Archive for December, 2020

For many of us, Christmas Day triggers memories of Christmases during childhood — our family traditions, the excitement of opening presents below the Christmas tree, guests joining us for Christmas dinner. Two boyhood Christmases in particular stand out in my memory: the year Santa brought me an electric-train set and the year he brought me a bicycle.

Alas, because the Covid-19 pandemic is requiring us to “shelter in place,” most of us have had to scale back our yuletide festivities this year. Lynn and I never left home Christmas day, nor did anyone visit us. We, however, did use the occasion to revive some yuletide practices.

Our Christmas tree in the loft as seen from the living room.

Unlike Christmas mornings in childhood, we slept late. Here Newy, the stray cat we’ve taken in, sleeps on top of my sleeping wife.

Also getting some rest on Christmas morning were these four deer in the grass near Mitchell cabin.

Enjoying a “presidential” pardon from becoming Christmas dinner, this gobbler takes in the view from the railing of our deck. Lynn isn’t happy with wild turkeys showing up on the deck. Not only do they eat seed we’ve put out for small birds, they leave large droppings.

In lieu of turkey, Lynn cooked kosher-style ham for our dinner while I poured champagne.

In keeping with my family’s traditions, I brought out my parents’ fine china, delicate glassware, and fine silver flatware, none of which we normally use, along with candlesticks my mother bought in Quebec.

The scene got even warmer when Lynn while clearing the table leaned over a candle and set her hair on fire. Luckily she was able to slap the fire out before much was burned, but it did add to the day’s excitement.


As for the pandemic, a popular joke these days goes like this: Yesterday I purchased a world map, pinned it up, and handed my wife a dart. I told her to throw it, and “wherever it lands, I’ll take you for a holiday as soon as Covid-19 peters out.” Turns out we’ll be spending three weeks behind the fridge.

Located on a grassy hillside, Mitchell cabin is constantly in the midst of various wildlife — at least 40 species and subspecies of birds, along with various snakes, lizards, salamanders, frogs, deer, skunks, coyotes, raccoons, foxes, gophers, roof rats, field mice, squirrels, cottontails, jack rabbits (which are actually hares), bobcats, and the occasional badger.

I’m always impressed by how often the different species manage to get along with each other.

A flock of wild turkeys casually wander past a couple of grazing deer.

The turkeys, in fact, are so indifferent to the deer that when a young buck challenges a weary companion, they don’t even notice.

And even when the two bucks start actually sparring, the turkeys just continue their hunting and pecking.

A flock of Canada geese fly overhead honking as they go.

Add a domestic cat to this mix and the wildlife come to resemble zoo animals. Here Newy, the stray cat we adopted last summer, climbs a persimmon tree to take it all in. Last week’s posting showed her in the grass interacting with deer and wild turkeys.

Many of Newy’s wildlife displays, however, present themselves at our kitchen door. Here she studies a gray fox eating dog kibble left behind by raccoons.

The fox soon spots Newy but just gives her a quick glance.

Newy was traveling with several raccoons when she first showed up in late July. A veterinarian, who later spayed her and trimmed her claws, estimated her age as five to six months. While she enjoys keeping an eye on her raccoon friends, the unfamiliar skunks particularly fascinate her. Like the fox, a couple of skunks regularly show up to enjoy the last of the raccoons’ dinner. For her, the scene is all part of the zoo in which she finds herself now living

This posting is a bit late, but I’ve been having various problems with the computer program that loads the photos. Finally tonight a friend in Glenview, Illinois, David LaFontaine, over the phone helped me solve the problems, so now we’re off and running again.

This hurry-up posting, now that I can get back online, is simply a random mix of animal photos shot this past week, political cartoons, and religious humor that relatives have sent me.

A bonding experience. A blacktail doe near Mitchell cabin cleans her fawn’s ear last Monday. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)

The bonding is complete as the fawn responds by nuzzling its mother. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)

The stray cat we have taken in, Newy, joins a couple of deer grazing in our field last Sunday. Despite their close proximity, none of them seem at all nervous. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)

Newy, however, is a bit nervous as wild turkeys stroll past the cabin right behind the deer. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod Mitchell)


Goodnight, West Marin.



And now for some religious humor that my cousin Leck Mitchell and his wife Pat sent me from Colorado.

A Sunday school teacher asked her class, “What was Jesus’ mother’s name?”  One child answered, “Mary.”

The teacher then asked, “Who knows what Jesus’ father’s name was?” 

A little kid said, “Verge.”

Confused, the teacher asked, “Where did you get that?” 

The kid said, “Well, you know, they are always talking about Verge n’ Mary.” 


I had been teaching my three-year old daughter, Caitlin, the Lord’s Prayer for several evenings at bedtime. She would repeat after me the lines from the prayer.

Finally, she decided to go solo. I listened with pride as she carefully enunciated each word, right up to the end of the prayer:

“Lead us not into temptation,” she prayed, “but deliver us from email.”


A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, “And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?” 

One bright little girl replied, “Because people are sleeping.”


Six-year-old Angie and her four-year-old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang, and talked outloud. Finally, his big sister had enough.

“You’re not supposed to talk outloud in church.”

“Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked.

 Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men
standing by the door? They’re hushers.”