“What good is seeking a greater law, when that law can be the whims of a man either stupid or ruthless?”
Sanderson, Brandon. Edgedancer: From the Stormlight Archive. Tom Doherty Associates.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Almost a week has gone by since I returned from Mendocino. Most of the time, I have felt too exhausted to do much other than driving HRM to and from school, sleeping, and reading. Hopefully, I will get back to swimming this weekend. The weather seems to be getting warmer.
SWAC returns in early March. It will probably better for all concerned that I leave for the month or so that she will be here. While it is a bit of a bother, I look forward to a little traveling if my health allows. The problem I have is in deciding where to go and what to do when I get there.
On March 24th, I intend to accompany Peter to another concert at SFJAZZ. That breaks things up nicely in the middle. Two weeks in March during which I can travel visiting friends in other parts of California and perhaps stay with my sister and George in Mendocino for a few days. Then, my finances willing, spending the next three weeks or so in Italy, or Thailand or on some adventure cruise somewhere. Alas, this needs all too much planning. I hate that. Probably, i’ll just drift and see what happens. Something always does. Didn’t I just go through this a month ago?
Recently, Dick requested an update from the school counselor about HRM’s performance. Amid a generally upbeat report, the counselor mentioned that in a recent History exam on a question to be answered in three paragraphs, the first two paragraphs of HRM’s answer were “positively brilliant” but the third was, “from Mars.” Should we worry?
On Saturday, after almost a month of finding reasons not to do so, some real others make believe, I got it together to exercise again. Even while I sat at the edge of the pool, I still told myself it would be too cold, I was too sick or tired yadda, yadda, yadda and I should simply return home, clutch my hot pad, and put myself back to bed. But, in the end, I dove in and enjoyed myself immensely. I feel good tonight, better than I have felt in a while.
That same night, I had a wonderful dream that seemed to last for hours. In that dream, there was an ancient Roman Ruin located on San Francisco’s shoreline somewhere near Candlestick Point (this is a dream after all). There the Roman Nobility would greet the ships returning from war, their holds full to bursting with treasure. It was decided by the present day city fathers to restore those ruins as another tourist attraction — sort of like Fisherman’s Wharf. To kick everything off, they held a grand party in the ruins prior to restoring them. I assisted in the preparations for the party throughout the day. That night, the rich and the powerful and even the not so rich and powerful arrived dressed in period costumes, togas, chitons and the like. The richest and most powerful men were often old and shriveled with paper thin skin and blue veins pulsing beneath. The women came in all shapes and sizes and were aggressive and bejeweled.
Each room had something different going on — different food, music, dances, conversation, drinks and the like. I visited most of them and enjoyed it, especially the dancing and the music.
During the evening, I noticed there were about five or six people who traveled through those rooms and hallways that had not been fixed up for the party. They clearly were searching for something. One large room was filled with water and they used small boats to search for whatever they were looking for. They appeared to be led by a tall, handsome man dressed in a tuxedo.
Later, after most of the guests had left, I joined them. I never learned what it was they were looking for, but I enjoyed going from room to room with them looking for it. Later, we all sat by a campfire in the corner of a vacant roofless room and talked about lots of things for awhile.
Dawn came. I knew that I would have to wake up soon and rejoin my waking life. I was a bit sad knowing I probably would probably never return.
While I lay in my bed in that grey time between sleep and wakefulness, I wondered if the dreams of our waking life were our reality — whether life was just a long daily slog from the darkness of the womb to the night with no morning or if it was a series of time garbled one night stands that go on changing each night forever.
The week has gone silently by. Looking out the window as I enjoy my afternoon snacks of Oreo cookies dunked in milk, I watch the days zip by like cars on a freeway.
I have given some thought to my spring travels. One half or about 3 weeks I probably will wander about California visiting friends. The other half, when I began to look into it, seemed to depend somewhat on cost.Thailand, Italy, A Caribbean cruise, and Cuba all seem to cost about the same and may be affordable. Only my dream boat trip down the Peruvian Amazon looks as though it is too expensive. I still need to get a new car. Oh well, I guess I will kick the can down the road for another week or so. Maybe something will happen to force a decision or change my options.
The week has trundled by. During my walk around the lakes this morning, I saw the first greening of the trees. It seems to be a bit early for that. I think of the wintertime in the golden hills as the silver time. The naked deciduous trees have a silver cast to them and the often overcast skies are silver also. Late summer is the gold time — golden hills with deep blue skies. Autumn — red, brown and yellow, and spring — virescent and speckled in brazen pastels.
One morning while driving HRM to school, I in my grandfatherly mode mentioned to him that he is now getting big, adult-sized, and that simple physical actions like suddenly spreading his arms wide or rushing through a restaurant that to an adult would seem cute were he a small child, now that he is almost man-sized would make some people frightened and when frightened adults often act angry. I wanted to warn him that now that he is a teenager simple physical actions that may have drew smiles when he was little may cause a different reaction now that he is becoming man-sized. “Stop!” he responded, “I do not want to hear that. I do not want to be a teenager. I do not want to grow up. Why should I want to?” I could not answer that. Sometimes, grandfathers are just old and not too wise.
B. RAGGED ROBIN’S NATURE NOTES:
End of January means it is time for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – like many of you I’ve been doing this for years and it is always interesting to read on other blogs what people have seen in their gardens.
It was raining heavily on Saturday and there were few birds about so I did my birdwatch yesterday when it was dry and sunny. Our garden faces South making photography (and even watching birds at times!) a bit of a challenge but it did cloud over a bit for the last half hour.
So what did I see?
House Sparrow x 5
Wood Pigeon x 5
Robin x 2 (sometimes we get 3 in the garden and it is amusing to watch the “resident” robin chasing away the other two intruders!
Blackbird x 2
Great Tit x 1
Blue Tit x 3
Dunnock x 3
Goldfinch x 3
Starling x 1
Long-tailed Tit x 2
As many of you have commented several species fail to put in an appearance during the hour – here it was Magpie, Carrion Crow, Stock Dove, Wren and Coal Tit. The Blackcap we had on the feeders for about two weeks has disappeared but the Ring-necked Parakeets are still visiting – they turned up an hour after the Birdwatch finished.
MONDAY, 29 JANUARY 2018
(JP — It appears that the non-native Parakeets have become as common in the English Midlands as Parrots have on San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill. Sometimes, when I used to walk home from my office in Embarcadero Center to my apartment, the parrots would congregate in the trees that grew in the little park I crossed to reach my building. They were a raucous bunch, as noisy as a singles bar on Friday evenings. Perhaps they were mating too.)
Karoshi is the Japanese word for “death from overwork.”
A. On Top — Another Florid Sentence by James Lee Burke:
“(O)n Monday I woke with a taste like pennies in my mouth and a sense that my life was unspooling before me, that the world in which I lived was a fabrication, that the charity abiding in the human breast was a collective self-delusion, and that the bestial elements we supposedly exorcised from civilized society were not only still with us but had come to define us, although we sanitized them as drones and offshore missiles marked “occupant” and land mines that killed children decades after they were set.”
Burke, James Lee. Robicheaux: A Novel (p. 393). Simon & Schuster.
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
A lecture by Brad De long in which he argues that although He Who Is Not My President is undoubtedly a fascist, he is a soft fascist and an incompetent one to boot. “We are not yet in trouble,” he suggests, because, “in other countries that have competent fascists, their democracies have died.” Our’s has not…Yet.
However, in a comment on his post, a student of his takes issue with this:
i admire your optimism but I’m afraid the Republic is indeed lost. A full 40% of the population admires Trump and his programs. Moreover, the current system (2 senators per state, electoral college, Citizens United, etc.) gives this population a structural advantage that cannot be overcome. On top of this, you have a conservative media-industrial complex that expertly manipulates popular opinion with manufactured outrage. The white working class in this country always votes against its class interest. Seriously, what mechanism will cause this to change?
I think you are deceiving yourself on the ability of the system to regenerate positive change. The best hope for California is some type of peaceful dissolution from the rest of the US where Cali can be a France on the Pacific and the Deep South becomes South Africa. On the whole, the USA should become an EU-type union.
I just think we are so polarized and the forces causing polarization so powerful that we cannot be put back together again.
(JP— Sigh! DeLong overlooks that Hitler’s “incompetents” were eventually purged while his student seems to suggest that had, for example, Saxony withdrawn from Germany in 1932 it would have survived the war. In fact, arguments like these also were made in the 1930s. They encouraged passivity and ultimately were proven to be dreadfully mistaken.)
C. Today’s Poem:
The following is not so much a poem as an experiment. I took the James Lee Burke florid sentence I quoted in a previous T&T post and broke it up into one image per line producing something appearing like a poem but lacking the rhythms of most poetry. Still, read slowly and pausing at the end of each line to take in the image, it overall leaves one with the essential compressed imagery of poetry along with two contrasting overriding concepts, one of growth and one of decay, one of nature and one of the works of humanity, one of hope and one of sadness.
Regardless of the time of year
Even in spring
When the petals of the azaleas
Were scattered on the grass
And the sunlight
Into a golden-green presence
Inside the canopy
Of the live oaks
The rooms of the house
Remained cold and damp,
The lichen on the trees
And the flagstones
And even the tombs
Of the original owners
A testament to the decay
And slow adsorption
Of man’s handiwork
On the earth.
James Lee BURKE
D. Snippets from Comments on Prior Posts:
1. From Peter
Just finished reading a fascinating book called “The North Pole” by Kathan Brown, another Antioch graduate, and creator and owner of Crown Point Press in SF, around the corner from MOMA – an account of trips she took to the North Pole in 2002 and Spitzbergen in 2003. Includes many great photos she took, and discussions with scientists and others who had made the trip (by Russian icebreaker [tourists in the summer, breaking channel through the winter ice for shipping through the Northeast Passage]) or were/are otherwise interested in the polar regions, and historical references from earlier arctic explorers. Wonderful descriptions of the ice, the stillness, the light, and the comparatively few people who go there (seems only about 14,000 people have ever been up to the far north polar region).
Also some very thoughtful observations on the severe impacts of climate change on the world, especially the far north, and continued bad news if we don’t mend our ways. Apparently, the earth has experienced fluctuations of temperature over time, roughly 100,000-year glacial periods followed by roughly 10,000 year interglacial periods of warmer temperatures. No one knows for sure, but some think the “little ice age” of 1300-1800s may have been the start of a new ice age after 10,000 years of moderate climate, except that human-caused global warming, with greatly increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, began around 1850 and may have interrupted the pattern. So now we’re experiencing warmer temperatures and droughts, with the catastrophic results being mass uproars and migrations from the Mideast (e. g., Syria, and Iran’s mass demonstrations resulting from dried up farmland after several drought years), and chaos about to happen in South Africa with the water shortage, but eventually the glacial cold will return.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
Leisure by W. H. Davies (3 July 1871 – 26 September 1940)
E. Xander’s Post
Several years ago I posted a piece about fishing on the Blackfoot River in Montana ( https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/musings-on-the-blackfoot-river-fly-fishing-and-hiawatha/ ). Recently, I came across an interesting Facebook post by Pete Xander about fishing and the environment along California’s southern coast. The following is an excerpt from that much longer piece containing Xander’s musings about fishing on Malibu Creek.
Hook, Line, and Sinker
… Steelhead in Malibu Creek? That’s right. And you thought the only steelhead in Malibu was Nick Nolte after one of his infamous drunken incidents (my mom and I saw him in the supermarket at Pt. Dume one 4th of July, squeezing cantaloupes, and I asked my mom who she thought he was. “Some hung-over beach bum,” she said, all too accurately….
SO, steelhead spawning in Malibu Creek. Absolutely there are. Hell, they used to spawn in rivers in San Diego County, and the rainbow trout that now occur in Pauma Creek on the southwestern shoulder of Palomar Mountain are the last of the original populations, the fires in 2003 having literally boiled away the water in the upper Sweetwater River west of the Laguna Mountains, killing the remaining native trout. The very last one died in a fish tank poorly managed by DFG personnel. …
Regarding Malibu Creek, in the early ‘80s, a biologist with the Department of Fish and Game (now known as the Department of Fish and Wildlife), Dave Drake, took me all throughout the Malibu shoreline, from Topanga Creek (where steelhead still spawn in years of average rainfall) to the Ventura County line, giving me a one-day crash course on the biota of Malibu. Even today there’s a creek I can take you to, where the stream goes under the road and a large pool is formed just before it, where there will be a decent sized steelhead, facing upstream and waiting for food to drift down. The quickest way to ID a steelhead from a rainbow trout is that steelhead have very few spots below the lateral line, while rainbows have spots all over.
So during the crazy El Nino storm season of early 1983, there was a break of several days around the second weekend of February, with a Santa Ana pushing the temperatures into the low 80s. I called my brother down in San Diego and had him come up to fish for the steelhead. The mouth of Malibu Creek was open to the sea, and so I knew steelhead would be in there, on their first spawning run opportunity in three years. But just a little over a mile from the ocean, a dam built in the 1940s — which silted up almost immediately — blocks their access to miles and miles of suitable spawning habitat of the upper Malibu Creek watershed and its major tributaries, Cold Creek and Las Virgenes Creek. The damn dam is scheduled to be taken down but that still has not started yet. The creek was full of first-year fish, bright as a newly minted dime and flashing a pale rose/lavender color and still with a few sea lice attached to their fins. They were far too young to spawn, but they wanted to check things out, a phenomenon previously thought to occur only on the Eel, Klamath, and a couple of other river systems in northern California and southern Oregon, where those yearling steelheads are known as “half-pounders.”
My brother and I caught and released over three dozen steelhead smolts apiece, each of them fat, healthy, and around 9” to 12” each that gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and personnel from DFG were there with avid L.A.area fly fishermen, there to assist DFG in sampling the steelhead population and bolstering the case to protect these critically endangered fish. We used ultralight gear with 2# test line, and Dardevle “Skeeter” spoons, weighing only 1/32 of an ounce, less than an inch long, and with barbs on the hooks crushed flat with needle-nosed pliers, to make it easier to release and less injurious to the fish (which is how I always fish).
After spending the night at my apartment in Long Beach, my brother went back up to Malibu Creek on Sunday. I had staff reports to write and couldn’t go back for another fun day of fishing. When he got back early that evening, I asked how he’d done, and his face grew pale. He had hooked and lost an enormous fish — nearly a yard long and weighing at least 15 pounds. There was no way he should have been able to fight such a large powerful fish with his tiny rod and light line. It has probably just spawned and was exhausted from the effort.
The pool was a long and deep one, with the water up against a steep rock wall on the west side and willows choking the east side. Had the fish gone upstream or downstream, it would’ve popped the line. As it was, my brother had it on for maybe ten minutes, thrashing up and down in that same pool. Exhausted, the fish surfaced and rolled on its side. When my brother reached down to grab the fish by its gill cover, it twisted away from him, and the line popped. He would’ve released it, of course, but it was every bit as large as the fish Dave Drake titillated me with during his telling stories of the fish he’d personally caught (a cleaned one was over 12 pounds).
This steelhead, officially referred to as the southern population or southern race of steelhead, are protected by the Endangered Species Act, and fishing for them is not allowed. The Santa Clara River in Ventura County and Sespe Creek, a major tributary, have good populations of steelhead (though only a small fraction of the historic levels), and the San Luis Rey River in northern San Diego County, with its tributary stream, the aforementioned Pauma Creek, can have a good population . . . IF alterations to the stream course and water withdrawals for agriculture don’t fill it in and desiccate it beyond sustainability….
Will I ever live to see a catch-and-release sport fishery for steelhead in southern California? I sure hope so. From just one action on my part in the early ‘80s, when I was on the staff of the Coastal Commission, I was able to keep the southern steelhead from extinction. It was for the expansion of the Tapia Water Treatment Plant in upper Malibu Creek. Although the service area is all outside the Coastal Zone, the plant itself is inside and subject to our jurisdiction, and so they needed our approval to expand to 8 million gallons of treated effluent to be discharged into the creek. I placed conditions of approval on it, requiring they upgrade to tertiary treatment and to discharge all of the treated water into
Malibu Creek. “Well . . . that’s what we want to do,” said one slightly perplexed engineer. I explained that I didn’t want it sold off to water the landscaping on Hwy. 101 — I wanted it all discharged into Malibu Creek. The upgrade to tertiary is what they as professionals wanted, but they knew their board of directors would never approve of it. But jeez — with that mean guy at the Coastal Commission FORCING them to upgrade, well, they had no choice. And with a wink and a nod, our meeting finished to the satisfaction of all of us.
Turns out that throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s, extended droughts dried up all of the streams in southern California, except for Malibu Creek, with its augmented flow keeping the stream and its inhabitants alive. Malibu Creek was the only supply of water for spawning, and while its spawning habitat is extremely limited, it kept the fish from becoming extinct. If I never did anything else noteworthy in my life, I’ll always be proud of keeping a magnificent species of sport fish alive through my actions. I was the right person, at the right place and at the right time to affect positive change, and I’ll wear that as an honor badge, and with pride, for as long as I live.
A Path Through the Redwoods