Archive for November, 2020

It’s been a generally good week in this old man’s world. Old is the operative word here. I turned 77 on Monday. My gait is increasingly unsteady, but I’m still carrying about 75 pounds of firewood uphill to Mitchell cabin each day. Lynn took me out for a birthday lunch at River Front Cafe’s outdoor tables beside the Petaluma River. A beautiful scene, and everyone maintained proper distancing. On Thursday, Lynn and I celebrated Thanksgiving, with Lynn’s preparing along with the turkey, homemade stuffing, her own cranberry sauce, and squash raviolis.

And while all this was going on, the fields around Mitchell cabin began turning from brown to green thanks to the rains two weeks ago.

The green shoots attract blacktail deer, and as many as eight at a time have begun showing up for the feast. For dessert, they often dine on persimmons that have fallen from our tree on the other side of the cabin.

The rains also eliminated any further risks of a flareup from the Woodward fire. The fire, which blackened 5,000 acres in the Point Reyes National Seashore beginning Aug. 18, has taken firefighters two months to fully control. The rains should have doused almost all smoldering ashes, the Park Service reported this past week.

Thanksgiving eve raccoon lineup on our deck.

A mother raccoon with her four kits show up outside our window every evening hoping to be fed, and we usually give them a few handfuls of dog kibble.

The raccoons around here appear to be thriving although further south around Muir Beach and inland to Mill Valley distemper has begun showing up in raccoons and foxes, WildCare warned this week. Coyotes and skunks, as well as domestic dogs, are also susceptible to the disease.

The organization noted, “Wild animals with distemper may exhibit a lack of coordination or balance, approachability, seizures, and/or discharge from eyes and nose….

“Concerned residents who see an animal in distress should call WildCare’s Living with Wildlife Hotline at 415-456-7283 or contact Marin Humane at 415-883-4621.”

Canada geese — heading to Drakes Estero for the night — fly over Mitchell cabin around sunset daily. They don’t wear masks, but they do maintain social distancing.

Also flying over head.

Something many of us said thanks for yesterday occurred in Washington. Donald Trump, who keeps denying he lost the Nov. 3 presidential election, finally said he will leave the White House by Jan. 20 if Democratic president-elect Joe Biden wins the electoral college vote on Dec. 14. Biden racked up 306 electoral college votes three weeks ago and needs only 270 to win. Trump in comparison picked up only 232 votes, which may account for his hair turning gray in the week after the election (see photo in Nov. 19 posting).

We’ll start out with the bad surprises — including one of President Donald Trump’s tweets to his backers — so that we end on a happy note:

America’s “all-time favorite President?” Is he simply dishonest or also delusional?

One sign of the President’s worrying: in the first week after his Nov. 3 election loss, which he refuses to admit, Trump’s famously blond hair turned gray.  As The New York Times reported in September, Trump paid no federal income taxes for 15 years and only $750 in 2016 and 2017. Among the “business expenses” he’s been claiming among his tax deductions are the $40,000 per year he pays for hair styling, The Times reported. Given this huge annual investment in the look of his hair, we can assume he was in favor of the color change. 

With many Americans ridiculing his behavior as juvenile, perhaps he wanted to look more mature.

Now a couple of local surprises:

Olema House. Last month Condé Nast Traveler named the local hostelry the “Best hotel in the US for 2020.” The magazine credited “its spectacular dining” for the hotel’s earning the top award. “If you eat at the hotel (and you should), the local seasonal menu at Due West pulls from the bounty of nearby ranches, farms, and the bay.”

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat on Oct. 13 reported, “Formerly called The Lodge at Point Reyes, Olema House has 24 rooms, including two cottages, on four acres of land.”  I myself have never stayed there, but I read in The Press Democrat that “each of the rooms is decorated in a modern Americana style.”

 Another local surprise. Travel and Leisure magazine has declared the Marshall Store (pictured above) one of “the top 30 seafood restaurants in the US.” It’s, of course, a store too, but it’s even more of a dining establishment. Here my stepdaughter Anika Zappa Pinelo, her husband Carlos, and my wife Lynn enjoy barbecued oysters seated outside overlooking Tomales Bay.

Not surprising:

Rac-communal bathing. Lynn and I see it almost nightly: a mother raccoon and her four kits all trying to squeeze together into our birdbath. They bathe in the water as well as drink it. The surprises occur when they manage to get almost the entire family into the bowl at one time.

It’s been a chaotic week. Former Vice President Joe Biden with Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate won last week’s presidential election by 5 million votes, but President Donald Trump kept filing lawsuits in an attempt to hold onto his office.

America has long been the guiding light for democracies around the world. Our elections are fair. We have a free press. We cooperate with our international allies for the good of the planet.

For the past four years, however, we’ve had a president who tries to run this country as if he were a dictator in a banana republic. Our president often insults the leaders of allied countries; frequently insists the American press is full of “fake news”; and has begun claiming our elections are easily rigged. Not surprisingly, respect for the US has plummeted around the world.

Many West Marin voters were exuberant last Tuesday as they lined up outside the polls in Point Reyes Station to help decide local, state, and national elections.

Other voters who live around town, myself included, voted in advance, using a dropbox in front of the Health and Human Services office where Tuesday’s voting was held. Still others voted by mail. Trump, meanwhile, criticized absentee voting as unreliable even though he himself has often voted by mail. 

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris spoke out for racial harmony in their public appearances.

In California, which has twice as many Democratic voters as Republican voters, the Biden-Harris victory had particular significance. Harris “has been the first person like her to hold every office she has ever won,” The San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday. “She was the first woman and person of color to serve as San Francisco district attorney. She was the first woman and first person of color to be attorney general of California. She was the first Black senator from California.”

She is also the first Asian American to be elected vice president. Her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in Madras, India. The mother was a biomedical scientist who had worked at the Lawrence Berkeley Research Laboratory and other medical-research institutions.

The vice president-elect’s father, Donald Harris, is a Jamaican-American born in Browns Town, Jamaica. He’s a professor emeritus in Stanford University’s Economics Department.

Trump supporters display a “Black Lies Matter” sign while parading across the Golden Gate Bridge. (Chronicle photo, Aug. 29, 2020)

During the campaign, both Biden and Harris talked about the need to improve the criminal-justice system in locales where Blacks encounter noticeably more-aggressive police behavior than whites.

The Trump campaign in contrast played to his supporters’ racism. Trump spoke of the Black Lives Matter movement as “terrorism.” 

He referred to Mexicans who had fled to the US to escape violence at home as “rapists and murderers.” On the other hand, he said he’d like to see more immigration from (white bread) Norway.

In Point Reyes Station, candidates of all stripes created their own form of chaos by flooding the public with political mailings. There is no home delivery of mail in town, so postal customers have to check their boxes in the post office every day. Many postal customers immediately threw out — along with ordinary junk mail — much of the political mail they received during the lead-up to election day.  

As a result, the three trash cans in the post office lobby began overflowing daily onto the floor, so the post office removed them and posted this sign. 

Now that the election is over, the sign is down, and trash bins have returned to the post office lobby where they’re receiving normal amounts of unwanted mail.

Most townspeople I’ve spoken with are hoping to see the rest of their world also return to normal now that the election is over and Trump is proving to be the loser.

Nor is the relief limited to West Marin. Prominent heads of state throughout the world — with notable exceptions in Russia and initially in China — quickly congratulated Biden on his victory.