Archive for September, 2020

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For a small town, Point Reyes Station (pop. 848 at last count) has long had a lively art scene with galleries, artists selling their work on the streets and even creating art there. Here are three examples of the town’s highly diversified art community.

Christine DeCamp selling her art in front of the Point Reyes Station post office last Saturday. She has also sold from a studio. Until the pandemic slowed businesses down, many of us also knew her as a server at the Station House Café. Here are three more of her paintings:

Our Lady of the Mountain

Mountain Goddess…/ sheltering all creatures/ within her domain. Her/ interior is the mysterious/prima materia or the/beginnings of ‘all is/ possible’. The magical/ deer are symbolic of/ rebirth and rejuvenation.

copyright  2012   Christine DeCamp

Wild Spirit Wisdom

 

Clyde

Clyde the rider Crow with/ Blue eyes that SEE. He is/ being carried by Navajo spirit/ horse — who embodies SEEING/ and brings forth living springs/ with each step. Can you hear/ the drums? A magical journey

copyright 2011     Christine DeCamp

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Maddy’s Jammin’ with its balloon-adorned sign has for years been a familiar sight along Highway 1 a half block downhill from West Marin School. Before this year, Maddy Sobel also sold her jams in front of the post office on weekends and — like Christine — also sold her art there.

The Animal Kingdom, Mammals — Maddy, standing in front of one of her large paintings, which is hanging in her living room, shows off a jar of her blackberry jam. These days, she has to sell her art mostly from home.

Hang in There exemplifies Maddy’s often-whimsical style.

Timmy the Tiny Turtle

 

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Another artist with a creative imagination is Billy Hobbs. Almost all his art these days reflects Greek mythology, Hindu scripture or Native American history. This drawing is titled ‘Lakota Burial.’

Billy’s Saber-toothed Tortuga is eye-catching even before revealing its subtleties.

Billy is still working on his drawing ‘Condor.’ The artist is homeless and sleeps in my second car, which I park downtown on Mesa Road for him. To comply with the law, I have to move the car every three days. My car meanwhile has also become the studio where Billy does his drawing.

Billy, 62, has been homeless for seven years following the breakup of a 25-year marriage. Several organizations are supposedly trying to find permanent shelter for him but have been looking for more than a year. I first got to know him pre-pandemic when he’d frequently do his drawing while sitting on a bench outside the post office. In those days, I typically had my morning mocha at one of Toby’s Coffee Bar’s nearby picnic tables.

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Sheltering in place with only limited socializing definitely affects one’s thinking. It forces many of us to spend more time alone taking stock of ourselves and of our lives. It’s a humbling experience and may provide an inkling of why a prisoner behind bars cannot avoid thinking about his life. But, as I’m sure the prisoner knows, too much such thinking becomes tedious. For the moment, I’m trying to divert my attention to the creatures I find all around me.

A hummingbird a week ago enjoyed a few sips before the smoke from the Woodward Fire significantly dissipated. As of this writing, the fire, which a lightning strike started on Aug. 18, was 97 percent contained, having blackened 4,929 acres in the Point Reyes National Seashore.

A coyote wandered up to the greenhouse of neighbors Dan and Mary Huntsman on August 21. Had I been looking out my living-room window, this is what I would have seen. Alas, I wasn’t looking, but Dan was and from his home took this picture. (Photo by Dan Huntsman)

Buzzards on Sept. 13 feast on the carcass of a skunk presumably killed by a great horned owl. It was the second time in recent weeks buzzards dined on a skunk near Mitchell cabin.

A gray fox showed up on our deck after dark last week to dine on the last bits of kibble I had given some raccoons earlier.

A skunk goes eye to eye with Newy, the stray cat we adopted in late July. More frequently than the fox, skunks show up after the raccoons to pick through what remains of the kibble.

And in a weather vein: Whenever Lynn opened the bedroom window in recent days, I started sneezing and then coughing. “Do you think it’s pollen or smoke that’s causing the sneezing?” she asked me a couple of days ago. “The answer,” I told her, “is blowing in the wind.”

I’ll stop here. There’s a lot I’m tempted to write about our political situation, but I think I’ll save that for another week.

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Friends are continually sending me humor to brighten these dark days. It works, so I’ll use this posting to pass along a few laughs.

I wish the California vote alone could decide the presidential election. The San Francisco Chronicle noted last Sunday that in this state, “Republicans now account for less than 25 percent of registered voters.”

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When news media in Western democracies inaccurately report something, most are quick to own up to their mistake, whether serious or simply ridiculous.  I belong to the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors (ISWNE), and its members of late have been laughing at some of their own bizarre goofs. Here are two.

Manitoulin is an island within the Province of Ontario, and the editor of The Manitoulin West Recorder sent in examples of bloopers caused by misplacing items. Notice what’s “for sale” in this page of classified ads.

“Thankfully the parents got a kick out of it,”  the ISWNE member reported.
 
The Canadian editor also recalled, “We once had a front page picture of the final service of a church in a community on our island’s most western end. The photo was of the oldest congregant leaving the church for the last time and chatting with the minister. This particular week was also the week of one community’s fall fair, and what’s a fall fair without oddly shaped vegetables? Sadly, one of the veggie pics’ cutlines (captions) was placed with the old-lady church photo and began with: ‘This crooked specimen…’ She ALSO had a good sense of humour, thank goodness.”
 
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Until I read this headline in The San Francisco Chronicle last week, I’d always wondered how busy government officials could find time for hookups and courtship, let alone a wedding.
 
 

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Coronavirus. As noted in US News and World Report on Sept. 8: “Over 400,000 motorcycle enthusiasts gathered for the annual rally from Aug. 7-16 [in Sturgis, South Dakota], and it was reported that social distancing and mask wearing at some of the events was not observed.” 

“The rally was officially linked to hundreds of coronavirus cases across more than 10 states and at least one death. But the study that relied on cell phone data to track movements estimates that over 250,000 reported coronavirus cases from August 2 to September 2 are due to the rally – nearly 20% of the national cases during that time period, according to Andrew Friedson, one of the authors of the report.”

A friend in Point Reyes Station, however, claims a correction is needed:

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And finally: Why doctors don’t go on strike

 

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A Cal Fire helicopter on Thursday crosses Inverness Ridge to drop water on a containment line for the Woodward Fire in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Smoke from back-burns rises through the forest.

The Woodward Fire, which was started by a lightning strike Aug. 18, was 85 percent contained by this evening after having grown to more than 4,800 acres. Part of the containment has included setting back-burns along Limantour Road. Full containment is expected by Tuesday.

Smoke from the fire has at times made the air in much of West Marin unhealthy, and smoke from hot spots may last for months, the Park Service has warned.

Vidas Negras Importan

The Black Lives Matter movement is sometimes getting overshadowed by the chaos at just a very few of the hundreds of protests around the country. In these isolated cases, looters and vandals have taken advantage of there being crowds in downtown areas. On at least one occasion, however, a covert white supremacist damaged property during a protest to discredit the protesters. Despite all this, only 7 percent of all the protests nationwide have had such problems, The Washington Post reported this past week.

 In an effort to refocus public attention on what the movement is really all about — stopping the unwarranted killing of Black people by overly aggressive police officers in several cities — I came up with a sign in Spanish. Its intent is to show that criticism of the killings transcends the Black and Anglo Saxon communities.

Maddy Sobel, who often sell jams and jellies in front of the Point Reyes Station post office, is also an artist, and she illustrated one of my signs. Her thought is that if I make some copies of her illustration, she can give them to kids to color with crayons. Sounds good to me. I gave another copy to Toby’s Coffee Bar, and you can see it displayed there without illustration.

Bumping elbows but not shaking hands. From left: Phil Jennings, yours truly, and Gordon Jones

Before the pandemic and sheltering in place, I went to the No Name Bar in Sausalito to listen to live jazz every Friday night. Sunday afternoon, two friends from the No Name dropped by for an outdoor visit. I gave them both copies of the sign, and Jones was so enthusiastic he said he may have it imprinted on t-shirts.

My own family’s efforts to get justice for Blacks date from before the Civil War. My great-grandfather Luke Parsons was a member of John Brown’s Army but did not take part in the debacle at Harper’s Ferry. Instead he went on to command a Union Army company of Native Americans fighting in the Oklahoma Territory.

My late father was a Republican who supported the NAACP.  I formally joined the movement in the spring of 1968 while I was teaching high school in Leesburg, Florida. At the time, Willis V. McCall was the sheriff of Lake County, Florida, where Leesburg is located. He had come to be called the worst sheriff in the US and in private bragged he’d “killed more n-ggers” than any other man.

When McCall came up for reelection in 1968, a well-regarded Leesburg police officer ran against him, and I signed up to canvass voters in Black neighborhoods for the challenger. Unfortunately, McCall again won but was defeated four years later after yet another cruelty: a mentally impaired Black man was kicked to death in the Lake County jail.

Civil rights activist Julian Bond (center) in 1970 with members of an Upper Iowa University group, the Brotherhood, who had invited him to speak on campus. While he was studying at Morehouse College in the early 1960s, Bond had established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a.k.a. SNCC (pronounced “Snick”).

In the fall of 1968 I began teaching English and journalism at Upper Iowa University and the next semester became a faculty advisor to the new Black student union. As the group explained in a flyer: “The Brotherhood was founded and chartered in February 1969. It is an organized group open to anyone interested in furthering their knowledge of Black culture…

“Under the able leadership of our past president, Rick Weber, and the helpful assistance of our advisors, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. [Robert] Schenck, the Brotherhood has enriched campus life by promoting various social functions, such as the annual Black Night.” Besides that variety show, the Brotherhood has sponsored “an inter-racial forum, and a play, A Raisin in the Sun. Our biggest accomplishment was, of course, acquisition of a Black Cultural House.”

Half a century later, I still recall advising the Brotherhood as one of my most informative experiences.