“[T]he wind chime had been invented specifically for deaf people who really hated their neighbors.”
McDonnell, Caimh. Last Orders (The Dublin Trilogy Book 4) (p. 161). McFori Ink.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SEBASTOPOL:
St. Patrick’s Day weekend arrived. On Saturday, I attended a memorial in Sebastopol for Persia Wooley, the author of a fantasy trilogy focused on Guinevere, King Arthur’s wayward wife, as well several other books. The affair was held in the community room of the senior housing project where Persia lived before her death. The housing project had been built on a portion of the Luther Burbank Gardens where the great botanist made most of his discoveries. Having a little time before the event began, we strolled through the nursery enjoying looking at the flowers and examining Burbank’s grafted fruit trees.
At Luther Burbank Gardens.
As well as being an author of note, Persia was also a well known Bay Area radio personality who for many years interviewed various celebrities on her show including Norman Mailer with whom she was reputed to have had a long love affair. The affair ended after Mailer proposed to buy Persia a house next door to the one in which he lived with his wife and family — I guess so the great author wouldn’t have to travel so far for hookups. Persia refused and ended the relationship. A child of the counter-culture, she loved life, writing, wore diaphanous clothing, enjoyed partying and married often.
The audience, mostly made up of people from my generation, were dressed in their layered clothing. It included relatives, friends and a few residents from the senior housing complex who had gotten to know Persia during her stay there. Persia’s daughter hosted the event and along with several of the guests spoke lovingly about her and took us through the various stages of Persia’s life.
Persia’s son was there also. When he was in his late thirties, he fell in love with and married a 100-year woman who owned a bull breeding ranch near to Sebastopol. Her name was Beatrice but she preferred to be called Bea. She had originally hired him to assist her with the ranch because she was getting too old to ride herd on the bulls. They fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history. After the memorial, we took a ride out to the ranch. We saw their cottage and barns but no bulls.
At the end of the memorial, an elderly woman in long flowing clothing performed what appeared to be an American Indian song and dance. Then, after enjoying the refreshments that were laid out and toasting root beer floats to Persia’s memory, we left.
Persia Wooley —A Celebration of Life.
That night, we stayed at a Motel 6 in Santa Rosa. It must have been located in the high crime area of the city. A police car cruised the parking lot during the evening, a group of young men decided to hold a barbecue in that same parking lot and in the morning one could almost see, and most certainly could smell the cloud of marijuana floating over the place.
B. MENDOCINO ON MY MIND:
We drove to Mendocino. Naida spread Bill’s ashes onto the Pacific Ocean below the Mendocino Headlands. The next day, the sun came out. The ocean was a lovely shade of slate blue and the early spring wildflowers were in bloom. We walked along the bluffs above the water.
Later we strolled through the town, browsed the books at the bookstore and ate lunch in a restaurant with a view
In the evenings we enjoyed my sister’s special meals followed by a glass of Limoncello and talked well into the night with Maryann and George. We also laughed a lot.
On Tuesday morning, I attended a reenactment of an automobile accident as part of a presentation on drunk driving given by George and the Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department at the local high school. Except for the few students who were chosen to play the victims of the drunk driver, the rest of the students were not informed of the event.
On a street by the school, the fire department placed automobiles in what looked like a serious accident. The selected students, made up to look like victims (blood and stuff), arrayed themselves on the ground or in the crumpled automobiles. Then everyone left but the students trapped in the cars or injured and lying on the roadway and someone wearing lumberjack boots dressed up as death and carrying a scythe who creeped around the crash site all morning. Along with a few of the other onlookers, I hid in the bushes. The emergency school bell rang and the students exited the building only to see the accident scene below them just as the sound of the sirens could be heard in the distance.
The fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles arrived. The first responders got to work extracting the victims from the vehicles (or out from under them) treating them, putting them in ambulances or body bags and hearses that then went screaming off into the distance. It was all very exciting and dramatic. Eventually, having completed their jobs, the first responders left leaving only the remains of the forlorn demolished vehicles and death in his lumberjack boots and scythe. The students trudged back into the school, there to enjoy further lectures on avoiding drinking and driving. Alas, they being teenagers, I am sure it all fell on deaf ears and those that survive their adolescence and decide to remain living there in their little town, I expect will eventually join the MVFD and participate in a similar performance a few years from now.
C. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS:
It rained during the long ride back home. It took almost nine hours to drive from Mendocino to EDH.
By Thursday the rains had let up and by Friday the sun was shining and the green hills and white clouds sparkled in the sky.
The Green Hills of El Dorado.
I hadn’t exercised for quite some time having persuaded myself to accept all the good and sound reasons not to. Alas, the sunshine having stripped me of my last excuse, I went for my walk around the lakes. A carnival had been set up in the parking lot at Town Center. I diverted from my walk to explore it. It was early and the Amusement park was closed and empty. The Carneys were just waking up and shuffling about outside of their trailers. There is nothing more spooky (spookier) then an empty or abandoned amusement park — except for a seeing lone clown wandering the streets in your neighborhood at dusk.
D. OFF TO THE CITY BY THE BAY:
I left the golden hills early Saturday Morning to travel to San Francisco in order to attend the Dave Holland concert at SFJazz that evening. It was raining when I left but turned sunny and warm by the time I arrived in The City. After dropping off my overnight bag at Peters house, he and I walked to lunch at Chez Marius a delightful French bistro in Noe Valley that Peter and I enjoy. It is also where Peter’s band, Blind Lemon Pledge, plays on the last Tuesday of the Month. I had an excellent Quiche Lorraine. After lunch, we walked a block or so down 24th Street to have some coffee at Bernie’s.
Report from the Geezer’s Bench:
In front of Bernie’s Is a bench, in fact, one of several benches, on which he and I sit and drink our coffee and discuss weighty matters. We call the bench, The Geezer’s Bench. While we were busy discussing important things like the fate of the world, our decrepitude and the benefits of olive oil and laughing, I noticed a car quickly turn into the parking lot next door, the driver, a woman, staring at us the whole time. We continued laughing and talking. We had just been musing on creating a television show about two old men sitting on the Geezer’s Bench stopping passers-by and asking them questions and engaging them in conversation. Suddenly the woman who had been driving the car appeared in front of us. She said, “I was just driving by and I noticed the two of you were having such a good time that I just wanted to sit on the bench and listen.” And so she did.
Eventually, she left, soon to be replaced by my daughter-in-law, AnnMarie who came by to discuss my summer travel plans with her and my grandchildren to Italy, Sicily and perhaps Morocco and Andalusia. But, that is another story. We did, however, laugh a lot more until Peter and I left to return to his house in order to rest before leaving for the concert.
The Geezer Boys on the Geezer Bench
SF JAZZ, Oh Yeah.
Peter had tickets for the first row of the theater not more than 10 feet from the musicians. This was especially good because I had forgotten my hearing aids back in the golden hills. Dave Holland the bass player was the featured performer and composer. The performance was without breaks, the musicians playing for over two hours straight. It was thoroughly enjoyable, the bass often carrying the main line. The guitarist played an instrument that sounded more like a jazz violin than a guitar and the drummer was terrific. The audience seemed to love the performance as much as we did and some guy in the balcony seats played air-guitar and jumped around throughout most of the concert while his mate played air drums and bounced his head around as though he was watching a tennis match on speed.
The next morning, after coffee and croissants at Bernie’s, I returned home.
D. BACK IN THE GOLDEN HILLS WITH TEA AND OLIVE OIL:
I was going to end this T&T post with my time in SF, however, something happened today notable enough to make me add it here.
The next day the weather broke clear and warm over the golden hills although a strong wind kept things cool and comfortable. After my morning walk and root beer float reward, I attended to my duties as personal Uber driver for the Scooter Gang. At about 4:30 I left them at the Folsom Skate Park in the hopes that they would exhaust themselves and their hormones and I returned home to await their call to pick them up and return each member of the gang to their respective homes.
On the way, I remembered a conversation I had with Peter regarding a book that extolled the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil. I decided that since drinking a glass of Port at bedtime was no longer a pleasure for me since the alcohol irritated my throat too much, a sip or two of extra-vergine olive oil with its supposedly preternatural health benefits would be just what the doctor ordered, or more precisely just what the doctor never got around to ordering. So, Peter and I scurried over to the famous (among Olive oil aficionados) local extra-virgin olive oil shop in Noe Valley, but unfortunately, it was closed. Having remembered that conversation now, I decided to drive to Town Center before going home since I recalled there was a shop I thought sold designer olive oil. And in fact, there was just such a shop.
I entered the shop and was directed toward some shelves containing a large number of olive oil bottles and some tiny plastic cups for tasting. I set to it and tasted them all including one labeled “Olive oil with Truffles” which was my favorite but I learned cost a small fortune — $30 dollars for a one and one half ounce bottle. I concluded that rather than being put on food or mixed into a salad, it was only to be applied behind the ears like perfume. I ended up buying a bottle labeled “Tuscan Herb” olive oil. The woman that owned the shop explained that everything was mixed by them personally in a small room in the back that when I glimpsed it looked less like a laboratory than an alchemist’s hideaway.
The shop, not only dealt in designer olive oil but other designer foods, like designer vinegars (one was cranberry flavored), designer honey, designer spice mixes and the like, but given its name, “Tea Exotics” what the shop was most noted for was its teas (also mixed in the back). I was shown a list of three hundred or more teas that were for sale and contained in large tins that covered one wall of the shop. There were tables and a bar where aficionados and perhaps addicts could drink their tea. One fellow sitting at the bar said that he comes in one day a week to drink a 14-ounce glass of his favorite tea which he also drinks at home — one cup, no more no less, every night, otherwise he explained it would get him too excited. You see, these are not the arrogant bitter teas that the British use to demonstrate their breeding or the Japanese delicate beverages requiring an elaborate ceremony to make you aware that even if you hated the stuff you were participating in a long-honored tradition, like say human sacrifice. No, these are health food tea.
The tea itself is sold mostly in little paper bags that cost about as much as a kilo of heroin. So I decided to taste some. I tasted about six different blends. It was a revelation. I had never tasted anything like it or so good. Eventually, I settled on a Japanese Matcha (they explained Matcha to me. I do not recall their precise description except is seemed they extracted the tea leaves from the plant before they had even emerged from the twig and crush them between the tender breasts of a Japanese virgin). Added to the organic Matcha was dark cocoa, coconut milk (supposedly better for you than cows milk or camels milk, although I recall reading somewhere that coconut milk can kill you quicker than strychnine) and cane sugar (very little they promised me). And so I walked out of there significantly poorer but a bit happier and went home.
And yes tomorrow is another day.
The Bot and I.
I know it is often difficult to understand how a lot of rabid Trump supporters think or why they think as they do in the first place. Recently, I have had an interesting experience that, although it provides little clarity on the matter, it certainly provided me with some food for thought.
A post appeared on my Facebook page a few days ago containing a chart showing that under the current federal budget someone earning $50,000 would pay about $40 in taxes for food stamps and welfare and $4000 for corporate welfare. I do not know how true it is nor how accurate. Probably not accurate in any other way than that it is true that the Federal budget allocates far more money to corporate welfare than to the so-called safety net.
Anyway, against my better judgment, I shared it. I soon received a comment back that railed against Obama for supposedly promising to remove all taxes on taxpayers earning under $50,000 and not delivering. Although I know better than to respond to a comment in these circumstances I, again against my better judgment, replied by asking what Obama’s broken promises had to do with the criticisms of the current budget.
The commenter responded that he could comment anyway he liked especially whenever he saw criticisms of tax benefits given to business. He added that he almost voted for Obama until he learned about all his campaign promises.
Fair enough I thought, but alas, I could not leave it well enough alone and I wrote back:
“ I understand your response is an opinion and you certainly have a right to it But this chart does not show campaign promises. It shows what is in the budget proposal that the poster questions. Do I understand you oppose anyone who proposes to increase taxes on business and those that propose to lower them on the poor? Or, is it that you think it improper to criticize an incumbent (no matter how remote) when you may have failed to criticize his predecessor for failing to deliver on his promises.”
This was a mistake for it clearly enraged him. He accused me of too much hatred (not so) and too many false conclusions (partially true, the questions were not conclusions but they certainly could lead one to consider them unfair). He also accused me of going after him. I could see how he could believe that after all, even though I was not going after him, I clearly was playing with him.
Alas, I could not leave well enough alone and mentioned in my response that he seemed to be suffering from a syndrome that sees only hateful intentions in the opinions of others and only loving ones in his. I pointed out that a lot of that seemed to be going around these days.
Then I received the following email supposedly from him:
For your opinions I would of read your slanderous judgement .. I saw early on Your intent ..
You may be about 80
Now and still talking that socialist dribble
Now I am 72 and enjoying women still and feel good …
Too bad you cannot live in Venezuela where the end result of socialism is so beautiful ..
I think I have been struck by a Russian Bot. I feel honored. I have been noticed.
A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
The inimitable and irrepressible economist Brad DeLong in his often serious blog about things of interest to economists and others with long serious faces reviews a novel, a fantasy no less about:
VIKINGS AND ZOMBIES AND MAGICIANS AND DINOSAURS, OH MY!
“Graydon Saunders has “committed book” again. The Human Dress is now almost live at Google Play Books. If this is the kind of thing you like, you will like this thing—I like it very, very much. Vikings and zombies and magicians and dinosaurs and much much much more.”
“It is not a book to skim: I am sure that I missed great and important things about the antagonists and their motivation and purposes. And I am also not sure whether the name of the ship really is “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” or not; or whether the principal heroine named “Red Harvester” is a Dashiell Hammett reference or not. And I still have many unanswered questions about just what happened…”
“I certainly did not expect so many important characters to be eaten by dinosaurs, or for the eating to have such consequences. Nor have a looked up what the runic inscription on the cover page means—although I suspect that there is a message there. Nor was I expecting the principal hero to say “ and you so neat with your food” at that time and in that place.”
B. Today’s Poem:
by Edgar Allan Poe
I heed not that my earthly lot
Hath little of Earth in it-
That years of love have been forgot
In the hatred of a minute:–
I mourn not that the desolate
Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that you sorrow for my fate
Who am a passer-by
C. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy:
“This is how the iron law of bureaucracy installs itself at the heart of an institution. Most of the activities of any bureaucracy are devoted not to the organization’s ostensible goals, but to ensuring that the organization survives: because if they aren’t, the bureaucracy has a life expectancy measured in days before some idiot decision maker decides that if it’s no use to them they can make political hay by destroying it. It’s no consolation that some time later someone will realize that an organization was needed to carry out the original organization’s task, so a replacement is created: you still lost your job and the task went undone. The only sure way forward is to build an agency that looks to its own survival before it looks to its mission statement. Just another example of evolution in action.”
Stross, Charles. The Annihilation Score (A Laundry Files Novel) (p. 308). Penguin Publishing Group.
“It took a tiny bit longer than usual, but the Hot Take Machine now has a good supply of pieces tut-tutting high school kids for protesting about getting shot.”
Kieran Healy @kjhealy