High. Shaili plans to move back to the Bay Area beginning next year and already has a job lined up with a high tech firm.

An adventurous young lady, Shaili has traveled widely. Here she feeds a giraffe mouth to mouth in Kenya. Shaili said the creature was as friendly as it looks.

Lynn and I, along with a number of friends from her earlier days in West Marin, are certainly looking forward to her return.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caveat lectorem: When readers submit comments, they are asked if they want to receive an email alert with a link to new postings on this blog. A number of people have said they do. Thank you. The link is created the moment a posting goes online. Readers who find their way here through that link can see an updated version by simply clicking on the headline above the posting.

 

A family heirloom — In 1856, my great-grandfather Luke Parsons moved from Ohio to Kansas, where he went to work as a clerk at the Free State Hotel in Lawrence. Kansas at the time was still a territory, and Congress had decided to let Kansas residents vote on whether to allow slavery when it became a state.

Parsons arrived  in Lawrence just in time for two terrorist attacks by pro-slavery “Border Ruffians” from Missouri.

A report by the Kansas Historical Society notes, “The first attack took place on May 21, 1856, when approximately 800 pro-slavery advocates descended upon the Kansas town and proceeded to destroy anti-slavery forces. The second attack, led by William Clark Quantrill on Aug. 21, 1863, resulted in the death of nearly 200 people and the burning of many business and homes within the community.”

“Notably, only a few of the ordinary border ruffians actually owned slaves; most were too poor,” notes Wikipedia. “What motivated them was hatred of Yankees and abolitionists, and fear of free Blacks living nearby.”

The ruffians’ violent attempts to get free staters out of Kansas ahead of the vote was known as “bleeding Kansas.” Abolitionist leader John Brown formed his “army” to protect the abolitionists, and Parsons joined John Brown’s Army. As part of the “Army,” Parsons on Aug.30, 1856, took part in the Battle of Osawatomie, in which members of the opposing militias lost numerous men. Out of such battles, the Civil War (1861-65) erupted.

 

Parsons (above) did not take part when John Brown’s Army attacked the federal arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, hoping to get weapons to arm slaves for a revolt. It was fortunate Parsons didn’t take part because the attack failed; Brown and other followers were subsequently executed.

During the war itself Parsons led a company of Native American soldiers in the Oklahoma territory as they hunted for “bushwhackers,” who ambushed Union soldiers.

After the war, Parsons took up life on the prairie in Salina, Kansas, where he eventually mail-ordered the clock that inspired this posting.

My father was born in Salina and inherited his grandfather’s clock, which I in turn eventually inherited.

However, the clock long ago stopped working, so in April, I took it to Tim Eriksen, The Clockmaker, in Novato. Eriksen got it working, but within a month its chiming on the hour and half hour stopped. Soon afterward, the hands of the clock stopped turning, so this week I took it back to The Clockmaker.

I was worried how much further repairs would cost, but Eriksen quickly figured out why the bell wasn’t chiming. The spring that drives the striking mechanism needed to be wound more tightly, as did the spring that drives the hands of the clock. Somehow I missed that.

Inside the clock.

 

Within minutes, Eriksen had the clock working as well as it presumably did 125 years ago, and on the mantel behind our woodstove, it again seems worthy of great-grandfather Parsons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My father was a good photographer, and when he travelled, he was constantly shooting pictures of the landscape. I, in turn, got in the habit of photographing the signs I saw along the way since many of them represent different communities and values. I started doing this back in the 1970s and 80s. This posting is a representative sampling from that era.

The line is catchy, but ‘My shirt for a beer!’ didn’t seem to catch the attention of this housemaid lugging food to work in Paris, circa 1976.

‘All for the Country Defending Justice — the Junta, the People, & Armed Forces.’ A 1982 billboard in San Salvador, El Salvador, supported the government in its battle against an insurgency led by leftist guerrillas.

‘Death to the Ears.’ This threatening guerrilla graffiti in San Agustin, El Salvador, was a warning to any would-be government informants. (1982)

San Salvador’s election center with its large Coca Cola ads received military protection after it came under fire one morning in 1982.

‘With the murder of Ana Maria, the Salvadoran revolution will not stop.’ This declaration strung across a rural highway let travelers know they were entering guerrilla-held territory.

Paris, 1983.

In 1982 guerrillas blocked a Salvadoran highway by felling trees across it. Because the government had previously barred local residents from cutting timber in the area, the locals put up a sarcastic sign of appreciation: ‘Thanks for the firewood, guerrillas, mules and sons of a whore.’    

 

Guatemala — The country’s military strongman, Gen. Lucas Garcia, in 1981 took advantage of his position to have a large sign put up along a new highway, giving him credit for it: ‘Another public work by the government of General Lucas.’                                                                                  

‘I was his home for nine months. Now it’s provided by Clayeux [diapers.]’ A billboard in Paris, 1983.

 

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