“Existence, it seems, is chiefly maintenance.”
Kelly, Kevin. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (p. 9). Penguin Publishing Group.
Happy Birthday, Irene.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
white foam strikes the cliffs,
retreats, thinks, then surging forth,
smacks the cliffs again.
My sickness slowly passed. Evenings were spent at pleasant dinners with friends of Mary and George and at other times watching Detective Montalbano detect on TV. During the days, I walked along the headlands or sat on the sofa, my computer on my lap, typing away or reading, sometimes staring at the ocean wondering how best to pass the time — to be busy at something or simply do nothing. On the other hand, the quote at the head of this post states that existence is mostly maintenance — maintaining our bodies, our families and so on. I guess most of the rest of the time when not maintaining ourselves we spend entertaining ourselves. I wonder how much time we spend helping others maintain themselves? Not much I would guess if my own life were any indication.
I wrote the above while watching the woman next door for the past hour scurry around her yard busily doing things to plants, bushes, and shrubs I could not guess at. I wonder if I would be happier doing something rather than watching it getting done? I do not think so. Besides, I have no interest in finding out.
A few days later, feeling better, I decided to visit 10 Mile Dunes the site of the Selkie story I wrote about in my last post. The parking lot was a bit of a hike from the dunes and the beach, but I managed to shamble along the path and across the dunes to the kelp littered beach. I walked along the beach searching for a tussock on which to sit. I did not find one. But I did find some suitable rocks beside a spooky sculpture someone made out of a kelp stalk.
The mist was not quite so pearlescent as in my story, the ocean not so placid and dark. Nevertheless, I sat there on the rock stared out at the waves and waited. I waited to see if a seal would appear dancing in the waves. I know, silly — but being silly is a prerogative of the very old and the very young.
After about a half an hour, I got bored. As I slowly rose from my rock, I noticed something light brown twisting among the waves. “Oh my, God,” I thought. “I don’t believe this sort of shit.” I tottered toward the water. My heart beating so hard it was almost painful. Alas, when I looked again, it was gone — probably just a piece of kelp torn from its mooring and tossed about by the waves. As I slowly walked back along the beach, I stopped for a moment, looked out at the ocean, and shouted, “Selkie” — not too loud because I would be too embarrassed if anyone heard me — Also, I felt stupid. But after, I shouted I felt a lot better. I don’t know why.
Back in the car, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if people who lived adventuresome lives could live one last adventure when they get old — this time with the supernatural.” They could, of course, always make it up. That would be almost as good, I think.
The next few days my sister became quite ill with a viral infection of some sort. She was taken to the hospital so I hung around the house to help out where I could. Alas, as usual, I was about as helpful as a pimple on the nose of a supermodel at a photo shoot. I did walk the dog, however.
On Sunday, I left Mendocino. I first stopped at the Hospital in Ft. Bragg to see my sister. She looks a lot better but I am still worried about her.
I took a different route that usual to return to the Golden Hills. Rather than passing through the beautiful Anderson Valley, I took route 20 from Ft Bragg to Willits. I continued past Willits along Route 20 to Lake County.
I entered a town called Nice which I never heard before. I looked for a place to eat in Nice just so I could write I had a Nice lunch. (Actually, it is pronounced Neece — but that doesn’t fit the story so humor me. )Unfortunately, I could not find a restaurant in Nice, nice or not, which I thought was not nice at all and proceeded on.
Clear Lake at Lucerne
The next town was called Lucerne and bills itself as the Switzerland of California. I’ve been to Switzerland and Lucerne is not Geneva or even Zurich but it seemed to be rather Nice so I looked for a restaurant there. The only one I could find was a Foster’s Freeze. It was packed, standing room only as if it had just been awarded its third Michelin star. After waiting about 45 minutes for my hamburger and chocolate malt, I returned to my car and continued on past the forest fire with its billowing gray and yellow smoke that tomorrow would burn down the town of Lower Lake sending 5000 people fleeing for safety.
I crossed the mountains into the Great Valley. On maps, it is called the Central Valley, but it really is the Great Valley. Almost 500 miles long and 60 miles wide, it contains some of the most productive farmland in the world. For the last 50 years since the building of the California Water Project, it has supplied America with much of its vegetables, grapes, fruit, and nuts. In about another 50 years, due to the unimaginable amount of water brought into the valley by that same water project leeching chemical fertilizer and other chemicals from deep in the soil, it is destined to become one of the world’s great salt deserts. Hooray for us.
Then home and after a troubled night, I drove myself to the hospital.
About 1800 BC waves of Semitic-speaking people migrated into the Nile Delta area of Egypt. They came from the area of the MiddleEast now made up Israel, Lebanon and Syria ( in ancient times Canaan or now the Levant, more or less). They were led by warriors and soon became the rulers making up the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Dynasties of ancient Egypt. By about 1500 BC they were expelled by the Pharaohs of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Dynasties from Thebes somewhere up river. Other than making for a great confusion of biblical stories, this is not important for our purposes. What is, is that these people, taking the ideographic writings of their neighbors, began the introduction of the writing system whereby symbols were used to express specific spoken sounds. Through the Phoenicians, it became the alphabet we use. It is also important that although many of these Semitic rulers retreated back to Canaan and formed their own kingdoms, many remained in Egypt. Trade in goods and ideas between the two regions flourished.
About 1000 years later an Eastern Semitic king named Nebuchadnezzar the Second of that Name, conquered most of the Semitic peoples in the Middle East. As sound policy of the time dictated, he transported most of the ruling, intellectual and religious classes of the conquered people to his capital at Babylon where he could keep an eye on them. A little over 100 years later an Indo-European adventurer from the Persian Highlands called Cyrus conquered most of the Semitic kingdoms in the Middle-East and everything else he set eyes on and so he was endowed with the title, “The Great.”
For reasons of policy, and because he did not live there, having moved his capital out of Babylon to Pasargadae which was a long way away, Cyrus encouraged those people brought there by his predecessor to return to the homes most of them had ever seen. Of course, it was also good for Cyrus that Babylon was drained of many of its best people and could never challenge again for supremacy, but also, at least in the case of the Levant, he thought it would be a good thing to have supportive people on his border with Egypt while he set about conquering Central Asia. So as the Semitic people set off from Babylon to Canaan which they had never seen and which the local inhabitants probably saw as a mixed blessing at best, Cyrus set off to conquer Central Asia where he encountered Tomyris Queen of the Massegetae. Tomyris met the, until then, undefeated Cyrus in battle, defeated him, cut off his head, and used his skull as her favorite drinking cup.
But this was not all that important for our story. What was important was that those Semites brought a lot of legends and stories from Babylon and places like that with them to Canaan. Stories and legends which they incorporated onto their mythical history and were retold and written down in their alphabet in various scrolls and what have you which were, over time, recopied and retold to suit the needs and wishes of the elite of the time and which only led additional to confusion and disagreement.
This now brings us to the First Centuries themselves.
(To be continued in the next post)
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
During my early years as executive officer of the State Coastal Conservancy in the mid to late 1970s, I noticed signage to coastal accessways, views and sites of interest were almost none existent. Knowing that creating a program to remedy this would take years, I, along with my then wife, at my own expense, designed a model sign for coastal access and views. The Conservancy paid for the signs to be manufactured and delivered them to Caltrans and the Department of Parks and Rec. along with a list of the sites. You can still see them 40 years later as you drive along Pacific Coast Highway. They are the ones with the two bare feet logo.
California was named after a mythical Island ruled by a black woman named Queen Calafia (or Khalif). The story originated in a Sixteenth Century novel by the Spaniard Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. Montalvo wrote;
“Know that, on the right hand of the Indies was an island called California, very near to the region of the Terrestrial Paradise, which was populated by black women, without there being any men among them, that almost like the Amazons was their style of living. They were of vigorous bodies and strong and ardent hearts and of great strength; the island itself the strongest in steep rocks and cliff boulders that is found in the world; their arms were all of gold, and also the harnesses of the wild beasts, on which, after having tamed them, they rode; that in all the island there was no other metal whatsoever… On this island, called California there were many griffins … and in the time that they had young these women would — take them to their caves, and there raise them. And … they fattened them on those men and the boys that they had born… Any male that entered the island was killed and eaten by them … There ruled on that island of California, a queen great of body, very beautiful for her race, at a flourishing age, desirous in her thoughts of achieving great things, valiant in strength, cunning in her brave heart, more than any other who had ruled that kingdom before her … Queen Calafia.”
Mural of Queen Calafia and her Amazons in the Room of the Dons at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, California. (Wikimedia Commons.)
A. Quigley on Top:
“Sovereignty has eight aspects:
JUDICIAL, i.e., settling disputes;
ADMINISTRATIVE, i.e., discretionary actions for the public need; TAXATION, i.e., mobilizing resources: this is one of the powers the French government didn’t have in 1770;
LEGISLATION. i.e., the finding of rules and the establishment of rules through promulgation and statute;
EXECUTIVE, i.e., the enforcement of laws and judicial decisions.
Then there are two which are of absolute paramount importance today:
MONETARY, the creation, and control of money and credit — if that is not an aspect of the public sovereignty, then the state is far less than fully sovereign; and lastly the eighth one,
THE INCORPORATING POWER, the right to say that an association of people is a fictitious person with the right to hold property and to sue in the courts.
Notice: the federal government of the United States today does not have the seventh and eighth…”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I think of myself as mostly an ordinary man who at times tried to do good and now and then succeeded only to find those successes often were ephemeral in significance and ambiguous in result
C. Today’s Poem:
THE FACEBOOK SONNET
By Sherman Alexie
Welcome to the endless high-school
Reunion. Welcome to past friends
And lovers, however, kind or cruel.
Let’s undervalue and unmend
The present. Why can’t we pretend
Every stage of life is the same?
Let’s exhume, resume, and extend
Childhood. Let’s all play the games
That occupy the young. Let fame
And shame intertwine. Let one’s search
For God become public domain.
Let church.com become our church.
Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess
Here at the altar of loneliness.
D. Comments on my Previous Post:
Seems to me that having to deal with that continuing nasty infliction doesn’t quite balance the joy of writing weird stories in a state of heightened post-illness clarity. But then, maybe it does. Don’t know: haven’t had that experience yet; just the continuing creaky slide toward decrepitude and senility. Anyway, sorry for your condition; sounds dreary, depressing, and vastly irritating; condolences. At least you have Maryann and George and the Mendocino coast and Pacific Star.
Sorry to have missed you passing through on the way to Maryann’s; next time.
Didn’t realize SWAC was in/or to be in El Dorado Hills. Must be perversely surrealistic.
Speaking of Ruth, she and Jeffrey were in SF for a day recently. He sent to the redone modern art museum; Ruth and I hung out by the ferry building and talked of This and that. She was in good spirits and health.
Meanwhile, the band plays on. We’re busy, 5-10 gigs a month, with several monthly regulars including Cheers, at which you were during a previous visit, and the still-odd Green Tortoise hostel in north beach where we were last night. Try this: on Aug. 20 we will play on the Old Vine Express (the Sacramento wine train) that noodles between West Sacto and Woodland and back— three hours of wine tasting, Yolo heat, dancing (so we’re told), some probable sloshed behavior, and us. At least they’ll pay us. We continue our leaning toward odd venues. Perhaps we could find a dank cellar somewhere (maybe under downtown Mendocino!), call it the Amontillado Grotto, charge vast prices, and have Uber deliver hordes of curious tourists and changelings for a one-way trip to Blind Lemon Pledge-land.
Just finished a book called “The Templars”, written a few yeas ago. Relatively scholarly, interesting history about Jerusalem during those centuries before and after that you just referred to in your post. Also, I didn’t realize that Henry the Navigator and other notable Portuguese explorers were members of the re-constituted Templars and that Templar money financed a lot of their explorations. The book consigns Holy Blood Holy Grail to the realm of grand storytelling and make-believe. Has a sizable section on Templar-related fiction, non-fiction, movies, TV, bands, and websites. Need to see George Sanders in the original “Ivanhoe” movie as the evil Templar. Sir Walter and others did a nasty.
I read and understood ! I’m happy for that 🙂
Your life was so full — bad and good things — and I’m still thinking you are great!!!
I hope your infection will do better after the surgery/or whatever you are going to do!
Please let me know and if You’re not able to write, I will ask your sister!
We say, “In bocca al lupo” to say “good luck”!
I do so enjoy finding the time to read your “This and that . . .” musings. I am sorry that your health has been up and down lately; I appreciate how and why that is on your mind. This has been a beastly hot summer — somedays I just don’t even want to go out, especially when the temperature is 70 degrees at 6 AM. It is wonderful that you have your sister’s place in Mendocino to retreat to. She is a wonderful sister who obviously loves you and puts up with you. My hands are too full right now being Carol’s primary care provider; otherwise, I would have enjoyed retreating to Mendocino with you. Returning to Monterey during triple digit heat waves was how Carol and I coped with summer in Sacratomatoes. That has all changed this summer.
Carol is doing remarkably well under the circumstances. Her positive and cheerful attitude makes it easier on the rest of us. Although I am grateful for the time that we have been given to be together after her last cancer surgery, I am having difficulty coming to terms with the future change in my life. Fortunately, Carol’s Hospice Care also provides me with a counselor to help me deal with some of the issues I don’t necessarily want to think about or talk about. So like you, despite being in fine health, I do think about things I did in the past, what is happening in the present, and things that even though in hindsight I regret, I would not change.
Your latest “This & that” reminded me of the doors you opened for me when Senator Smith’s office sent me over to your Select Committee office in the 11th & L Building with my McGeorge Law Journal write up of the ’76 Coastal Act seeking a work-study internship. I remember you calling out to Lois Jones after you quickly glanced over my article proclaiming with amazement that someone actually understood how the recently enacted legislation was going to change the coastal program. You reached behind your chair and gave me a stack of draft regulations the Commission staff was drafting and asked me to review “this stuff” and see if it makes any sense. So I went back to my apartment and stayed up all night reading the stack of regulations and came back the next afternoon with a notepad full of comments, grammatical changes, and suggestions. You were surprised to see me and my notes, but at that time late in the afternoon you were more concerned about the fact that Bill Geyer (who I did not know then) was arriving with a client to talk about the CCC; and, you had other plans. So you ducked out and told me meet with this “lobbyist” and get his take on the changes needed at the CCC. (To say Geyer was a bit brought down when he and his client were told by Lois that you were unavailable, but that I was, would be a grand understatement.)
Anyway Joe, from that work study experience you opened the door for a summer job with the CCC. I was greeted warmly by the “pirates” who ran the permit staff (and the former Prop 20 Commission) because for no other reason I had been your “gofer.” I had a great summer. No question that summer launched my post-law school career. My life continued to have many twists and turns and ups and downs after that summer; but, I am most grateful for the opportunity you gave me; and, your friendship.
Take care of yourself. I hope we can find the time to get together sooner than later.
During this difficult time for Bill and Carol, please keep them in your thoughts and for those that pray, in your prayers. They have contributed much to California and to all of us. They are good people going through hard times.
Bill’s amusement and cynicism at my antics those many years ago were a comfort to me. They kept me from falling into the trap of believing I knew what was going on. Well, perhaps not completely but at least he reminded me now and then. One day, we were walking through Point Reyes. Bill was pointing out one bird or another while I was exhibiting my ignorance. Suddenly he stopped and turned to me and observed, “You don’t know anything about the environment.” It was true. I’m from New York. To me, the natural environment was what one saw through a fence or the tomatoes and zucchini growing in the little strip of dirt next to the driveway alongside my house. I was doing this because John Olmstead asked me to help him save the Pygmy Forest. If the rest of the coast had to come along, so be it.
“I never thought the liberty of man consists in doing what he wishes, but rather in not doing that which he does not wish.”