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People with a variety of talents are called polymaths. An extemely talented polymath, for example, was Leonardo da Vinci. The High Renaissance scientist was also renowned as a painter, philosopher and sculptor.

Maddy Sobel in a self-illustration

She’s no Leonardo, but Madelyn Sobel of Point Reyes Station is definitely a polymath. Maddy, as she is known, holds a BA in Fine Arts from the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Her studies focused on illustration. Over the years, her illustrations have been published as editorial cartoons, printed in posters, used to illustrate children’s books and much more.

Around Point Reyes Station, however, she’s best known for “Maddy’s Jammin” with its sandwich board sign in front of her home on Highway 1 downhill from West Marin School. In the kitchen of her home, she cooks at all hours, making raspberry jam, orange marmalade, apricot jam, and many more which she sells from her house and downtown.

In addition, she is a social activist, and a show of her art will open for a month at 6 p.m.  Thursday, March 2, in the Point Reyes Library with a portion of the sales of her art to be donated to Ukainian causes.

Another polymath activist from West Marin will also be on hand opening night.

Betty Grinshtein, who has been assistant cheesemaker at the Cowgirl Creamery, was born in Lviv, Ukraine, which is at the Polish border. Along with English and Ukrainian, Betty speaks Polish and Russian, and at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, she will tell of spending three months last year providing travel logistics and distributing aid to Ukrainian refugees fleeing into Poland by train.

Betty Grinshtein

“I’m back in West Marin,” Grinshtein comments. “However, my heart is still in Ukraine and Poland,” and she is still helping raise funds for an NGO called the Karkiv and Przemal Project (KHARP) “so they can continue to assist the refugees and the vulnerable Ukrainian population unable to evacuate from Eastern Ukraine.”

The two polymaths’ talk and art show at the Point Reyes Library next week will no doubt be fascinating.


Despite the expectations of friends, I have little to say this week about the national election. I’m, of course, glad the predicted “red wave” never materialized and that Republican candidates who called the last presidential election “rigged” mostly lost. Now that Donald Trump has said he’ll be running for president again in 2024, I’m sure there will be plenty of malarky to write about in future postings, so I’ll wait and write about other beasts this week.

An old man, wrote Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, used to say a nap “after dinner was silver — before dinner, golden.”







A cornucopia (i.e. horn of plenty) in the living room of Mitchell cabin symbolizes the harvest season and dinners to come.







A cottontail rabbit enjoys a golden nap after showing up in the field outside our bedroom window.







Outside our kitchen window, a sleepy blacktail buck enjoys a silver nap as well as a golden nap before resuming his grazing.












Later outside our living room window, a raccoon lay deep in a silver nap.





Awhile ago it began to feel like this country had lost its way, what with school shootings, political violence, and a former president’s describing as “genius” Vladimir Putin’s strategy for Russia to take over parts of Ukraine.  

In contrast, life in our northern neighbor appeared mostly calm and friendly. Maybe it would be a happier place to live. Helping create that impression was my late mother’s being an immigrant from Canada who’d become a naturalized US  citizen.

On a lark, I looked up what all I’d have to do to go back and become a Canadian citizen. As it turns out, not much. In fact, I may be one already. Here’s how a Canadian law firm specializing in immigration-law, Allen and Hodgman, explains the situation: “Was your mother or father born or naturalized in Canada? Under recent amendments to Canada’s Citizenship Act, nearly all persons whose parent was born or naturalized in Canada are now Canadian citizens.

“This is true even if your parent left Canada as a child; married an American citizen (or other non-Canadian); or became a U.S. citizen (or citizen of another country).

“These new laws apply to the first generation born abroad. So if your mother or father was born in Canada you are likely a citizen…. Canadian citizens are free to live anywhere in the world, so you can obtain your Certificate of Citizenship without having to leave the US.”

All that sounded like an invitation from extremely attractive neighbors until I read Friday’s news. David DePape, the man who tried to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but instead injured her husband Paul, is a Canadian. Overstaying his visa, he has been in the US illegally for the past 14 years.

Apparently he was progressive and liberal 14 years ago, but ultraconservative  conspiracy propaganda turned him into a rightwing terrorist. (DePape’s now said he’d planned for the attack on Pelosi to be the first of several.)

Apparently not everybody is happy no matter where they’ve lived.


At least life in Point Reyes Station has been relatively happy in the past week. Here is the highpoint of happiness — the Halloween celebration Monday:












It ranged from children in costumes celebrating….










to Davis, the town’s postmaster, doing the same. Evidently one doesn’t have to live in Canada to enjoy himself, so I guess I’ll stay put.



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.

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.