History


 A 90-year-old man smoking pot on Mount Tamalpais this past July 3 sparked a blaze that set his clothes and the hillside around him on fire, according to the August edition of Tamalpais Guardian published by the Tamalpais Conservation Club. 

Mount Tamalpais

Were it not for a north wind that blew it toward the shore of Lake Bon Tempe, the two-acre fire could easily have spread through the watershed and the Cascade Canyon area of Fairfax, The Marin Independent Journal reported at the time.

 Of the various criticisms aimed at pot, its potential to start wildfires is not usually among them. But not all dangers are obvious. I just read about the danger of eating too much melon. Pope Paul II in 1471 died in the Vatican from a fit of apolexy after indulging his appetite for melons, writes historian Ross King in The Bookseller of Florence.

On the other hand, “some — mainly the pontiff’s critics — said that he had died [of a stroke] whilst being sodomized by a page boy,” according to Wikipedia. Another unrecognized danger, I suppose.

Pope Paul II

Once upon a time, I taught this possum proper table manners.  🙂

Getting him to eat with a knife and fork instead of his fingers was the biggest challenge. 

More oddities. Last February,  this blog reported: “The oddest West Marin news in the past fortnight came in the Feb. 3 Point Reyes Light. Here it is word for word. ‘Sheriff’s Call — Sunday, Jan.10: NICASIO: At 7:42 p.m. a woman who said she was moving to town from Southern California reported that someone who works at the post office was shooting metaphorical arrows, meaning witchcraft and sorcery, and that God had told her she needed to eradicate witchcraft and sorcery. She said the man was going to make her have demonic serpent offspring and she could not report him to his supervisor because the supervisor was likely in the same region of warlocks, and she wanted to assure deputies that she had not been struck by the arrows because she was protected by the blood of Jesus — she had an X-ray to prove it.'”

Postal sorcery seems to have now spread west. A sheriff’s call in the Aug. 11 Light reported: POINT REYES STATION: “A woman moving back to the area from Los Angeles said a former postal worker was tracking her with witchcraft and sending arrows to her head.” If it is the same woman, I hope the blood of Jesus is still protecting her.

 

Three roof rats scamper around our deck eating some of the seeds we’ve put out for wild birds. A professional gardener in town this week said the local roof-rat population “exploded” this year.

 

Roof rats take advantage of our bird ‘sanctuary’  in more than one way. Here a roof rat drinks from our birdbath. The roof rat’s pale underside helps distinguish it from brownish-gray Norway rats. Despite their name, Norway rats are believed to have originated in Asia and spread westward through Russia. Once in Europe, Norway rats in the 18th century were inadvertantly introduced worldwide when they hid on trading ships, often in the cargo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Norway rats are sometimes referred to as sewer rats because they are often found in big city sewers. Here a sewer rat pokes its head out its front door. Norway rats can damage homes with their gnawing and can spread diseases. MPHonLine photo

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.

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.

The past few days have been filled with unexpected events. Here are a few.

On Saturday evening, urban crime drove to Point Reyes Station. To quote West Marin Feed: “Apparently a truck was stolen in SF, pulled over in San Anselmo, then led CHP on a chase through West Marin. The front tire was blown out. [The thief] circled around Point Reyes Station a couple of times, ditched truck [near the gas station], tried to run and [was] arrested.”

Photo from a video by Marc Matheson

Update as of July 22: The Point Reyes Light has now reported the truck is owned by Cathy Schoop of Fairfax. When it was stolen, one of her employees followed it to the Red Hill Shopping Center in San Anselmo and summoned the Highway Patrol as well as Ms. Schoop. The Light reported that Ms. Schoop “just bought the 2022 Isuzu for her business, Annie’s Hot Dogs, which operates several food carts in San Francisco. A coffee cart, an ice cream cart and the day’s cash were in the back when it was stolen, she said. [All this was] worth about $40,000 in total.”

Ms Shoop told The Light, “she pleaded with officers to seize the empty truck, but because they couldn’t confirm it was stolen, they waited until the driver returned and sped away from the parking lot, headed toward West Marin. They could have gotten my truck back undamaged.” Instead of doing that, she told the newspaper, the officers asked her, “How do we know it’s really your truck?” To this she added, “They completely screwed me over with their lackadaisical attitude.”

One way the truck was damaged was in being driven around Point Reyes Station after losing its right front tire (see photo) and riding on the rim until it ran off the road. Scrapes from that episode are still evident on several streets in town.

The driver, a construction worker, Dylan Kane Wilson, 21, was charged with two vehicle-theft felonies and two misdemeanors — for evading a police officer and driving without a license. In addition, he faces outstanding warrants for a probation violation, failure to appear in court, and two drug misdemeanors, The Light reported.

A skunk that got away. Sunday morning my drive into Point Reyes Station was unpleasantly smelly. Downhill from West Marin School  I spotted the problem. Across Highway 1 from the “Maddy’s Jammin'” sign, I passed a large dead skunk lying at the edge of the pavement. The better part of the day passed before someone moved it to a roadside ditch where it continued to stink.

These days, Marin Humane Society (415 883-4621, ext. 1) picks up dead skunks for $75. Back in the 1970s, county government paid a man with a pickup truck to gather the corpses of skunks, most killed by motor vehicles.

As editor and publisher of The Point Reyes Light in those days, one of my responsibilities was to deliver bundles of papers to stores as soon as copies arrived from the printer. One day, I was dropping off a bundle at the Olema Store when the skunk gatherer parked his truck out front and went inside, leaving a number of roadkill in the pickup bed. Unfortunately, their stench immediately started drifting into the market, and the grocer had to somewhat awkwardly ask the skunk gatherer to park elsewhere.

Death of an old horse. A 33-year-old horse belonging to the Point Reyes Arabian Adventures stable along Highway 1 died of a heart attack Sunday afternoon. Thirty-three horse years are equivalent to 93 human years, and it had enjoyed a good life.

The Arabian Adventures pasture stretches to within 25 feet of Mitchell cabin, and my wife Lynn soon noticed the dead animal lying on the ground and covered with blankets.

The deceased, which was named Chainsaw, had a brother in the stable’s herd, and they frequently hung out together (note the two black horses at left). Owner Susie Rowsell later told me she had seen the two running up the hill together and Chainsaw collapse when they stopped. His sibling was obviously disturbed, she noted.                                                                                                                 

Four raccoon kits dining on handfuls of kibble outside our kitchen door. These raccoons are becoming surprisingly at home at Mitchell cabin. Not only do they show up for kibble, they often head for our birdbath, from which they drink and in which they bathe. They take naps on our deck and hide quietly behind our wine barrel planters when a friend’s dog shows up.

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 of raccoons enters the kitchen of Mitchell cabin in search of food. They were given some bread, but not in the kitchen.

Living in West Marin means living with nature. The surprise is how often nature manages to live with itself.

A blacktail buck and a bobcat foraging near each other on the hillside above Mitchell cabin. Each was aware of the other but didn’t seem to care.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A possum, fox, and raccoon eat kibble nose to nose just outside our kitchen door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Likewise dining side by side are this towhee and roof rat nibbling birdseed off our picnic table.

One surprising relationship went on for years around this part of town. This peacock was often seen in the company of a flock of wild turkeys. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the peacock in recent months. I hope it’s okay. (Sad update: Obviously, not all species of wildlife are friendly toward each other, and the day after this posting went online, a neighbor told me a bobcat had killed the peacock.)

Just how close different species can live to each other was epitomized Tuesday evening. I had been lying on a couch in the living room listening to music when I got up and spotted a raccoon a few feet away eating kibble put out for our cat. The raccoon had managed to get inside because our kitchen door had been left open a few inches. It soon departed by the same route.

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.

The saloon keeper who had owned the Old Western in Point Reyes Station since 1977, Judy Borello, died two days ago. 

The saloon is now on the market, but Ms. Borello continues to have a loud voice (or moo) in the town. Here’s the story as SparselySageAndTimely originally told it in 1986.

Judy Borello at left.

This story really begins in the 1970s with the late historian Jack Mason of Inverness. Back then before the new county Public Safety building was built in Point Reyes Station, there was a lifeless town clock on the old firehouse. Mason, who then wrote Funny Old World for The Point Reyes Light, periodically used the column to decry the sad condition of the clock.

So when the new county building opened in 1984, directors of the Point Reyes Business Association agreed the structure should be adorned with a town clock that worked. A question then arose as to whether the clock should set off a noon whistle like those in Inverness, Bolinas, and Stinson Beach. Photographer Art Rogers jokingly suggested a moo would be even more appropriate for this cow town. A few months later, however, the association sent away for a town clock sans whistle or moo.

By the time the mechanism arrived, the business association had a new president, saloonkeeper Borello, and she agreed to resurrect the once-proposed moo. Ms. Borello told her plan to Nicasio artist George Sumner, and he offered to get help from filmmaker George Lucas.

Lucasfilm vice president Eric Westin is a friend of Sumner, and he lined up a Lucas technician, Rick Brown, to provide a moo recording, which Brown did. Ms. Borello then prevailed upon Gene Haley, a town electrician, to wire a loudspeaker system to the town clock.

Now the firehouse is a couple of blocks off the main street, sharing its neighborhood with a number of residences, and fireman Pete Valconesi suggested these neighbors might find the daily moo unsettling. President Borello said that was no problem; the loudspeaker could instead be mounted on top of her saloon. 

The moo debut

She then set about informing news media throughout the Bay Area that the noon moo would soon debut. The response surprised even the saloonkeeper. Within a couple of days, newspapers far and wide began reporting that the noon moos were already underway. A paper in London reported the moos were every hour on the hour.

When it finally did come time for the mooing to commence at noon, five television crews and several newspapers were on hand to record the event.

Unfortunately, some problems had developed. The move from the firehouse to the roof of the Old Western Saloon meant the mooing could no longer be connected to the new town clock. Instead, the sound system was given a clock of its own, which Ms. Borello said was “synchronized” with the town clock.

The fact that the mooing would not be in the vicinity of the town clock was a particular problem for the TV cameramen, who were left with only a loudspeaker to film. Saloonkeeper Borello solved the problem by having artist Sumner display in the Old Western his painting for the official Statue of Liberty poster.

“Why are you doing all this?” a television reporter asked Ms. Borello. “The moo is the soul and flavor of our town,” the saloonkeeper replied. But the media wanted more, so Ms. Borello decided to use the occasion to take a stand in a current town debate over whether the Martinelli ranch should be subdivided or bought for parkland. “We’ve lost a lot of ranches to the park,” the saloonkeeper declared. “We don’t want to lose any more.”

‘Moo power’

The pronouncement set the reporters off in a new direction. Several news reports said the noon moo symbolized ranchers organizing to fight parks; they dubbed the supposed movement “moo power.” The next morning, I received a call from a cattle rancher in Contra Costa County who wanted West Marin’s ranchers to join in a fight against the East Bay Regional Park System. I gave her the phone numbers of the Farm Bureau and the Old Western Saloon.

The publicity continued to build on itself although soon it was no longer clear just what was being publicized. Ms. Borello’s anti-government remarks received particular interest in the Midwest, where the Reagan Administration was being blamed for thousands of farm foreclosures.

Radio stations calling from Ohio, New York, Alaska all wanted to record the moo, and for awhile, the saloon complied, setting off the sound system and holding a phone receiver out the door to catch the moos blaring from the roof. Eventually, Ms. Borello began worrying about her neighbors’ reaction to all the unscheduled mooing and had a recording made that could be played on a tape deck in the bar.

To be available to satisfy late-night moo requests, Ms. Borello took a copy of the recording home with her at night and played it for the press when it called. When an overseas journalist called to record it one evening, Ms. Borello set the phone down on the bed and went to get her tape deck. Her husband Bob meanwhile went back to sleep and was soon snoring next to the phone.

When Ms. Borello came back on the line, the journalist commented, “That was the worst mooing I’ve ever heard.”

And even now the mooing goes on. Yestereday Lynn and I were sitting across the street at Toby’s Coffee Bar when a moo began blaring. A startled group of tourists at another table looked up to see where the noise was coming from, amused but not alarmed. I’m glad we still have the noon moo to remind us of Ms. Borello.

 

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.

It’s an insider’s look at an unconventional town. Bolinas – 2 Miles, which was published less than a year ago, makes for a fascinating read. Author Alex Horvath provides a look at the town’s pot growing, its art, its street people, and its culture.

 “You know you grew up in Bolinas when:

“• You knew every dog in town by name, and would even engage in stories about which dog had been in a fight, was in heat, etc.

“•You think it’s normal that you’ve seen every adult you know naked, sunbathing, and playing guitar on the beach.

“•The morning after you lost your virginity, the parents of the girl congratulate both of you.

“•Your mom had pot brownies specially made for your sixteenth birthday party…..”

The book contains a fascinating section on some of the street people in Bolinas. For example, ‘Tree House John [Bonuski]’ received a prize for being the ‘Favorite Bolinas Street Person of all Time.’ He was honored for both his longevity on the streets and for his service to the Bolinas Volunteer Fire Department.

Tree House John, who has a full beard, explained to Horvath how he came to grow it. “It all started long ago when a former friend punched me in the jaw,” he said. How was that related? “$14,000 in plastic surgery,” John explained.

Bolinas — 2 Miles is available from <Amazon.com> in either book or kindle form. It’s also available as an ebook from Apple products. And it can be borrowed from the Bolinas library.

Author Alex Horvath (left) formerly reported for The Pacific Sun and The West Marin Citizen and from 2000 to 2008 was a frequent contributor to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Friday section, writing hundreds of feature articles. After The Chronicle, he worked for several national business trade publications, covering everything from commercial real estate to new prison construction.

From 2000 to 2008, Horvath maintained a website, <bolinas2miles.com> and a number of the book’s tales were originally published on the website.

He had been working for Apple computers until the Covid 19 pandemic two years ago caused him — like millions of other workers —  to get laid off. For the moment, he’s working for the state Economic Development Department.

Horvath now lives in Rohnert Park but misses Bolinas. “I want to come home,” is the last line of his book. “I want to come home.”

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To ressurect one of my Valentine’s Day photos, I’ll start off with a skein of Canada geese flying past Inverness Ridge.

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This posting is late because I’ve been grappling with interference from some hacker, who’s dropped hundreds of odd symbols seemingly at random in posts I recently put online and posts from years ago.

Some examples:

—Journalist!
 
— Salvadoran
 
 the Gibson
 
 
 The author

 

I suspect the hacker is Vietnamese since the symbols also show up in foreign-language comments, which Google identifies as Vietnamese.

 

 

 

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The oddest West Marin news in the past fortnight came in the Feb. 3 Point Reyes Light. Here it is word for word.

Sheriff’s Call — Sunday, Jan.10: 

NICASIO: At 7:42 p.m. a woman who said she was moving to town from Southern California reported that someone who works at the post office was shooting metaphorical arrows, meaning witchcraft and sorcery, and that God had told her she needed to eradicate witchcraft and sorcery. She said the man was going to make her have demonic serpent offspring and she could not report him to his supervisor because the supervisor was likely in the same region of warlocks, and she wanted to assure deputies that she had not been struck by the arrows because she was protected by the blood of Jesus — she had an X-ray to prove it.

When I showed this to a friend in San Rafael, what he found equally amazing is that tiny Nicasio has its own post office.

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