Where the computer age meets the Old West.

For several days I wondered if I would be able to put up a posting this week. A week ago, Horizon Cable upgraded the community’s Internet service, and for the next six days, my computer was able to get online only sporadically. In fact, while writing this I lost my Internet service temporarily.

I’m not knocking Horizon. The staff put in many hours getting me back online. The problem, I’m told, is that my hookup is “non-standard.” It long predates Horizon’s ownership, and the cable is mostly strung along barbed-wire fences. _____________________________________________________________

A toll-gate camera recorded a license plate, and this photograph of a Mercedes in Southern California was sent to me.

More computer problems. Last week I received a letter from Metro ExpressLanes in Gardena, Los Angeles County, informing me that I had violated express-lane regulations on Interstate 10.

“Welcome to the Metro ExpressLanes!” the letter cheerily began. “We noticed that you used the I-10 ExpressLanes without a transponder. As of February 23 at 12:01 a.m., all vehicles (including carpoolers) traveling in the I-10 ExpressLanes are required to have a transponder. The attached violation notice has been issued as a result of your travel without a transponder.

“We understand that the transponder requirement is recent, and the $25 penalty has been waived as a courtesy to you. However, the toll amount [75 cents] is still due.”

The license plate on my 1992 Acura. Can you “C” the difference?

Ever since my former wife Cathy and I bought The Point Reyes Light in 1975, I’ve had a “LIGHT” license plate on my cars. People around West Marin often recognize me on the road because of it.

Unfortunately, Metro ExpressLanes’ computers, which apparently use the Close Enough operating system, proved unable to distinguish between “LIGHT” and “C LIGHT.”

I’ve now written Metro ExpressLanes: “I have not been in Southern California in several years. My car is an Acura, not a Mercedes, and my license plate is “LIGHT,” not “C LIGHT.” Whether that will lay the matter to rest or whether I have become mired in a bureaucratic swamp remains to be seen. _____________________________________________________________

Enjoying a sunny afternoon last week, this dragonfly, a male Red-veined meadowhawk, kept returning to one small twig on a branch next to Mitchell cabin.

Still seeing red. When flying, dragonflies and damselflies look similar, but once they land, they’re easy to tell apart. Dragonflies at rest keep their wings spread, as you see in the above photo.


When damselflies are at rest, they fold their wings over their backs, as this female Common bluetail is doing.

It’s good to have damselflies and dragonflies around because they both eat insects, primarily mosquitos and midges. ______________________________________________________________

The first camellia blossom of spring at Mitchell cabin. (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Also in the red: the camellia is the state flower of Alabama although it’s not native to the Deep South or even to the United States. The flowering trees originated in Asia and have been cultivated in China and Japan for centuries.

They began showing up in England during the 1700s as a result of increased trade with Asia. Inventor Col. John Stevens, who had served in George Washington’s army, is credited with introducing them to North America in 1797. He is said to have imported some camellias from England to beautify his land in Hoboken, New Jersey. ________________________________________________________________

Male quail (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) has been called one of the great poets of American literature, and when these guys (above and below) showed up on Sunday morning, they brought to mind four lines from the final stanza of Stevens’ poem Sunday Morning:

“We live in an old chaos of the sun,/ Or old dependency of day and night…. Deer walk upon our mountains, and the quail/ Whistle about us their spontaneous cries….”

Of course, their spontaneous cries can’t begin to match mine when my Internet connection manages to get itself “lost,” as they say, while I’m using my computer.


Female Blacktail deer