Posts Tagged With: Church

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 7 Shadow 0009 (June 26, 2020)

“Happiness equals reality minus expectation.”
          Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

 

Do not forget, National Be a Dork Day falls on July 15. It is also Return Your Tax Day. Also, have a safe, sane, and properly social distanced Independence Day.

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SOCIAL DISTANCING:

 

 

 

 

It has been a week or so since I have written here last. The only thing of note during that time was my trip to SF for my immunotherapy infusion and visit with my doctors. They indicated that I have responded well to my treatments so far — a tepid bit of cheer to say the least, but an appreciated one nonetheless.

I have tried to replace spending my time writing here every day with increased reading — mostly of trashy novels. My goal, for no reason but bragging rights with myself, was to read one book a day, a goal I mostly succeeded in reaching. I had decided to bury myself in comic fantasy novels because I could think of no other genre that would get me farther from self-quarantine with less effort. Two of the novels I chose simply because their covers were decorated with cartoons leading me to conclude their content was suitable for 12 year-olds. Upon reading them, however, I was surprised to discover they were perhaps more suitable for 17 year-olds.

One book told the tale of a bureaucrat from DICOMY (Department in Charge of Magical Youth) tasked with preparing a report about an orphanage located on a small island off the coast of Britain owned by a Sprite who also doubled as a cook, housekeeper and sometime teacher at the orphanage. The orphanage director was a mysterious man who would turn into a phoenix (a bird of fire) when agitated. In the course of the novel, the man from DICOMY and the director fall in love. He quits his department job and moves into the orphanage to be with the director-phoenix. There were only six orphans in all living at the orphanage, a sprite; a gnome (female) who was obsessed with gardening (of course); a boy who when frightened would turn into a small pekinese dog and begin yapping and peeing all over; a wyvern; a blob with two eye stalks who liked to hide under beds; and, a five-year-old boy who was the Antichrist. In the end, they all lived happily ever after except for the ferryboat captain.

The second book turned out to be the first novel in one of those never-ending series that continues on until the author dies or the public refuses to buy any more of his stupid books. It tells the story of a young man sailing a boat somewhere in the Bahamas who gets caught in a massive storm. During the storm, while trying to save a dog on another boat also caught in the same storm, he cracks his head on something and falls off the boat where he would have died except that he is somehow transported to another world where he lands on an island populated by beautiful women who appear somewhat reptilian (you know a few brightly colored scales on their otherwise uniformly beautiful human bodies) and all of whom want to have his baby. He happily complies with their request but, what makes this different from other books of this type is that in-between couplings he actually has adventures — like fighting and killing in great numbers orcs and wargs and many, many other creatures as well as conquering other islands peopled with women representing other species (deer and raccoons so far) who have similar designs on his reproductive organs as did his original reptilian fan club. I then read the following 4 books in the series that the author has written so far.

I could have taken mind-altering drugs to get me through the rest of this time of social-distancing but fearing the possibility of adverse drug interactions with the ten or so medicinal drugs I am now digesting, I decided I could just as well destroy my mind with books. I am not one who believes reading is only the road to enlightenment. It may also be the pathway to benightedness.

One delightful evening we went for a walk through some paths in the Enchanted Forest we had not explored before. The bright evening sunlight filtered through the trees left patches of darkness among the vibrant greens and browns of the late spring landscape. We came upon a large meadow with some benches. It was time for photographs.

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Naida, Boo Boo the Barking Dog, and the meadow.

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Pookie, Boo Boo and the Blue Hydrangeas

On other days on other walks, we came across the “decorated” duck statue.

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And, on an early evening stroll, we came upon this:

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One day, actually on several days, I drove into the Golden Hills and visited with Hayden. He has been working helping Dick to build the elaborate garden (flowers, vegetables, trees, paths, and terraces) around the house and also reflooring the deck outside of his man-cave bedroom.

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On one of those days, I mentioned to him how pleased and proud I was with the empathy he shows his friends and how much it seems they depend on that. He thought about that a moment or two and then told me a story.
One of his friend’s mother had been murdered and his father imprisoned for tracking down the murderer and beating him to death with a lead pipe. After this, the friend had taken to adopting gang appropriate clothing, hairstyles, and mannerisms and behaving aggressively toward everyone. He became a loner. Hayden said:
He was trying to act tough but he was just another skinny white kid trying to look tough. So, I took him aside and said to him, ‘You’re doing that because you think you don’t have any friends. Well, you’re wrong. You have us.’”
Now the friend has forgone all the tough-guy stuff and has become mostly a sweet-tempered kid if a bit edgy. I call the group of friends “The Scooter Gang” because of their current preoccupation with scootering. I know full well in a year or so I will have to change the name to “The Fast Car Gang” or something like that. Although they are at times considered a slacker group, their cohesion and support of one another has not left them isolated in school by teachers and other students. Instead, they are, due to their kindness and cohesion, actually a social force that others enjoy and respect. I believe HRM is the reason. Of course when, in the next year or two, the frontal lobes of their brains and the resulting ego insanity flourishes and later when they first experience the forces of society limiting their ability to indulge their desires, all this kumbaya stuff may come crashing down along with whatever else may support their egos.
Speaking of automobiles and teenagers, in that same conversation I pointed out to HRM that his current obsession with automobile driving and engineering is similar to those other students in school obsessed with things like quantum theory or late 19th Century American literature that many call “nerds.” He could, I told him, be considered an “automotive nerd.”  He seemed happy with that.
Several more days have gone by. Naida feverishly pounds away at the computer working some time as much as ten hours in a day on volume two of her memoir. It promises to be a barn burner. I cannot wait to read it.
My daughter just informed me that she just left her job with the US State Department responsible for microbial resistance. That is tracking viral and other threats to the country and thereby hopefully keeping us safe. She will now work for AID in a similar but senior position where she will continue to try to keep us all safe.
 

B. NOT BOOK REPORTS:

I thought I’d entertain myself by summarizing the books that I have read over the past two weeks because they amused me and by recalling them I hoped I might feel a bit like I was reminiscing about the fevered dreams from a pipe full of opium. During the era of the Great Pandemic of 2020, you can get trashy novels over the internet, opium not so much. Anyway, at over 80 years of age, I can do almost anything I like except go outside without a mask.
In addition to the six books I mentioned above, in the past two weeks I have read and mostly enjoyed the following:
The Philosophical Detective by Bruce Hartman. In this book, a graduate student at a university in Massachusetts is asked to chauffeur the elderly and blind Nobel prize-winning poet and novelist Jorge Luis Borges and his wife while Borges was a visiting professor at Harvard University. During that time, besides meeting for breakfast at some coffee house in Summerfield Massachusetts, they become involved in several murder mysteries which Borges ultimately solves. Outside of that, I can recall little else about the book. The fact that I cannot recall much of the book does not mean it was a bad or uninteresting book. On the contrary, I enjoyed reading it. But, remember it was Borges the post-avant-garde meta-fictionalist who was solving the crimes and I simply could not understand what he was doing nor how he did it.   (See Today’s Poem below)
The 1066 to Hastings by Howard of Warwick. I do not know if Howard of Warwick is the actual name of the author. It’s a mystery. In any event, he has written a number perfectly silly but enjoyable to those like me who delight in things silly detective novels set in England around the time of the Norman Conquest. I had already read one of the novels and liked it enough to try a second. The series features a three-person detective team ostensibly led by a monk named Hermitage who had been thrown out of every monastery he had tried to join because he was a compulsive talker, preternaturally naive, and borderline autistic. He does have the remarkable ability, however, to solve murder mysteries and only murder mysteries as long as someone else does the work in gathering the evidence — not because of his laziness but because of his terminal naïveté. He managed to his great distress to be appointed the King’s Investigator by King Harold the Saxon and after Harold’s death at Hastings by King William the Norman. Hermitage’s two associates are a weaver of pornographic tapestries named Wat the Weaver and his associate and one-time apprentice Cwen an unabashedly aggressive young woman with a chip on her shoulder because, at that period in history, tapestry weaving was considered men’s work and to her annoyance, she was doing all the work while the somewhat greedy Wat schmoozed the customers.
This novel includes a lot of Saxons and a few Normans, the disappearance and presumed death of a cowardly Saxon carl at Hastings and the murder of the retainer of another Saxon carl’s associate all of whom appear to belong to a secret society whose motto seems to translate as something like, “It is better to surrender than to die in battle.”
By the end of the book, the mystery of the murder of the associate was solved. I was not so sure about who killed the Saxon carl.
 
Disaster Inc. and I Have Sinned by Caimh McDonell. Caimh McDonell is my newest man-crush. He has written two series of novels featuring Bunny McGarry an overweight Irish detective with a heart of gold and who distributes justice with an Irish hurling stick. The first series of books features McGarry doling out righteousness, morality, and pain in Dublin. In the second series, we find Bunny in the United States without a passport searching for his one-time lover, a beautiful black jazz singer who, 20 years previous, assisted by a mysterious order of nuns, took refuge in Ireland to escape from a mob boss’s vengeance. Due, in part, to McGarry’s incompetence the mob boss learns she is in Dublin and so she escapes back to the US and disappears. In the two books above, although McGarry does not locate his lost love, along with a few new-found cronies he blunders into solving a few other mysteries.
Two Necromancers a Dwarf Kingdom and a Sky City by L.G. Estrella. I enjoy Estrella’s books. They are light on the mind, bizarre, and somewhat amusing. In this novel, one of a series of two or three, Timmy, a Necromancer with earth magic and who carries shovels instead of a sword or a magic wand, along with his coterie of strange magical creatures and men, women, and a child or two, in alliance with the Dwarf Kingdom and the wizards and armed forces of his country whose name I have forgotten, defeat the orcs and then journey into either the past or another dimension to re-capture the Lost City in the Sky of the Dwarfs and bring it back to use in defeating the Evil Empire’s designs. Although they defeat the Evil Empire, ai the end of the book Timmy warns that all is not over.
Ziegfeld Zaggar, Quantum Detective & the Dirty, Rotten, Sarcastic Multiverse by Greg Montego. This is a book that I would write if I were to write a book which is also why I do not write books. It reminds me of the work of the great David Wong who wrote such masterpieces as “What the Hell Did I Just Read” and “This Book Is Full of Spiders” but not quite as good. The story features as the sleuths Ziegfeld Zagger, or Zigzag for short, a batshit nuts professor of Quantum 101: 101 at Columbia University, Croquet whizz, and Quantum Detective and his assistant Robbins who acts as his Watson. Robbins (preferred nickname Jazz), however, lacks the respect that Watson showed Holmes:
“Suddenly, your madness makes sense,” I said. “Not even you really know what you’re doing.” “Haven’t I told you that before?” “But now,” I said. “I believe it!”
          Montego, Greg. Ziegfeld Zaggar, Quantum Detective & the Dirty Rotten, Sarcastic Multiverse (The Quantum Detective Book 1).
Irene Alder, of course, makes her appearance as a CIA agent in charge of “Quantum Crimes.”
 Our heroes attempt to solve the murder of an insane inventor who resembles Elon Musk.  The murdered genius, who believed the universe was born on the day of his birth and will end on the day he dies, invented small boxes imbued with his essence that run all the electronics, airplanes, and whatever in the world.  They discover the murderer within the first few pages of the novel. Unfortunately, with the genius’s death, the boxes begin to stop working and the universe starts a quick if erratic decline beginning its return to its original state. So our intrepid trio must discover who or what is killing the homeless men in New York. During their search, they exit an elevator and see in front of them a large toadstool on which sat a caterpillar smoking a hookah, and lurking behind him is the dreaded Jabberwocky. So they set off to see the Wizard of Ooze. The story goes downhill after that — no not downhill more like around the bend. After all, they, like us, are forced to live in a quantum universe. And, in a quantum universe, the cat may be dead or alive or even have had kittens which is far more likely.
In this frenetic stretch of reading, I also read a few other novels, Reginald Hill’s Bones and Silence, Terry Pratchett’s Johnny and the Dead, and Ben Aaronovitch’s False Values but I will save reporting on them for another day if ever.

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Terry on Top:

Terry always an astute observer of things political had the following insightful thoughts on a recent opinion piece by Ross Douthat in the New York Times:
This NYT  Conservative Writer, Ross Douthat,  has a pretty interesting point. 
Trump has taken, according to Douthat, the “decadent Reagan” philosophy (deficit  obsession, dismantlIng the social safety net , strong military,  globalization, etc.) that had been the bedrock of the Republican party and destroyed it (deficits galore).  Period. It’s no more. 
He created a new Republican philosophy of authoritarian, nativism and sloppy ineffective government, which thrived until it didn’t; which has come crashing down leaving the Republican Party as a rump, with no base other than Trumps MAGA cohort. 
Douthat believes that Trump and Republicans are now in their “Retreat from Moscow“  stage, to use the Napoleon metaphor. It’s deep dark winter and all is lost! It has driven the majority of the country into the hands of the classic liberals that Republicans defeated in 1980.  Or worse, “radical extreme leftists” whatever that means. I don’t know any. But I’m sure a few exist in the twitter world. From a practical point of view, the politics have seismically shifted. It’s no longer a question of whether the Democrats will win but by what margin and with what effect.
To understand the future, one needs only to look at a similar period in the past: The 20’s and early 30’s. That was a period that included  the 1918-1922 pandemic, the ‘29 stock market crash, massive income inequality, social disturbance, marches of the unemployed on Washington 1930-31, military intervention against peaceful protestors ‘31-32 ; it’s all happened before. We now call it The Great Depression.
And, it led to the New Deal, when the pent up ideas of two decades of the progressive movement took Washington by storm and enacted a radical restructuring of the US economy. And they did it in less than a year. The “New Dealers” were all in their thirties or early forties.  Imagine the so called “squad” led by AOC, becoming Assistant Secretaries of the then major domestic Departments of the Treasury, Interior, Commerce, and  Agriculture, and you get a feel for what it was like. 
Now Biden isn’t going to lead with AOC, (although you never know) but he will bring in the millennials. Lots of them. And  interesting “ radical” progressive ideas of the past will be enacted. Such as Senator Moynihan’s Guaranteed Annual Income  (advocated by Nixon in 1969); Senator Warren’s breakup of Big Tech, which is what happened to ATT in the seventies being  broken into the five baby bells;  a screeching halt to globalization and the massive re birth of American manufacturing and it’s domestic supply chains as Senator Sherrod Brown has advocated for years.  Suddenly they will have the votes. The filibuster has died; having been undermined and mostly broken by Mitch McConnell. The Democrats will hardly stand for it once in power. The American Economy will never be the same. What will it be?  It’s up to the younger generation soon to take power. But it will be much fairer and much different. God bless them. 
FINIS Reaganism, Trumpism and McConnell’s icy indifference to his fellow man. 
And to Douthat’s point, it’s thanks to Mr. Trump. “It’s Trump’s Revolution”. 
It’s Trump’s Revolution,

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Throughout my life I wanted to grow up. I wasn’t very good at it and the best I could manage was to grow old. No one I know liked that at all, least of all me.

C. Today’s Poem:

Adam Cast Forth
Was there a Garden or was the Garden a dream?
Amid the fleeting light, I have slowed myself and queried,
Almost for consolation, if the bygone period
Over which this Adam, wretched now, once reigned supreme,
Might not have been just a magical illusion
Of that God I dreamed. Already it’s imprecise
In my memory, the clear Paradise,
But I know it exists, in flower and profusion,
Although not for me. My punishment for life
Is the stubborn earth with the incestuous strife
Of Cains and Abels and their brood; I await no pardon.
Yet, it’s much to have loved, to have known true joy,
To have had – if only for just one day –
The experience of touching the living Garden.
By Jorge Luis Borges. translated by Genia Gurarie. 

D. Pookie’s Musings:

I have been searching for a chart that compares the US GDP with the GDP per capita growth over time. If per capita GDP is less than the GDP it seems reasonable that the ordinary person is probably making less because that wealth must be going somewhere — where? Also if population growth is a factor in GDP, and it is to some extent, shouldn’t it be that a stable or falling population would have a negative effect of some sort on GDP and perhaps even on GDP per capita? Our population without immigration is either stable or falling. Other developed countries with stable or falling populations have seen their GDP growth rate stagnate even while they become more productive. How is that reflected in GDP per capita? Am I correct to suspect that if the per capita growth rate is less than the GDP rate the money must be going somewhere other than being distributed among the population? After more than a modicum or research, I could only find one chart that shows the relationship of GDP to GDP per capita  from 2006 to 2016 and shows that post financial crisis, the GDP per capita was rising at a rate significantly below GDP. What does that signify? And what about from 2016 to 2018? Well, given that we are in the Trump depression, GDP has fallen dramatically, I not sure it will tell us much. In 2018, GDP per capita was about $62,000. Does this mean in the US the average family of four should take home somewhere around $250,000 per year? No? Where did all that money go? More musings — I need to get out more — Maybe find a job suitable for 80 year-olds — Sitting on a bench most of the day somewhere perhaps.

E.  Giants of History — Burma Richard, 

So Near And Yet So Far — Part II:

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The following is Part II of a story about my dear friend Richard Diran’s trip to find the sacred lake of the Wa peoples who lived in the remote area along the China-Burma border. You can find additional stories, artworks, and photographs at Richards two blog sites, http://www.diranart.com/ and http://www.burma-richard.org/.
Andrew and I hope to find the ancient lake from which the Wa people believe they crawled out of as the first people on earth, formed as tadpoles. The lake is on top of an 8,000-foot mountain which may originate from an underground spring. The lake, Nawng Hkeo is across the border in Burma and there should be a large river flowing down the side. From Ximeng we will go northwest to Shin Chang where according to our maps, one from the U.S defense department, with large swaths of landmarked, “relief data incomplete” and another world war 2 maps from 1943 on silk, there seems to be a trail into Burma.
Up and down the trails are spiderwebs glistening with the morning dew. In the market of Ximeng, we bought blankets to warm ourselves on the slopes. Young Wa soldiers, kids really in green fatigues have the rising sun of the Uwsa, the United Wa State army stitched on their shoulders. Dogs prowl the streets faithfully waiting to be eaten by their masters. We have learned how to say I don’t eat dog in Chinese. The Wa are dirt poor and having a key worn around the neck is a treasure because it means you have something to lock up.
I woke up and something had apparently bit me under my ear as it swelled up but there was no pain and the lymph seems to be normal. By noon it seemed to be all right. The bus to Shin Chang was completely full of people and huge bags of produce. We paid two people to get off the bus so that we had seats. Until the minute we left, we were struggling to learn Chinese phrases. On the bus we began to practice some Wa language with the Wa people copied from sir George Scott’s journals from the turn of the century. Surprisingly most of the words were still understandable. Andrew has an uncanny grasp of language.
We passed through mountains of perfectly formed conical conifers like Christmas trees on winding switchbacks until the road abruptly ended at a massive landslide, cutting a gorge more than 300 feet across, washing the road away completely. Stones were laid into the mud traversing the crevasse and everyone on the bus as well as all the vegetable and Lancang beer was carried across to the other side. Another bus was waiting, and after another hour we arrived at Shin Chang where the entire length of paved road was 100 feet long and ended at a beer shop. “niplai” is the Wa word for “cheers”.
The mountains rise dramatically shredding the clouds, and a waterfall in the distance must be well over 100 feet. Temperatures rise and fall more than 20 degrees f in minutes, baking hot then the fog rolls in like bales of thick cotton turning everything into mere shadows. To the west we can see Burma, and to the north is the village which we will hike to tomorrow if we can get the two hardy Wa guides we have asked for. That village is dai gu la or kola on some maps, a Wa village. I am sure that there have been very few foreigners in these hills for many years. In fact this area of Yunnan was only officially opened last year. This is China with the kids in the red scarves of the young pioneers. In these seemingly endless hills and mountains, there are only four or five lights to the north and a few more to the west. We are at the edge of civilization. Chinese tentacles reach through the whole of China, we hope it will be different in Burma.
We woke up in Shin Chang at the Wa headman’s cement house. My sty was like a potato blocking the vision in my camera lens eye, but it was ripe and I popped it, mopped up the puss, and slathered the eyelid in antibiotic. We got two strong Wa porters and headed out for the march. The rice fields were framed in ferns and the trail was a combination of slippery mud, buffalo shit, and warm water, and ideal combination for the dozens of varieties of butterfly. Some were spotted green velvet with turquoise so bright it made my eyes water. Others vermillion with serrated wings lined with black, white, and pink.
A few hours’ walk from Shin Chang we reached a Chinese border post where the authorities in green uniforms and red epaulets dotted with brass stars said we could not go on. Across the trail was a bamboo barricade painted yellow and black. It was the ideal vantage point over a huge expanse of the valley up the slope to dai gu la. After looking at our passports, and ascertaining that we had not crossed into China from Burma, the big boss said that we could continue for one day. I said that it was not enough so he offered us two. I asked him for three, and before answering said many times that we must not go into Mien Tien, Chinese for Burma. We lied and said that we wouldn’t.
After about an hour and a half more we reached Dai Gu La village and rested. The mountains are unrelenting rising straight up, crisscrossed with streams. A few more hours walk brought us to Yung Gwang, the end of the trail. Apparently, the guards at that checkpoint had notified the police here in Yung Gwang and they met us at the entrance of the village. Telephone and electric lines extend everywhere in china to the furthest outpost, unlike Burma where communications in outlying areas is nonexistent.
There are Wa houses with thatched roofs which extend high up and all the way down, nearly touching the ground. You have to stoop low to get inside. Andrew was met at the doorway by a very bored cow. There are a few old Wa women with silver hoops in their ears, wearing hand-loomed red striped skirts, and the lacquered black leggings holding up strips of cloth to protect their legs from leeches and sharp elephant grass. Their skin is like creased dark hardwood.
There is only one trail into Yung Gwang made probably by the retreating K.M.T nationalist army who escaped into Burma at the end of their war in 1949. There is no place to hide. The guards told our porters whom we had already paid for the day the exorbitant price of 130 yuan each, or $15, not to take us as they had agreed to Burma and the mountain with the sacred lake which we could see in the distance. The porters left frightened. Here we are miles from the last bit of civilization where the trail ends, left with our heavy packs, my camera bag, and no fucking porters.
To the north is Burma. To the west is Burma. In the distance, we can hear mortar fire at what we don’t know. The police that ordered our porters out of here had better get us, new porters, to get out of this place because there is no way I can hump my crap down this mountain. We are disappointed but not yet defeated.
We were given a small room like a jail cell with open doors. There is no way to disappear, no way to head west into the mountains of Burma. Above the door is a huge spider and there is a beetle flying around the room that sounds like a b-52. Andrew and i are together and the room is lit with our candles. We eat trail mix, instant noodles, and are about halfway through the moldy french salami which is as big as a canoe, weighs a ton, and has been a joke from the very beginning. It is wrapped in plastic bags from every hotel we have stayed in and is a history of our trip thus far. Still, it stinks. I think that I’ll never eat salami again, I’m sick of the shit.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Class: ‘Old money’ meant that it had been made so long ago that the black deeds that had originally filled the coffers were now historically irrelevant. Funny, that; a brigand for a father was something you kept quiet about, but a slave-taking pirate for a great-great-great-grandfather was something to boast of over the port. Time turned the evil bastards into rogues, and rogue was a word with a twinkle in its eye and nothing to be ashamed of.” 
Terry Pratchett, Making Money
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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 21 Jojo 0009 (June 6, 2020)

 

“A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.”
          ~Alfred E. Wiggam

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN HEAT OF THE GREAT VALLEY:

 

 

One day the afternoon had been quite hot, so we waited until dusk to take the dog on his walk. As we walked through the Enchanted Forest, Naida mentioned a woman who she had met on her walk a few days ago. The woman had been a singer with the Sacramento Opera and also, much to the amusement of her neighbors liked to periodically dress up a statue of a duck that stood next to the path. As chance would have it, as we passed the duck, now festooned with bright yellow flowers, we were hailed by someone in a nearby house. It was the woman. So, while carefully keeping social distance, we visited with her and learned that she had been a lead singer in the Opera; was a close friend of Bing Crosby who had fostered her career, worked as a US Marshall and was assigned to be the Marshall in charge of Squeaky Fromm; and was buddies with Naida’s friends, the Van Vleck’s who owned the massive cattle ranches along the Cosumnes River. Another bit of evidence that there are really only 400 people in the world or that those who dress up stone ducks have all the fun.

Days have gone by. I lost everything that I had written here except for the above paragraph. It is a shame really, What is lost from memory or some other means of preservation, at least as far as I am concerned, might very well not have happened. On the other hand, most of us carry memories and beliefs in our consciousness that never really existed, at least not as we remember them. I guess that makes us some sort of hybrid creature, half memory, and half fantasy. Humans are centaurs of consciousness, half real, half bullshit. That sounds about right.

The temperature outside for the past few days has topped 100 degrees. We wait until dusk before walking the dog. It is still hot and stuffy but the shadows and the lamplight adds a bit of mystery to our stroll through the Enchanted Forests. Some paths take us within a few feet of a house and the shock of a light from a window — at other times we see the houses, windows glowing softly, cluster under the trees across a meadow.

This evening we went for our usual walk. The jasmine were in bloom and their delightful aroma accompanied us as we strolled around. Upon our return to the house, we watched on CNN the burning of Minneapolis a city I always enjoyed visiting. TCM’s Edward G. Robinson festival continued for the third day.

Today I did not get out of bed until noon. Naida recognizing my commitment to lazing in bed that morning brought me my breakfast. After finishing breakfast, a little hanky-panky, and a romp with the dog, I got down to lying there with my smartphone searching the internet for the latest news of interest to me.

The first thing I came across was He Who Is Not My President’s heroic retreat to a bunker beneath the White House while those Americans who were not being felled by a pandemic were being endangered by rioting to protest police brutality. I thought back to the actions taken by the great Presidents of our history during times of crisis. This is not one of them. The current incumbent in the White House seems to be little more than an evil corrosive clown.

This evening, the Corrosive Clown in Chief had peaceful protesters attacked beaten and tear-gassed so that he could stroll across the street for a photo-op of him holding up a book he has never read while standing on property to which he was not invited. He now threatens to call out the military to attack the legitimate protestors and looters alike. And, I and most of the rest of us sit here and watch it all in shock and horror and wonder deep in our consciousness whether the spectator is really not much better than an accomplice. And then, I think again and tell myself am too old to be involved.

We have entered another spate of days where the temperature has exceeded 100 degrees. We sit indoors with the A/C turned on high, watching TV or in Naida’s case working on her memoir while I content myself with frequent naps, contemplating boredom, death, and strategies to keep Boo-Boo the Barking Dog from barking.

One morning, several days after I wrote the above paragraph, as I struggled to open my sleep encrusted eyes, across the room Naida sang and danced and the dog barked. All seemed well with my corner of the world.

 

 

B. AN OLD MAN’S MUSINGS:

 

“Under certain conditions … merely living from one moment to the next can take forever. There’s a kind of immortality in that, albeit a temporary one. It’s bound to end badly,”
Hartman, Bruce. The Philosophical Detective (p. 98). Swallow Tail Press.

 

Life it has been said is a river of memory and imagination. Like most old men, I guess, I spend more time worrying about losing my memory than about the dwindling of my imagination. It is as though by remembering things or writing them down in T&T and now and then rereading them I am somehow prolonging my life and confirming my existence. Silly perhaps, but I think that one of the principal fears we old-timers have of dementia is that that the forgetting of what we have done is a form of death, and with it comes the shock of realization that we are really the just sum of our memories. Once they are gone we are little more than what we are at that moment — someone without a past And so, we become like children again, but, alas, children with no future.

On the other hand, perhaps, as I write here in this journal or reread past entries or recall things from the shreds of my memory, it will reveal some secret, some shimmering jewel of knowledge that… that what? That will keep us alive, make it all meaningful? I am afraid not. Consciousness is a blessing and a curse. It allows us to manipulate the world around us while forcing us to recognize that we are being dragged screaming and shaking to our ultimate destiny. Along the way, about all we can do is laugh about it all. I guess that is what makes clowns so frightening. We are all just Emmett Kellys sweeping up the last bit of light before the tent goes dark.

Chuang Tzu the ancient Chinese sage tells the story of one day falling asleep and dreaming he was a butterfly. When he woke up, he wondered if he was Chuang Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming he was Chuang Tzu. I think what the sage was talking about here was probably the insubstantiality of memory and imagination, or perhaps that memory and imagination are one. I do not know. It is all beyond me. I do know that we are here and then we are gone — sic transit Gloria Mundi.

“Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.”
          Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary.

 

 

C. CHRISTO DIES:

 

This week the artist known as Christo died. He was best known for wrapping buildings or other large objects in fabric or draping it across the landscape.
images-2
I had got to know him and his wife during the installation of the Running Fence in Marin County in the early 1970s.
images
I was Chief Counsel at the California Coastal Commission at the time and managed the permit appeals section of the agency. The permit for his proposal to construct the piece had been appealed to the Commission and the analyst in charge of the appeal rushed into my office to tell me about the great and lasting damage to the coastal environment that would occur should the project be built. I was not so convinced, but he being the analyst involved had more specific information so I allowed him to proceed with the direction that he be extremely careful and attentive to everything. Well, the long and short of it is, the fence was built without the permit and taken down before any litigation could be completed.
images-1
Several years later, when I was in private practice, I met Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude again. This time to assist them in obtaining the approvals to cover a significant portion on the Southern Central Valley in large umbrellas. The installation was a success except for the wind taking an umbrella into flight and killing an onlooker when it returned to earth.
images-3
I liked the Christos. Christo himself a sort of a happy go lucky kind of guy obsessed with the process of his art and Jeanne-Claude much more serious and goal oriented. Several people including the Christos told me bits and pieces of the story of their lives. I do not know nor can I verify the accuracy of what I learned, but a story is the story — Here is what I remember (perhaps I will check Wikipedia later):

Christo born and educated in Bulgaria fled the Iron Curtin and continued art studies in Austria. He, according to my informants, began selling his art of the streets (some indicated in Italy, Trieste perhaps, others in Austria or Hungary). Among the art items he sold were wine bottles and paint cans wrapped in decorative paper or fabric. He was not very successful. He eventually moved to Paris where he lived above a service station or car wash of some sort. One day the owner came by and told the workers he would like to have a portrait of his wife painted and asked if they knew any artists. They mentioned Christo. The owner hired Christo and invited him to live at the house and paint the portrait. While there, Christo hit on Jeanne-Claude’s younger half sister. She rejected him so he hit on Jeanne-Claude. She was engaged to be married at the time but just before the wedding she discovered she was pregnant by Christo. She went through with the marriage anyway but soon after ran away with Christo — sort of like the closing scenes of “The Graduate.” The family disinherited them. They were destitute. That’s when Jeanne-Claude came up with the idea of monetizing Christo’s work — everything, the materials, the legal documents and so on. Usually, artists paint or whatever and then sell their work in a gallery or on the street. She came up with the concept of selling people shares in a Christo proposal before beginning the work and promising the investors a piece of the work such as a bit of the fabric in an attractive frame after it was disassembled. She sold them on the idea that everything the artist does as well as the reactions to his activities were also a part of his art product. This required works that would attract publicity and controversy. And so the art of wrapping buildings was born.

So, was it art or was it a money making scheme? All art is a money making scheme. Artists have to eat like anyone else. Sometimes the artist makes the money and sometime others do. But is it art? Who’s to say. Those who saw the installation liked it or didn’t. Those individuals and museums who received the bits and pieces of the disassembled project probably did. Critics, writers and academics may even make careers out of it. You and I? Who cares? Art makes us happy or sad, perhaps even better. Someone has to do it.

Which reminds me, when I had the resources I collected the art works done by people in prison. The dominant theme of the artists was Jesus bleeding on the cross. Was it art? I paid for it as art and I hoped the artists got some of the price I paid. Are garden gnomes art if I collected them?

images-4

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND — March 2011:

 

I have retreated to the solitude and solace of Paradise by the Sea to try to deal with the fact that I seem unable to deal with the facts. If these decisions were of the significance of say life or death, I would understand my difficulty in making them. But alas, I must admit they are more about whether to have a second cafe latte or leave for the US on April 29th or May 5th or whether I should wear my camouflage shorts today or a solid color pair. Heaven must be where one goes to avoid all responsibility. God upon greeting you probably says, “Congratulations you made it. You don’t have to give a shit anymore. Just wear a white shift and spend all day stoned on glory and a sense of superiority that no you longer have to figure out how to survive as you or for that matter even be nice to anyone.”

(Damn, I finally found a reason to want to go to heaven.)

For the past few weeks the weather has been mostly overcast and a bit dreary here in Thailand. Obviously we are going into some seasonal change. Some people I have spoken with have said that this weather is quite unusual for the season. Others blame it on global warming.

Annual fluctuation in weather is mostly meaningless. Any process of climate change — both natural and man-made — unfolds erratically over time (a lot like the stock market). Long term all peer-reviewed studies have shown that, regardless of the cause, we are locked into some degree of warming; but by the end of this century, the actions taken now whether to try to curb it or to ignore it and deal with a host of other problems will matter enormously. To a greater or lesser degree, the worlds desert belt (Sahara, Middle East and Southwest North America will expand north and south (probably including Northern India and Southeast Asia and Central China) while the east and west coasts of the northern continents will experience more precipitation as rain and snow.

The Chinese have a curse, “May you live in interesting times.” Alas, our children and their children certainly shall.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:

 

 

 

955–963 AD.

Pope John XII (deposed by Conclave) was said to have turned the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano into a brothel and was accused of adultery, fornication, and incest (Source: Patrologia Latina). The monk chronicler Benedict of Soracte noted in his volume XXXVII that he “liked to have a collection of women”. According to Liutprand of Cremona in his Antapodosis, “They testified about his adultery, which they did not see with their own eyes, but nonetheless knew with certainty: he had fornicated with the widow of Rainier, with Stephana his father’s concubine, with the widow Anna, and with his own niece, and he made the sacred palace into a whorehouse.” According to The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, John XII was “a Christian Caligula whose crimes were rendered particularly horrific by the office he held”. He was killed by a jealous husband while in the act of committing adultery with the man’s wife. (See also Saeculum obscurum)

 

(Not only that but he was infallible…At least that’s what he told all the girls. Ah, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, we hardly knew ye.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. The old sailor, deep sea driver, pirate, adventurer, etc., on Top:

 

 

1. On Elon Musk’s recent SpaceX launch:

 

.On   duty  ..++for one hr..it is   1am  ==++#@worked  with  a  RETIRED..((40 years))……………….ground-crew ……NASA ..(((we-we   working  frxing a pimp))).>>>@   HE SAID   THIS    ..GUY    -“”     ELON’MUSK- “”   DOESN’T    PAY   MUCH   ATTENTION   TO  SAFETY   ..=SO   THE   LIFTOFF   TOMORROW ………AFTERNOON    SHOULD  B   ON  TIME..

 

 

2. Following the failure to launch:

 

Yea  …this  space-lift-off  ..was    very  popular.-(TRY again  Saturday)
@there  were  cars,,((from   many states)) everywhere……the   
hotel  and  business   
loved  it …perhaps for you  ,,perhaps not.    .
=I am just caught-up-in  It
3. Flying to Columbia:
YES  …..I  WAS   TAKING   FLYING   LESSONS..
++THE   INSTRUCTOR     –WE  WERE  FRIENDS   ….
@@    SOME   DRUG  “”DREAMER “”
RENTED    A  CESNA   180   …FLEW    –  DOWN  TO  COLOMBIA..TO  BUY  DRIGS …CHANGED  HIS  MIND…..AND  LEFT  THE PLANE. DOWN THERE….
>>>COLOMBIA    GOVERNMENT..SAID  COME AND GET YOUR  PLANE…
++++@   I  WAS INVITED  TO GO  ALONG.++   WENT  FROM  Barranquilla….to   Panama….to   Manahua  .-.Nicaragua(((Howard Hughes…was there)))……>>>from there   To    COZUMEL   -MEXICO…—+++=    THERE  TO    KEY WEST……………….FAR  OUT    ………REGARDS    RUBBER MAN
4. Flying with an ocelot:
We   Had  a   ocelot..on  the  airplane…flying back   from   a trip to Colombia…The  wanker    GETS  out  the   baby   ocelot..
> THE  FUCKING   THING  GETS  BEHIND  THE  INSTRMINTENT  *PANEL…UP IN THE WIRING..HE  HAS THE   -THING   BY  THE   TAIL  =IT  IS  MAKING  MORE  – NOISE- NOISE   …THAN  THE ENGINE.–( ( *LOCATION))-@13 thousand ft….—By    the coast of   Cuba =
> +++THAT   WAS FAR  OUT

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Information is not the same as meaning although why that is remains a mystery.
(I fear poor old Trenz has found himself some old books on eastern philosophy and a pound of hash. It must be difficult being a six-foot-two naked mole rat and living in Daly City.)

 

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

Lamplight

 

Suddenly
awareness spread
in the corner by the bed.
Cascading
from
the dressers lip
it fell
silently
upon the carpet
consigning
all
to naked rage
that had not fled
beyond its
gaze.
Trenz Pruca

 

 

 

D. Giants of History: Burma Richard —So Near And Yet So Far.

I have written here in T&T often about my beloved friend Richard Diran (also known as Burma Richard), perhaps one of the last true adventurers. He is also an accomplished gemologist, explorer, ethnologist, artist, poet, raconteur, and all-around good guy. I urge you all to learn more about him and examine some of his works. You can do so at the following sites (http://www.burma-richard.org/) and (http://www.diranart.com/). The following is Part I of a post of his that can be found in diran art. It describes his exciting and exhausting attempt to visit Lake Nawng Hkeo the sacred lake of the headhunting Wa people.

 

So Near And Yet So Far— Part I.
In September 2000, Andrew Marshall a scotsman and I set out from Kunming China, traveling to the Wa autonomous region near the border with Burma in search of a fabled lake called Nawng Hkeo on the Burmese side of the border. This lake had not been seen by any foreigners since V.C Pitchford, a British surveyor set out in 1937 to find the lake which did not appear on any maps. It was believed by the Wa people, former headhunters, and now the world’s biggest producers of opium, to be their birthplace where they struggled as tadpoles to become the wild Wa.

Andrew contacted me through my publisher in London because he knew, that like him, I was an avid reader of sir George Scott, a forgotten Victorian writer and photographer who traipsed through unexplored areas of Burma compiling the “Gazetteer Of Upper Burma and the Shan states,” a five volume series more than a century before. Scott’s massive ethnographic study became my bible, the rock of arcane knowledge which I later based my book, “The Vanishing Tribes Of Burma”. I held Scott to be a hero and so did Andrew. Andrew planned to do a book retracing Scott’s footsteps and he couldn’t find anybody to go with him, until he talked to me.

Our trip lasted more than three grueling weeks, and became one of the most arduous trips I had ever undertaken. Andrew and I had a tacit agreement that if either one of us were to die out there, it would be impossible for the survivor to carry out the body of the other. Although we were only hours from our goal, and could see it shrouded in the misty distance, we failed. Weeks later Andrew set out again, this time with a missionary named David. Armed with the knowledge of our prior mistakes, Andrew and David reached the fog covered lake which is recounted in Andrew’s book, “The Trouser People”. Published by Viking, and Imprint of Penguin Books, London 2002.

Sometimes failure is as important as success. Perhaps in the end it is not the goal that matters, but only the journey. The following is the story of our attempt.

The flight from Kunming in Yunnan province to Simao is only 30 minutes by air, or 20 hours by road. During the 1920s, Simao or Szw Mao’s basin was a thriving trade center with 70,000 people. Then it was struck with the bubonic plague followed by malaria. By the time the people’s liberation army of china entered in the 1950s, there were only 3,000 desperate people living in rotting houses with a 90% incidence of malaria. From Simao we drove to Jinghong home of the “quiet relish fleshpot” whose name is self explanatory, stayed over night and then drove 7 hours to Lancang. The road was dotted with small brick buildings with old ceramic roof tiles and tea plantations cut concentric rings into the mountains with a thundering brown river below.

The stone cobbled road from Lancang to Ximeng, head of the Wa autonomous region snaked thru lush green mountains which rose straight up through the fog with jagged sawtooth stones protruding out from the sides, tearing at the clouds just like the old Chinese ink brush paintings. After about 4 hours on those hand laid cobble stones we reached Ximeng, a distinctly hostile town where it was difficult to raise a smile from anybody’s lips. Ximeng had hastily built ugly square Chinese cement buildings strewn about the saddlebacks of mountains which raise to 7,800 feet.

Medicine men prowl the streets in groups with heavy strings of beads around their necks, some wearing animal fur hats of orange and white with long tails like the old raccoon hats of my childhood. The faces here are very dark, and the jawbones are very heavy. One medicine man invited us into his room which he shared with a half dozen others of the same ilk, who had barking deer penises tied and knotted at the open window drying. One of these medicinal quacks rubbed my face with a deer penis. They had a tiger paw with claws and orange and black fur still attached to a foreleg of bone.

The fog of Ximeng is very thick and the people on the roads move as vague silhouettes. Burma to the west is very close. Small curtained three wheel vehicles which are modified two stroke motorcycles take passengers up and down the steep slopes upon which Ximeng is built. Night life offers some karaoke places with bored girls and horrible singers. Drunken men smash glasses on the tables and floor. I nearly got into a fight twice. Nobody seems friendly. There is also gambling with three oversized dice painted with various animals held up on an incline and released at the tug of a string. Crowds swell around the tables and bets are placed on the tumbling dice.

The fog grew so thick that you can’t tell the time, except that it is day or night. Then the rains began. I haven’t thought of shaving since I got to China and have quite a stubble growing. I’ve been wearing the same three layers of clothing for days as it is too cold for bathing. Ximeng has many Chinese soldiers and people still wearing chairman Mao caps, long forgotten in the larger cities.

For days now I have had pink eye, connectivities and a large sty growing on my eyelid. Although I use eyedrops, in the mornings my eyes can’t be opened without removing a thick layer of crust. Smoke from the woodfire below our bedroom drifts up through my window as I look out over ancient tiled roofs covered in thick green moss. The toilet stinks and the seat which is disattached , must be put over the bowl when needed. This hotel, the Ximenggxianwashan hotel has a directory of services, but inside all of the pages are blank.
(To be continued)

 

(It should be noted that the existence of a remote lake from which the people or the tribe emerged is a creation myth shared with many Native-American tribes, e.g., the Taos Pueblo which in 1996 had the ownership rights to their sacred Blue Lake returned to them by Congress (https://digitalcommons.law.ou.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1643&context=ailr).)

E. Terry Takes Them On:
Terry as many of you know served in the military, including a stint as Professor of Military History at West Point. He was also co-author of a test book on US military history. Distressed by the concerns expresses by some of a possible military coup my the current president wrote a letter to the NY Times expressing his belief that based on their history, the military itself will resist such misuse.

 

A MILITARY COUP TO KEEP TRUMP IN OFFICE? ITS HISTORICAL AND POLITICAL NONSENSE

Paul Krugman recently lamented in the New York Times :
“The United States could follow the path of Hungary into an authoritarian one party state”; “Today’s Republican Party” would cheer on a “Trumpian power grab even if it amounted to a military coup”. And that as a result we are in “dire political straits”.

This may make hearts flutter but it is really historical and political nonsense. The United States is not now, nor has it ever been, with one possible exception at the end of the Revolutionary War, in danger of a military coup. And certainly not to maintain a defeated President in office beyond his elected term, as a number of leading politicians fear.

The key to understanding the successful American experiment starts with a victorious General: George Washington . At the end of the Revolutionary War, the victorious Continental Army, the progenitor of the United States Army, (US Army flags proudly carry the battle ribbons of the Revolutionary War), had no future. It also had not been paid for months, going on years. The highly educated, for its time, officer corps also had not been paid. These intelligent, powerful, young men had won a war and were dead broke, with families in economic distress, if not facing starvation. These men were in charge of the only organized institution in the former thirteen colonies that represented the entire United States. It was a lethal and effective instrument of national power.

The elected government of the United States, the Continental Congress, had no Chief Executive, was without funds because it had no taxing authority and existed only at the sufferance of the thirteen State legislatures. States reluctantly sent it money to pay for the war. The War was won, the States had their own problems and The Congress and the Army were on their own.

The problem for the country was that the Army was the country’s only disciplined , armed force and was armed to the teeth, with thousands of men in artillery, infantry and cavalry regiments. The only other armed forces were part time soldiers organized in state militias that had neither the training nor the experience to stand up to a disciplined and trained professional army such as the Continentals had become.
And the Continentals were very unhappy.

They were loyal to one man: their victorious General, George Washington, who had organized and led them through great hardships to victory. He had begged the powers that be for their food, clothing , arms and shelter. He had succored them in defeat and celebrated them in victory. And now they demanded that he take over the country and govern as an undisputed Prince or King. Under similar circumstances Napoleon Bonaparte twenty years later would become Emperor of the French.

But George Washington not only refused, but lost his famous temper and castigated his troops for being disloyal to the American Democracy that they had fought and died for. He told them that his loyalty was to The Congress that had given him his commission as Commander in Chief of the Army and that he would return his Commission to The Congress within a matter of weeks. He told his officers and men to return to their families, their farms and their shops and enjoy the liberty that they won with their comrades blood. And in the most important Initial act that occurred in the history of the United States, he voluntarily resigned his commission as Commander in Chief in person to The Congress. The moment is captured in a large scale painting by John Trumbull and hangs today in the US Capital rotunda.

Why is this story so important: Because it is taught with great reverence and firmness to all of the succeeding generations of West Point cadets, Annapolis midshipmen and Air Force cadets at all of our military academies. It is the foundation of the Country’s trust in our Armed Forces. It binds the generations of military professionals who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. And that means the Constitutional provisions to elect a President every four years and install and honor the President-Elect in his new office. If necessary that will be enforced, if required, by the Armed Forces. And there is plenty of historical precedent for such action.

In 1861 when the coming of Civil War threatened the inauguration of President Elect Abraham Lincoln , General Winfield Scott, a Southerner from Virginia, victor of the Mexican War and Commander in Chief of the United States Army, mobilized regiments of infantry and artillery in Washington to insure the peaceful inauguration of Lincoln. In 1876, out going President Ulysses S. Grant mobilized the troops to insure that the duly elected President, Rutherford B. Hays, who had been elected by the House of Representatives by the slimiest of margins, be sworn in as President. There are numerous other examples in American history of the military honoring the requirements of the Constitution and obeying the law, not a particular man.

The recent reaction of the military professionals, both active duty and retired, to President Donald Trump’s threat to impose martial law by invoking , illegally and unconstitutionally, the Insurrection Act of 1807 to restore “law and order” to suppress peaceful protests, demonstrates the profound abhorrence of the military leadership and ranks to a violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Americans to peacefully assemble and protest their government. This abhorrence underscores the obvious: the United States Military serve the constitutionally elected leaders of the country only in their legal roles. Not in actions that may be manifestly contrary to the Constitution.

A President Elect in January 2021, whoever it may be, will command the Military’s loyalty and devotion. If directed, they will install and defend the duly elected President “against all enemies, foreign or domestic”. And that includes an outgoing President Trump.

I hope the Times prints this letter in its editorial page. The military’s historic loyalty to the Constitution needs to be revealed to all Americans, but also to the Military itself to remind them of their over two hundred year loyalty, not to an individual or a political philosophy but to the Constitution. However, I cannot remain sanguine that his argument that the history of the US military’s defense of the Constitution is adequate to withstand the possible coming constitutional storm. History is rife with countries and their military’s commitment and loyalty to a specific organizing principle only to have that commitment and more important their understanding of the organizing principe to be confused as a result of disagreement over its interpretation. Today, the politics in America is only too often a disagreement over the meaning of provisions in the document. For example, Attorney General Barr’s interpretation of the Constitution as granting almost unlimited Constitutional power to the President. A position that appears a majority of the current Supreme Court seem sympathetic to. How can we expect the military’s loyalty to a Constitution that the people of the country disagree as to its meaning?

Also, it seems this administration is relying primarily on para-military forces to rally to their defense. Militarized boarder security forces, AFT, Secret Service and the like appear to have been called upon by this administration to execute its orders and put down protestors. Now we also have lurking in the background, disgruntled local police forces who over the years have been armed with military weapons as well as the well-armed right-wing militias to worry about. We eventually may be looking for military intervention to keep this energized para-military under control. Will they be available, or will the colonels not trained at West Point join with the paramilitary forces already acting of the Crazed Clown’s behalf? Probably not, but neither should its possibility be overlooked.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

 

Interior decorating: ’t’s a fact known throughout the universes that no matter how carefully the colors are chosen, institutional decor ends up as either vomit green, unmentionable brown, nicotine yellow, or surgical appliance pink. By some little-understood process of sympathetic resonance, corridors painted in those colors always smell slightly of boiled cabbage even if no cabbage is ever cooked in the vicinity.’”
Terry Pratchett. (Equal Rites).

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
20

R. Crumb

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Joey 0009. (April 15, 2020)

 

“Ten men in our country could buy the whole world and ten million can’t buy enough to eat.”
          Will Rogers (He made this comment about 90 years ago. Sometimes nothing changes)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SELF-QUARANTINE:

 
Today is the fortieth day of our self-quarantine. It began like most of my days do now, quarantine or not, with my usual breakfast and then sitting in the reclining chair to watch the mornings news. What differed today was my recognition that, more or less, it also would be what the rest of our day would be like. We are beginning to run out of novel ways to entertain ourselves. I suppose by now that has become common for most of us stuck waiting for this pandemic to end. I feel like what those old mountain men must have felt like while being trapped all winter in a snow-covered cabin in the wilderness.

Having read the prior paragraph and checked back through previous posts, I noticed that I often begin these issues of T&T with either over-melodramatic tales of woe or irrational joy. Why not? After all, I 80 years old and just woke up. Who the hell knows what I may feel like on any given morning.

Easter Sunday, same old, same old. Last night, I did not sleep well. My mind tossed about reviewing lengthy examples of what I would write here when I woke up. As expected, they are all gone now. Anyway, it is Easter.

For we Catholics (fallen away, apostate or believer), despite the vast number of feasts and holy days on the liturgical calendar, Christmas (Originally Saturnalia) and Easter ( Eostre or Ostara, a Germanic pagan sex goddess) stand out as the most revered (Renewal and redemption — the renewal of the sun and the start of planting. Yes, redemption for what you did during the winter can be satisfied by a good spring plowing.) Although one would think all children would prefer Christmas and the presents they received, I liked Easter better. For me, Christmas always was filled with disappointment and family strife. Easter, on the other hand, required only dressing up in the new clothes you probably did not like, suffering through an over-long mass (loved the music and the smell of incense though) and no-one cared what you did thereafter.

 

B. Naida, Pookie, and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog Break Quarantine.

 

Anyway, on Easter Sunday we broke confinement. We were pretty stir-crazed, so, instead of church, we decided to drive into the country — to the Cosumnes River near the ranch where Naida used to live — the history of which was included in her remarkable books, The California Gold Trilogy (bridgehousebooks@gmail.com). It took only about fifteen minutes to get to the turn-off onto the unpaved portion of Latrobe Road. Naida told me it was the main road from the train station at Latrobe (a town that no longer exists) to Sacramento in the mid-1900s. Along the road, several buildings and structures still existed from the middle of the 19th Century that she mentioned in her books.

We expected the road to be empty but instead, there were a few motorbikes churning up dust and some cars with couples looking for someplace to park. The dirt road wound through a few enormous cattle ranches. Eventually, we also parked and got out of our car for a walk. The ranches have preserved the landscape as it more or less had been since the Native Americans roamed the area unmolested. The famous Oak Woodlands of California remain much as they did then. The grasslands, on which the woodlands stood, were cropped clean by the vast herds of Elk and other ruminants and resembled manicured golf courses. They also do so today except now they are trimmed by the grazing herds of cattle.

IMG_8084

Naida and Boo-Boo the Barking Dog standing in front of a typical Oak Woodland.

 

IMG_8101

 
Almost everywhere along the road and in the meadows spring wildflowers bloomed — California poppies, dwarf and standard lupin, fiddle necks, and others.
IMG_8098_2 IMG_8119 IMG_8117

 

We then drove through another large ranch that contained the remnant of the Gold Rush town of Michigan Bar. The miners in that town during the Gold Rush slaughtered the Native-Americans that lived on Naida and Bill’s old ranch located about a mile downstream on the Cosumnes River. Naida recalls the event in her novel, River of Red Gold. The novel also tells of the miners from Michigan Bar fighting a water war with the local ranches and killing Jared Sheldon a leader of the ranchers who were attempted to dam the river downstream to irrigate crops at Naida’s ranch site.
IMG_8110
A View Across the Cosumnes River to the Remnant of the Old Gold Rush Town of Michigan Bar.

 

IMG_8112

The old hotel in Michigan Bar.

 

While driving through the town two odd things happened. The first occurred when we parked to photograph a remaining tiny log cottage in which the miners lived (those that did not live in a tent or sleep in the open). When later I looked at the photo, I saw this:

IMG_E8114_2

 
I do not know what caused this but I love the result so I included it here.

The second strange event began while I was taking the above picture. Not too far from us, an old car was parked with what looked like one person sitting in the front seat enjoying the river view. The car appeared to be an old Hudson or Mercury, you know, all black with tiny windows resembling the Bat-mobile. Suddenly he jumped out of the car and walked off a few steps at stood there as we drove away.

We drove on to the edge of town and stopped to photograph some wildflowers exposing their passionate spring colors along the side of the road. Suddenly, I noticed the black car speeding down the road toward us. It passed, went up the road away, turned around, and stopped by our car. There was a young man and a young woman in the front seat. The young man rolled down his window and said, “Can you take our picture?”

Forgetting all about social distancing, I agreed. Then remembering and being embarrassed to now refuse, I grabbed some lens-wipes l had brought along to clean my glasses hoping they would somehow protect me. I got out of our car, took hold of his camera trying but failing to grasp it with the lens-wipes, and prepared to take their photograph.

The young man was skinny, with a bleached white complexion, scrawny brown beard and a few odd small blue poorly executed tattoos, The woman, who seemed annoyed about something, had a little more heft to her, dark hair, and brown skin. I guessed her to be a Latina or perhaps of Native American extraction. They insisted on being photographed sitting on the car bumper and showing the car behind then rather than the beautiful landscape all around.

After taking the photographs, I returned to the car convinced that I had broken all the rules of social distancing and that within the next two weeks I would surely die.

Following that bit of misadventure, we drove onto the massive 15,000 acres Van Vleck Ranch. The Van Vleck’s were friends of Naida and Bill. I was in state government when Gordon Van Vleck was Secretary of Resources. He was a pleasant man who tried to do the right thing in a Republican administration. Both Gordon and his older brother Stan had die Stan while piloting his small plane over the ranch. Stan’s wife, Lynn, who inherited the ranch, shortly after his death had married a sheep rancher from Texas whose ranch was even larger than the Van Vleck’s. Naida wanted to visit them in order to see how her friend Lynn was doing because she had not been able to contact her for a while because she had misplaced her phone number. Lynn was at home and we, observing the proper social distancing protocols, had a delightful conversation.
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Naida and Lynn observe social distancing across the fence.

 
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The Van Vleck Ranch Center at dusk.

 
Following our visit, we drove back into the Enchanted Forest.

 

C. Back in the Enchanted Forest.

 

The next morning we woke up to discover that our portion of the subdivision was without water. We think that is because the HOC is installing a new water metering system. So, we spent the day just like we always do except today without water.

I think self-confinement is beginning to get to Naida. She has begun shouting at her smart-phone. It is not so much that she did not do it in the past. We all do now and then. I suspect that in the future we will recognize a new health hazard — smart-phone fury syndrome. Anyway, it is now happening more often. Like my own rage at sitting here reading Facebook posts and watching endless news programs on why we are confined and our President’s whining about how it is not his fault. We could go for another ride somewhere. It will be good for both of us. Instead, we decided to spend today watching crime shows like “Forensic Files.” They did not improve our mood.

At about 5PM having grown tired of learning about the several gruesome ways of committing murder, noticing the sun was shining brightly, and recognizing the meaning of the dog’s whining we decided to once again break containment and take a walk. This time we walked to the levee along the American River. The azaleas bloomed everywhere. There were a lot of people, mostly from nearby Sac State walking, running, bike riding, and generally enjoying this pleasant warm evening. We returned refreshed if a bit concerned that we may have snared a coronavirus or two along the way.
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Azalea Madness in the Enchanted Forest.

 

D. OFF TO THE SANDHILL CRANE PRESERVE:

 

 

The following day we decided death by plague to be a superior method of meeting one’s maker than death by cable-news. So, we set off for the Sandhill Crane Preserve at some restored wetlands in the Delta near Gault. The sandhill cranes had long departed the wetlands and had returned to Canada for the summer. Nevertheless, I was eager to visit the restored wetland having a hand in promoting and developing early wetland restoration techniques over 40 years ago.

We took care this time to pack masks, food, drink, and rubber gloves. The wetland restoration was as well done as any I have seen and the wildlife surprisingly varied. We saw huge flocks of geese and other birds feeding in the wetland.
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That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves. And, above all, remember to always keep on truckin…
th

 

 

 

 

DAILY FRACTURED FACTOID:

 

 
A Few More 5000 Year Old Zany Aphorisms From Sumer.

The fox, having urinated into the sea, said: “The depths of the sea are my urine!”

For a donkey there is no stench. For a donkey there is no washing with soap.

For his pleasure he got married. On his thinking it over he got divSumerorced

To serve beer with unwashed hands, to spit without trampling upon it, to sneeze without covering it with dust, to kiss with the tongue at midday without providing shade, are abominations to Utu.

He came, he stayed a while; he finished, he did not stay put.

All-day long, oh penis, you ejaculate as if you have blood inside you, and then you hang like a damp reed.

To appreciate the earth is for the gods; I am merely covered in dust.

Bitterness afflicted the anus, but it entered by way of the mouth.

The dog gnawing on a bone says to his anus: “This is going to hurt you!”

 

 

Not only were the ancient Sumerians the creators of Civilization but they also seem to be the originators of slapstick comedy. That sounds reasonable. A civilization without humor cannot be considered civilized. Or, as Groucho said, “I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.” Or, even more appropriately, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” That is civilized. And, the abominations of Utu to you too.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement.

 

Part II

 

INFORMATION, A NUMBER — Biology and Physics.
Most people, scientists in particular, are happiest with a concept when they can put a number to it. Anything else, they feel, is too vague to be useful. ‘Information’ is a number, so that comfortable feeling of precision slips in without anyone noticing that it might be spurious.

Two sciences that have gone a long way down this slippery path are biology and physics. The discovery of the ‘linear’ molecular structure of DNA has given evolutionary biology a seductive metaphor for the complexity of organisms and how they evolve, namely: the genome of an organism represents the information that is required to construct it. The origin of this metaphor is Francis Crick and James Watson’s epic discovery that an organism’s DNA consists of ‘code words’ in the four molecular molecular ‘letters’ A C T G, which, you’ll recall, are the initials of the four possible ‘bases’. This description led to the inevitable metaphor that the genome contains information about the corresponding organism. Indeed, the genome is widely described as ‘containing the information needed to produce’ an organism.

The easy target here is the word ‘the’. There are innumerable reasons why a developing organism’s DNA does not determine the organism. These non-genomic influences on development are collectively known as ‘epigenetics’, and they range from subtle chemical tagging of DNA to the investment of parental care. The hard target is ‘information’. Certainly, the genome includes information in some sense: currently an enormous international effort is being devoted to listing that information for the human genome, and also for other organisms such as rice, yeast, and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. But notice how easily we slip into cavalier attitudes, for here the word ‘information’ refers to the human mind as receiver, not to the developing organism. organism. The Human Genome Project informs us, not organisms.

This flawed metaphor leads to the equally flawed conclusion that the genome explains the complexity of an organism in terms of the amount of information in its DNA code.

Humans are complicated because they have a long genome that carries a lot of information; nematodes are less complicated because their genome is shorter. However, this seductive idea can’t be true. For example, the Shannon information content of the human genome is smaller by several orders of magnitude than the quantity of information needed to describe the wiring of the neurons in the human brain. How can we be more complex than the information that describes us? And some amoebas have much longer genomes than ours, which takes us down several pegs as well as casting even more doubt on DNA as information.

Underlying the widespread belief that DNA complexity explains organism complexity (even though it clearly doesn’t) are two assumptions, two scientific stories that we tell ourselves. The first story is DNA as Blueprint, in which the genome is represented not just as an important source of control and guidance over biological development, but as the information needed to determine an organism. The second is DNA as Message, the ‘Book of Life’ metaphor.

Both stories oversimplify a beautifully complex interactive system. DNA as Blueprint says that the genome is a molecular ‘map’ of an organism. DNA as Message says that an organism can pass that map to the next generation by ‘sending’ the appropriate information.

Both of these are wrong, although they’re quite good science fiction — or, at least, interestingly bad science fiction with good special effects.

If there is a ‘receiver’ for the DNA ‘message’ it is not the next generation of the organism, which does not even exist at the time the ‘message’ is being ‘sent,’ but the ribosome, which is the molecular machine that turns DNA sequences (in a protein-coding gene) into protein. The ribosome is an essential part of the coding system; it functions as an ‘adapter,’ changing the sequence information along the DNA into an amino acid sequence in proteins. Every cell contains many ribosomes: we say ‘the’ because they are all identical. The metaphor of DNA as information has become almost universal, yet virtually nobody has suggested that the ribosome must be a vast repository of information. The structure of the ribosome is now known in high detail, and there is no sign of obvious ‘information-bearing’ structure like that in DNA. The ribosome seems to be a fixed ‘machine’. So where has the information gone? Nowhere. That’s the wrong question.

The root of these misunderstandings lies in a lack of attention to context. Science is very strong on content, but it has a habit of ignoring ‘external’ constraints on the systems being studied. Context is an important but neglected feature of information. It is so easy to focus on the combinatorial clarity of the message and to ignore the messy, complicated processes carried out by the receiver when it decodes the message. Context is crucial to the interpretation of messages: to their meaning. In his book The User Illusion Tor Nørretranders introduced the term exformation to capture the role of the context, and Douglas Hofstadter made the same general point in Gödel, Escher, Bach. Observe how, in the next chapter, the otherwise incomprehensible message ‘THEOSTRY’ becomes obvious when context is taken into account.

Instead of thinking about a DNA ‘blueprint’ encoding an organism, it’s easier to think of a CD encoding music. Biological development is like a CD that contains instructions for building a new CD-player. You can’t ‘read’ those instructions without already having one. If meaning does not depend upon context, then the code on the CD should have an invariant meaning, one that is independent of the player. Does it, though?

Compare two extremes: a ‘standard’ player that maps the digital code on the CD to music in the manner intended by the design engineers, and a jukebox. With a normal jukebox, the only message that you send is some money and a button-push; yet in the context of the jukebox these are interpreted as a specific several minutes’ worth of music. In principle, any numerical code can ‘mean’ any piece of music you wish; it just depends on how the jukebox is set up, that is, on the exformation associated with the jukebox’s design. Now consider a jukebox that reacts to a CD not by playing the tune that’s encoded on it, as a series of bits, but by interpreting that code as a number, and then playing some other CD to which that number has been assigned. For instance, suppose that a recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony starts, in digital form, with 11001. That’s the number 25 in binary. So the jukebox reads the CD as ‘25,’ and looks for CD number 25, which we’ll assume is a recording of Charlie Parker playing jazz.

On the other hand, elsewhere in the jukebox is CD number 973, which actually is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Then a CD of Beethoven’s Fifth can be ‘read’ in two totally different ways: as a ‘pointer’ to Charlie Parker, or as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony itself (triggered by whichever CDs start with 973 in binary). Two contexts, two interpretations, two meanings, two results. Whether something is a message depends upon context, too: sender and receiver must agree upon a protocol for turning meanings into symbols and back again. Without this protocol a semaphore is just a few bits of wood that flap about.

Tree branches are bits of wood that flap about, too, but no one ever tries to decode the message being transmitted by a tree. Tree rings — the growth rings that appear when you saw through the trunk, one ring per year — are a different matter. We have learned to ‘decode’ their ‘message,’ about climate in the year 1066 and the like. A thick ring indicates a good year with lots of growth on the tree, probably warm and wet; a thin ring indicates a poor year, probably cold and dry. But the sequence of tree rings only became a message, only conveyed information, when we figured out the rules that link climate to tree growth. The tree didn’t send its message to us.

In biological development the protocol that gives meaning to the DNA message is the laws of physics and chemistry. That is where the exformation resides. However, it is unlikely that exformation can be quantified.

An organism’s complexity is not determined by the number of bases in its DNA sequence, but by the complexity of the actions initiated by those bases within the context of biological development. That is, by the meaning of the DNA ‘message’ when it is received by a finely tuned, up-and-running biochemical machine. This is where we gain an edge over those amoebas. Starting with an embryo that develops little flaps, and making a baby with those exquisite little hands, involves a series of processes that produce skeleton, muscles, skin, and so on. Each stage depends on the current state of the others, and all of them depend on contextual physical, biological, chemical and cultural processes.
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

I have come to accept that here on our earth there are no heroes only different degrees of villainy.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:
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The poem below is an excerpt from a much longer one written by Renee Verona that I discovered while wandering through the internet. The poem appears to be based, in part, on Dante’s Paradisio. Verona, a self-published poet, has an internet site (https://rarityofparadise.com/). In it, he periodically publishes his poems and requests donations to enable him to continue his work.

It is not unusual for poets to try to find novel means of publishing their work. Whitman used to wander through the bars of NY (as did Blake in London) selling handwritten copies of his poems, and Shelly often stood on busy street corners and tossed bundles of his poems into the carriages of the noble and wealthy as they drove by.

What attracted me to Verona was, admittedly, less his poems than his audacity and some of the artwork that accompanies the poetry.

From “Obsidian and Alabaster.”

Through the reflection of my obsidian blade, I saw a jester drowning in the sorrows belonging to his hopeless witticism

Scarlet to cover the tulips that laid foolish, herald a cut-throat… forsaken in this storm praying for thunderbolts to alleviate me,

Sharp lighting to scream, and there, bury me within an unholy divinity as devilish is my creed,

Yet this clown that smirks comforts thee

Thine eyes have witnessed much suffering, men art, but demons chasing eternity, misguided by prophecy… and he dares to laugh

The reckless Montague a saint unto I… to empathize…to seize, realize a moment of freedom when all is cursed by hypocrisy

(…To despise… To visualize )

God favors the trickster, giving unto him a horrible truth that he bears with a grin ( a glimpse at how the world primarily sins)

Watch as they abandon themselves all for epicurean philosophies,

Drink a bit more the red wine, corrupt your soul a little more to hold a few pieces of sol …More the greed…this obsidian grow thirsty

Unsated…hungry… the blood moon calls, onward towards the twilight where hellhounds roam free, festering, and feasting

Fair Jester,

I will be an angel unto thee, unto you that bards hysterically… a sad epigram life has become ( everlasting is the hologram)

Forever is nevermore, soon we will have our reckoning…upon the sun we horde, shadows epithetical to the moon

The forgotten, the vigilant defacing the vox populi, simple mercenaries that seek only to bloom, the evening to forbore…

 

D. Giants of History: The Old Sailor, Deep Sea Diver, World Traveler, ex-Pirate, and So On.
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It is always a pleasure to receive communication from my old and dear friend. He used to live in Thailand but I think he may have returned to his beloved Virgin Islands. Here are his two most recent messages

1. Am now at Walmart…”titusville” “old people struggling..to get inside…going to buy wine.”

2. Jerry _____ ..he was staying with pat. About the time when marcelle got pregnant…..dot and I were living in the slave quarters…..
Jerry would leave leave everyday “cleaned up” ..by 9 or so to work ..at the end of the day ..he would be back and we would meet upstairs .for drinks with Candeed. …he…would always COMPLAIN he could not get paid ..he would half to chase people to get paid….every day the same working hard and having trouble getting paid …this went on for months ..
…Guess what his job was

HE was selling Coke at FAT CITY
…..Dot and I moving to FRENCHTOWN>

Life in the Caribbean must very exciting.

 

E. Useful Simile of the Week:

 

“…like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble.”

Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“The most important role of the tribal Make-a-Human kit is to provide the tribe with its own collective identity, making it possible for it to act as a unit. Tradition is good for such purposes; sense is optional. All religions are strong on tradition, but many are weak on sense, at least if you take their stories literally. Nevertheless, religion is absolutely central to most cultures’ Make-a-Human kit.”

“The growth of human civilization is a story of the assembly of ever-larger units, knitted together by some version of that Make-a-Human kit. At first, children were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the family group. Then they were taught what they must do to be accepted as members of the tribe. (Believing apparently ridiculous things was a very effective test: the naïve outsider would all too readily betray a lack of belief, or would simply have no idea what the appropriate belief was. Is it permitted to pluck a chicken before dark on Wednesday? The tribe knew, the outsider did not, and since any reasonable person would guess ‘yes’, the tribal priesthood could go a long way by making the accepted answer ‘no’.) After that, the same kind of thing happened for the local baron’s serfs, for the village, the town, the city and the nation. We spread the net of True Human Beings.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel . Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Cold Tits 0009. (February 26, 2020)

 

“[I]f folk memory extends to sub-sub-sub-sub-atomic particle level,… it was indeed all done by somebody with a beard.”
          Pratchett, Terry. Darwin’s Watch (Science of Discworld Series) (p. 1). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. .

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

 

Well, with the reality show that was the SOTU, the tragic comedy of the Senate Republican’s acquittal of He Who is Not My President and the unending melodrama of the Iowa caucus behind me, I decided I had enough entertainment overload for a while and set off to the Big Endive by the Bay and the peace of my immunotherapy infusion.

We travelled by train and arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in late afternoon. We spent a delightful evening together. Barrie cooked her usual wonderful meal after which we spent hours telling stories. Most of the stories that evening were about travel — Peter and Barrie’s time in India and my experiences in Israel. I told about the wonders of the old city of Jerusalem, of my friendship with the Bethlehem muslim antiquities dealer who had purchased the original Dead Sea Scrolls from the Arab tribesmen that discovered them. I also spoke about the mysteries of Masada, Qumran and the Negev. We also swapped tales of Paris (We’ll always have Paris) with a side trip to Bordeaux, and Rome ( The Eternal City) and its environs.

The next day Peter drove Naida and I to UCSF for my immunotherapy infusion. After the appointment, we went to the Mission Rock Cafe for lunch. Mission Rock, located on the shore of the Bay a few blocks from the hospital at Mission Bay, was a favorite dive during Counter Culture times. It has now been converted to a somewhat upscale restaurant. After a reasonably good meal, we left and returned by train to the Enchanted Forest.

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Naida at Mission Rock Resort Pondering the Menu.

 

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

The next day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM from school and to fetched this months medicines from the pharmacy. The sun was shining and the weather pleasant, in the upper-sixties. Hayden and I had lunch at Subway’s and he once again impressed me with how rapidly he is becoming an adult.

I am distressed at the state of my memory. Throughout the day, my mind is bubbling with ideas about what I would like to write here in T&T, but when I sit a my computer to actually write, nada, nothing. We did watch “The Irishman” on Netflix last night — vintage Scorsese. It was a story about a two bygone eras. The first described the power and decline of the Italian Mafia. The second seemed to me to celebrate the end of the Actor’s Studio’s influence on movies and theater as DeNiro, Pacino, Scorsese, Kietel and Pesci (Pesci was not Actors Studio trained, but may as well have been) flaunting their ancient acting chops across the big screen. We will not see their like again.
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Today, Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee once again. We met a woman who taught photography in Sacramento and Florence,Italy. Earlier in her life she attended a two week photographic safari in Montana. She volunteered to cook because the existing cook’s cooking was despised by the campers who had paid good money for the trip. She worked for the company for many years. Later, in Italy, she opened a bread bakery of some sort in Spoleto. We spoke about photography for a while. I gave her my view of aesthetics and art, “You do the best with whatever you got, unless you have got to make a living out of it. Then you do whatever sells.”

Later I took H, Jake and Ethan out for lunch at the Relish House in the Golden Hills. We ate hamburgers with complex toppings and talked about things of interest to teenagers, cars mostly.

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Ethan, Hayden and Jake
Still later, back in the Enchanted Forest, Naida collected some camellias. Some were placed in a shallow bowl to float on the water. Others were used for adornment.
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Naida of the Camellias.

 

On Tuesday, we were visited by Lillian Valee a friend of Naida’s, a fellow author, a poet and a renown translator of things Polish. She had been the student assistant to Czeslaw Milosz,a polish writer, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for literature (Poetry). She had assisted Milosz in translating his book Bells of Winter and other writings into English. Her book, Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tule is a marvelous collection of her columns written for the local museum publication describing the history of the flora and fauna of the Central Valley around the Mukouleme River and Modesto.

We walked the few steps from the Enchanted Forest to the banks of the American River. There we sat on a log for a while and watched evening drift down upon us. Naida and Lillian spoke of things literary while I threw stones into the water and petted Boo-boo the Barking Dog who lay dozing at my feet dreaming dog things.

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The American River at Winter’s End.

 

 

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Naida West(http://www.bridgehousebooks.com/) and Lillian Vallee sitting on the banks of the American River discussing things literary while Boo-boo the Barking Dog enjoys the late afternoon sun.
The next day we had a pleasant breakfast and discussed, Modesto, Eugene O’Neal, cooking, family, things Polish, Naida’s early life, native Americans, and a lot more. I eventually left Naida and Lillian to their chitchat at the breakfast table and with Boo-boo the Barking Dog in tow retreated to the study where I wrote this while Boo-boo napped. For some reason, I felt ill, chilled. I put myself to bed and slept for a few hours. When I had awakened, Lillian had already left to return to her home in Modesto.

Tomorrow, people will be coming to put in new flooring for the house. While moving some things around in preparation, Naida opened and old chest. In it was some of the clothing her great great grandmother had worn when she arrived in America in the 1840s almost 180 years ago. She decided to do dress up.

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Naida as the well-dressed Scottish immigrant of the 1840s.
After watching a silly movie featuring a classical pianist, a singer and an all harmonica band, we went to bed. Not a bad day at all. I have had far worse.

Today the workers arrived at 8AM and immediately began tearing up the floors in the house in order to put in new floors and carpet. The racket and confusion of activity drove the three of us from the house like refugees from a war — homeless and looking for refuge. We ended at Naida’s daughter’s house, sat on the back porch, drank some tea and talked, and talked. The dogs, (Sarah’s two and our one) played frenetically throughout the yard and up on the tool shed. Eventually, we all left except for Sarah’s two dogs, Sarah back to work and Naida, Boo-boo the Barking dog and I, returned home, navigated the noise, mess and apologies and ran upstairs to change for this afternoon’s Happy Hour with the members of the Saturday Mornings Coffee Group at someplace called Clubhouse 56 because it happens to be located on 56th Street in Sacramento. We drank a few Margarita’s. I ate a Hot Dog. We talked with a lot of people but I remember nothing about what we may have talked about. I did talk with Winnie. We compared maladies as we usually do when we meet. Her’s seemed much more distressing than mine.

We returned home after the workers left, made our way through the detritus and materials left behind pending the workers return tomorrow and up to the bedroom on the second floor. The floor installers had not yet attacked that floor. We crawled into bed.

Oh, I remember one other thing about the day. The Good/Bad David called from South Dakota to tell me that the temperature there reached one degree Fahrenheit today. I mentioned it was about 70 here in the Enchanted Forest. I invited him down to enjoy some California weather. He said he would think about it as soon as he finishes doing something or other with the cows or something like that.

It is Valentine’s Day. The house is in shambles as various teams of workmen continue tearing up the floor and hammering down new flooring. Naida and I have fled to the studio room to escape the noise of the tools and the Serbian, Chinese and Mexican shouts of the workers as they lay down the floor. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

On Saturday the clattering of the workmen as they put down the carpets upstairs continued. Naida sentenced me to the big recliner in the living room while she cleaned out the studio before they began working in there. In rejecting my assistance, Naida said that there were a lot of personal papers and things lying around she wanted to go through. So Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I happily dozed in the recliner while everyone else worked.

Sunday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake and bring them to The Enchanted Forest to help me move some furniture around the house. After completing that chore we went for lunch at a small family owned Arabic restaurant. The food was surprisingly good.

After a few days of which I remember very little, Naida and I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog to the dogpark. While there, some dog pissed on my cane.

It is now Wednesday evening, Naida and I are watching the Democratic Presidential Nomination debate on MSNBC. We sit here talking to the TV set like we were watching a football game. I hate the moderators. They seem more interested in pushing their personal agenda and gotcha games than in encouraging a debate. How about a question like how do you propose to defeat Trump? Or how is your position on ______ different from that of the present administration? Nevertheless, there is a lot of shouting, self justification and a few apologies. Overall it is enjoyable, like watching a street fight.

It is now Friday evening, things have happened in the past two days have disappeared through the holes in my memory. Tomorrow is another day.

Another Saturday morning at the coffee in the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie’s husband Paul and I have a long talk together. He had been an accomplished architect in Los Angeles until he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Wanting to spend the last few years in an idillic setting, he along with Winnie moved to Salmon Idaho. Their house, designed by Paul, sat in a pretty little valley a few miles north of the town. A portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail crossed their property. Close by the Middle Fork of the Salmon River rushes by their home. It is the location of the book Murder On The North Fork written by Naida’s uncle who used to be the Methodist minister in the town. Naida had helped her uncle to write the book, edited and published it. The book told the true story of a murder that occurred in the area about 100 years ago.

Sunday was a day of rest and rest we did.
Tomorrow I leave for the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy treatment. Today, during our walk around the Enchanted Forest, I noticed the ornamental fruit trees were in bloom — the Japanese cherry trees a brazen pink and the white and reds of the others bursting out here and there along with the camellias adding the blush of color to the lingering shades of winter. I expect, by the time I return from the Big Endive, our back yard with be a riot of spring colors.

Until then, take care of yourselves.
“Crivens”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
Does it really matter?

 

It struck me after the debates, the early primaries, and the pundit world commentaries on them both that perhaps we need to cool down a bit and reflect. Elizabeth Warren in the last debate said something like, “I will take whatever I can get and then come back again and again.” In effect suggesting that the moderates in developing their policies seemingly based upon what can feasibly be passed into law by Congress are just being timid.They should propose what is morally right and then “take what they can get and come back again and again.”

In thinking about this and the hysteria by the moderates caused by the early primary successes of Bernie Sanders, I have a different take on what is happening. Could anyone have any confidence that say Bernie’s Medicare for all will be approved by Congress during his administration. Even if the Democrats take the Senate by one or two votes they will not have the votes to overcome a filibuster. Warren correctly opined that even her proposals would require the abolishment of the filibuster rule to have any hope of seeing the light of day in the form that she proposed. Also, there are enough so-called moderate or conservative Democrats in Congress that even the end of the filibuster would probably not result in passage of a single payer program. It is more likely and perhaps a certainty that any health care bill would be merely a correction of the problems with Obamacare and a public option. So it will be with just about every policy proposal. In effect, even a Democratic Congress will give the Democratic President at best more or less what the “moderates” propose.

The Big Corporations, Wall Street and Carbon Mafia and the like can rest easy and forgo the hysteria over a Sanders or Warren presidency because without a strong majority in the Senate it will be a typical Democratic Administration no matter which of the 5 or so top Democratic candidates competing for the nomination is elected. The Trump executive actions will be reversed entirely whichever of the leading Democratic candidates is elected. Similarly, a moderate revision to the immigration laws will probably be passed and signed into law. The Corporate tax rate and high income tax rates will return to those existing at the end of the Obama administration (provided we are not it a recession). The fights in Congress will be over a wealth tax and raising the unearned income tax.

The administration itself will be staffed with similar personnel, the moderates choosing somewhat less radical but more experienced administrators.

I agree with Warren, however, it is a cop out, even if it is politically more expedient to propose programs or policies most likely to pass, to not support the “best.” There is always the possibility by choosing a lesser goal one will achieve it, declare victory and not “come back again and again.”

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 
Wednesday, March 27,1963.

I am recovering from two weeks of depression. Things appear ordered again

Valerie left for Europe yesterday on the Queen Elizabeth. I went to see her off. Ed and I were the only ones to see her off. I felt very sad that she had to leave without any of her friends seeing her off. Leaving when one is alone is not a parting. It is an end.

 
Thursday, April 4, 1963.

 

 

Now that my depression has faded my studies are going better. Things are picking up.

I wrote Tad a letter today but I don’t thing I will send it. It’s all bullshit.

Kevin did not call today about the travel business issues. I do not understand people who seem unable to live up to their obligations.

 

 
Friday, April 26, 1963.

 

 

Val wrote a letter to Maria:

“Joe was there with flowers. He more than anything else made me sad in leaving America. He personifies all that was good and fun and enjoyable in America”

That is quite a comment. I am humbled.

 

 
Tuesday, May 14, 1963.

 

 

I am embarrassed I haven’t written here for several weeks now. I imagine my innate laziness has raised its ugly head again.

News of the day: Major Cooper’s orbital flight was cancelled today because of some difficulty with the Bermuda Tracking Station. They have had difficulty with that station before. I wonder why, considering the enormous expense of a postponement they do not have duplicate or auxiliary machinery.

 
Thursday, May 16, 1963.

 

 

Major Cooper landed safely today.

I met with Kevin today. He seems very distressed by my lawsuit. I feel sorry for him. He was obviously angry but never voiced it to me. I probably will never be a leader of people or organizations. I am too soft. I don’t seem to be ruthless enough. I think I will probably drop the suit eventually. I just cannot harm someone who was a friend although I know he will never think of me as one again.

I think I did poorly in my Real Property exam. My mind simply could not penetrate the complexity of the questions.

Stephanie and I spent the short half-hour we had with each other in total non-communication. It is strange, we both try so hard to communicate but instead we seem to fear to closeness or to touch as though if we did it would plunge immediately into some libidinous trap. It annoys and frustrates me. Ah, but like my life in general, I may never succeed in achieving my goals, but I cannot run away.

 
Friday, May 17, 1963.

 

 

It seems strange to me that there appear few today in the intellectual community courageous enough to stand up and object to some of those clearly erroneous claims and lack of intellectual discipline that come out of that community.

Why is it today the only voices raised against these errors are voices usually associated with reaction whose councils are usually dismissed as superstitious, unscientific or medieval?

It is time modern preconceptions be re-examined. Terms like scientific, intellectual freedom, reality and the like should be looked at and clarified in the cool light of reason, science and above all experience.

Error is an oppressive religion. Failure to understand is the gateway to superstition.

 

(I haven’t the slightest idea what my 23 year old self was going on about here.)

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOIDS:

 
While sitting around, paying bills and watching CNN pundits travel opining on the upcoming Democratic primary in New Hampshire, I grew bored and my mind wandered to contemplate those things that had changed in the US in the 80 years between 1939 when I was born and now. So, I fiddled a bit on the internet, and reviewed an old birthday card. I discovered the following:

The average cost of a new home had increased 100 times from $3800 to $380,000.
Average income from $1800 to $46,000, 25 times.
A new car from $700 to about 32,000, about 45 times.
Gasoline from $ .10 per gallon to $2.50 a 25 fold increase.

As far as I can tell from these few statistics, our parents had better relative income and prices for major purchases, but not better technology or health care. Since I am mostly technologically illiterate and my health is shot, I guess I get the burnt ends of either year.

Batman is 80 years old, having been introduced to us all in 1939.

If Batman is 80 and his mind is like mine, I wonder if he knows he is Batman or does he just wonder why he is wearing tights and jumping off buildings in the dark? For that matter I wonder if he knows he is actually in a fictional Chicago?

Three Little Fishes, Beer Barrel Polka, Jeepers Creepers and Scatterbrain were some of the favorite tunes of 1939.

In 2019, according to some, Cheap Thrills and This Is What You Came For (neither of which I have ever listened to) seems to be the fan favorites. While I cannot opine which songs are better, I bet, if forced to choose. I would go with a 1939 fan favorite like Three Little Fishes.

Italy invaded Albania in 1939.

In 2019, the USA and Russia seem to be bent on their continued invasions of a whole bunch of places.

England and France declared war on Germany.

In 2019, neither Russia nor the USA declared war on anyone but their troops maintained a physical presence in and occupying much of the world.

Food Stamps begin in1939 under the Roosevelt administration.

Food Stamps, in 2019, face the beginning of the end under the administration of DJT.

The New York Yankees won the 1939 World Series fair and square.

In 2019, the Huston Astros cheated their way to World Series victory.

The Vice President of the US in 1939 was John Garner.

In 2019, it was Mike Pence. No-one cared in either case.

In 2019 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, one of our greatest Presidents. He changed our Nation and ushered in what was perhaps the greatest Golden Age in human history.

In 2019 we have a President who was elected with substantially fewer votes than his rival, doesn’t read, cannot write, is the most corrupt President in our history and who we have not yet even mentioned the really the evil things he is capable of and has done. He may well be ushering in the end times.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Terry on Top:

 

I just received the following from Terry and thought is was interesting enough to send on:

So on all the Sunday shows today the various guests claim that anybody but Sanders would do much better against Trump. So the Party must unite to stop him.

My view is : that is just not true; not true at all.

Rahm Emanuel, the Clinton and Obama political guru and former Chicago Mayor , said today that Sanders is following a strategy never tried by a winning Democrat since 1992: ignoring the centrist path to the White House in favor of populist liberalism. And that is indeed risky . But if that is true, why is it not showing up in the polls??

There are universally no polls that substantiate that. In fact a look at Real Clear Politics on 2/23/20 shows that Sanders beats Trump by an average of 3%-4% nationwide and in the battleground state of Michigan by 7%. All of the other candidates do worse in the same polls, in some cases much worse. Some even tie or lose to Trump. This holds true in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Something is going on that has not happened before. The old winning strategy of Dems is just not working. Otherwise Sanders would be loosing to Trump big time in the polls. And the other Democrats would be winning big time. And it’s not that the public doesn’t know Sanders is a “democratic socialist”. His name ID is 95%.

Attacking Sanders as too extreme, and a socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union doesn’t seem to have any impact in the polls. He still beats Trump by higher margins now than any other candidate, including Biden. That is frankly amazing. Again, all the experts appear to be wrong!

All I can say at this point is that a tectonic shift appears to be taking place, not just in the Democratic Party but in the rust belt states of Penn. Mich. and Wisconsin. Why is Sanders doing as well or better against Trump than Biden and company in those key states and much better than them nationwide?

My educated guess is that a very diverse part of America actually “like him”. He has the undefinable “it”.

It’s an old saw in politics: all things being equal, “THE MOST LIKABLE CANDIDATE WINS”.
For example: FDR, HST, JFK, RR, WJC, GWB, BHO, and Trump. Hillary, while competent, was not as likable.

That quality is more important than ideology, looks, wealth , brilliance , etc. And Sanders is definitely becoming more likable. Since his heart attack he has mellowed a lot. He is much warmer since he became a real winner, no longer the underdog but the top dog.

So watch what happens over the next two weeks: will Sanders become LOVABLE to the never Trumpers in the Democratic Party? He will if he keeps winning the primaries and also the national and regional polls against Trump. Nothing succeeds like success and that’s winning in politics (polls included).

Average percentage of their fortunes that the twenty richest Americans gave to charity in 2018: 0.8

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

 

Our successes may be enjoyable but our failures are far more interesting.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

I Have Learned So Much

I
Have
Learned
So much from God
That I can no longer
Call
Myself

A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself
With me

That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel,
Or even a pure
Soul.

Love has
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
And freed
Me

Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.
From: ‘The Gift’ by Haifiz
Translated by Daniel Ladinsky

 

 

 

D. Giants of History: More From Burma Richard.

Richard Diran, also known as “Burma Richard” became a dear friend of mine during my sojourn in Thailand. Richard a gemologist, ethnologist, artist, photographer, smuggler, man of action, restraunteur, and soldier of fortune, is a real adventurer who goes on real adventures. The following post from his blog “Burma Richard” (http://www.burma-richard.org/) briefly tells about one of his visits to Burma in search of a tribe of headhunters.

naga_human_trophy1_007

 

 

Who hasn’t opened an old issue of National Geographic when they were a kid and looking with utter fascination, disgust and wide eyed amazement at the shrunken heads taken by such tribes as the Jivaro of the South American Amazon? What kid hasn’t wanted one of those creepy heads for themselves?
You kidding? Where can I get one?

Replicas were so popular that hobby shops sold shrunken rubber heads with stitched lips and eyelids.

In former times, perhaps as little as one generation ago, two very different ethnic groups chose to
hunt human heads in Burma. One group are the Naga tribes of Burma’s north west whose settlements straddle the border of India. Particularly the Konyak Naga were feared for taking heads in combat as a way to display their fierce courage. Arrows were driven through the eye sockets to prevent the spirits from finding their way back home.
That is one impressive set of trophies on your wall, Buddy.
Beats the hell out of bowling.
The other group of headhunters are the Wild Wa from northern Burma bordering China’s Yunnan Province whose autonomous region boasted of whole villages whose walkways held human heads in various degrees of decomposition in stone lanterns. One such village was said to have an avenue of 300 such heads. Was it still there? Was it possible to visit? Of course I had to find out if it was possible to find them.

Years ago in 1984, I was invited to a meeting by Abel Tweed the Foreign Minister of the Karenni Tribe deep into the jungle close to where the Moei River meets the mighty Salween River. Four hours in an 8 wheeled truck led to a river bank, the last outpost before we needed to take a long tailed boat maned by armed camouflaged soldiers up the turbulent river.

Karen children ran on the banks amidst fluttering butterflies with lengths of yarn hanging out of their earlobes.

Arriving at the camp, I was told that every one of the rebel leaders was here at this meeting of the National Democratic Front. General Bo Mya of the Karen, Brang Seng leader of the Kachin Independence Army and Ma Ha San the Prince of Vinghun, the leader of the Wa.
I wanted to meet him and to ask him to write me a letter of introduction so I could take photos of the Wild Wa.
I was told who to contact.
Every member was there.
“And he is here?”.
“Yes, really”.
“If you want to meet him now you can go along, he is staying in the house of my brother”.

Walking over to a bamboo hut raised on wooden stilts, I walked up the stairs and entered a room silhouetted with figures sitting cross legged around a small fire drinking tea. I sat down with my interpreter and was offered a cup.

Turning on my Sony Professional recorder I asked permission to record. What followed was a remarkable interview with Ma Ha San, President of the Wa, one of the last living headhunters.

For those of you who have my book “The Vanishing Tribes of Burma,” a new interactive edition has been published in Apple iBook. Utilizing the latest technology, we were able to combine 70 photos of more than 35 diverse Burmese tribal groups along with explanatory text from the Exhibition Edition which was launched by Nobel laureate Aung San Su Kyi in Rangoon and combine that with short audio clips of tribal music including the 11 minute interview with a headhunter as relayed above. Also the iBook has video clips of Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech, and my speech at the opening of the exhibition as well as a video of me visiting the source of the Worlds Finest Gemstones, Mogok Burma in March 2014

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“…the abuse of evolution has a long and embarrassing history. The central problem that Tattersall and DeSalle highlight is the difficulty in reconciling binary Mendelian alleles (wrinkled/round, green/yellow, tall/short) to the quantitative and developmentally sensitive human organism, much less to its context-specific behaviors.”

“This problem has existed since the dawn of Mendelian genetics. In the early 20th century, America’s leading geneticists generally adhered to the proposition that people came in two Mendelian flavors, smart and “feebleminded”. Their arguments helped pass legislation to restrict the immigration of Italians and Jews into the US (1924) and to sterilize the poor involuntarily (1927), before the Germans even got the idea. Today’s abusers of Mendel are only slightly less crude, with genes “for” homosexuality, schizophrenia, aggression, or religiosity regularly touted, although with remarkably short scientific shelf-lives.”
http://anthropomics2.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

 

 

IMG_1825

Sent to me by Richard Diran (Burma Richard) with the following message:

 

“My friend Tooten the photographer printed this for me of the young Goddess the Kumari at her palace in Kathmandu Nepal with her pet rabbit.”

 

(Tooten is almost as interesting a rogue and a scholar as Burma Richard —look him up.)

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 2 Mopey 0009 (January 19, 2020)

 

“Sweet, salt, bitter, piquant – Sicilian cuisine is all-embracing and pleasurably involves all the senses in a single dish. A gelato must also be like this. Sweet as a whispered promise, the pistachio ice cream salty as sea air, the chocolate ice cream faintly bitter and a little tart like a lover’s goodbye the next morning.”
Mario Giordano, Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions.

 

 

Happy Birthday, Ruth.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

 

I have not written here in “Pookies Adventures” for about a week. Perhaps it is due to creeping ennui. I have been reflecting, however, on a few things during that time. One of those things has been the inadvertent falsehood in my conceit that I often do nothing during my day. It fact, I do a lot. I usually spend much of my day sitting here with my computer attending to things, paying bills, or exchanging messages with friends and bill collectors and the like. I also usually spend some time on T&T, if not on the “Pookies Adventures” portion then on some other section, like searching through my favorite poetry sites for “Today’s Poem.”

When I think about it, it is much like having a job. I certainly spend enough time doing these things. Of course, I don’t get paid. That’s a downer, but then I don’t have to deal with clients, co-workers and the like. Nor, do I have to care about the quality of the product. I guess that makes it a hobby. It is interesting that if it is something mostly detestable but you get paid for it, it is a job but if you enjoy it but don’t get paid, it is a hobby (or you are a failing artist). On the other hand, if you enjoy it and get paid for it, it is not a hobby, but it is a job. Someone once asked a famous writer why he writes. “For the money,” he responded. “You don’t think I do this for the sheer pleasure of it, do you? That would be insane.”

I do not know why I wrote the above two paragraphs. I could not think of what to write after the first sentence. I guess it was a sort of stream of consciousness thing — writing something without any idea where you’re going with it or even why you are doing it. Or perhaps it has something to do with the Donald Hall quote in the previous issue of T&T, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” Why indeed or better yet why give a shit?

Last night we saw the new Korean movie Parasite at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento. I had not expected what I saw on the screen. It is a marvel, an odd one for sure but a marvel nonetheless. Part comedy, part tragedy, part horror movie, part melodrama, it, nevertheless, never failed to capture and hold my attention. The direction is as good as I have seen in movies recently and the cinematography exceptional. See it, you may be surprised like I was, but I doubt you will be disappointed.

This morning, perhaps around two or three AM, I awoke. I did not go back to sleep right away, but instead, I drifted into an almost dream-like state. I had an almost overwhelming urge to paint. It was compulsive, insistent. I needed to paint. Not like the almost paint by numbers reproduction of photographs I painted for a while over 20 years ago. Real painting, whatever that was. I saw an image of myself painting at an easel. I was painting a portion of a sleeve. The fabric was Chinese silk, a dark almost iridescent blue. There were folds and mounds in the fabric as though it was filled with a slightly bent arm. Small golden parallelograms were stitched into the fabric. It was very difficult to paint them and I spent some time figuring out how I was going to do it. Then the scene changed. I was still in my studio. This time the canvas was affixed to the wall above my head. I could reach it with a long brush. I was painting long slightly wavy red lines on the canvas. As I drew the lines, a man’s face began to appear in the paint. His expression, as it emerged from the paint, was sad with an element of surprise. I then fell asleep, a deep sleep until the barking of the dog woke me in the morning.

IMG_0937
A Painting of Mine from 30 Years Ago.

 

Today (a day or two after I wrote the previous paragraph) Naida left for a presentation on her newest book Daughter of the West, a Memoir. I spent the morning sitting in my recliner with Boo-boo the Barking Dog drowsing on the recliner next to mine usually occupied by Naida. I had managed to exhaust my morning in desultory and aimless research, Facebook explorations and a bit of writing. Having consumed all that I could think of doing while sitting there, I struggled to come up with what to do next. It was too early for a nap. It was only noon. I could have made something to eat but I was not hungry. A walk perhaps. That sounded good. Perhaps straighten up the house. Ugh. Still, that would surprise and please Naida. A plan, I had a plan.

Well, like many plans even the simplest of them, it appeared good in concept but a failure in implementation. I began by removing the clean dishes from the dishwasher. While I was doing so, Naida returned home. She told me about her presentation. It was at a local women’s club. A somewhat mysterious one. They would not tell her what the letters that made up the club’s name stood for. They told her they did not want any more members. Naida spoke to the women about her novel River of Red Gold and not as I believed her Memoir. One of the women strenuously objected to Naida’s depiction of John Sutter in her novel. She believed it to be too negative toward the great man. Naida then read to her the footnotes and endnotes to the novel quoting other historians and contemporary accounts that Sutter, like so many so-called great men, was considerably less so and more often a monster. Sutter raped a 5-year-old girl and commandeered the wife of one of his native Hawaiian workers as his bedmate.

Sutter reminds me of a Nineteenth-Century Donald Trump. A charlatan who never pays his bills, a repeat failure in his businesses, a toady to those above him and a beast in his dealings with those beneath him. No-one should feel sorry for how Sutter ended his life as no one should shed any tears if Trump ends up as many of us hope he will.

We then ate lunch after which I went for that walk I had promised myself.

 
B. THE BIG ENDIVE AGAIN:

 
IMG_7821
A View of the Big Endive by the Bay Looking North.

 
So once again it was time to set off for the Big Endive by the Bay for my infusion treatment. Every three weeks, we set off for San Francisco to spend one or two days at Barrie and Peter’s house while I attend to my medical issues. This time we traveled to the City by train.
IMG_7810
A View from the Train.

 
We spent a pleasant evening eating Barrie’s wonderfully prepared food and talking about “The Good Old Days,” mainly the 1960s and 1970s.

The next day it rained. Peter drove us to the hospital. My medical reports were pleasantly positive.
IMG_7817
Naida waiting for me to finish my infusion at UDSF.

 

 

That evening after dinner Barrie, Naida and I (Peter was off on a gig with his band) went to a small bookstore on 24th St. to listen to a friend of Barrie’s flog his book, “An Old Man’s Game” about an aging Jewish detective in LA. There seems to have been a spate of Jewish Detective novels recently. Sheldon Has written one that is set in Chicago. Michael Chabon wrote one a few years back that takes place in a mythical Alaska shortly after WWII.

During his talk to us, the author, who is 72 years old and had just published his first book, told us he has written four more novels featuring this old detective awaiting publication and he planned to write many more. He said he was afraid either he or his main character will die before he finishes the series.

Morning came, Barrie and Peter were off to LA for Barrie’s sister’s memorial. They dropped us off at UCSF Parnassus for my neurological examination. It was scheduled in an effort to discover why for the past year I had been staggering as I walked. It wasn’t because I was drinking too much alcohol. It burns my throat now so at best I am able to get down one drink a week. It wasn’t about cannabis since if I do it at all it is usually only late at night to help me sleep. So, what could it be?

After several hours of tests and consultation between two doctors, they, the doctors, said they did not know what caused the problem (or if there was a problem at all) and recommended physical therapy, an MRI and a return visit four months from now. Oh, they also wished me Good Luck.

IMG_7824

 

So, lightened by an ambiguous sense of accomplishment, we left the hospital, wound our way to the train station where we boarded a surprisingly crowded train back to Sacramento. Sitting across from us during the ride was a pleasant young woman of Indian (India Indian) extraction who lives in Emeryville and was traveling to spend the weekend with some ex-classmates from UC Davis. She smiled a lot and shared her french-fries with us. Oh, the joys of traveling by train.

 

 
C. NOT A BOOK REPORT:

 

 

I am reading Donald Hall’s A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety. It is a memoir of sorts. Hall, who at one time served as US Poet Laureate, writes a series of mostly short essays in which he reminisces about his life and other people he has met especially poets. Of the poets some he liked for one reason or another and others he didn’t. For example, for an essay by the poet Allen Tate, Hall’s essay simply stat

In one of his essays of only 700 words entitled interestingly Seven Hundred Words, he wrote that he had spent a month writing it. In other essays, he claimed he sometimes revises them up to 80 times.

I thought about revising things I write 80 times. That seems like real work. I’d never do that for pleasure. When I write anything I reserve my editing only to checking-up on spell check which has a tendency to use its own judgment to revise whatever I had written with which it disagrees.

I have received comments on things I have published in one blog or another such as, “Forgive him. It is obvious that English is his second language,” or “Your writing sounds like poetry,” and “If you are so smart, how come your use of grammar is so bad.” I wonder if I revised and rewrote whatever I write 80 times it would improve  — at least enough for it to be considered English. I doubt it. Anyway, that would make it too much like work and too little like fun.

Recently, I reviewed a post I had planned to repost in another blog. As I read it, I realized it was pure gibberish. I then tried to edit it into something that resembled English and failed. The most egregiously bad sentence was:

“They proved exceptionally helpful and often assisted in increasing production but the bankers need for timely repayment is not the same as the investors wish for profit and may at times suppress production in order to satisfy the need for repayment.”
(https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/musings-on-what-is-capitalism/)

Hall ends his book with a brief essay about a large maple tree growing in the yard of his ancestral home in New Hampshire that had been blown down by a recent storm. He recalls a swing hanging from a large limb of that tree that he played on when he was a child. He then describes the gathering of relatives and friends who assisted in taking down the remnants of the tree until only a large stump remained. The essay and the book concludes with the following passage:

“One more story derives from the death of my tree [A grand maple tree]. The tree blew down in July, and of course, nobody knows when my granddaughter Allison and her husband Will will move into this old house, extending one family’s residence since 1865. They will take over here when I die, but now I was able, with the help of a windstorm, to give them a wedding present that should last awhile. When I was a boy, elms lined Route 4, but by the time Jane and I arrived, Dutch elm disease had killed them all. A few years ago, Philippa told me of newly bred elms that were immune. She and I conspired, and acting as my agent, she bought a new American elm, and after the great stump was removed a slim four-foot elm sapling took the maple’s place. Philippa and Jerry, my son-in-law planted in on a Sunday in early September while Allison and Will and I looked on. It was Tree Day, which I proclaim a family holiday. For now, the elm will require watering, three doses of three gallons a week, applied by my helpers. The sapling came with a bronze plaque inscribed to the future tenants, to be affixed to the elm’s eventual trunk. I am free to imagine another grand-child swinging from another branch of another tree.”

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

This evening I watched the most recent of the interminable Democratic presidential nomination debates. I learned something from the commercials, however. The nation seems to be suffering from an epidemic of psoriasis and other heartbreaking skin diseases forcing citizens of the nation to avoid appearing in public for fear of embarrassment. This national problem was not discussed in the debate. I think I will withhold my support for any candidate until one of them comes up with a plan to deal with this crisis.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

The following reproduces Chapter 3 of my unfinished and never to be published novel “Here Comes Dragon.”

 

Dragon’s breath:

 

“A good detective should be afraid…always.”

 

 

Chapter 3.

 

I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. I only had opened it a few inches before it was wrenched from my hand. A big guy stood there holding the door and filling all the space between the door and the door jamb. He was not too much taller than I am, but he was big, with a body poised somewhere between muscle and fat.

“What do you want,” he growled?

I stepped back. Said, “I’m looking for Mark Holland.”

“Why?”

Thought this might be a good time for a clever story. Could not think of one. Went with the truth. “I have been asked to find him.”

“Why,” again?

Still lacking clever responses, said, “I’ve been hired to find him.” Took a business card from my pocket handed it to him. He looked at it for a long time. Said, “A Detective eh. Why don’t you come in and we’ll talk?”

I said, “If it is all the same to you, I feel better standing out here in the hall.”

The door opened a little wider. Another fat guy appeared. He had a phone pressed against his ear with one hand. In his other hand, he had a gun that was pointed at me. “Get in here,” fat guy number one ordered.

At that moment I noted a strange phenomenon. My clothing went instantly from dry to wet. At the same time, I felt like I shit my pants. Said, “I think my chances of being shot are greater in there than standing out here in the hall.”

I flashed on how stupid that sounded. The embarrassment of shitting in my pants began to leak into my consciousness. Did not get far with either thought as they were interrupted by an explosion to the side of my face. As I toppled toward the floor, my first thought was to protect my computer. The second was that I might be dead.

Thought I was shot. Actually, Fat Guy One suddenly had reached out with his ham sized hand and slapped me aside my head as they say. His heavy ring raked across my jaw.

Before landing on the floor, I was grabbed and dragged into the room. I looked down the hall in the vain hope that Ann had seen what happened and would call the cops. No such luck.

I was thrown onto a bean bag chair on the floor. Thought, “Who the fuck still has a bean bag chair?” Said, “Who the fuck has a bean bag chair any more?” But did not get it all out as the pain had finally hit and I realized that I had bitten my tongue and was dribbling blood down my chin. Got out “Woo fla bee or?” before giving up and grabbing my jaw. I was bleeding there too from the ring. Said, “Shiss!” Added “Blon.” My tongue was swelling up.

Fat guy one threw me a dirty dishrag. Thought I would probably die of sepsis if it touched my open wound. Spit the blood from my mouth into the rag folded it, and pressed it against the side of my face anyway.

Fats Two was talking on the phone. Whispered to Fats One. Fats One said, “Who sent you?”

Replied something that sounded like, “That’s confidential.”

Fats one raised his fist.

I quickly responded, “Gul fren.”

“Fucking Mavis,” said SF fats.

“No, na yeh” I commented. I thought I was being clever. They ignored me

Fats Two whispered to Porky One again.

Porky asked, “Find anything yet?”

“Hired hour ago. This first stop.”

More talking on the phone and whispering. Fats Prime asked, “What did Mavis tell you?”

What I answered sounded a lot like, “Not much. He’s missing. She’s worried.”

More talking on the phone and whispering.

I said more or less, “We could save a lot of time if I just talked directly to whoever is on the phone.” Although it did not come out quite like that, I actually was getting used to speaking through my swollen tongue and frozen jaw.

They ignored me. Fats One said, “What’s she paying you — tattoos or blow jobs?” Thrilled with his cleverness he let out a surprisingly high pitched giggle.

I did not answer as I struggled with a clever comeback and failed mostly out of fear of retaliation.

He said more forcefully, “What do you charge?”

“Two hundred dollars a day. One week minimum. One half paid in advance.”

Some more whisperings into the phone. There seemed to be some disagreement.

Fats Prime finally turned to me and said, “We’d like to hire you to help us find him.”

I was gobsmacked. Wanted to say, “Fuck you” or “What the fuck,” even. Said instead, “Can’t, conflict of interest.”

Prime Cut One turned red-faced and advanced on me. I quickly said, “On second thought, I can probably figure a way around it.”

He stopped, smiled reached into his pocket and pulled out a wallet. From it, he extracted 10 one hundred dollar bills and placed them in my hand not holding the towel. “You will get another thousand if you find him.”

Pocketed the money. Said, “Whose my client?”

Again with the whispering. “Me,” said First Lard Brother.

Asked, “What’s your name?”

“No name.” He scribbled on a piece of paper. Handed it to me. “My phone number. Call every evening at about five o’clock.”

“What can you tell me about Holland to help me along?”

Again the phone. The Fats One then said, “Ask Mavis. She knows more than she is telling you.”

They then both picked me up out of the bean bag and guided me toward the door.

“How do you know I won’t go to the police?”

“If you do we will have to kill you.” They both giggled in falsetto.

I knew that was bullshit but I was still scared shitless, literally and figuratively and I knew involvement of the cops was futile.

Once back in the hall, I ran to Ann’s door pounded on it and rang the awful buzzer. I do not know what I expected I’d do if she answered; cry in her arms perhaps. No response anyway. Pictured her standing in the middle of the room staring blank-eyed at the door.

Turned, grabbing the computer in one hand and the bloody rag in another, ran out of the building and back down the hill to Pino’s place.

When Pino saw me he said, “What the fuck happened?”

I ran by him and into the restaurant. Said as I passed. “Bathroom. Ice in a napkin quick.”

In the toilet, I threw the rag into the wastebasket. The bleeding had mostly stopped. Dropped my pants and drawers and sat. Saw that I really had shit my pants, a little not much, but enough to make me groan. My hands were shaking as was the rest of me.

When I left the toilet Pino was there with the ice in a napkin. Repeated, “What the fuck happened?”

Took the napkin with the ice, pressed it to my face, said, “Later, I need a taxi right now.” Pino went into the street flagged down a cab. I got in. Gave the driver the address of my condo on Fourth Street, waved to Pino and slunk into my seat as far down as I could go.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Naida and Pookies trip into the Northwest on Top:

 

Heading Home:

 

We left Salmon and set off through Idaho to Boise where we would take a plane back to Sacramento. Although we were driving across the entire State of Idaho as we did about 10 days ago, we were not traversing the high desert of southern Idaho as we did then. Instead, we were plunging directly into the remote alpine upland of the state and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We approached the highlands through some beautiful and scenic river valleys.
IMG_E7368

 
Soon the majestic Sawtooth Mountains sprang up before us.
IMG_E7371

 

We, of course, stopped for photographs before plunging into the narrow steep inclines of the passageway through the mountains.

IMG_7397

 

As we approached the far side of the uplands we noticed a number of outdoor natural mineral springs along the side of the road. The photograph below shows one of them.

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Then we were in Boise. We checked into a motel. We were too tired to partake in the Boise nightlife if any. Instead, we took a brief stroll through the mist along the pathway by the river, returned to the motel and fell exhaustedly into the bid.

The next morning, we caught out flight back home to Sacramento. It was a great trip.

 
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Economics — The use of numbers to justify how the rich got that way.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Geronimo’s Song
by Geronimo (Goyathlay)

“The song that I will sing is an old song, so old that none knows who made it. It has been handed down through generations and was taught to me when I was but a little lad. It is now my own song. It belongs to me. This is a holy song (medicine-song), and great is its power. The song tells how, as I sing, I go through the air to a holy place where Yusun (The Supreme Being) will give me power to do wonderful things. I am surrounded by little clouds, and as I go through the air I change, becoming spirit only.”
MEDICINE-SONG
Sung by Geronimo

O, ha le
O, ha le!
Awbizhaye
Shichl hadahiyago niniya
O, ha le
O, ha le
Tsago degi naleya
Ah–yu whi ye!
O, ha le
O, ha le!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Through the air
I fly upon the air
Towards the sky, far, far, far,
O, ha le

O, ha le!
There to find the holy place,
Ah, now the change comes o’re me!
O, ha le
O, ha le!

Geronimo’s changed form is symbolized by a circle, and this is surrounded by a mystic aureole. The holy place is symbolized by the sun, which is decorated with a horned head-dress emblematic of divine power. This is the insignia of the Holy Man.
(http://indians.org/welker/gerosong.htm)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“You know what Trump is?”

“Tell me.”

“He’s Putin’s shithouse cleaner. He does everything for little Vladi that little Vladi can’t do for himself: pisses on European unity, pisses on human rights, pisses on NATO. Assures us that Crimea and Ukraine belong to the Holy Russian Empire, the Middle East belongs to the Jews and the Saudis, and to hell with the world order. And you Brits, what do you do? You suck his dick and invite him to tea with your Queen.”
le Carré, John. Agent Running in the Field (p. 141). Penguin Publishing Group.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

fertility-rates

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_E7758
Boo-boo the Barking Dog after having done something he should not have done.

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 18 Joseph 0009. (January 6, 2020)

“Remember, write to your Congressman. Even if he can’t read, write to him.”
Will Rogers

 
MAY YOUR NEW YEAR BE YOUR BEST YET.

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES DURING THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS:

 

 
A. CHRISTMAS:

 
Christmas morning arrived dark and dank in the Enchanted Forest. Last evening, under a crystal clear sky, we attended a Christmas party at Naida’s daughter’s home in Land Park. It was fun. We sang Christmas carols, ate Chinese food, and opened presents. For a present, I got a throw blanket to remind me how old I am while keeping me warm in the evenings watching old movies on TCM and sipping egg-nog laced with brandy. I also received a book by Donald Hall entitled A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety also to remind me how old I am becoming. The book contains a series of short essays by the author, who also used to be the nation’s Poet Laureate, about how it feels to be ninety and still alive, the famous and not so famous people he has met, and his sometimes trenchant thoughts on various unconnected things. To quote the author on the nature and tenor of his opinions, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” I loved the book.

Today we drove into the golden hills to give HRM and Dick (or as we refer to him Uncle Mask) their Christmas presents. When we arrived, we learned they were both down with the flu. Hayden was nestled in bed in his teen cave. I went downstairs and gave him his Christmas presents, eight 5 by 7 wood-backed photographs of him and me over the years, also a pocket all-purpose tool, all separately wrapped. He unwrapped them one and a time and thanked me profusely after exposing each one.

Leaving him to ponder the meaning and significance of my presents and wrestle with the physical and psychological miseries of being sick on Christmas Day, I returned upstairs to find Naida and UM in the kitchen making coffee laced with Kailua. For the next 3 or 4 hours, we sat around the table and discussed ancient native-American society, the origin of bees, turkeys and grapes in California, petroleum development, coastal regulation, Willie Brown and related subjects. About halfway through our round-table discussion, H, having resolved whatever quandaries I had left with him, emerged from his sickbed and told us he was off to the skatepark. The skatepark I concluded must be a miracle remedy that can cure certain adolescents of whatever psychological, physical or existential issues they may have to wrestle with during that brief and certainly not beloved few years of raging hormones before recognition sets in as to how bad life can really get.

Eventually, Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest and watched a thoroughly silly movie starring William Powell and a far too young Debbie Reynolds. I wrapped myself warmly in my throw. It was warm. I was happy.

 
B. BOXING DAY:

 

 

(“In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect ‘Christmas boxes’ of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year… This custom is linked to an older British tradition where the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families since they would have to serve their masters on Christmas Day. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.” [WIKIPEDIA])

Boxing Day (or if you will St. Stephen Protomartyr Day or the first day of Kwanzaa) broke, as our mornings usually do, with Boo-boo the Barking Dog, our reliable alarm clock, barking. Every morning at 9AM he begins at the upstairs window then running as though his fur was on fire down the stairs, high pitched almost hysterical barking following, to the living room window for a few moments then to the sliding glass doors by the garden and finally back again to the upstairs window where he then sits quietly and, it seems to me, smugly waiting to see if one of us responds and lets him out for his morning pee and breakfast. If not, he leaps onto the bed pawing at Naida’s arm until she gets up and staggers down the stairs to do his bidding.

Thus, unless we wake up at 7:30 or 8:00 this leaves little time for shagging. For those who wonder about shagging over 80 be advised while perhaps the more athletic positions are a dim memory, we decrepits remain quite able, at times, to enjoy all the pleasures of that activity with little of the self-consciousness of youth.

This morning, for my viewing pleasure, Naida provided me with a brief fashion show of the tennis outfits she had received as Christmas presents from her daughters. After this, she presented me with a nice cup of cocoa.

Later we went shopping for pants for me — a belated Christmas present. All this excitement so exhausted us we went to bed at 8PM. St. Stephen Protomartyr would be proud.

 

 

C. SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST DAY OR FOR THOSE NOT OF A RELIGIOUS BENT YOU MAY CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE ONE DAY OF THE FEAST OF THE WINTER VEIL OR LIFE DAY (THE WOOKIE CELEBRATION OF LIFE) OR NOTHING AT ALL AND JUST CHILL OUT.

 
What was different this morning than all other mornings? This morning Boo-boo the barking dog did not bark. I woke up alone in bed. Naida and the dog had slipped out of the room without a sound and were enjoying an early breakfast together in the downstairs studio.

The only thing that happened today that may be of interest to Johnny the Saint or Chewbacca the Wookie is that I learned that today’s adolescents are experts in the gastronomical merits of various fast food joints.

 

D. HOLY INNOCENTS DAY:

 

(“On this day it is custom to give the youngest child in the household the power to rule the day. From what to eat, where to go and what to do, the youngest is in charge. In Mexico, it is a day for children to play practical jokes and pranks on their elders.” National Day Calendar.)

Today also happens to be National Download Day. I do not know what that means. It is also Saturday, the day of the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House here in the Enchanted Forest. Alas, we missed it. Naida was having a long, long conversation on the phone with someone, so I decided to make my breakfast and write this.

I did nothing the rest of the day — not anything notable, nothing, not even a nap. Nothing is hard to do. Try it sometime. We did walk the dog this evening, however.

 

 

E. TODAY, DECEMBER 29, I HAVE LEARNED IS: BARBIE DOLL BIRTHDAY, SECRETS DAY, SENDING SHORT MESSAGES TO UNKNOWN NUMBERS DAY, INTERNATIONAL NUTCASE DAY, AND, SPARKLER DAY.

 
(Note: I can find no reference on the internet for any of these days. I did find a site that indicated that this was, Still Need To Do Day. [I thought that was every day.] If one were really interested, one could check the Catholic Saints Calendar and find about 50 saints whose celebrations are listed for this day including Albert of Gambron, Trophimus of Arles and Ebrulf of Ouche [Ouch?] Ouche is a river in the Cote-d’Or in France.)

At about 11 AM today I set off for Peter and Barrie’s home in The Big Endive By The Bay to spend the night before my appointment at UCSF for my treatment. Naida stayed home to work on Volume II of her memoir and attend to the needs of the dog.

That evening Jason, Hiromi, and Amanda joined Peter, Barrie and I for dinner. Barrie prepared a delicious shrimp and Polenta dish for dinner. Unfortunately, she added jalapeño peppers making it too hot and spicy for me to eat, so I contented myself with a banana, a pear, a Japanese yam and a slice of coconut pie. I was happy and sept well.

 

 

F. DECEMBER 30, NATIONAL BACON DAY:

 
(It is also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day and the last day of Hanukkah. Or, if you would prefer you can celebrate the feast day of Saint Raynerius of Aquila Bishop of Forconium (modern Aquila), Abruzzi region, Italy who was noted for his excellent administrative skills, but little else. Does this make him the patron saint of bureaucrats?)
In the morning, I drove to Mission Bay for some CT scans, meetings with the doctor and my infusion. As I walked through the newly built areas of Mission Bay, I could not help feeling like I was participating in a movie about a dystopian world of the future. I strolled through long narrow public spaces with monolithic facades rising on each side. The view of the new development along the shoreline with their bulges and sharp edges looked like cartoon renderings of the city of the future. Unlike most cities, there were fewer people drifting along with you as you walk down the streets and sidewalks. Instead, they seemed to pop in and out of various doors of the buildings as you walk by. There was a small market at the edge of the bay where shaggy Dead Heads sold their wares, mostly dope paraphernalia. Strange tents filled a few spaces that appeared to have been intended to be parks. One seemed to require playing a round of miniature golf before shopping in the tents for something to eat. Odd I see.

My meeting with the doctor went well — no evidence of the cancer spreading.

After my infusion, I met my grandson Anthony. We walked to The Ramp one of the two old hippy hang-outs that still cling to the edge of the Bay. Today they are filled with somewhat less colorful patrons. We sat outdoors and enjoyed the view of the bay, boats and the old shipyard that included a large tanker under repair.
IMG_7779
I then set off for the Enchanted Forest and ran into a traffic jam as soon as I crossed the Bay Bridge in Emeryville. I heard on the car radio the entire freeway had been closed in Vallejo for a “police action” and drivers were advised to find alternative routes. I took 680 and eventually arrived home three hours later. There were no news reports that evening about what the “police action” was all about.

 

G. HOGMANAY AND NEW YEAR’S EVE.

 
On New Year’s Eve, we attended a party at the Nepenthe Club House. It was scheduled to end at nine PM when the ball was dropped on Times Square in New York. It was planned like this so that we decrepits could get home at a decent hour. Even so, most of the people had left long before the Times Square ball did its thing. We stayed to the bitter end, however.

 

H. NEW YEAR’S DAY, AND ST. ZYGMUNT GORAZDOWSKI DAY.

 
I did nothing at all today. I took a long nap in the afternoon. Watched a bit of television. Perhaps I was resting up from 2019 and getting ready to tackle 2010 — then again perhaps not.
I. NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION DAY, NATIONAL PERSONAL TRAINER AWARENESS DAY, ST. BASIL THE GREAT DAY, ST. BLIDULF DAY AND ST. CASPAR DEL BUFALO DAY.
This morning broke sunny and relatively warm for this time of year. The arrival of the garbage trucks and the leaf blowers drove Boo-boo the Barking Dog into paroxysms of hysterical barking and sent him running like crazy throughout the house.

Determined to approach the new year with greater vigor and determination than I evidenced yesterday, and to escape the unholy racket both inside the house as well as my realization that we were out of my beloved English Muffins, I left the house and strode vigorously and purposefully through the Enchanted Forest to where I had parked the car. I drove to the nearest shopping center where I stopped at Starbucks for breakfast after which I went to Safeway to buy the English Muffins, a few other necessities (e.g., frozen ravioli and several bars of dark chocolate with sea salt) and a bouquet of flowers for Naida. I then returned home with a sense of accomplishment that I was convinced equipped me to successfully face whatever the current year throws my way.

I put the groceries away and went upstairs for a nap. I had enough vigor and determination for the day.

 
J. TODAY JANUARY 3 IS 10TH OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. IT IS ALSO THE FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS AS WELL AS OF KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA IN THE SYRO-MALABAR CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 
On the 10th day of Christmas, I picked up Hayden, Kaleb, and their snowboards and drove them to Northstar near Lake Tahoe for a day of caroming down the snow-covered slopes. It was a sunny and surprisingly warm day, about 50 degrees. After we arrived, the boys set off for the slopes and I set about seeking amusement in the pseudo-alpine village at their base.

IMG_7785
Ready to hit the slopes.

 

first ate a breakfast of pancakes that cost as though they were made of gold and tasted like it also. I then wandered about and ran into Jake and his family. They were leaving because Jake’s friend from Arizona, Kaden, had fractured his arm snowboarding yesterday. Jake’s mom said the emergency room when she visited yesterday looked more like the results of a terrorist strike than a room full of holiday vacationers. Skiing seems to be hazardous duty for recreation seekers.

I then found a Starbucks where I was surprisingly given a free cup of coffee. I took my free coffee over to a seat by a window where I watched the crowds strolling by while I slowly sipped my drink. I had drunk enough coffee that morning that I amused myself by contemplating the possibility of dying here of caffeine poisoning.

After a while, I left and strolled through the faux village and inspected the wares in a few shops. Tiring of this, I sat on an upholstered bench by a fire pit near the skating rink. I watched the skaters, some gliding by and others whose by was something less than gliding. I also listened to a female twosome singing western tunes on the stage next to the rink.

IMG_7787

Just as I was about to drift off into a mindless reverie, HRM called to say that they had finished snowboarding and were waiting for me nearby. I found them and we were soon heading off for home.

 

K. TODAY WE CELEBRATE THE DAY OF THE FALLEN AGAINST THE COLONIAL REPRESSION (ANGOLA), DAY OF THE MARTYRS (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO), HWINUKAN MUKEE (OKINAWA ISLANDS, JAPAN), OGONI DAY (MOVEMENT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE OGONI PEOPLE), AND WORLD BRAILLE DAY.

 

 

It is Saturday today and Naida and I attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Clubhouse. It went as usual and I paid little attention, drifting off into a semi-dream state while the others talked. Winnie sat down beside me. We talked about the state or our health. She observed that I needed a haircut and recommended the stylist she uses. She then invited me to join her and a few of the girls for a drink after the meeting I declined. Naida and I returned home and vegetated for the rest of the day. We did not celebrate those who had fallen opposing colonial oppression in Angola. But I did think about them. I, however, did not think very much about the martyrs or the Ogoni I am afraid.

 

 

L. TODAY IS THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS AND THE TWELFTH NIGHT OF CHRISTMAS, NATIONAL BIRD DAY, AND HARBIN INTERNATIONAL ICE AND SNOW SCULPTURE FESTIVAL (HARBIN, CHINA).

 

 

The Twelfth Day of Christmas arrived in the Enchanted Forest as bright as springtime. After breakfast, I felt the need — an itch — to do something, anything, even to just take a walk. And so I did. I hooked up Boo-boo to his leash and set off. It wasn’t much of a walk but it will do for me.

It is now a day after writing the preceding paragraph. I tried to recall what else I did yesterday. Failing, I turned again to Naida and asked, “Do you recall what we did yesterday?”

“Not much” she replied, “and I enjoyed it.” After a moment of reflection, she added, “We did see a marvelous movie with wonderful music.”

“Do you remember its name” I inquired.

More reflection. “Fiddler on the Roof,” she eventually declared.

There you have it. Pookie’s Twelve Days of Christmas, such as it was.

 
You have fun too and remember to always keep on trucking.

th

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 
In 1924 Calvin Coolidge signed into law a draconian piece of legislation severely restricting Italian, Greek, Jewish and Eastern European immigration to America on the grounds the people from these areas were inferior to those white Americans who emigrated from Europe’s northwest. They, these descendants of immigrants from Northwestern Europe, also believed these newcomers were more susceptible to crimInal and violent behavior, abuse of drugs and alcohol and prone to shirking work in favor of abusing public welfare.

As an descendant of Italian-American immigrants myself, I am ashamed that so many of my generation of descendants of Italian-American immigrants have bought into the slander by the Trump Administration and the white nationalists of the far right that the immigrants of today, the Mexicans, Caribbean Islanders, and Africans, are guilty of the same malicious conduct that our ancestors were.

 

 

 

 PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 
A. Salmon Idaho, Sacagawea’s home town and a shattered family.

 
Leaving the big hole we crossed the Bitterroot Valley entered the Lemhi pass through which Lewis and Clark passed on their way to the Pacific. We dropped down into Idaho and the town of Salmon. Salmon Idaho is a smallish western town, near the place where Sacagawea was born and the home of some family members of the Smith branch of Naida’s family. The patriarch of this branch Don Ian Smith was the town’s Methodist minister and the principal author of two books published and substantially revised by Naida, Simon’s Daughter, and Murder on the Middle Fork. Two of his children Heather and Rockwell still live there.

Heather, a tiny woman, who in her mind seventies still rides out into the fields herding cattle. We arrived at the ranch just as Heather and her daughter rode in from herding some stray cattle into the corral.
Heather is also an accomplished author writing many books on the care and training of horses. She is also one of the most amazing pack rats I have ever met. I doubt whether she had thrown anything away in her entire life. Even the detritus lying around outside the ranch seemed to include farm implements going back to the nineteenth century.
IMG_7345

 

Heather’s daughter Andrea, a woman who lives her life as she wants to — untamed and tempestuous suffers a devastating injury almost 20 years ago. I wildfire, one of the largest and most disastrous in Idaho’s history began on a hill near the ranch. She and a friend quickly jumped on a tractor and sped off toward the fire intending to dig a firebreak in an effort to halt its advance. Alas, the wind changed driving the fire towards them. She jumped off the tractor and attempted to outrun it. She did not succeed. The fire swiped over her leaving third-degree burns over much of her body. She was eventually transported to the burn center in Salt Lake where she remained for a few years. She then spent the next eight years or so receiving skin grafts. It has been only a year or two since the worst of that process was finished. Now, unless one gets close to her and looks closely her scars are barely visible.

Naida West
Lynn Thomas, Naida, Heather, Andrea, and Andrea’s most recent boyfriend whose name we forgot.

 
We also visited Rockwell Smith and his wife who live further up the canyon. Rockwell was a noted radio personality at the major Boise radio station who now, in his retirement, still conducts a popular talk show on the local Salmon radio station.

IMG_E7354
Naida, Rockwell, and Beverly.

 
Rockwell is also a sought-after Santa Clause during the Christmas season in Salmon.

One eventing, Naida and I had dinner at the Junkyard Bistro, Salmon’s premier restaurant. It actually is a bar with a few tables in the back. The food, however, is very good (a great gnocchi dish) and the good California wine goes for only $9 a bottle.

IMG_E7356
THE JUNKYARD BISTRO.

 
Finally, it was time to leave and return home.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
As citizens of the United States of America, our allegiance is to the Constitution. The Constitution of the United States creates neither flags nor banners, nor pledges, nor anthems to worship.

 

 

C. Today’s Poem:

 

Affirmation

To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.
If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.
Let us stifle under mud at the pond’s edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.
Donald Hall

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

“Some miles to the south, close to the picturesque little village of Cothersley, dawn gave the mist still shrouding Cothersley Hall the kind of fuzzy golden glow with which unoriginal historical documentary makers signal their next inaccurate reconstruction. For a moment, an observer viewing the western elevation of the building might almost believe he was back in the late seventeenth century just long enough after the construction of the handsome manor house for the ivy to have got established. But a short stroll around to the southern front of the house, bringing into view the long and mainly glass-sided eastern extension, would give him pause. And when further progress allowed him to look through the glass and see a table bearing a glowing computer screen standing alongside an indoor swimming pool, unless possessed of a politician’s capacity to ignore contradictory evidence, he must then admit the sad truth that he was still in the twenty-first century.”

Hill, Reginald. Good Morning, Midnight (Dalziel and Pascoe) (p. 101). Harper Paperbacks.

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:

What-are-the-environmental-impacts-of-agriculture-800x518

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

Sicily
Sicily.

Categories: January through March 2020, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Pookie 0008. (December 12, 2019)

 

“When the Judgment Day comes, civilization will have an alibi: ‘I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with.’”
Will Rogers

 

Have a very happy Christmas, Saturnalia, St. Lucia’s Day, Festivus, Ding Zhi, Shab-e Yalda, Into Raymi, Shalako, Hanukkah, Boxer Day, Toji, Kwanza, Three Kings Day, Las Posadas, and whatever other winter solstice ceremony you prefer,

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 
I am sitting here this morning in my favorite chair in Peter and Barrie’s house typing this. Naida sits at the table across the room reading the newspaper, her coffee cup at the ready by her right hand. Barrie has gone out into the misty morning to walk Ramsey. Peter has disappeared upstairs to prepare for the day. Boo-Boo the Barking Dog has just finished barking at imagined threats to the safety of the household and now lies quietly, head between paws, on the black sofa to my left. It is a good beginning to the day.

Naida and I arrived last night and today I intend to spend most of the day at the hospital for my immunotherapy infusion.

We agreed that Naida would spend the day here tending to the dog while I went to the hospital. I got into the car and had driven part of the way from Noe Valley to Mission Bay when I decided to check my wallet for my identification and credit card. I could not find either of them. In panic, I returned to pick up Naida so that at least I would have someone with me with the means to pay for whatever may be needed. Later I discovered the missing cards were in my wallet exactly where they were supposed to be. And so, another senior moment passes through my life.

The only interesting thing that transpired at the hospital was the doctor informing me that my previous CT scans seemed to show cancer spreading.  Adding that it was so small he could not hazard a guess at to what it may mean. So, he ordered new scans to be done before my next infusion and assured me that even if they do show some spreading of cancer he has me scheduled for participation in some clinical trials.

The next morning, after we left Peter and Barrie’s house, we stopped at Red’s Java House on the Embarcadero for breakfast with Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony asked me to tell some stories as he has begun to take an interest in family history. I told a few of them including my midnight knife fight in the dark alley’s of Istanbul in the early ’70s. We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 
B. THE SATURDAY MORNING COFFEE.

 
The following morning we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. It was our “dear leader” Gerry’s birthday and so we had a cake and sang happy birthday to her. Later Winnie and I told each other a few stories. She told me that Ducky, the woman in the group whose white hair was always perfectly coiffed had some interesting stories also. Ducky lived and traveled in many places in the world with her husband who was in charge of a US submarine squadron. One of Ducky’s stories about her being kidnapped at knifepoint in Japan, she felt was worth hearing. So, she called Ducky over and left. I asked about the kidnapping. Ducky, said “it was nothing as serious as a kidnapping. It was more like being taken hostage.”

She explained that they were living in Japan at the time and she had gone to the bank. As she approached the teller, a Japanese man rushed up behind her, grabbed her, put a knife to her throat and demanded the teller give him money or he would kill the American lady. Ducky was proud of the fact that somehow for some unknown reason she had the presence of mind to signal to the teller to call the embassy. The teller cleverly gave the thief two large bags heavily filled with coins to slow him down as he tried to get away. The thief then dragged Ducky and the bags of coins across the floor of the bank and out into the street where he threw her down and tried to make his escape. Unfortunately for him, weighted down with the coins, he was quickly subdued by two policemen armed only with batons.

What happened later was the most interesting part of the story. Everyone, the thief, Ducky, the tellers, bystanders, and the two policemen were all taken to police headquarters, placed in a large room together where they sat around a table and each gave their account of the events. Then they were all taken back to the bank where they each, in turn, had to reprise their role and movements in the drama. They then were all returned to the station to review their statements once again. After about 12 hours of this, the embassy secured Ducky’s release. But wait there is more.

A few weeks later, Ducky received a visit from the parents of the thief. Apparently, following the trial, the parents were ordered to beg her forgiveness. Much to her embarrassment, they then crawled across the floor to lie at her feet and apologize for their son’s behavior.

Still later, she was ordered to appear at the prison to view the cell in which the miscreant was imprisoned. It was a small room. Ten prisoners were kept there. There were sleeping mats on the floor and a bucket by the wall. The jailer assigned to the room, she was told, checks the prisoners very closely every night because if one escaped the punishment was for the jailor, himself, to take his place. Finally, she was informed that when the thief in question was let out of prison he would be prohibited from appearing in public without a member of his family accompanying him.

 

 

C. SMOGY THINGS.

 
Naida drives a white 1991 Mitsubishi sports car. It is the model that allows one to choose a touring or sports mode as they drive. In sports mode, the car can reach into the 180 mph range. Alas, while seeking to re-register the car for 2019 (yes, we are grossly late), it failed its smog test. As a result, we agreed to switch cars (she the Toyota Forerunner and I the Mitsubishi) while I set about doing whatever needs doing in order to secure the smog clearance. We first sought the opinion of something called a “smog referee.” That worthy, we were told, was supposed to assist people whose automobiles fail the smog test. “Not so,” he said. His job, he informed us, was to do the same smog inspection as had previously been done. And so he did with the same results. So, after that I enlisted the assistance of my grandson, who had worked for a few years in an auto repair shop, as well as Hayden and the Scooter Gang — they being at that age when adolescent boys obsess about all things automotive.

On Monday, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to confer with my automotive consultant, Hayden. He informed me that he and the gang reviewed the referee’s report and believe that the repairs to the engine needed to bring it into compliance should not be too expensive. He agreed to seek out some estimates.

While driving back to the Enchanted Forest, I realized how much I enjoyed driving a sports car and decided to try to persuade Naida to make the switch of automobiles permanent.

 

 

D. AT NIGHT WITH NAIDA AND ANNABELL LEE.

 

 

One night, perhaps it was the same night, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills, Boo Boo the Barking Dog lay strangely quiet on the chair beside me. Naida sat at her computer happily pounding the keys in order to produce the paragraphs making up volume two of her memoir. I, in my black vest over a red sweater, sat in my favorite reclining chair, my laptop set properly upon my lap, flipping through the poems in one of my favorite poetry sites (PoemHunter) when I happened to strike with the curser a tiny arrow and a somewhat reedy voice with what sounded like a British accent emerged and filled the room with a recitation of Edgar Allen Poe’s Annabell Lee.

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of ANNABEL LEE;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

And so on.

The dog raised his head for a moment then returned to sleep. Naida suddenly stopped typing, turned from the computer and began reciting the poem word for word along with the narrator. When they both had finished, she sprang from her chair and exclaimed, “He said it all wrong. He sounded like he was selling aspirin. He is no poet or actor. To Poe, this was highly emotional. There were angels and demons and sadness and loss.” She then sat back down and returned to her typing. Shortly thereafter she got up and took the dog for a walk.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 
A. Naida and Pookie’s excellent adventure through the Pacific Northwest.  (continued):

 

Drive to Miller Ranch in Alder Montana and the Headwaters of the Missouri River.

 

The sun shone brightly on the morning we set out for south-western Montana to visit Naida’s cousin Julie Miller to our left on the green broad flat floor of the Yellowstone River Valley, a heard of pronghorn antelope bouncing along matched the speed of the car.

We drove through Livingston a picturesque old western town. This area of Montana is dotted with towns like this and peopled today mostly with aging ranchers, successful artists, and wealthy bourgeoisie seeking a bucolic refuge from the urban conurbations they helped destroy.

Eventually, we arrived at Alder, a town with little there except “Chicks Bar.” Although there are very few roads in the town and surrounding area and we tried to follow the directions Naida had been given, we nevertheless promptly got lost. We called Julie Miller, Naida’s cousin, at the number we had received when we called Chick’s Bar before leaving Gardiner. Julie answered but she could not hear us so we hung up or so we thought, but because of the oddities of the local phone system, Julie could still hear us while we engaged in a lengthy and emotional argument about what it is we should do now.

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Chick’s Bar, Alder Montana

 

Eventually, we managed to get through to Julie on the phone. She suggested we go first to Sheridan, a town about 10 miles away, to visit Julie’s mom who was living in a senior home there. Julie’s mom, Patty Miller, had often taken care of Naida during her childhood while she and her brother were passed around from relative to relative. Naida loved Patty ver much and wanted to visit her one last time before either of them died. After a bit of difficulty, we found the center and Naida and Patty had an emotional and tender reunion. Naida left patty with a copy of her Memoir.
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Naida and Patty (Three months after this photograph was taken Patty Miller Died)

 

 
We then drove back to Alder. Getting lost again we called Julie and she agreed to meet us and lead us back to the ranch. She arrived in an odd vehicle that looked much like a military golf cart. At the ranch, we met her husband who had had a hip replacement operation and had been laid up for a couple of months.
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The golf cart Humvee.

 

 
We then strolled around the property, visited the horses and met one of the largest dogs I had ever seen, a breed she told us called a Turkish Boz shepherd dog. (Later after we returned home I read up on them. They are used to accompany the sheep and drive off predators and are also used by the Turkish military as attack dogs)
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Julie and Naida

 

 

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Naida and the Turkish Boz

 

 

 

Then we piled into the military golf cart for a tour of the ranch. Julie and her husband used to raise horses here but they are retired now and spend half of the year at their home in Mexico. The ranch mostly grows hay which is bailed up and sold to other ranches in the area as fodder for their herds in winter. Julie pointed out to us the small stream that crossed the ranch. It is called the Ruby River, I believe. She said it is the headwaters of the Missouri River.
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The Headwaters of the Mighty Missouri River.

 

 

 
Then, after a brief break, we piled into the military golf cart again and drove through the backroads to Julie’s brother Johnny Miller’s home, a house he mostly built by himself.
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Johnny, Naida, and Julie.

 

 

 
While the cousin’s caught up on family news, I went for a brief walk around the property at the center of the ranch, examined the old sod and timber shacks their parents or grandparents built when they first came to homestead the land and leaned on the ancient wooden fence and stared across the ranch to the mountains in the distance.
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The Miller ranch near Alder Montana.

 

 

 
Then we left drove through Wisdom and other old western Montana towns and into the Big Hole Valley on our way to Salmon Idaho.
(to be continued)

 

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Mist gives in bulk what it removes in substance.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

 

The River
Yes, we’ll gather by the river,
the beautiful, the beautiful river.
They say it runs by the throne of God.
This is where God invented fish.
Wherever, but then God’s throne is as wide
as the universe. If you’re attentive you’ll
see the throne’s borders in the stars. We’re on this side
and when you get to the other side we don’t know
what will happen if anything. If nothing happens
we won’t know it, I said once. Is that cynical?
No, nothing is nothing, not upsetting just
nothing. Then again maybe we’ll be cast
at the speed of light through the universe
to God’s throne. His hair is bounteous.
All the 5,000 birds on earth were created there.
The firstborn cranes, herons, hawks, at the back
so as not to frighten the little ones.
Even now they remember this divine habitat.
Shall we gather at the river, this beautiful river?
We’ll sing with the warblers perched on his eyelashes.
Jim Harrison

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
IMG_7634

 

 

This is a copy of a painting I did about 20 years ago when I had dreams of becoming a commercial schlock artist like Thomas Kinkade. On the left is a portrait of Miguel (last name I have forgotten) a friend I met in Costa Rica. He was reputed to be the George Washington of Costa-Rican independence — a big game hunter turned prominent conservationist and creator of the Costa-Rican system of nature preserves. He was also a noted Lothario, claiming that at 86 years of age he still had nine girlfriends.  He admitted to me that because of his age he only slept with four of them. One day he introduced me to two books of the penis enhancement and health exercises that he does religiously every day. Miguel was also a noted Costa-Rican artist. The two women of the right are copies that I made of Miguel’s portraits of two of his girlfriends.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Pepe 0008. (November 11, 2019)

“I love a dog. He does nothing for political reasons.”
Will Rogers.

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 

As I type this, I am also watching Ethel Waters sing one of my favorite songs, “Happiness is a Thing Called Joe” in the 1939 movie, “Cabin in the Sky.” A little ego boost every now and then is a good thing.

Before turning on the movie and writing this, I had just returned from lunch in the Golden Hills with HRM, Jake, and Kaleb at their favorite fried chicken places — for me it is not so much a favorite.

This morning, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Gerry, our leader, who usually runs these get-togethers, had been taken to the hospital yesterday evening with a heart problem of some sort. Nevertheless, following an exchange of information about how to contact Gerry and express our wishes for her speedy recovery, we shouldered on. Someone described the elaborate Halloween party we were throwing for the young children who live in the subdivision and the children of the children of the much more common old people who live in it. It seems those sponsoring the party have created an entire Halloween town out of cardboard for the children to frolic in. Someone else discussed the problem of termites and described the free termite inspection service provided by the HOC. It is pleasant, every now and then, to be reminded that there are people everywhere trying to do nice things for no other reason than kindness — well, perhaps a bit of comfort, self-interest, and guilt come into it as well, but they are merely like spices added to a good meal.

There being no more announcements, we broke up into small conversational groups. There were only three males at the breakfast. Each of us sat in chairs as far removed from one another as possible. None of us moved from our chosen fortress. The significantly more numerous female attendees seemed to comprise two sociological groups. Those who remain alone or sitting in small groups and those who moved around engaging the others in conversation. Naida and Winnie were of the latter cohort. They moved from group to group like bees gathering pollen.

Winnie and I compared photos. She of her former home in Salmon Idaho and I of that portion of our trip to the same area. Winnie and her husband, a distinguished architect from LA, moved to Idaho when he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. He wanted to die someplace surrounded by nature. They lived there for over twenty years. He did not die. They then decided to move into the Enchanted Forest. I do not know why. He is now in his nineties and remains vigorous but cantankerous. Interestingly, he designed the Methodist church in Salmon who’s minister was Naida’s uncle, the children of whom we had traveled to Salmon to visit. He also designed the Sacagawea monument in the town.
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Sacagawea and Me in Salmon Idaho.

 

Sunday evening, we decided to drive with Boo-Boo the Barking Dog to Discovery Park, at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, where the Spanish explorers first landed in the mid-sixteenth century. There they discovered the largest Native-American settlement in the area. They also noticed that the grass on the top of the mesa was so cropped by the roving herds of Elk that they considered it park-like (This had some significance but I no longer recall what it was.) Naida told me the Native-Americans from the other villages in the area would periodically gather here for dances and parties. Now and then dances and parties are still held here. We walked around for a while, then set off for home.
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Boo Boo the Barking Dog and Naida Under the big Cottonwood Tree at Discovery Park.

On the way home, we decided to stop for dinner at a restaurant among a group of night-clubs on J. Street. We ordered squash filled ravioli. It was quite good. While we were eating, a young woman with very long blond hair and very short shorts sitting at the bar left her seat, came over to our table, and asked if we were married. I responded that this was only our first date.

After registering her squeals of surprise, we admitted, in fact, we had been together for about one year and a half but had known each other for over forty years. Following a few more rounds of chit-chat, she returned to her place at the bar. After finishing our meal, we returned home where we watched a reality TV program about gangbangers who found redemption.

Last week, Naida was not feeling well so on Wednesday she stayed home while I took the train alone to the Big Endive for my immunology treatment at UCSF. It was the first time I had taken the train to my appointment. I wanted to see whether traveling by train back and forth every three weeks would be more convenient and less exhausting for Vecchi like Naida and me.

 

 

B. BACK IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:
The train trip along with various public transport connections took about three hours to get me from Sacramento to Peter’s house — about the same time it takes by car with moderately heavy traffic. I was more relaxed and rested when I arrived as well. Since Barrie was in LA visiting her sister who was quite ill, Peter and I decided to have dinner at Bacco’s. I ordered my usual Gnocchi. We were joined by my grandson Anthony and his girlfriend.
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They brought me some product from the boutique cannabis store that soon will open in Dog-patch of which Anthony’s GF was manager. It consisted of samples of higher-priced, expensively packaged products that they hoped I would try and evaluate. They included a topical salve, a flavored drink, mints, chocolate, and the like. The cannabis industry is being rapidly veblenized. That is, marketing more expensive goods when there are cheaper alternatives available because most consumers think it will impress others in one way or another. One side effect of the Veblen Effect is that profits to the producers (growers) are reduced while those to the packagers and marketers soar.

The following morning Peter drove me to the hospital for my scheduled immunology infusion. Following my appointment, I walked from Mission Bay to the bus terminal where I caught the train back to Sacramento and home. The walk to the terminal was interesting. I had not walked around this part of downtown San Francisco in a long time. Some places I recognized, but most had changed beyond recognition.
C. TIME GOES ON LIKE IT OR NOT:
On Monday, Naida was depressed about forgetting her tennis match. So in order to cheer her up, I took her with me to pick up HRM from school after which she and I had lunch at Selland’s in Town Center. We sat at a table on the veranda overlooking the lakes. Following that, I gassed up the car and decided to have it washed. While driving into the washing facility, I crashed the car into a wall crumpling its left fender. On the way home, Naida was no longer feeling depressed, but I was. Upon arriving home, I went straight to bed hoping tomorrow would be a better day.

And it was. I got to drive HRM to his dental appointment where he had six cavities filled. In the evening, Naida and I, having given up on the day’s news, watched several movies none of which I really recall, but I do remember that I enjoyed them.

On Saturday, Boo-boo the Barking Dog, for some reason failed to wake us up in time to attend the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. Naida and I decided to spend the morning in geriatric hanky-panky. I find geriatric hanky-panky superior to juvenile hanky-panky because it lasts longer and one never knows what can or cannot happen. Later we had a breakfast of pancakes and then watched Andy Griffith ham it up in A Face in the Crowd.

I do not recall what happened between Wednesday and Saturday except that on Friday night I dreamt I was dying. Strangely, I was neither unhappy nor frightened but instead content and resigned. Naida who woke me up during the dream told me she had done so because I had stopped breathing. Strange.

Saturday evening, Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went for a walk along the American River. As we walked along, we noted the extensive blow-down of trees and tree-limbs throughout the Enchanted Forest and along the river caused by the heavy winds of the past few days. When we got to the clearing by the river where we like to stop for a while and take in the view, we sat on a log and watched while some people in the picnic area across the river tried to get a car that was half-submerged out of the water. After several failures, they did. A little later flocks of Canadian geese flew in out of the setting sun and paddled their way to the little wooded island in the middle of the river where they would spend the night.
IMG_7542

 

Monday, we spent the morning doing what has become our favorite pastime, sitting next to each other holding hands, listening to Boo-boo the Barking Dog bark at anything that moves within 50 feet of the house, watching television and reading or playing on the computer. Perhaps it is just our age catching up with us. Still, we sit here passing the hours singing at times and laughing a lot. It could be worse.

D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
On Tuesday, Naida spent the Morning playing tennis and I sat alone fooling around on the computer. After Naida returned, we turned on the news and learned about the killing of nine people six of them children traveling in an American car caravan in Mexico. The news reports initially seemed to blame a Mexican drug cartel connection to the murders. Naida commented that she believed the caravan was composed of a fundamentalist Mormon family traveling from the US to their home in one of the sect’s communes that had been set up in the area by polygamous Mormons following Utah admittance into the Union as a State at the end of the 19th Century on the condition polygamy be banned.

Naida told me about a writer friend of hers who was a “sister” wife at one of the communes. The friend, Irene Spencer, the second of 10 wives and mother of 14 children, wrote a book about escaping from the community. Spencer also wrote another book about the almost ceaseless violence among the sects. She told Naida about the horrendous carnage between the communities that began by a falling out between two brothers (each claiming “Prophet” status, one of whom was her husband), They commenced an internecine war with each other over control of the sect. Over 50 people have been killed over the past 25 years or so.* Both brothers now are dead but the feud continues.

Sometime later the news broke the name of the dead and of the community, there were heading to for a wedding. It was the same community as the one her friend fled from. She tried to call her friend who had moved to California but discovered she died two years ago.

(*In the 1970s and 1980s, Ervil LeBaron, brother of the leader of the LeBaron community, launched his own Mormon offshoot sect in which he and his followers believed they had a right to kill those who had sinned. The group murdered at least 25 people, one expert told the LA Times. (https://news.yahoo.com/more-hundred-years-ago-mormons-205004653.html))

Later, while walking the dog through some of the dark pathways of TEF, we met another elderly couple who recently moved into the area after spending much of their lives living in the woods beyond Nevada City. They invited us into their home. While touring their kitchen they suddenly forced us into their large-sized micro-wave, cooked us on high for 90 minutes, placed us in a pie-crust, added a bit of cinnamon and sugar, baked us in the oven for another hour and had us for breakfast the next morning.

It’s Friday, neither Naida nor I recall much about the last few days other than they have been mostly pleasant. I think, given my general inactivity and shredded memory, I should give up writing T&T as a journal. Maybe I should just write strange short-short stories. You know, like this old fucker who is so distressed about being old, forgetting everything, immobile and dyspeptic, he spends his days on his computer sending emails to the friends about sitting in his chair and sending emails to his friends or better yet weird Facebook postings to his Facebook friends. Can one have electronic friends one either never sees or never met? I have a Facebook friend who I know has been dead for six years. Children used to have imaginary friends. Now that they are aged decrepits more and more of their friends are just electric pulses.

Ah, one day later, things changed. Well, perhaps not so much. Let’s begin with my receiving an email from one of my dearest friends in Thailand with two little stories about recent events in his life. Much like the stories I write about here in T&T (See below). Stories far far better than I could ever hope to write.

Then, Naida and I set off for the Saturday Morning Coffee. We walked from our house to the Nepenthe Clubhouse. We walked through brown, red, and gold leaves that covered the paths. Like kids we giggled while kicking them about, stepping on them and hearing them crackle. We both wear hearing aids. Although the hearing-aids may not work so well helping us understand what someone may be talking about, the snapping sounds of the leaves as we crushed them underfoot was ideally suited to whatever frequency the hearing aids were attuned to. We heard them like firecrackers a Fourth of July and we laughed.

About 30 people attended the coffee, eight men and about 22 women. More i Vecchi (old people) then I had ever seen at these events. Gerry, our leader, had returned from whatever hospitalization prevented her from presiding a few weeks ago. Announcements were made. I could not make out what they were about so I just sat there smiling like the village idiot. Later Naida told me she could not hear much either.

After the announcements, Paul the architect, Winnie’s husband came by and described at length how he designed the Sacagawea park in Salmon and picked out everything in it. I recalled that except for the two statues, everything else seemed to be just rocks.

Then off to the Golden hills. HRM called asking me to drive him and the Scooter Gang to COSTCO in Folsom so that they could eat their pizza for lunch. They think COSTCO pizzas are “the best.”

It is autumn in the Enchanted Forest. Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went for a walk through the Enchanted Forest this evening. We walked further than we usually do along paths I had not been on before. It was a lot longer walk than I had attempted for many months except for that track in SF from the hospital to the bus station a few weeks back. It tired me out, but I was pleased I did it.

All youse guys take care, ya hear….

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 
This is a continuation of something I began in my previous post. Terry commented on it (see below). I tend not to be too fond of Ruskin and his theory that great men make history and its modern colliery that there is no grand theory of history and historians should concern themselves only with seeking out and recording events. I tend to believe geography and demographics are destiny and not the actions of individuals whether they be clever or clowns. I am more comfortable with historians like Braudel, Toynbee, and Quigley who try to find a broader rationale for events than the successes and failures of individuals. They may be out of academic fashion, but at least they try to present generalizations that can be tested — not to mention that upon analysis and my own experience the great men (and women) were most often anything but.

“…were… the great men (as) history paints them… Or were they just yesterday’s mediocrities, bloated up with centuries of stolen credit into today’s towering heroes?”
Abercrombie, Joe. A Little Hatred: 1 (The Age of Madness) (p. 440). Orbit.

Putin’s first initiative following the Crimea incursion was to attack eastern Ukraine. The West’s response with both economic sanctions and massive military aid to Ukraine was enough to convince Putin that Russian economic and military strength was inadequate (as Terry points out below) to successfully nibble at the border states (the Eastern Tier and the Southern Tier) to the Russian homeland. Then Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Now, although I am convinced that Putin has some control over Trump and interfered in the 2016 Presidential election on his behalf, it is not necessary that that be true. It could be that Trump is either just a preternaturally brilliant strategist as his supporters believe or insufferably ignorant, incompetent and devoid of either morals or knowledge of the rudiments of history as his opponents allege.

In any event, following Brexit and the Trump election, Putin first appears to have managed to midwife the public bromance between two insecure megalomaniacs, Trump and Kim Jong-un. By providing Kim and his ego with equal billing and the American President and the opportunity to humiliate him, it solidifies to some extent Russia’s relationship with Korea placing an antagonist on China’s flank and threatening Japan America’s ally.

With the recent abandonment of America’s Kurdish allies in Syria in favor of Turkey and the replacement of American troops by Russian at previously American occupied bases, it seems to me that the two hundred year geopolitical stalemate had been shattered. The northern and eastern Asian empires in their south-Asian obsession had punctured through the 200-year imaginary but strategic barrier threatening the hydro-carbon life-line for western Europe and leaving only India to oppose them in the area. Russia, despite the fact that it is relatively militarily and economically feeble now (or soon), will be able to dictate price and mix of hydrocarbon products available to the West.

Of course, when talking geopolitics nothing is as real, rewarding, or dire as they may appear. Britain may have gained an economic and military advantage over other nations from its control of the southern tier of the Asian continent in the nineteenth century but at what cost. It lasted less than a hundred years, produced untold misery in the southern tier and in Britain, created a few exceedingly wealthy families and ultimately reduced England to a second rate power. The United States blindly took over Britains role, ostensibly for ideological reasons, but primarily to preserve the West’s effective monopolistic power over the worlds hydrocarbon market which within 20 years or so it let slip from their absolute control to such an extent that a new ideological foe (Muslim Terrorism) needed to be invented and military adventurism re-started.

One good result may result from all this. If and when Trump’s expensive golf shoes are removed from the necks of the people of this country, the US and Europe, if they are not persuaded to abandon the hydrocarbon economy by the threat of climate change perhaps the potential loss of our stranglehold on the hydrocarbon market may persuade us and Europe to do so.

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

Tuesday, January 29, 1963.

I did not do much than today other than bringing to my brother Jimmy the information materials about the Puerto Rico trip.

I feel sad tonight. Sad because I fear I will not be successful. I look at my abilities and my knowledge and am convinced I can be. On the other hand, within me, I believe there is a demon preventing me from taking the necessary action.

In order to accomplish anything notable, I believe, a person must either love himself so much he believes himself superior to others, or hate himself so much it drives himself to accomplish whatever goals he sets for himself. To doubt which it is or to doubt his commitment could make him as impotent as a eunuch in a whorehouse.

Perhaps I should try to analyze it more, or submit myself to analysis. Alas, analysis, more often than not, rarely leads to either a solution or to action. Action needs a spontaneous explosion of spirit.

 

Sunday, February 3, 1963.

 

A lot has happened since I last wrote in here.

The Washington trip was interesting (see enclosed letter [now lost])

I dated Stephanie Friday night. It went very well. Richie and his blind date got along quite well also. This surprised me I expected him to do something outrageous. Instead, he acted almost like a gentleman.

I was still ill from drinking too much in Washington and was limited to drinking Coca-Cola. Perhaps I should keep up the practice.

School begins again tomorrow. I hope to do better this semester.

Hope is often more rewarding than success.
Tuesday, February 5, 1963.

 

We had a meeting tonight of the Young Democrats of Yonkers. It was held to decide on the organization’s constitution. I was not allowed to vote because I failed to attend the prior meeting. I was, however, permitted to speak and make proposals. Most of my proposals were adopted.

I originally opposed the abolishment of the Executive Committee and spoke against it. I was however unprepared for the proposed compromise. It was a good compromise. It proposed combining the wards into sections thereby lowering the membership on the committee.
Wednesday, February 13, 1963.

 

I just finished reading Walter Lippmann’s The Public Philosophy. It surprised me that a modern American writer advocates traditional philosophy

“… there is a deep disorder in our society which comes not from the machinations of our enemies and from the adversaries of the human condition but from within ourselves.”

I double-dated with Kevin McMahon last night — Susie had arranged a date for me with Muriel, one of her friends. I think she likes me. That is a surprise given the lack of interest she showed in our previous meetings. I spent all the money I had made Saturday on our date.

I am experiencing a period of total lethargy. This happens often to me. I guess I am just lazy. I should try to be more active.

My parents seem to be becoming more annoyed with my presence at home. Today they suggested that I move into an apartment of my own.

Tomorrow I need to take a more assertive role on the World’s Fair Deal or I will find myself out in the cold.

(I haven’t the slightest idea what the “World’s Fair Deal” was all about.)
Thursday, February 14, 1963.

We nominated officers for the YDY. We nominated Tony Russo for president. I admitted I was still a registered Republican. I need to get that changed if I hope to be able to do anything with the organization I worked so hard to create.

I visited Maria tonight. We did not seem to get along with each other as I had hoped we would. Jennifer was there also. She is very statuesque.

I cannot write and more tonight because I am Listening to a debate between Roy Cohen and Love on the merits of the Sobel Treason (I have no idea what a Sobel treason is. Perhaps it is a misspelling) Cohen debates well. He is demolishing Love.

 

Friday, February 15,1963.

 

A poem to Robert Frost.

Above the stones from crumbling walls,
Alongside the thresher and the derrick,
Within the redwoods stately halls
Someone loves a poet.

Behind the wooden podium
Before the T.V. screen
Within the hearts of everyone
Someone loves a poet.

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

A note from my daughter a few years ago:

Some stats i thought you’d be interested in:
U.S. population numbers

1900 76.09
1952 157.55
2000 282.16
2016 322.69

In the past 16 years, the number of people added to the US population would come in at 35 in the ranking of countries by population.

Also – by trumps rhetoric making the US great again (if we assume approx. 1950s) would place us at half the population we have now (which comes to removing enough people to rank as #9 on the list of countries by population — more than the entire population of Russia; which is also more than the sum of Germany and UK populations)

It is the same old story, “Demographics is destiny.” Too few people and everyone else pisses on you — too many and you begin pissing on yourselves.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

A. Naida and Joe’s Travels on Top:

 

3. From Swan Valley Idaho to Jackson Hole and Two Nights in a Conestoga Wagon in Buffalo Valley Montana.
Sadly, we left Christy and Swan Valley drove across the Continental Divide and dropped down into Jackson Hole. I had passed by this way several times before on the interstate north or south of the town but never through it. Those trips included cross country jaunts with my daughter Jessica on her way to Harvard, a cross-country hitch-hike adventure with my son Jason on our way to Italy, and several on my own. The town itself struck me as up-scale and undistinguished. We drove through it without stopping and continued on to our lodgings in the Grand Teton National Park.
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We drove to Buffalo Valley. We had made reservations to spend two nights in Conestoga wagons. It was interesting. There were no bathrooms in the wagons and it rained on and off both days. We would have to walk across a field to a bathroom.
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Adjacent to the Wagons and Teepees (yes there were a bunch of them too) there was a lodge that, according to a brochure, was originally the house of a notorious outlaw.
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We also began to feel the effects of the altitude so the first day we spent most of it napping and recovering. Later in the afternoon, we went for a drive up the valley and then to a small burg named Hatchett where we had a good dinner after which we sat on a sofa by the fireplace. It was cozy. Out of the window, we could see that autumn had arrived. When we left Sacramento it was still summer. We had now driven into autumn. The world outside the window was bright yellow and gold, the sky overcast obscuring the tops of the mountains. The descending dusk and the flickering light of the fire made the evening magical.

 

4. Through Yellowstone to Gardner Montana.
The next morning we left for Gardner Montana at the North entrance to Yellowstone Park. We drove the length of the park to get to Gardner. We stopped a few times including at Old Faithful. The area around the geyser had been greatly developed since I last visited 20 years ago. There were now several large buildings including two hotels. It made me sad especially since the quality of the food had not progressed as much as the development.
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We continued on eager to get to our lodging at Gardiner at a reasonable hour. Along the way, Naida told about her childhood memories of Yellowstone Park. She came here often with her father for day trips. She said she always considered the Park to be in her backyard.

As we drove on, I began to become disappointed that we had not come across any of the large mammals that I expected to see. Then we came upon this bison grazing by the side of the road.
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After which we passed this wonderful and magical rainbow:
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As we approached the northern entrance to the park, we saw a crowd of cars and people watching two elk attempting to rut. (Naida told me it was rutting season now) I took a photograph of the buck. Later, because he was so far away across the meadow, I enlarged the picture hoping to show him better. I liked the result. It looked a bit like an impressionist painting. Here it is:
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At dusk, we arrived at the small western Montana town of Gardiner that serves as the northern gateway to Yellowstone Park and drove about four miles beyond the town to a small hotel in which we were to spend the next three days. After checking in, we drove back into the town for dinner at a western bar and restaurant named The Iron Horse Bar and Grill where we had a surprisingly good meal of lasagna for Naida and shepherd pie with bison for me. I also learned one of the differences between Idaho and Wyoming, and Montana. In Montana, they are willing to drink publicly. Idaho and Wyoming because of the Mormon influence they are more discrete and tend to do their drinking in their homes.

IMG_7108.jpgThe Iron Horse Bar and Grill in Gardiner Montana.
We then returned to the hotel where we took long pleasant baths and went to sleep.
(To be continued)
.

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

Make no mistake about it, to the biosphere humanity is a disease.

 
C. Today’s Poem:

 

“Bohemian Rhapsody”

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide,
No escape from reality.

Open your eyes,
Look up to the skies and see,
I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy,
Because I’m easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows doesn’t really matter to me, to me.

Mama, just killed a man,
Put a gun against his head,
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead.
Mama, life had just begun,
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away.

Mama, ooh,
Didn’t mean to make you cry,
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow,
Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters.

Too late, my time has come,
Sends shivers down my spine,
Body’s aching all the time.
Goodbye, everybody, I’ve got to go,
Gotta leave you all behind and face the truth.

Mama, ooh (any way the wind blows),
I don’t wanna die,
I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.

I see a little silhouetto of a man,
Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?
Thunderbolt and lightning,
Very, very frightening me.
(Galileo) Galileo.
(Galileo) Galileo,
Galileo Figaro
Magnifico-o-o-o-o.

I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me.
He’s just a poor boy from a poor family,
Spare him his life from this monstrosity.

Easy come, easy go, will you let me go?
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let him go!)
Bismillah! We will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Will not let you go. (Let me go!)
Never let you go (Never, never, never, never let me go)
Oh oh oh oh
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh, mama mia, mama mia (Mama mia, let me go.)
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me.

So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye?
So you think you can love me and leave me to die?
Oh, baby, can’t do this to me, baby,
Just gotta get out, just gotta get right outta here.

(Ooooh, ooh yeah, ooh yeah)

Nothing really matters,
Anyone can see,
Nothing really matters,
Nothing really matters to me.

Any way the wind blows.
Freddie Mercury

 

 

D. Andy’s Musings:
Terry wrote a comment to Part One A Brief Commentary on Recent World Events that appeared in the previous T&T post. He wrote:

Re our friend Vladimir:

Begin with the fact that Russia has an economy the size of Italy’s. Now he is a very clever spymaster. But he is a disaster as a leader of Russia. Compare him to the great leaders of Russia: Peter the Great and Cathrine the Great and his deficiencies are glaring. He has not created a state that can build and support new economies and crafts adapted to its 21st-century environment, as both of those leaders did. Instead, he has created a one-dimensional economy based on carbon: oil and gas. That will lead to a dead end. His military is really a 21st-century joke. It’s got shiny new planes, but very few squadrons. It’s got a navy than can barely steam out of port, and frequently has “accidents” such as an explosion that sinks a submarine. And his foreign policy is reduced to sneaky political attacks that are quickly exposed and become sick jokes such as Trump. Poor Russia!

Now China is another matter. Very smart and clever, the Chinese quietly steal the best of 20th-century technology and have created a miracle economy. But try as they might, they cannot create anything original. Why: because their leadership tries to control thought, communication among elites of all stripes and sits on a powder keg of massive poverty. They are in a difficult spot. To truly expand their economy to support a population of 1.4 billion people, they must release their creative minds to develop the next great invention. They try but have been unable to do so. Take an example: Quantum Computing. The Chinese State has spent untold billions trying to develop this fastest of all known computing capabilities and to date has not been successful. Google, Google of all enterprises, has just announced the successful development of a quantum computer that will perform in minutes calculations that would take an IBM supercomputer days if not weeks to do. Google is the ultimate of 21st-century enterprise with free-flowing thought and communication through all of its elite 21st-century minds. Now China will simply try to steal the technology, rather than try to invent it. Trump and Warren and others have a point. Cut China off from access to US technology and very carefully monitor, if not prohibit, Chinese students, etc. from our Universities.

To be continued.

For the most part, I agree with Terry. My post, as one can see above, was not intended as a paean to The Vertically Challenged Autocrat in the Kremlin but to set up a discussion on the potential geopolitical implications of Trump’s actions in Syria. As for China, again I tend to agree with most of what Terry has written. The Chinese approach to encouraging immigration by its citizens especially by setting up both small and large business particularly in South and South-east Asia in an attempt to create large and wealthy China sympathetic population in the area. The US failure to effectively counter China’s initiatives much beyond sending sone warships to sail around a few small contested islands in the south-pacific is simply more evidence of America’s retreat from its long-held obsession. It might require post-Trump US administrations to re-evaluate some of the nation’s long term economic and geopolitical goals. That could be a good thing.
E. Giants of History: Richard.
There are some friends whose friendship for one reason or another transcends other friendships. My friend Richard is one of them. An American ex-pat living in Thailand, he is also a gemologist, soldier of fortune, raconteur, renowned ethnologist, restaurateur and story-teller, character in a series of novels by Christopher Moore, artist, sculptor, doper and drinker, smuggler, man about town, martial arts aficionado, owner of the finest collection of Hawaiian shirts this side of Paris, lives with his wife in a home with a menagerie of birds and other wildlife that rivals some zoos and at one time had as their house cat a clouded leopard that slept in the bed with them. He recently sent me the following:

The other day I was sitting with Sultan Ishmael Nasir at the bar we frequent watching the R. Crumb characters file past when a young man, built like one of those muscularly overburdened bare-knuckled tattooed cage fighters wandered in. He was hopping on one leg and asked to join us.
Seems he is a mercenary doing the devil’s duty in Fallujah Iraq. It is easily believed. I asked him why he is limping?

Turns out he tripped on a curb in Bangkok and tore a ligament.

Sheesh!

The other night we went to a movie theater here to see Joker. The theater was black with only a semblance of light on the stairway. My hands were full with a tub of fresh buttered popcorn and a cold Singha Beer. My eyes hadn’t adjusted and I fell tits over tea kettle down the stairs. I wondered if I had hurt myself, but stood upon the well-padded stairs and realized the beer was intact and I had lost only a small scattering of popcorn.

I ascribe this inane skill to being knocked on my ass a thousand times during karate.

Whatdaworld!

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 

Three of these men [Tupi Indians from Brazil], ignorant of the price they will pay someday … ignorant of the fact that of this intercourse will come their ruin … poor wretches …were at Rouen, at the time the late King Charles IX was there [in 1562]. The king talked to them for a long time; they were shown our ways, our splendor, the aspect of a fine city. After that, someone asked their opinion and wanted to know what they had found most amazing. They mentioned three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and I am very sorry for it; but I still remember two of them. They said that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king (it is likely that they were talking about the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead. Second (they have a way in their language of speaking of men as halves of one another), they had noticed that there were among us men full and gorged with all sorts of good things and that their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses.

I had a very long talk with one of them. … When I asked him what profit he gained from his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war. … Did all his authority expire with the war? He said that this much remained, that when he visited the villages dependent on him, they made paths for him through the underbrush by which he might pass quite comfortably.

All this is not too bad — but what’s the use? They don’t wear breeches.
Of Cannibals. Essays of Montaigne

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 8 Pepe 0008. (October 2019)

 

“It wasn’t enough to get what you wished for, there had to be someone around who envied you for it.”
Hill, Reginald. The Woodcutter: A Novel (p. 254). HarperCollins.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

A. TIME PASSES EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT A FOOTBALL GAME (The home team always loses in the end):
Today is my 80th Birthday. Over the past week, I attended three birthday parties and in a few minutes, I am off to the fourth party in the Golden Hills. The first party occurred last week at Peter and Barrie’s house. We had driven there a few days after returning from our trip through the Pacific Northwest (see below). My granddaughter Amanda, her mom Hiromi, my son Jason and grandson Anthony arrived Wednesday evening all bringing gifts.
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The Gang. 

                           

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Amanda and I.
At the hospital the next day, my doctor told me that recent tests have been positive enough that, should they continue like that for a while longer, he may be able to terminate treatment even if the existing growth remains.

The second party, more or less, occurred on Saturday evening. Naida’s son-in-law Mark had traveled to Bodega Bay and returned with bushels of fresh oysters for his annual oyster get together. Naida had purchased a birthday cake for me. It had green icing and imbedded in a circle on the top, Oreo cookies with candy eyes. After shucking the oysters and downing our fill of delicious bivalves while sitting under the great mulberry tree that covers the deck, Naida brought out the cake with four candles aflame and everyone sang Happy Birthday. I looked appropriately bemused, blew out the candles and along with everyone else ate the cake. After, we shared photographs of Jennifer, (Naida’s other daughter) and her husband’s recent journey through Provence as well as those of our recent trip. I enjoyed myself immensely.
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Pookie blowing out the candles.
One odd thing occurred that evening. While enjoying devouring the oysters, I suddenly felt that a glass of the sparkling wine everyone else was drinking would go well with my meal. So, I got up to go into the kitchen to get a wine glass. When I walked into the house, however, I suddenly could not find the kitchen. I stood confused in the middle of the room for a few moments before I was able to regain my bearings. This was the first time that had happened to me and it frightened me a bit. Was this the beginning of ———–  Nevertheless, after the initial shock of my confusion had passed, I was able to amuse myself trying to find my way back to reality.

The third party happened on Sunday. My beloved sister Maryanne threw a party for me in Oakland. Naida and I decided to take the train from Sacramento to the Bay Area instead of driving. On the train, we met our dog walker (Boo Boo the Barking Dog was being minded by the dog walker’s daughter) and her girlfriend on their way to SF for a two-day mini vacation. They managed, much to my embarrassment and I admit pleasure, to get everyone in the car to sing happy birthday (could this be considered another birthday party, making it five in all?). Naida and I got off the train at the Richmond station where my sister picked us up. She drove us to her son Brendan’s new home in the Richmond Hills. Shortly after their marriage, Brendan and Ashley purchased a house previously owned by a landscape designer who left behind a fantastic garden including a few fig-trees, the ripe fruit of which I happily plucked from the trees and greedily devoured as we walked about.

We then drove to Jack London Square on the Oakland waterfront where we had lunch at a southeast Asian restaurant called Farmhouse Kitchen. After lunch, the wait-staff surrounded our table accompanied by clanging cymbals and banging drums sang an odd version of Happy Birthday.

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The party in Oakland
After the party, Maryanne drove us back to the train station and we returned to Sacramento.

On Tuesday, my actual birthday, I drove into the Golden Hills where HRM and some members of the Scooter Gang (Kaleb and Ethan) baked me a birthday cake. The ingredients included crushed Oreo’s. I thought it was delicious.
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Hayden, Ethan, Kaleb, Pookie, and the cake.

 

The days since my birthday have passed leaving little behind in my memory. The passing days often leave little behind in my memory now. I wonder if that means only that which remains in my memory exists or, for that matter, ever existed. As I wrote the previous sentence, I turned to Naida and asked her, “Just what have we done since Tuesday?” She replied, “We recovered from our trip and your birthday parties.” She also reminded me that we went to Goodwill to buy this year’s collection of Hawaiian shirts as her birthday present to me. I then recalled that we did (an act of creation?). We had bought a smashing green shirt with an unusual oriental motif and a silk shirt with glorious large red flowers on a black background. (Note: I insist on buying my Hawaiian shirts second-hand at either Goodwill or Denio’s Auction only.) Naida also reminded me that this week she paid many thousands of dollars in income tax. Me, I no longer pay tax or for that matter even to file — it is sort of like my insistence on buying only second-hand Hawaiian shirts, paying taxes or even filing when one has no income after retirement other than Social Security offends me. He or she should neither pay taxes nor be forced to tell the IRS that they are living off SS and buying second-hand Hawaiian shirts.

One day, Naida was invited to a nearby retirement home for lunch with an author residing there. I tagged along because of my interest in meeting the author and because in the same facility there was to be held a Renaissance Society lecture on Plate Tectonics we both were interested in. The author was a husky-voiced woman of 87 who had written about 30 books mostly fairly popular historical romances. You know, seduction and sex among Elizabethan nobility and the like. She struck me as being remarkably and pleasantly mercenary about her artistic career.

After lunch, we sat in on a gathering of residents at the home at which some of then recited from journals they had written. It was the day commemorating the Kent State Massacres. One woman had been a professor at that University and there on campus that day with her husband. She read a fascinating account of the events. Near the end of her reading, she broke down crying when speaking of those that died, she read the line, “They were just children. For God’s sake, they were only children.”

We then moved to another room to listen to The Renaissance Society lecture. The Society is a program offered by Sacramento State University that we had joined a few months ago. It allows old people like us to attend University level classes and lectures, often taught by retired professors probably bored by retirement. It was very interesting. The lecturer had been a US AIR Force officer who had been sent by the military to study plate tectonics when it was still an emerging science in order to better understand how the movement of the plates affects the accuracy of mapping satellites and to examine their impact on the underwater terrain in order to improve submarine navigation.

Dick and I had breakfast this morning to bring each other up on things Hayden. After an eighth grade of worrisome incipient adolescent rebellion, HRM’s grades have improved to mostly A’s and his behavior in class has returned to the type of conduct that consistently led to school awards for deportment. Perhaps this change can be explained by a story his guidance teacher told Dick.

At the beginning of the school year, there was a new student in the class. He was an upperclassman from Thailand. He could not speak or understand English. The teacher tried to use Google Translation to communicate with him but each time she showed him the translation the student would shake his head. The teacher grew frustrated and impatient. Hayden raised his hand and when the teacher called on him he said, “The translation is wrong.” “How do you know?” the frustrated teacher barked at him. “Can you speak Thai?” “As a matter of fact I can,” Hayden responded. Dubious and annoyed she said, “Let’s see you try,” obviously believing he was putting her on.

Now, Hayden’s first language was, in fact, Thai, but he hid it because when he began school in the US he was classified as a nonEnglish speaker and as a result, some primary school teachers thought he was slow. He then turned to the Thai student and to everyone’s amazement they both began speaking rapidly and extensively in Thai. He now remains the unofficial translator for the Thai student while he learns English. The teachers are pleased. Hayden is pleased that his classmates are impressed with his linguistic prowess and Dick and I are pleased that the teachers see him as a good kid again and that HRM appears confident once more.

 
B. Odds and Ends:

 
1. One day while I was discussing politics in general and Republican politics during the late sixties and seventies in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento specifically, the friend I was talking to exclaimed: “Out of Orangevale came the John Birch Society,” and “In Sacramento Rush got his start and the Lovers of Limbaugh were born.”

2. On another day while talking on the phone to a friend who lives on the East Coast, he mentioned that an ex-client of mine who I believed was a good friend as well as a client, “Hates your guts.” I was taken aback by this especially since, among other things, I had saved him (the client) from being indicted and rescued a major project of his two weeks before he would have lost it as a result of ignoring my advice for two years. “Why?” I asked.

“He said you fucked up, lost all your money and squandered your career,” he answered.

I thought about this. True, I had fucked up and lost my money, but I had done this before, several times in fact and always came back, but this last time I was 69 years old and I had to decide whether to struggle once again or spend my declining years in genteel poverty in a foreign country, raising HRM, and living a pleasant dissolute life by the sea or in the mountains or among the seedy dives of Bangkok. I chose the latter. “He’s probably just jealous,” I decided. After all, “Life is what it throws at you.” (Ivan Doig. “Last Bus to Wisdom.”)
Take care of yourselves.

 

 

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

 

 

 

A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON RECENT WORLD EVENTS.
For the past two hundred years or so the countries of the West (primarily Western Europe and North America) and the two large empires of the East (Russia and China) clashed over influence and control of the smaller countries along the borders of the two empires. At first, the conflict was mostly commercial (trade and the plundering of resources). After the Second World War, ideology was added to the mix (the extension of Democracy or the prevention of the expansion of the totalitarian form of Communism). During this period the West managed, for the most part, to resist the incursions of the East and deny it the military presence and control of the resources of the area (oil and trade) that they coveted for so long.

Recently, with the ascendency of the Trump administration, this relatively stable balance of power has all changed.

It is important to begin by exploring the motivations of Vladimir Putin in order to understand much of the actions and policies of the Kremlin in the past few years.

First, as is true with most revolutions, the inevitable reaction to the cause following the successful revolt often results in the reinstitution of the structures of the old regime usually with new titles (but the same slogans). In Russia, the new oligarchs, like the soviet commissars before them, have decorated their dachas and palaces like the Tsars from whom they had been taken. The old prisons have been reopened and refilled once again with the enemies of the state. The so-called secret services have been restored and given new names.

The Tsar’s rentier aristocracy was replaced by the industrial Commissars. The Commissars have now been replaced by a financial/commercial oligarchy. True, the Commissars were governmental employees at the time they acquired their wealth and power and the oligarchs are not, but like the landed aristocrats they still owe their wealth to the Tsar in the Kremlin and they cross him at their peril.

Second, Putin is not only the head of the Russian government but the chief and undoubtedly the wealthiest oligarch of them all.

Third, Putin is a Russian, a child of the Rodina, and as such the humiliation of Soviet Russia by the American commercial and military empire is a stain that any patriot would work tirelessly to remove.

Fourth, he was previously a low-level bureaucrat in the Soviet secret service (KGB) trained in espionage. As such, one would assume he is more comfortable with the strategies of subversion than those of military conquest.

Finally, he is extremely popular in Russia (and in many other areas of the world). Ninety-six percent of Russians approved of his military initiatives in Ukraine; ninety-five percent believed that America was goading Kyiv to persecute ethnic Russians in that country. Ninety-two percent believed the same situation existed in Russian enclaves in the Caucasus, Moldova, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.

In brief, we have an exceedingly popular, short (he is a tiny but exceptionally athletic man), greedy, subversive nationalist with a special antipathy for the United States.

Initially, Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election victory of a totally unfit, ignorant and impulsive leader of the free world, whether or not Putin had a hand in either, were necessary pre-conditions for Russia to attempt to achieve their historical ambitions of creating an economic, political and physical buffer to the Rodina.

His first move had been the invasion of the Crimea. Although he was successful militarily on the ground, the response from the then unified West, made it clear that further military adventurism came with an economic and political cost to Russia too great to be ignored.

With the erosion of western unity following the two elections, and the recreation of a modern version of the Boyar aristocracy he appears to have become emboldened enough to take additional steps to restore the ancient geopolitical aspirations of Russia.
(To be continued)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN IDAHO, WYOMING, AND MONTANA (continued):
1. From Boise to Idaho Falls:

 

The next morning after breakfast we left for the long drive across southern Idaho. Upon leaving the city precincts, we crossed the bleak high desert covering eastern Oregon and Southern Idaho. During the hours and miles, Naida kept up a running narrative about the pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail along the same route, their hardships, technology, and social relationships. She told about the Native Americans who lived in the area prior to the arrival of the pioneers, how they lived, their horse breeding prowess, and their initial reactions to the arrival of the white immigrants. Eventually, as we approached the Snake River patches of green cultivated land, some of which were on the bottomland of the river and others on lands watered from the massive irrigation projects of the New Deal.

We eventually arrived at Shoshone Falls, about halfway between Boise and Idaho Falls. Until the installation of the nearby hydroelectric project diminished them, the falls were reputed to be higher than Niagara. Directly downstream from the falls the Snake passes through the steep canyon where in 1972 the entertainer Evel Knievel attempted unsuccessfully to jump across the canyon on a rocket-powered cycle. Although I had watched the failed attempt on television way back then, I had no idea how wide a canyon it actually was.
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Shoshone Falls 

 

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Knievel attempted to jump this canyon.

 

Following the brief diversion to the falls, we continued on. About halfway to Idaho Falls, we came upon a poorly signed detour on the Interstate. We became confused and took the wrong road and found ourselves traveling along a ten-mile detour, five miles out and five miles back. There appeared to be no place to turn around. After about two miles, I noticed an automobile parked at the edge of the road. As we approached, I realized it was a police car and mentioned it to Naida who was driving at the time. She tried to move to the left lane but couldn’t because a truck was passing us. Just as we approached the police car its backlights began blinking. We passed it. I then watched in the mirror as the cop pulled out, caught up to us, and motioned for us to pull over. This annoyed me since I suspected this was just a speed trap, especially since the rental car had California plates. We pulled over to the verge with the police car directly behind us. He walked over to the car, motioned to me to roll down the window and announced that we had failed to move over one lane when passing an emergency vehicle parked at the side of a road. After my failed protest, he gave us a ticket and returned to his vehicle.

Our rental vehicle was a new RAV4. It came without an owner’s manual. As a result, we could not figure out many of the intricacies of its operation. So, as Naida started up the car and while trying to determine how to put it into drive, it began rolling back and panic ensued. We crashed into the police car. Naida was mortified. I found it the amusing high point of the whole trip so far. The cop was non-plussed and since there was no serious damage simply told us to drive on carefully.

A few miles after returning to the Interstate we arrived a Rupert Idaho, a small town where Naida spent part of her childhood. Almost every storefront, many of which were empty, had a plaque affixed to the facade declaring it a historical landmark and telling a bit about its history. What fascinated me most was a massive fabric shop catering primarily to the quilting crowd.

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Naida at the Rupert town square. 

           

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Pookie in the fabric shop.

 

We returned to the interstate and arrived in Idaho Falls at dusk. We drove directly to Naida’s half-sister Christy’s home. After a few minutes of relaxation, Christy got into her camper and we followed her in the Toyota for about 45 minutes until we arrived in the mountains to the east of the city at an area called the Palisades. There, we turned into a box canyon that terminated at the foot of Sheep Mountain and after a brief climb on the curving, unlighted dirt roads that snaked up the side of the canyon we arrived at Christy’s small but comfortable A-frame cabin where we would spend the next few days.

 

2. Christy and the Cabin at Sheep Creek.

 

Christy a hard-living, hard-drinking, dope-smoking, gun-toting, Mormon hating, radical woman of the Continental Divide spent her life hunting, marrying, selling real estate, boating up and down the Snake River, raising children and cooking the greatest pancakes I had ever tasted. That first evening as we got settled, Cristy mentioned that moose, grizzly bears, and other large mammals visit the cabin now and then. I told her about my pathological fear of bears especially those of the grizzly kind. She responded, “Don’t worry, I’ll protect you,” and immediately strapped on her pistol which she kept on her hip the entire time I was there. How can you not bond with someone like that?

We spent the next few days eating pancakes in the morning, sitting on lawn chairs by the cabin staring at the palisades across the valley, smoking, drinking and telling stories. Christy loved her third husband very much. He shared her lifestyle, carousing, boating, racing their ski-mobiles through the forests in winter and the like. She was devastated when he died in an unfortunate accident.

One morning Christy drove us in her van around the valley. We stopped at the base of Sheep Mountain. Naida told me that the canyon and Sheep Mountain had been leased by her grandfather from BLM when he was raising sheep on a ranch somewhere near Idaho Falls. During the summer, he would drive his sheep into the canyon where they would graze along the creek on the way to the slopes of the mountain where they would spend the season. He would spend most of the summer there with his sons and ranch hands and his sheepcamp.
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A Sheepcamp.
We also walked along the trails and dirt roads. Naida would try to identify the flora that we passed by. At one point she mentioned that she thought the mountains thereabout were part of the Grand Teton mountain chain. If they were they were not particularly imposing. I decided to call them the Puny Teton Mountains.

On our last day there, Naida and I met with somemore of her relatives who we met in the nearby town of Swan Valley and then, after saying a sad goodbye to Christy, we left the Puny Tetons and headed to the Grand Tetons and the second half of our trip.

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The Cabin. 

 

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 Christy, her pistol and me.
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Naida and I at the head of the Sheep Creek Trail

 

 

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The Palisades and Christy’s Boat.

 

(To be continued)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

Today’s Poem: NEZAHUALCOYOTL

William Douglas Lansford and his wife Ruth were very active on California coastal protection especially the preservation of the Ballona Lagoon during my association with the efforts to conserve California’s irreplaceable coastal resources. Lansford was also a distinguished author. His Wikipedia page describes some of Lansford’s literary accomplishments as follows:

“Lansford began writing over 300 short stories and articles for American magazines the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Argosy, True, and other Men’s adventure magazines, Leatherneck Magazine, Stars and Stripes and many others. He wrote several non-fiction books such as the biographies Stranger than Fiction: The Real Life Adventures of Jack London (1958) and Pancho Villa (1965). The latter was filmed as Villa Rides in 1968 with Lansford doing an early draft of the screenplay.

“Lansford wrote many teleplays for American television series such as Four Star Playhouse, Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Rookies, Starsky and Hutch, CHiPs, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also wrote the screenplays for made for TV movies depicting Jesse James (The Intruders) and Charles Whitman (The Deadly Tower). He produced, directed, and wrote the film Adios East Los Angelos.”

Lansford passed away in 2013.

After reading my posting of Flower Song of Nezahualcoyotl in This and that (see above #72 above and in my blog https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/this-and-that-from-re-thai-r-ment-by-3th-8-shadow-0008-june-27-2019/) Bill’s wife wrote me the following:

“Bill did a detailed outline for a mini-series on the conquest of Mexico (NOT Cortez centered) but never lived to do the scripts. In the process, he became so intrigued by Nahuatl poetry and its distinct style that he wrote a chapbook of original poems in that style.”

Here is that poem:

NEZAHUALCOYOTL

In the night Nezahualcoyotl awoke; indeed,

He awoke, bolting in the night,

In the darkness; under the moonless void, he awoke,

With racing thoughts of dark despair.

He, a King, our mighty Lord,

Poet of an Empire, Voice of Texcoco,

Thought of his Empire,

Of the Golden Orb of Fire –

Of Tonatiuh, Traveler of the Skies,

Drinker of Blood, Eater of Flesh,

Giver of Life to the World.

Where did the Golden Warrior, the Disk of Fire

Hide each night?

Into the belly of the Earth Monster they said he went;

Swallowed by the Eater of Graves, he, the Earth God,

Tlaltecuhtli.

There he slumbered, regaining his strength, his spirit,

As Nezahualcoyotl had once regained his spirit,

When youth was his and sleep was his beneath the gentle

light

Of Coyolxauhqui, Moon-Sister of the stars, of Huitzilopochtli.

Now Evil Spirits ruled the night; the Ghosts,

The fearsome heads roamed with fangs of flint and burning

eyes

And at the Crossroads the Crying Women waited for the unwary,

And sinners’ corpses, long decayed, rose from

Unholy graves to haunt the living.

Such were our times, my Lords,

That ancient Nezahualcoyotl could no longer sleep,

For slumber, peace, indeed, rest, eluded him and

His Poet’s mind burned like comets, like volcanos

in the night,

Grieving for his people –

Despairing for his country’s fate.

What did Nezahualcoyotl sense in the darkness

That none of us sensed?

Across the Lake; across glittering Texcoco Lake;

Our Moonlake; rested the Mightiest Lord on Earth.

The Emperor Axayacotl, Lord of Aztecs, of the Mexica,

Slept in his palace, amid the splendor of Tenochtitlan,

The Mother of Kingdoms, bellybutton of the Moon.

And now – as the Golden Warrior burst free of the

Monster’s throat;

Now, at the 9th hour, the hour of Tlaloc; indeed,

the end of darkness,

The Snake-drum Priests awoke to greet our Prince of Light –

Sun God – God of Life –

And blood flowed for golden Tonatiuh to drink;

And blood was sprinkled on his altars;

And prayers were chanted

And all was well, yet –

This night was the first when Nezahualcoyotl could not sleep;

No longer slumbered; indeed, could not court repose.

Uncle to the Ruler of Kings; father to 400 Princes;

Lord of Texcoco, Poet to the World –

Nezahualcoyotl found no rest.

And from his burning mind, his fears, his wisdom, and

his sorrow sprang

These words for men to ponder:

We are a river, flowing to the sea –

And we shall not return…

By William Lansford

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S SAPPY QUOTE:

 

 

 

The following was sent to me by my cousin Lou. It’s a little sappy and a little long-winded but at our age (Lou is a little older than I am) being a bit sappy and long-winded is how we spend much of our time.

“THIS IS RIGHT ON THE NOSE. …….READ IT SLOWLY… I DON’T KNOW WHO WROTE IT, BUT I AM GUESSING IT WAS A SENIOR!!! I FIRST STARTED READING THIS EMAIL AND WAS READING FAST UNTIL I REACHED THE THIRD SENTENCE. I STOPPED AND STARTED OVER READING SLOWER AND THINKING ABOUT EVERY WORD. THIS EMAIL IS VERY THOUGHT-PROVOKING. MAKES YOU STOP AND THINK.

AND THEN IT IS WINTER You know. . . time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is… the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me…but, I see the great change….Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore… it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will… I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so…now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over on this earth…it’s NOT over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done…things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember…and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.
LIVE IT WELL! ENJOY TODAY! DO SOMETHING FUN! BE HAPPY! HAVE A GREAT DAY!

REMEMBER:….
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.
“LIVE HAPPY IN THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR!

LASTLY, CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:
TODAY IS THE OLDEST YOU’VE EVER BEEN, YET THE YOUNGEST YOU’LL EVER BE SO – ENJOY THIS DAY WHILE IT LASTS.
~Your kids are becoming you…….
~Going out is good.. Coming home is better!
~You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!!!
~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything
~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..
~You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?”… “what?” . ???
~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.
~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”?!!!
~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.
~Everybody whispers.
~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet…. 2 of which you will never wear.
~But Old is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS!!

Stay well, “OLD FRIEND!” Send this on to other “Old Friends!” and let them laugh in AGREEMENT!!!
It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.”
Robin Stevenson, January 7, 2016

Categories: October through December 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 24 Papa Joe 0008. (October 12, 2019)

 
“There ain’t any finer folks living than a Republican that votes the Democratic ticket.”
Will Rogers

 

 

 

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, or if you are of Italian heritage, Columbus Day.

Happy Birthday to me on my 80th Birthday.
Note to all: On October 19 and 20 the Moby-Dick Marathon, a reading of Melville’s masterpiece, will take place at San Francisco’s Maritime Museum (learn more: maritime.org/events/mobydick)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
Days pass. Discovered Kenneth Fearing, poet, novelist, and founding editor of Partisan Review (see below). He was a good old leftie. Alas, he probably would have become a Trumpite had he lived today instead of drinking himself to death at a relatively young age. Watched the movie made from his book “The Big Clock” starring Ray Milland and Charles Laughton and enjoyed seeing Laughton’s wife, Elsa Lanchester, steal the film away from the headliners as she usually does.

Spent time with HRM. Ate lunch with him at Subway and learned that the Slackers vs Jocks contretemps still simmers — the indomitable conviction of youth in the importance of their every experience — sadly to us decrepits we have forgotten how right they are.

Begun packing for our trip into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. I suspect there will be more to write about then — discomfort, fatigue, and, at times, beauty and novelty or boredom. That’s what adventures are all about, a lot of discomfort and boredom broken now and then with bits of terror and fear moderated by a dollop of poetic beauty. The photos are nice, however.

For the second time In the last few months, Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog have been attacked by another dog leaping from a parked car that they passed during their evening walks. This time, Naida was knocked to the ground. The dog’s owners, after securing their pet, rushed to see if Naida was hurt. She responded to their expressions of apology and concern, “Don’t worry, I am one of those eighty-year-olds whose bones do not break whenever she falls down.” More indomitability.

Thinking about indomitability, I have, at times, fought and refused to give up. Now, when it no longer matters, I realize it was not indomitability but merely fear that I would be exposed. I guess that is the way it is with most men.

Now I think it is time to leave this morning’s morass of introspection as well as my recliner and go out and meet the day, or greet it or something like that.

“It’s always something” (Rosanna Rosannadanna.) Lost my wallet. Probably yesterday after I returned from EDH and I stopped for gas at the Shell Station nearby. Perhaps someone stole it. I do not know how. It is a disaster. Losing one’s wallet is one of life’s great tragedies. Everything important was in there. My debit cards, my passport, other things. We are leaving for our trip on Friday. A new credit-card will not be ready by then so the costs of the trip will be all on Naida. Sometimes life sucks. I guess I have to get started on canceling and reordering things. Well, perhaps tomorrow. Tonight I’ll pretend I’m depressed. Tomorrow is another day.

Before going to bed we watched Sidney Poitier in Lilies of Field. I felt better. I’ll cry tomorrow.

It is tomorrow. Oh, happy day. I found my wallet. It was where I thought it was. I always throw the clothing I intend to wear the next day on the floor near my bed. They are easier to locate that way. I thought I had lost my wallet among the accumulated detritus next lying there. Several times I had picked through everything to see if it had fallen among them. This morning, I picked up a shirt I planned to take with me to SF today and there it was lying underneath. So, in happy spirits, we left for the Big Endive by the Bay and my immunotherapy treatment.

 

B. AGAIN IN THE BIG ENDIVE WITH PETER AND BARRIE:

 
Following a surprisingly delightful drive (I napped, Naida drove), we arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in Noe Valley. After getting settled, Peter and I told each other stories. He spoke about his time in Cambridge and India as one of the famous anthropologist, Cora Du Bois’ doctoral students. In India, he and Barrie lived primarily in Bhubaneswar where he studied the politics and design theories behind the construction of the new capital of the then recently created state of Odisha. I told of my adventures in Turkey (a midnight knife fight) and old Jerusalem and Bethlehem (meeting with the dealer who sold the Dead Sea scrolls). Later Hiromi and my granddaughter Amanda joined us for dinner.
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The next day we went to the Mission Bay facility of UCSF for my immunotherapy treatment. Nothing to report here.

We then returned to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 
C. BACK IN THE VALLEY:

 

 

The next day we prepared for our trip. I took a brief drive to EDH to fetch Hayden from school and to stop at the pharmacy to pick up the medicines I would need during our trip. After I returned to the Enchanted Forest, Naida and I enjoyed lunch at a local sandwich shop. Later, a box containing about 20 copies of the revised version of Naida’s memoir, “A Daughter of the West,” with her corrections arrived. Naida spent some time checking to see if the edits she had made were incorporated in the revisions. At about ten o’clock in the evening, we left for the train station.

 

 

 

D. OFF TO OREGON.

 

 

The train to Portland left the Sacramento Valley Amtrak Station at about midnight on Friday. We slept uncomfortably in our business class chairs. I had made a mistake not reserving a sleeping compartment. Nevertheless, train travel, in my opinion, is the most civilized way to travel. It is a shame the United States, unlike almost any other advanced nation in the world, pulled up its tracks, sold the rails for scrap and replaced them with asphalt roadways.

When we awoke, we had a pleasant breakfast, even if not of the quality offered on the Orient Express, Our breakfast companions were an interesting couple from Irvine who made it clear they were not married. “neither are we,” we chimed in gleefully as though we all were old folks reveling in our naughtiness.

We spent the day mostly sitting in the observation car watching wooded northern California and Oregon landscape pass by. We arrived in Portland at about four PM.
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E. PORTLAND AND PUYALLUP:

 

 

We were met at the station by Naida’s cousin Debbie and went for a walk along the Willamette River. There are many bridges spanning the Willamette. I had not noticed that during my previous visits here. Walking along the riverside path I felt as though I was walking under a freeway interchange.

As we strolled along the path on the inland side the Portland Food Festival was under weigh. It extended for many blocks. It was lunchtime and we were hungry but we decided to skip the festival and find a local restaurant.
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Naida and Debbie on the Waterfront.

 

 

After walking around a bit, we found a Chinese restaurant that looked interesting. I had not eaten Chinese food in a while and was eager to do so now.

In Italy and in many places in the US recently, I have noticed that a goodly number of Italian restaurants have been taken over by Chinese immigrant families resulting in mushy noodles and a poor understanding of the cuisine’s use of herbs and spices. Every national cuisine begins with its own traditional mix of herbs and spices. Failure to get them right may still result in a palatable meal but it cannot be called an example of those nations’ traditional food.

So we entered. The waiter seated us and took our orders. I ordered Mu-shu pork. When he brought us our meals he told a lengthy story about learning to be a mu-shu pork folder and considered himself to be the best mu-sho pork folder in Portland. I had never known there was an art to folding mu-shu pork so, I asked him to show us this talent of which he was so proud as I was sure he wanted me to. And so he did.

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Folding Mu-Shu Pork.

 

 

After that, we went to Debbie’s house and promptly fell asleep.

The next day, several of Naida’s relatives from Portland joined us for a late lunch. Many interesting stories were told but, alas, T&T is not a venue in which I can share all of them. Debbie’s father, a renowned Methodist minister, was also an accomplished amateur mineralogist and jewelry maker. When he died, he left Debbie his immense store of rocks, semi-precious stones, and jewelry making equipment. Debbie and her son Nicolas have avidly continued his father’s avocation. Tumblers hummed all night, and piles of rocks and minerals covered much of the yard.
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Some of the Rocks.                                                   The Tumblers.

 

 
Later, we visited with David, Naida’s son who assists the well-known regional sculpture Bruce West (Naida’s ex-brother-in-law). We met at the studio. Bruce was unable to join us because he suffers from late-stage Parkinson’s.
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Naida and David.                                    Some Works by Bruce West.

 

 

Debbie then drove us to the train station and left. We had hoped to take the train to Puyallup, Washington to spend the night at the home of Debbie’s sister Colleen. Unfortunately, the train was full (since when do trains in this day and age get filled up?). So we trundled, in the rain, dragging our luggage a few blocks to the Greyhound station. Alas, the bus had left for Puyallup a few minutes before we arrived. The amused ticket agents suggested we try another bus line a few blocks away. Once again, we struggled through the drizzle to the place where we were told we would find the bus.

When we arrived where we were directed, there was no ticket office to be found. We noticed a bunch of people across the street who appeared to be waiting around for something. We went up to them and asked if they knew the location of the ticket office. We were told there wasn’t one but, they were all waiting for a bus from that company to arrive and had already bought their tickets already. So, we waited there standing with them in the light rain. Eventually, the bus arrived. The driver told us that if there were any seats left after everyone with tickets had been seated he would sell them to us. So we waited some more. After everyone boarded, he announced there were two left. Relieved, we paid him and prepared to board. At that moment, a young man approached and handed the driver a ticket. The driver told him that the ticket said he must arrive at least five minutes before the bus departs and since he did not so the tickets had been sold. So, we boarded. I felt bad for the guy, but not bad enough to give up my seat.

Naida’s cousin Colleen picked us up at the bus stop and drove us to her home in Puyallup. Coleen’s home, a one-story building, appeared small from the outside but was surprisingly large once you got inside. She took us on a tour of the house. It seemed to me to be one of the more pleasant houses I had ever been in. For forty-seven years Coleen, her husband, and her mother lived in that house, constantly changing and remodeling it to better serve their needs and comfort. After Naida and Colleen exchanged a few family stories with each other we went to sleep in a far too comfortable bed.

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Colleen’s Back Porch.                                            Naida and Colleen.

 

 
A ninety-nine acre heavily wooded park surrounds Colleen’s home on two sides. Waking up in the morning with the sun shining and the encircling trees rising up behind the yard was delightful.
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Later, Naida and I went for a walk around a nearby lake. It began raining as we walked along, a light drizzle at times interspersed with more heavy downpours.
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Following the walk, we returned to the house. Naida and Colleen worked on a puzzle together and quietly talked and reminisced about family and things while I sat on the sofa and played on my computer and dozed until it was time to leave for the airport and our flight to Boise.

Colleen dropped us off at the bus station for the brief bus ride to the airport. We flew to Boise on a prop plane. It has been a long time since I last had ridden on one.

We arrived in Boise at about 11pm. After an adventure securing our rental car, we drove to the hotel on the river where we were going to spend the night.
(More to come)

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

This continues the reproduction here in T&T of the entries in an old 1963 diary of mine that almost miraculously survived until now. Clearly, I was no Anne Frank. I hardly recognize the person who wrote this diary almost 60 years ago and I do not think I like him all that much.

Thursday, January 24, 1963.

 

After the exam, we want to Henry Stampler’s where I had my caricature drawn. We then, after throwing down a few, decided to have a party at Dave G———’s apt. We picked up three women at the Barbizon Hotel. Within five minutes of our arrival at his apartment, Dave was in the bedroom with one of them. Maria arrived and I stayed at the party a little longer than I intended. Maria wanted to leave. I left with her and walked her home. When we reached her building she kissed me very warmly. I enjoyed that a lot. I walked her up the stairs and into her apartment. Valerie was there with a Taxi driver she had just picked up. I had a brief conversation with them and Jennifer, their other roommate then I left and returned to the party. The two other couples there had other plans than partying with me, so I went in search of my ride, Dick Perles one of my classmates. I eventually found him but because of the cold, we were unable to start his car. We returned to Maria’s apartment in order to call someone to start the car. I think we annoyed the girls in our bumbling attempts to find a garageman to help so we left, returned to the car, and to our surprise it started right up.

During the ride home Perles, who was quite heady with wine, started to talk about himself. He began with tales of his escapades with the police, including an arrest for housebreaking and his subsequent release through the efforts of his father.

Dick seems to me to be very lonely and frustrated with his life so far. He seems unable to control his own passions — I guess because he neither understands them nor believes in those that he does. As a result, he continues to bind himself in the ropes of loneliness and the knots of frustration — a form of imprisonment I know too much about but appear to be able to escape from at times. Even then, escape is often little more than another turn of the rope or another knot that binds.

 

 

Friday, January 25, 1963.

 

This evening, I watched Captain’s Courageous on TV. Surprisingly, tears began to roll down my cheeks. They continue even as I write this. I do not know why. I try to explain them away, without too much success.

My heart goes out to this Manuel, a man able to live and respect himself as well as have others respect him. A man who could love God without fear or knowledge (often it is the knowledge that brings fear). He was human, childlike, Christ-like, gentle even in violence.

Why can’t I see with his eyes, feel with his heart?

Why do I always seem to be searching for something and always failing because I suspect the search is barren? One day, I hope, I will be able to open my hears and my eyes and then be able to see and touch and smell and test and yes even love.

 

 

Sunday, January 27, 1963.

 
I went to Mike’s party last night. We had gotten dates from St. Vincent’s. While driving to the party we got a flat tire. I ran into Arty Ferrara at the party. He and I discussed the law for a while. I got very drunk and made a spectacle of myself on the subway as we took the girls home.

I am very tired tonight. I hardly know what I am writing.

 
Tuesday, January 29, 1963.

 
Today, I did little other than bring the informational materials for the Puerto Rica trip to my brother Jimmy.

I am depressed tonight because I fear I will not be successful in life. I understand my abilities and knowledge are adequate to achieve the success I crave. Yet, somewhere within my resides a demon that seems to prevent me from completing the most fundamental steps.

A person needs to love himself so much he believes he is superior to all others, or hate himself he allows that hate to sweep away all impediments to his ambitions. Doubting which it is can make one of as little use as a eunuch in a whore-house.

I could sit down and try to analyze this malaise, but analysis rarely leads to solutions or action — action is the spontaneous explosion of one’s spirit.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

 

Today’s Poem:

 

 

Aphrodite Metropolis
Harry loves Myrtle—He has strong arms, from the warehouse,
And on Sunday when they take the bus to emerald meadows he doesn’t say:
“What will your chastity amount to when your flesh withers in a little while?”
No,
On Sunday, when they picnic in emerald meadows they look at the Sunday paper:
GIRL SLAYS BANKER-BETRAYER
They spread it around on the grass
BATH-TUB STIRS JERSEY ROW
And then they sit down on it, nice.
Harry doesn’t say “Ziggin’s Ointment for withered flesh,
Cures thousands of men and women of motes, warts, red veins,
flabby throat, scalp and hair diseases,
Not expensive, and fully guaranteed.”
No,
Harry says nothing at all,
He smiles,
And they kiss in the emerald meadows on the Sunday paper.
Kenneth Fearing

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

 
“We are slowed down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos. We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”
Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
69601833_2951953144879642_9142710261818327040_n

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