General News


Most days I get a caffeine hit in the late morning at Toby’s Coffee Bar in Point Reyes Station. It’s a convivial place with good pastries as well as good tea and coffee. I was sitting at a picnic table inside the barn a week ago when an older gentleman came up to me and asked if I was “Dave Mitchell’s father.” Unsure whether he was joking or serious, I replied, “I’m Dave Mitchell himself.” In either case, I took his comment as reflecting how much older I look these days. My hair’s gray, I’m stoop shouldered, and I often shuffle when I walk. Old age is a bitch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another day last week, I was again seated inside the barn when I heard a loud crash. Assuming two vehicles had collided on the main street out front, I went outside to look. Instead I found that a balcony on the front of the building had partially collapsed. A forklift raised too high had slammed into a lateral beam.

A different older gentleman had been sitting on the deck under the balcony, and he too had heard the crash but didn’t realize at first that the balcony overhead might come down on him. He wasn’t upset, but since then he’s taken to sitting inside the barn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the deck encircled by a yellow warning ribbon, the feed store moved its flower display indoors too. Here Danny Holderman enjoys having lush bouquets beside his table.

 

 

 

 

 

Toby’s might as well be a community center so much goes on there. Beside the store and the coffee bar, a farmers’ market is held in the parking lot every Saturday each summer. Behind the store, art exhibitions are frequent, such as the current Marvelous Marin Landscape Show, featuring works by 14 artists.

 

As for events closer to Mitchell cabin, more rabbits than usual are around this summer. This jack rabbit, which is technically a hare, not a rabbit, frequently hops close to the cabin but never comes in.

Also seen around the house in early summer are baby cottontails, which are true rabbits.

 

 

Buoying Ukraine: West Marin residents’ opinion of Russia has fallen pretty low since its invasion of Ukraine. In a show of support, the blue and gold Ukrainian flags are being flown at the Peace Garden next to Toby’s, along Highway 1, and elsewhere around town.

As it happens, crab-pot buoys periodically break their harnesses and wash ashore in the National Seashore where I’ve found several. A couple of them have Ukraine’s colors, so a blue-and-yellow buoy now adorns our garden.

 

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.


National Night Out block parties and cookouts are held across the country, US territories, and in military bases in the beginning of August, to help develop neighborhood camaraderie and develop positive relations between communities and law enforcement.

Point Reyes Station holds one every year in front of the Arthur Disterheft Public Safety building, and this year’s celebration — complete with a barbecue, ice cream, and a band — was held Tuesday. Pictured center-left in sunglasses is Marin County Fire Dept. Battalion Chief Bret McTigue. In khaki (and a mustache) to the right is Marin Sheriff’s Sergeant and Public Information Officer Brenton Schneider.    

Several county fire department personnel, including Battalion Chief Bret McTigue, standing behind the Hog Island Oyster grill were on hand. The barbecues were set up in front of the public safety building, which houses the Point Reyes Station firehouse and the sheriff’s substation.

On a more serious note, last reports were that the Marin County Fire Department sent crews running five fire engines and a bulldozer to help fight the McKinney Fire, northwest of Yreka in Siskiyou County. We wish all first responders a safe return. The wildfire started Friday, July 29, and has now grown to almost 59,000 acres with only 10 percent containment. There have been four deaths of residents.

Lineup of community members (L to R):  Ron Wagner, my wife Lynn Axelrod, Tom Quinn, Ken Levin, Jeri Quinn. Ron is perusing disaster readiness info at Lynn’s table. Lynn is coordinator of the Point Reyes Disaster Council. (Photo by Rhonda Kutter)

Cindy Morris of Point Reyes Station and Supervisor Dennis Rodoni hold up some disaster readiness information. More is available at pointreyesdisastercouncil.org.

The free barbecue drew a large crowd of West Marin residents and lasted until 8 p.m. If you missed it, be sure to attend the one next summer.

Doreen Miao and I were neighbors for at least a couple of decades, but I never got to really know her until her life’s difficulties were compounded by a freak traffic accident on Highway 1 north of the Point Reyes-Petaluma Road on Oct. 25, 2010.

I have only just now learned that she died peacefully at home this past April 26 with her caregiver Tina, her sister Amy from Mendocino County, and her sister Vida, from New Jersey, present. Here, as a memorial, is a synopsis of a posting I wrote about her 10 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroically cheerful despite bizarrely bad luck, Doreen Miao, then 57, and her dog Tully after her release from the hospital in 2010.

I first met Doreen after she was the human victim when a deer bolted in front of a passing car. The car hit the deer and threw it onto Doreen as she walked her dog Tully beside the road. Doreen later said that all she remembered was walking beside Highway 1 and then being in an ambulance.

Photographer Marty Knapp, who at the time lived on nearby Tank Road, told the Highway Patrol, as well as me, he saw the oncoming car, saw the buck and heard the crash 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.

Marty added he felt certain the car hit the deer and didn’t 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 a pedestrian were grazed. Despite the blow, the blacktailed deer managed to recross the highway and disappear. The driver stopped and told officers he’d hit a deer, but he was not aware of Doreen’s involvement. His car received only minor damage, the Highway Patrol noted.

Doreen, meanwhile, was knocked down and suffered a compound fracture to one leg, a broken clavicle, and rib damage. She then spent six days in Marin General Hospital, using a walker when she left. Doreen had already been dealing with an inability to straighten her fingers — a result of rheumatoid arthritis.

A native of Shanghai, Doreen lived most of her life in the United States. At the time of the accident she walked her dog Tully to the post office and back almost every day. Her three-mile round trip was mostly over steep hills.

After the accident, Tully, a miniature Australian Shepherd, returned to the post office where townspeople recognized him. Vicki Leeds of Cabaline tack shop took Tully and Doreen’s cat Maui to the Point Reyes Animal Hospital. After a week away, Tully and Maui joyfully returned home. And despite her injuries, Doreen was heroically joyful to also be back in Tomasini Canyon.

Sunday’s Western Weekend parade in Point Reyes Station as always included a lively bunch of dancers, such as the group Esforco seen here, which won the Adult Drill Team entry award and took the Grand Prize trophy.

Western Weekend had a good crowd for a joyous return after a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This posting is just a superficial look at events. My wife Lynn and I shot numerous photos, but for unknown reasons, my blog’s computer program is refusing to load most of them.

 

The group of political progressives, Indivisible West Marin, was well represented in the parade, joining with Mainstreet Moms, a group of female activists, made up of both real moms and honorary moms. Sitting in the vehicle driven by Charles Gay are (left to right) Kathy Hunting, Wileen Sweet, Pam Ross, urging everyone to vote.  

 

Founded as Mainstreet Moms Opposed to Bush, aka the MMOB, the group carried signs that recalled key victories in the struggle for equality, such as: “1920, WOMEN CAN VOTE,”  plus “1952, ALL ASIANS CAN VOTE,” and “1971, EIGHTEEN YEAR OLDS CAN VOTE.”

Indivisible West Marin is a chapter of the nationwide grassroots movement that began as a response to the Trump election and continues to engage in “bite-sized” actions for democracy, especially electoral work, via telephone calls, texts and/or postcards. Local activists do as much as they feel comfortable with and support each other’s level of involvement.  A parade sign to “Join Us” means just that; they are always looking for more local participation. IWM produces weekly action suggestions and has a publicly accessible Facebook page.    

This weekend’s celebration began in 1949 when a women’s group, Companions of the Forest, Circle 1018, held a festival, fashion show, and cake walk in their hall, the Foresters Hall on Mesa Road. The following year, members of the local Lions Club, many of whom were married to Circle 1018 members, added a parade and a junior livestock show. The event was called a “junior” livestock show because all those showing animals were 4-H and FFA members.

Rabbit showmanship — Junior Livestock, so to speak. As usual, Chris Giacomini made Toby’s Feed Barn available for Saturday’s contests and showmanship events. Here are the awards given out at the rabbit show: •Novice 1st Place: Hannah Slocum, •Intermediate 1st Place: Ricky Kelley, •Intermediate 2nd Place: Danielle Breeden, •Intermediate 3rd Place: Nick Kelley, •Senior 1st Place: Grace Perkins, • Senior 2nd Place: Tammy Kelley,          • Best of Show Rabbit: Tammy Kelley for her Mini Rex Senior Buck, •Reserve Best of Show Rabbit: Grace Perkins for her White Mini Senior Buck. Pictured are Trixie, a nine-month-old French Lop held by Danielle of Petaluma with her friend Hannah.

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.

Landscape painter Thomas Wood is in the midst of a four-Saturday show at his small studio on the square in Nicasio. The show will wind up from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 25, and anyone who hasn’t seen it yet really ought to take a ride to Nicasio.

“My paintings are meditations on nature,” Wood comments, and indeed all the works on display are landscapes (with a bit of the Petaluma River thrown in). Morning, the painting at the upper left, portrays the morning fog in the trees.

 

Wood <twoodart.com> has taken part in more than 150 exhibits. Works by Wood and Point Reyes Station photographer Art Rogers were shown together at West Marin galleries in 2008 and 2009. Last year he held a well-received show in Toby’s Feed Barn Gallery and sold a number of paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Petaluma River in downtown Petaluma.

Redwoods.

The marsh at Schooner Bay.

Nicasio Reservoir changing hues. On our way home from Wood’s exhibit, my wife Lynn Axelrod Mitchell, and I stopped beside Nicasio Reservoir to try to figure out what is making a cove look light blue. It couldn’t be art. Could it be chemistry? (Lynn, by the way, shot all the photos in this posting on her Iphone because the battery in my Nikon was dead.) The shoreline at left is lined with foam, so I called Marin Municipal Water District, which owns the reservoir, to find out if it knew of anything dangerous in the water.

Update: I got a call back Tuesday morning and was told what looks light blue is probably some form of algae, which also occurs at Bon Tempe Reservoir. District staff, however, took water samples to confirm that the reservoir was safe.

 

 

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.

We’ll begin with a bunch of the jokes that are now circulating in West Marin:

• Wi-fi went down for five minutes, so I had to talk to my family. They seem like nice people.

• My doctor asked if anyone in my family suffers from mental illness. I said, “No, we all seem to enjoy it.”

• I told my wife I wanted to be cremated. She made me an appointment for Tuesday.

• I’ve reached the age where my train of thought often leaves the station without me

• Camping: where you spend a small fortune to live like a homeless person.

• I really don’t mind getting old, but my body is having a major fit.

• If you see me talking to myself, just move along. I’m self-employed; we’re having a staff meeting.

• Life is too short to waste time matching socks.

• A dog accepts you as the boss… a cat wants to see your resume.

• I thought growing old would take longer.

• At my funeral, take the bouquet off my coffin and throw it into the crowd to see who is next.

• The officer said, “You drinking?” I said, “You buying?” We just laughed and laughed…. I need bail money.

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The following sounds like a joke, but it’s really a news item from The New York Daily News and occurred in the State of Washington on April 19:

“Washington firefighters rescued a woman after she fell headfirst into an outhouse toilet last week.

“The incident occurred at Mount Walker as the woman attempted to grab her phone, which she dropped into the toilet during an outing last Tuesday, the Brinnon Fire Department said.

“The department’s chief says the woman took apart the toilet seat and tied dog leashes to herself as she went to reach for the phone.

“They didn’t work very well, and in she went,” said Chief Tim Manly…. “After falling in, the woman grabbed her phone and managed to contact authorities, who saved her.

“‘I imagine that she was probably very fortunate,’ Manly said. ‘I don’t have any experience with that kind of a rescue, except for now, but I know that is not a good place to be.’

“Mount Walker is in the Olympic National Forest, which is about 55 miles northwest of Seattle.”

 

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.

Russia’s attempt to annex parts of Ukraine upsets many US citizens; we’re horrified by Russian massacres of Ukrainians; many of us wish we could counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cruel policies. Well, one Point Reyes Station resident has been moved to try.

Betty Grinshtein, an assistant cheesemaker at the Cowgirl Creamery, this summer will fly off to Lviv, Ukraine, which is at the Polish border and is the city where she was born.

Betty Grinshtein (left) at the Rotary Club’s Peace Garden. The garden on the main street of Point Reyes Station these days is frequently adorned with Ukrainian flags.

Grinshtein, 44, hopes “to volunteer with the International Rescue Committee and help them with translation work,” as well as “any projects they may have for me.” Her ability to translate should prove invaluable, for besides English she speaks Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, French and some Spanish.

She holds a BA in modern history with a minor in linguistics from UC Santa Cruz plus a master’s degree from San Jose State in teaching English to speakers of other languages. She has already spent six years teaching English to non-native speakers.

One of her goals for traveling to the war zone is to help some of the millions of Ukrainian refugees “navigate their stay in Poland.”

This summer she plans to fly to the Polish side of the border first for “safety…. I feel the Russians may still bomb Western Ukraine, and I’d like to come back alive.”

For those who would like to contribute to Grinshtein’s endeavor, a GoFundMe page has been set up at <https://www.gofundme.com/f/going-to-poland-to-help-ukrainian-refugees>.

 

 

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.

Can events in nature foreshadow events in the human world — e.g. a devastating storm before a  big battle?  The storm may not cause the battle but merely symbolize events to come. 

 

Mass burial. The first nine days of Russia’s shelling of Mariupol in Ukraine led to bodies of civilians being dumped in mass graves. It’s a horrid scene. Widespread death is certainly becoming a metaphor for our time.

Appropriately enough, a vulture swooped down outside our front window today and put on an impressive display. My first thought was: that’s one big buzzard! My second was: this carrion eater reminds me of Vladimir Putin hovering over Ukraine. It’s hard to get that war off one’s mind.

A true diversion. Seven blacktail deer outside our kitchen door today.

The deer made Newy, the stray cat we adopted, curious, and she wandered over for a closer look. The deer were obviously curious about her too. Newy arrived at Mitchell cabin last year with a family of raccoons, and she enjoys watching wildlife as much as we do. In fact, sometimes she seems to think of herself as wildlife, but Lynn makes sure to get her in at night and makes her bed nice and cozy.

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.

Vladimir Putin likes to be photographed without a shirt, and this picture of him horseback riding barechested in Siberia in 2009 circulated worldwide. 
Perhaps it inspired this well-publicized spoof showing Putin riding a bear. “I have seen ‘photos’ of me riding a bear,” the Russian president has said. “I have not ridden a bear yet, but there are such photos already.” Is yet the operative word here?

In his apparent quest for Russia to regain its Soviet Union hegemony over much of Eastern Europe, Putin may yet be gobbled by a bear, for not even all Russians are happy with his invasion of Ukraine.

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Who’s waffling?

I bought a pint of “Organic Maple Syrup” to go with my daily waffle, but when I brought it home, I noticed it didn’t taste quite as I expected, so I examined the tub it came in.

Printed on a label atop the tub is a “California Proposition 65 WARNING: Consuming this product can expose you to chemicals including lead, which is known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov/food.” I checked the warning and found: “Lead and lead compounds are on the Proposition 65 list because they can cause cancer.  Exposure to lead and lead compounds may increase cancer risk.”

Yet the syrup is promoted as “organic” and “non-GMO” (without genetically modified organisms). How can something that sounds so healthy also be dangerous?

It’s all craziness.

 

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.

Standing with Putin.

During Donald Trump’s controversial presidency, it was never a secret how much he admired Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin, whom he described as a friend. Amazingly, Trump’s fawning admiration only grew when Putin this week sent troops into the Ukraine, and Russia fired missiles into its cities.

Putin’s strategy has been for two political districts (oblasts) of the Ukraine, which are dominated by separatists, to become independent statelets friendly to and dependent upon Russia. On Tuesday, members of Russia’s parliament officially adopted Putin’s plan and recognized the oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent of the Ukranian [sic] government.

“Russian MPs Greenlight Putin’s Recognition of Rebel Ukranian Regions,” A Moscow Times headline noted.

Russia meanwhile claims its troops in the Ukraine are only there as “peacekeepers” to defend Donetsk and Luhansk from the Ukrainian government.

Numerous people have been killed, and several Ukranian cities have been struck by Russian missiles this week. Putin’s imperialism offends much of the world, but Trump on Tuesday praised it as “genius” and “very savvy…. Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?”

By Saturday, however, Trump had decided Putin may not have been so smart when he directed an invasion of the Ukraine. “I just think it’s a shame that this is going on. It’s something that should not be going on,” Trump said. “Thousands of people, I mean, this can lead to much bigger than this one area,” Trump warned.

“This could lead to a lot of other countries and can lead to world war…. You never know how it starts, in a world war.”

Trump, meanwhile continues to portray public events as all about himself. Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, he claimed, “all happened because of a rigged election.” If Trump had been declared the winner of the 2020 national election, he told Fox News, “this would have never happened.”

 

Trump toadying up to Putin on a 2020 political pin.

When Russia appeared to be preparing for an amphibious landing in the Ukraine, Trump mistakenly commented on Fox News that US troops had carried out an amphibious landing and criticized Fox correspondent Laura Ingraham for reporting on this supposedly top secret US military action.

“You shouldn’t be saying that because you and everybody else shouldn’t know about it. They should do that secretly, not be doing that through the great Laura Ingraham,” he said sarcastically.

“No. Those were the Russians,” Ingraham corrected him. “Oh, I thought you said that we were sending people in,” Trump responded. “That’ll be next.”

Putin’s charm offensives seem to work.  In 2010, for example, he promoted himself as a good guy by singing Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill (click to watch) for a charity fundraiser. This Russian Television video of the event shows how he charmed celebrities like Kevin Costner, Goldie Hawn, and Gérard Depardieu, all of whom are a clearly more sophisticated than “the Donald,” as his first wife, Ivana, called him.

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