Posts Tagged With: Sicily

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.

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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:

 
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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.
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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.

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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:
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Boo-boo the Barking Dog after having done something he should not have done.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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. 4 Joseph 0009 (December 23, 2019)

 

“It’s a lot easier to stir crap up than to get it to settle.”
Hill, Reginald. Good Morning, Midnight (Dalziel and Pascoe) (p. 224). Harper Paperbacks.

 

Quote of the year:

“I’m never afraid and I’m rarely surprised.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

May all your new years be better than the last.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

 

With a weather report for a week of rain and a steady drizzle slicking the streets and turning the landscape gray, Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I set off for Mendocino. I have done this trip so many times I no longer either notice or remember much of the drive other than where Naida and I switch driving duties and walk the dog.

I do recall stopping at Williams for lunch at a tourist restaurant that was not too bad, whose name I no longer remember but whose food was not so good that I would spend the time to look up the name on the internet in order to post here. After lunch, at the deli attached to the restaurant, I bought a panettone (Italian holiday bread) and a large jar of beautiful Sicilian olives for the party my sister was having on Sunday. Alas, when we arrived at my sister’s house and I was removing the jar of olives from the paper bag, I dropped the jar on the counter and it broke. I was so upset that I stalked off into a corner and sulked while Naida struggled to save what was left of the olives.

The first evening or perhaps the second, both Naida and George were suffering migraines and went to bed early, so my sister Maryann and I set off for dinner and caroling at the North Coast Brewery Pub and Jazz Club in Fort Bragg. The Club is usually a jazz venue but that evening the jazz had been set aside for a night of caroling. I ordered a delicious plate of sausage and peppers with polenta and washed it down with a glass of the brewery’s stout followed by a special seasonal berry-flavored light beer. Everything was delicious.

The meal was followed by the entertainment. A local guitarist played and sang a few Christmas tunes. He was Followed by the main event, the carolers, a local group dressed in faux 19th Century costumes that spent the rest of the evening singing many of the familiar carols of the season, enthusiastically and slightly off-tune

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The next day the sun played hide and seek with the clouds. Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went Christmas shopping in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, after which we had an excellent lunch at Maya Fusion in Fort Bragg. She had a mushroom soup to die for and I a sampler that included Arancini.

Arancini, one of my favorite things, originated in 10th Century Sicily when it was under control by the Arabs. It is a deep-fried rice ball usually filled with ragù (meat or mince, slow-cooked at low temperature with tomato sauce and spices), mozzarella and/or caciocavallo cheese, and often peas, and al burro or ô bburru, filled with ham and mozzarella or besciamella. It is a traditional Italian street food ranking right up there with pizza.

Later, at the wonderful Mendocino shop where our friend Maryjane works, Naida purchased a marvelous scarf. It was woven in India out of wool and silk by women who had been sex workers and were now attempting to break away from that life. Maryjane, who usually has a joke for us, when I asked for it said that she did not have one. It must be the season. Christmas season was no laughing matter in the Petrillo family I grew up in.

That evening, after Naida went to bed, Maryann, George and I watched episode two of the television version of Phillip Pullman’s novels in The Golden Compass series. In one of those strange coincidences that have you believing that you may be living in Pullman’s world, at the moment my sister suggested watching the show, I was in the midst of reading the second novel in Pullman’s second series on the same theme.

Another evening, we all piled into Maryann’s car and drove to the Festival of Lights at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens a Christmas event that I always enjoy. The gardens are lit up with thousands of lights arranged in strange and astonishing tableaus that surprise you at every turn along the dark paths.

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The four Amigos warming themselves up after viewing the Festival.

 

Here, I managed to erase about a week’s entries. Given the current state of my memory, erasing what I have written means most of it is lost. This makes me sad — not because anything I had written was either important or memorable but because for me once gone it is gone forever. Worse, I have the vague recollection that what I had written I enjoyed. Anyway, here below is my best recollection of that week.

On Sunday Maryann and George held a Christmas party for a few friends and the staff of WEST Company, the non-profit she runs. The food was delightful, varied and copious. The special egg-nog prepared by Maryann was unusual and delicious. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.
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B. OFF TO LAKEPORT AND BEYOND:
Monday we set off for Lakeport where Naida’s brother lives with his son Bob. From Fort Bragg to Willits, the shortest route from that area of the Coast over that portion of the Coastal Range is Route 20, a wickedly curvy road that passes over the Mendocino Ridge portion of the Coast Range on its way to Route 101. This road is a main route from that part of the coast to Ukiah the Mendocino County seat and relatively heavily traveled. As we turned from Highway 101 (Pacific Coast Highway), Naida told me that at the prior evening’s Christmas party one of the guests who drives that road daily told her that she and other similarly situated drivers actually counted the curves on that 35-mile road and numbered them so that as the drive them they could report to each other the nature and location of any problems along the route.

Another thing, perhaps several more things, that I learned while I drove that road was prompted by the fact that I usually drive as fast as I safely could (at least in my opinion). I believed it would get me to where I was going faster, and of course, confirm my manliness by proving that I was the most testosterone poisoned person on that road that day. Naida, however, protested. Actually, it was more than a protest. She screamed and insisted that she drive rather than me.

It seems, she had been in a number of automobile accidents in her life, including, she told me, once while riding in a car filled with her high school cheerleader teammates, it skidded on a curve, spun as it flew through the air and smashed into the ground tires up. These experiences so affected her that she would become ill when sitting in a car going too fast especially on a curvy road. So, I slowed down a lot and discovered not only was the drive time not appreciably longer, it actually appeared shorter to me. It also allowed me to enjoy the drive more — the dark redwood groves, the glimpses of the valleys between the trunks of the trees, the pretty little bottomlands, lakes, and marshes.

In Lakeport, we met with Roger Smith, Naida’s older brother and his son Bob who seems to suffer from Asperger’s syndrome a condition that appears common in the Smith side of her family. Roger is an accomplished artist, set designer, and singer. Now, because he suffers from macular degeneration, he can no longer paint. Nevertheless, he showed me a number of paintings that he had previously done. They ranged from photorealism to modern impressionism. Of the latter, he favored Cezanne like muted hues with a strong dash of red or another vibrant color.

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At the bottom of the page, I have posted Roger’s homage to Governor Jerry Brown. He would like to bring it to Jerry’s attention. If anyone has any idea how he can do this, please let me know.

His set design pieces were quite dramatic and fascinating.

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A backdrop for the opera Aida.
Naida, Roger and I then went for lunch at Park Place restaurant by the lake. I had gnocchi stuffed with mushrooms. It was as good a meal as I have had in months.
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Naida and Roger
After lunch, we drove back home to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 

C. A NIGHT OF PROTEST:

 
The next day, we attended the Indivisible’s Impeach Trump Rally in Sacramento. It was held at the Capital. I had not been to a protest rally in over twenty years. There were between 3 and 5 thousand people there. There was the usual coterie of long-haired, bearded, shabbily dressed men and colorfully attired women carrying signs. We listened to impassioned, inspiring and at times incomprehensible speeches, sang a few songs, and generally had a good time.

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A protesting dog attended and some children also.

 

D. ALAS:

 
Unfortunately, especially at this season, Mark’s mother died a few days ago. Mark is the husband of Naida’s daughter Sarah. She had been suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease for several years now. We attended the memorial. It was a family affair. I suspect I may have been the only non-family member there. Josephine, Naida’s granddaughter sang a splendid version of Ave Maria. Anna’s children each gave a brief eulogy and remembrance of their mother. After a few more recollections and reminisces, a prayer and a joint singing of a Christmas carol, the memorial ended. Most of those who attend left for a reception at Sarah and Mark’s home. For some reason, I felt exhausted and depressed by the ceremony so I had Naida drop me off at home before she went on to the reception.

I dropped exhaustedly onto the bed and slept until the barking of the dog made such a horrible racket it woke me up. Between barks, I could make out the sound of the doorbell. I rushed downstairs and threw open the door and saw a slightly frazzled Naida standing there. She had returned from the reception but had misplaced her keys to the house.

 

 

 

 

MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:

 

 

 

Excerpt from my unpublished and never to be finished mystery novel, Here Comes Dragon.

Dragon’s Breath:

Sam Spade: “Then the trick from my angle is to make my play strong enough to tie you up, but not make you mad enough to bump me off against your better judgment.”

 

Chapter 2.

 

I watched her disappear around a corner, took a sip of my wine and realized she had not paid for it. “Bitch,” I opined to no one except me. Drank the rest of my Barbera. Began on hers since she had not touched it and I was paying for it and I am opposed to wasting good, or even mediocre wine on religious grounds, being raised Catholic.

Usually tracing a missing person for the price I was being paid warranted about a half hour or so on a computer, a few telephone calls to bulk up the brief final report. A report written in a way that allowed the client to resolve any residual guilt they may be feeling by assuring that he or she had done all that could be done under the circumstances or, if the client is still mired in guilt, suggesting they pay me the rest of my fee and retain me for another week of futility. What the fee did not include, however, was any effort requiring the use of foot protecting composite material or knocking on doors.

Nevertheless, given that the sun was out and it was about as warm as it was going to get in San Francisco; I had just drunk two glasses of wine; the knowledge that the missing Mark’s apartment was only about three blocks away from where I was sitting; and the urgings bubbling out of that dark and defective communication channel that ran between my brain and my groin suggesting that the extra effort could result in my observing Mavis’s tattoos closer up, I decided to knock on his door just in case Missing Mark had decided that Mavis was no longer his playmate and he was hiding from her wrath.

So, I finished the wine, packed the computer in its protective shoulder bag and signaled to Pino to put it all on my tab (which was met with a scowl and a sneer). I then got up, jaywalked across Columbus Avenue and moved on up Green Street toward Telegraph Hill.

I guess I ought to describe how I was dressed so you do not simply picture a dark blob bobbing along the sidewalk. I was dressed like a dark blob. I wore a shapeless grey-brown short overcoat with wool lining, that I picked up at Goodwill, over a yellow sweatshirt with nothing written on it. I do not do advertising. Black slacks below. I don’t do jeans. On my feet are ugly orthotic enhanced shoes to coddle my nonexistent arches. I don’t do sneakers or trainers or whatever those horribly expensive and garishly colored things are now called. Around my neck hung a ratty red and black wool scarf with a fringe on each end.

The sun was shining. The fabled San Francisco fogs of three decades ago a vague memory. It still, however, was about a million degrees colder in the City than in the East Bay but the temperature was still warmer than it had been in times past when one suffered through 12 months of semi-winter. Now, due in all likelihood to global warming, winter in San Francisco lasts only about seven months.

I regretted this change in the weather. Gone were the fogs that cloaked Hammit’s Sam Spade in his daily run from his offices near the Burritt St. ditch to John’s for lunch. You need a real City for mysteries, full of shadows and unhappiness. San Francisco is not a real City. It is too happy.

On the far side of Grant, Telegraph Hill rises. It is capped by that great phallus in the sky memorializing the transcendental virility of San Francisco’s Fire and Rescue personnel. The stunted cement penis also separates the residents of the sunny side of the hill from those fortunate few who really have views of the water. These few live primarily in shacks converted over the years into luxury aeries. These luxury shacks, reachable only by stairs, cling to the side of the cliff like barn swallow nests cling to the eaves of a barn. Among these fortunate few living snug in their aeries live some of the most unpleasant people living on the face of the earth. They are those who fervently believe that their struggles for preservation of their water views and indolent lifestyles benefit the rest of us.

Now do not get me wrong, I hate rapacious developers as much as anyone and believe that most developers should first be boiled in oil and then burnt at the stake in the middle of Union Square, but if these cliff dwellers were so concerned about the rest of us, as they would have us believe, why don’t they turn their happy huts over to the rest of us, say for two days a week, so that the rest of us can sit by the window, smoke a joint, sip some wine and stare slack-jawed at the Bay bridge marching across the water into Angel Island while the ceaseless maritime traffic in the bay passes back and forth under its soaring piers?

On the sunny side of the hill, the streets get steeper as they approach the crest of the peak. The sidewalks change into steps about halfway up the hill. The houses on this side sit cheek by jowl crammed one next to each other. Built about 100 years ago as immigrant tenements, over the years they have been stuccoed, shingled, painted or wood or aluminum siding as fashions dictated. All now painted either white or some pastel shade of pink, blue or green. All except missing Mark’s building located about where the sidewalk changes into steps. Sometime in the late 1950s someone tore down a number of older buildings and replaced them with a dark shake sided five-story apartment in the then fashionable but utterly boring international style. It gave that side of the street the appearance of an ancient bleached jaw bone with a few molars missing.

I knew this building well. In it lived Ann Kennedy who, as serendipity dictated, lived on the same floor as Missing Mark. Ann Kennedy was a masseuse that I visited now and then. She was the type of masseuse that one finds in the back pages of monthly alternative newspapers or on Craig’s List.

Because of the steepness of the hill the entrance to the building was on the second floor, Ann and Missing Mark’s floor. Various stacks of construction materials lay about as they always have as long as I had come here, but no one was ever working.

I marched up to Ann’s door first, because I thought she may have some information about her neighbor. Also, I contemplated the possibility of spending some of my fee on relaxation and release before embarking on my job. Knocked on the door and rang the bell which buzzed with that grinding sound that I hate almost more than anything I could think of.

The door opened about a foot wide. Now, if one were expecting that curvaceous, cleavage exposing, lingerie wearing, red-lipped, dark-eyed beauty in the photographs that often accompany the ads, it was not Ann. Ann more resembled a reject from a model call for a Dorothea Lange photo shoot on the ravages of the Great Depression, right down to her shapeless house dress.

“Yes,” she said?

“Hi, Ann,” I said with a big smile.

I was met with a grey-eyed, pupil-less stare of non-recognition.

“Do you have an appointment?” she asked?

Thought she was either stoned or my belief in the memorability of my presence was overrated. Decided I would save some money and later resolve by hand any uncontrollable urgings I still may have. Said, “Do you know Mark Holland?”

Long stare. “No.”

“He lives on this floor. He is your neighbor,” and I gestured toward the other end of the hall.

She slowly turned her head and looked in that direction, which made no sense since she was standing inside her apartment and could not see down the hall. Slowly turned back to me.

“No,” and she closed the door in my face.

Stood there wondering if I should kick the door in frustration. Decided I would only hurt my foot. Turned went to the other end of the floor to stand in front of Missing Mark’s apartment door. Looked down at the doorknob. Saw scratches and splintered wood. Thought, “Uh-oh, run!”

However, like touching just to see if a sign announcing “wet paint” means what it says, I reached down to turn the doorknob just to see if what I knew to be true really was.

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Naida and Joe’s marvelous adventures in the Pacific Northwest on Top:
This is a continuation of the story of my trip with Naida through the Pacific Northwest in what may be her final opportunity to experience the place of her birth and childhood and to visit her relatives who still lived there.
Into the Big Hole
We left Julie Miller and Alder Montana and drove along the path of Lewis and Clark on their voyage of discovery and the later migration of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce nation as they fled their ancestral homes to seek freedom in Canada and avoid annihilation at the hands of the American Army.

On our way to the Big Hole Valley the Land of 10,000 haystacks, we passed through Wisdom Montana. The town takes its name from the Lewis and Clark’s expedition’s naming or the nearby river the Wisdom River (now the Big Hole River). It is considered one of the coldest places in the continental US and home to 98 people.

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Beautiful downtown Wisdom Montana
A few miles later we passed the spot where the Lewis and Clark expedition almost gave up and turned back but was saved by Sacagawea who recognized the solitary mesa (Beaverhead Rock) near which her people would camp during that time of the year. She directed the expedition towards it and discovered nearby her brother leading a party of Shoshone rounding up horses.

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Beaverhead Rock

We then passed onto the ridge overlooking the Big Hole Valley.

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The Big Hole Valley
Further on we came to the Big Hole battlefield site. Here the 750 Nez Perce including about 200 warriors (basically the young men of the tribe) set up camp to rest for a few days before continuing on their trek to join Sitting Bull’s people in Canada and escape the genocide threatened by troops of the American government. They did not believe they were at risk because they thought the American army was far behind. Unknown by them, a second army had been dispatched to deal with them. In the night, that army arrived and hid in the trees and bushes by the Nez Perce encampment. As was the usual strategy of the American Army in the Indian Wars, they waited for morning and for the women and children to leave the teepees in order to begin preparing the morning meal. They poured gunfire into the camp in hope that the slaughter of their women and children would so dismay the warriors they would give up. Contrary to the army’s expectation, the Nez Perce warriors rallied, launched a counter-attack, destroyed the army’s cannon, drove the army off with significant casualties and allowed the remainder of the tribe time to withdraw in relatively good order.
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The Big Hole Battlefield Site. The Nez Perce were camped in the field a little right of the center of the photograph. The soldiers were hidden in the trees and bushes that appear slightly reddish. The cannon was placed on the large hill just below the tree line on the left.
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B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 
It is interesting to note how much easier it is today for a government to abandon its promises to its people but not to its creditors.

C. Today’s Poem:

“O sanctissima” (O most holy) is a Roman Catholic hymn in Latin, seeking the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and often sung in various languages on her feast days. The earliest known publication was from London in 1792, presenting it as a traditional song from Sicily; but no original source or date has been confirmed for the simple melody or the poetic text. The tune is often called “Sicilian Mariners Hymn” or similar titles, referring to the seafarers’ nightly invocation of Mary as their maternal protector. (Wikipedia)

“Travellers all agree in their account of the effects of the simple air called ‘The Virgin’s Hymn,’ sung in unison by the whole crew of the Sicilian seamen on board their ships when the sun sets, or when it is the twenty-fourth hour of Italy.”
William Seward 1792.

 
Imagine if you will, a calm evening on the black waters of the Mediterranean. A group of small fishing boats bobbing gently in the swells, a few lights twinkling like the stars above. Then from the boats the rough voices of the fishermen rising in uniform with the solemn strains of the hymn.

Also, note the interesting rhyming pattern in the Latin version.

O sanctissima, o piissima,
dulcis Virgo Maria!
Mater amata, intemerata,
ora, ora pro nobis.

Tu solatium et refugium,
Virgo Mater Maria.
Quidquid optamus, per te speramus;
ora, ora pro nobis.

Ecce debiles, perquam flebiles;
salva nos, o Maria!
Tolle languores, sana dolores;
ora, ora pro nobis.

Virgo, respice, Mater, aspice;
audi nos, o Maria!
Tu medicinam portas divinam;
ora, ora pro nobis.
O most holy, o most loving,
sweet Virgin Mary!
Beloved Mother, undefiled,
pray, pray for us.

You are solace and refuge,
Virgin, Mother Mary.
Whatever we wish, we hope it through you;
pray, pray for us.

Look, we are weak and deeply deplorable;
save us, o Mary!
Take away our lassitude, heal our pains;
pray, pray for us.

Virgin, look at us, Mother, care for us;
hear us, o Mary!
You bring divine medicine;
pray, pray for us.

Many, many years ago, I was a mere callow lad and altar boy in the Italian-American Parish Assumption Church in Tuckahoe New York. The parish and church existed mainly because at the time Italians were discouraged from attending the much larger so-called American Church nearby. At morning mass most of the worshippers were black-clothed vecchiadelli (Old Women). I would often listen to them singing this hymn in that strange reedy nasal voice that characterizes Sicilian singing. It has remained a fond memory of mine, even until now 70 years later.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 
I cannot resist reposting this quote from the great and irrepressible Terry Pratchett. If one would re-read my many ruminations on memory here in T&T, one could consider me a disciple of Wen.

Wen the Eternally Surprised.

“Why was he eternally surprised?” And they are told: “Wen considered the nature of time and understood that the universe is, instant by instant, re-created anew. Therefore, he understood, there is, in truth, no Past, only a memory of the Past. Blink your eyes, and the world you see next did not exist when you closed them. Therefore, he said, the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.”
Pratchett, Terry. Thief of Time: A Novel of Discworld (p. 31). HarperCollins.

In addition to the Golden Rule, one could very well take as one’s guide to living good and moral life Wen’s almost biblical exhortation “the only appropriate state of the mind is surprise. The only appropriate state of the heart is joy. The sky you see now, you have never seen before. The perfect moment is now. Be glad of it.” So, be surprised always, be always joyful, and always be glad you are alive.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Roger Smith’s portrait of Jerry Brown, California’s recent governor.

 

Roger also is the artist who produced the painting behind the bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square’s “ Fat Lady Restaurant.” The Restaurant’s brochure explains the genesis of the name and the painting:

Why the Fat Lady? People always ask, “How did the Fat Lady get its name?” Well, there are two stories. Fact and legend. Fact has it that when Louis Shaterian owned the original Overland House, a superior court judge told him about a nude painting his son had painted of a pleasingly plump lady.
This aroused Lou’s curiosity. He was taken to view the painting and upon seeing it, he decided it was definitely unique but he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. The judge suggested it should hang in the new restaurant Lou and his wife, Patricia, were about to open and thus became the namesake of the Fat Lady Bar and Restaurant. Now maybe this story is too mundane so we’ve created a legend. Factual history has it that the Fat Lady building (built in 1884) was once a house of ill repute and who could have been its madame? Our very own Fat Lady, of course! Rumors also say that Jack London slept here. Considering he lived within walking distance, maybe . . . just maybe he did know the infamous Fat Lady. We’ll let you decide.”

Roger also painted the portrait of the Yeti that hangs in The Yeti restaurant in Davis.

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

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Capt. Coast 0008 (April 20, 2019)

 

“[R]estraint is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
Joy! Auntie Poldi has returned — finally (See Book Report below). I cannot resist posting here the magnificently exuberant and perhaps shameless bit of overwriting with which the author begins his novel:

“Although in the past few months Poldi had temporarily thwarted death thanks to solving her handyman Valentino’s murder, her romantic encounter with Vito Montana (Polizia di Stato’s chief inspector in charge of homicide cases), her friendship with her neighbours Valérie and sad Signora Cocuzza, my aunts’ efforts and, last but not least, her own love of the chase, we all know the way of the world: peace reigns for a while, the worst seems to be over, the sun breaks through the clouds, the future beckons once more, your cigarette suddenly tastes good again, the air hums with life and the whole world becomes a congenial place pervaded by whispers of great things to come. A simply wonderful, wonderful, universally familiar sensation. And then, like a bolt from the blue, pow! Not that anyone has seen it coming, but the wind changes. Fate empties a bucket of excrement over your head, chuckling as it does so, and all you can think is “Wow, now I really need a drink!” And the whole shitty process starts again from scratch. So it was no wonder my aunts became alarmed when Poldi still had no running water after two weeks and Lady was murdered. No doubt about it, the wind had changed and the ice was growing steadily thinner.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

It is Saturday morning and time for the weekly Saturday Morning Coffee Hour at the Nepenthe Club House. The Club House is nestled in a corner of the Enchanted Forest a short distance from our home. Under a bleak sky, Naida and I walked there along the meandering pathways that run beneath the flowering trees and bushes — I, leaning heavily on my fake shillelagh cane, and Naida gaily reciting some long poem by Longfellow or now and then breaking out into a few stanzas of song.

By the time we arrived, I had become so dizzy from the exertion of the walk, I plopped down on the sofa in the hope that the merry-go-round in my head would soon subside. Naida busied herself assembling coffee and various pastries.

Sitting around on a circle of chairs were the usual attendees at these weekly get-togethers: the Leader of course, the spy, Billie the cute woman, the artist, Big Bill, the short-haired lady, Good Old Dave who looks like someone named Dave should look, Silent Gordon, Jan who selflessly scuttles around making sure the place is set up and we all have our coffee and name tags, and a few others. The woman who suffers from what appears to be CP arrived a bit later and settled herself by the large fireplace.

When we all were in place with our coffee and pastry, our leader, Ginnie, rang the little bell she carries around with her and began making her announcements — where this months TGIF would be held, the date of the Take Me Out to the Ballgame Party, and various other housekeeping items. She then announced it was Jan and Good Old Dave’s birthdays. Jan brought out a cake and we all sang Happy Birthday. Then with the announcements over everyone got down to talking to one another other except for Young Silent Gordon who stared morosely at the floor and me.

I decided to slowly examine the other attendees in an effort to understand better why I am beginning to become so fond of these Saturday morning gatherings. I did not reach any conclusion on that but I did notice that Billie the Cute Woman seemed to be the most fashionably dressed, from her patent leather flats, to her tight black leather pants, to her poncho-like black and white buttonless jacket, black sweater, and large golden outline of a heart hanging from a chain around her neck. Her fingernails were colored a light gold to match her jewelry. The rest of us were dressed in sports or casual outfits except for Naida who sported a smashing tight multi-colored blouse.

Good Old Dave told us his father owned the historic hotel in Murphy’s. Naida told him about a book she had read, The Black Sun of the Miwok, a collection of six stories about the deaths of the last six Miwok in the area, one of which tales was set in the hotel. Unfortunately, the book is no longer in print after several Native-American groups objected to it because it focuses on how the miners and settlers ridiculed the death and suffering of those individuals.

Sunday — the wet weather departed for a day or two restored the sun to the sky, cleared the air and drove the annual Great Valley spring pollen assault into hiding. The flowering bushes and trees in the backyard are in full bloom.
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Backyard in Full Bloom.

 

Monday morning — it is hydration day. I sit in my comfortable reclining chair typing this while saline solution slowly drips into my arm. The sun is out. Naida hard at work on her computer prepares the version of her memoir that will be sent to the printers. The dog, freshly bathed, naps on the chair next to me. What’s not to like?

On Tuesday, my urologist informed me my plumbing showed no immediate threats to my current existence. I ate a hot dog and drank a root-beer float for lunch. After lunch, I washed the car. I apologize, but as one approaches 80 years of age, days like this are what passes for excitement. I look forward to tomorrow. I get my hearing tested.

I got my hearing tested and ordered new hearing aids this morning. This made me happy. At my age, it does not take much to make me happy. I also saw it all as a bit of adventure. For we Vecchi, little things often seem more significant than they are — sort of like a form of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AiWS). In addition to finding little things a big deal, I now often see minor events as great adventures. On the other hand, perhaps, I always did.

After my adventure with the certified audiologist, I drove into the Golden Hills, now a lovely green due to all the spring rains. The sun was out and the clouds were bunched up high on the Sierras like Miracle Whip on an ice cream Sunday. I picked up HRM and the Scooter Gang, Jake, Caleb, and Hamza at the Skatepark. After a brief stop at Dick’s house for some mysterious reason, I then dropped them off at Caleb’s — but not before urging them not to get into too much trouble although listening to them talk it seems they are well into the adolescent we versus them syndrome. Yes, I worry. Teenage alienation is not just a fact of life but also a concern for the adults involved.

This morning while I was lying in bed trying to decide if it was worth getting up, my eyes fell on a small red diary that lay among the books littering the floor at the side of my bed. I had kept this diary way back in 1960. Strangely, given the number of times in my life when I rid myself of everything I had accumulated, it is one of the two things I have retained from more than a few years ago. How it survived for almost 60 years I do not know.

The diary details an almost one-year relationship I had with a woman. Strangely, the woman’s name does not appear in the diary. I was clearly in love with her, at least as much as a callow 19-year-old can be, and perhaps she was in love with me also. Alas, like most of us at that age, I believed I knew all that I needed to know about life and love.

We met in January and our relationship ended the following December. According to the diary, much of my preoccupation that year was the conflict, in my mind at least, between my affection for her and my anguish over the fact that she had a three-year-old child and was Jewish. While in retrospect, I could berate myself for my shallowness, but this happened almost 60 years ago and I had lived my life until then within a relatively closed Catholic Italian-immigrant society and had little experience with much outside that culture. But that is not what I pondered this morning. You see, I had no recollection of that year, not her, not my name, not my anguish — not anything.

If someone does not remember something does that mean it does not exist? Does it then return to existence if one suddenly recalls it? Does everything we experience somehow exist in our subconscious or some configuration of our neurons? I spent perhaps an hour this morning contemplating those questions until the dog started barking at the garbage truck as it passed by on its rounds and I began to feel a desperate need for my morning coffee.

On Friday, I, once again drove into the Golden (Green?) Hills to pick up HRM and Jake. H told me his mom did not want him traveling with me during his spring break, We had planned a trip to Portland to visit Naida’s son who works assisting a noted sculptor, Bruce West, another Naida relative. There he was to be introduced to high-quality welding, something he was eager to learn. After that, we had planned to travel to Sun Valley Idaho so that he could get in a day or two snowboarding. Then a few days at a large cattle range in Montana with other relatives. Alas, H is now a latch key kid, forced to spend his vacation bunking with Jake at his family’s house.

Sunday came around. I do not recall what happened Saturday. Not very much I assume. Perhaps I slept most of the day. Anyway, On Sunday morning we received a call from Sarah, Naida’s daughter. She was suffering from an overabundance of Cala Lilies growing in her backyard and urged us to come over right away and take some. So, after a stop to buy a vase large enough to accommodate the flowers, we arrived at Sarah’s home and proceeded to the backyard where in addition to the Cala lilies, irises, roses and a host of other flowers were in bloom. Sarah’s husband Mark busily pushed a hand-held mechanical plow through the ground in order to begin the planting for this summer’s vegetable garden. Then we all retired to the deck and had an enjoyable lunch.
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The Backyard
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Drinks on the Deck with Sarah and Naida

 

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The Cala Lillies at Home

 

B. ONCE AGAIN OFF TO THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Under a sunny sky, we left for SF. That evening at Peter and Barrie’s house, Judy, who lives across the street and is my most consistently responsive Facebook friend brought over two framed photographs of Peter and I sitting on the “geezer bench” in front of Bernie’s coffee shop that she made from a Facebook post of mine. Barrie again prepared a tasty meal this time featuring spaghetti with clams.

The next morning we left for my appointment at the hospital for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor gave me the most ambiguously optimistic opinion I have received since my original oncologist opined that the swelling in my neck was nothing to be concerned about. He told us that the CT scan I had taken that morning showed some shrinkage in the tumor and he could not tell if it was now scar tissue caused by the previous radiation treatment or not but may be inactive. He also explained that chemotherapy does not cure cancer and the immunotherapy program I am starting on helps the body’s immune system to fight reactivation of cancer.

After the treatment we returned to Peter and Barrie’s home where Barrie prepared a delicious anchovy, garlic and parsley spread from a recipe of Leo’s mother.

Who is Leo?

The next morning I woke up and realized the aches, pains and general malaise caused by the side effects of chemotherapy are gone replaced by the sniffles, runny nose, itches and the normal aches and pains of life and age.

After breakfast, we left and returned to the Enchanted Forest.
C. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST

 

We arrived back in the Enchanted Forest at about 1PM. After a brief rest, I took Boo-boo for a walk. During the three days we have been away, spring has given way to summer. The fruit trees have shed their flowers and the camellias are gone. The branches of the deciduous trees sport their new shiny green leaves. We stopped at the small community center with the tiny pool and sat in the sun. It was perhaps the first day it has been open for swimming. There were two families there, an elderly couple in swimsuits taking in the sun and a mother and her three young children playing and shouting in the pool, The dog and I sat there under a cloudless blue sky and enjoyed the doings in the pool. I felt good but a little sad that swimming was out for me for a long time.
D. BOOK REPORT: Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) by Mario Giordano.

 

I have just finished reading the second installment in the series of my current book crush, The Adventures of Auntie Poldi. Although purporting to be detective stories, I, frankly, do not recall who was killed or why in either of the two novels of the series I have read so far. Nor can I claim they are great or even good literature. So, what attracts me to these books?

Perhaps it is Auntie Poldi herself, a lusty sixty-year-old German woman who had married a Sicilian immigrant to Bavaria and who after his death retired to her husband’s ancestral town on the slopes of Mt Etna there to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Poldi wears a wig, dresses usually in brightly colored caftans, enthusiastically and vigorously enjoys sex, and as the daughter of a Bavarian chief of detectives is compulsively drawn to solving crimes, photographing cute policemen in uniform and bedding dusky and hunky Sicilian detectives (well one in particular). The quotation from the novel with which I began this post may give a glimpse of Poldi, herself.

On the other hand, Poldi was a woman of strong opinions as well as strong appetites. As she explained to her nephew whom she had appointed to be the Watson to her Holmes:

“I’ve never been devout,” she explained later before I could query this in surprise because I knew that Poldi harbored a fundamental aversion to the Church. “I’m spiritual but not devout, know what I mean? I’ve never had much time for the Church. The mere thought of it infuriates me. The males-only organizations, the pope, the original-sin malarkey, the inhibited cult of the Virgin Mary, the false promises of redemption, the proselytism, the misogyny, the daft words of the psalms and hymns. Mind you, I’ve always liked the tunes. I always enjoyed chanting in the ashram, you know. I screwed every hippie in the temple of that Kali sect in Nevada, I’ve meditated in Buddhist monasteries, and I believe in reincarnation and karma and all that, likewise in people’s essential goodness. I don’t know if there’s a god and if he’s got something against sex and unbelievers, but I can’t help it, I’m Catholic. It’s like malaria: once you’ve got it you never get rid of it, and sooner or later you go and make peace with it.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

On the other hand, perhaps it is the authors alter ego himself, Poldi’s 34-year-old unmarried nephew, the narrator in the books, a self-described but inept author who works at a call center in Bavaria. He has been attempting to write the great Bavarian novel for years now but seems to have only recently gotten inspired to write the first four chapters the last of which he enthusiastically describes in a blaze of overwriting:

“I was in full flow. I was the adjective ace, the metaphor magician, the sorcerer of the subordinate clause, the expresser of emotions, the master of a host of startling but entirely plausible turns of events. The whole of my fourth chapter had been completed within a week. I was a paragon of self-discipline and inspiration, the perfect symbiosis of Germany and Italy. I was a Cyclops of the keyboard. I was Barnaba. All I lacked was a nymph, but my new Sicilian styling would soon change that.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

He found himself periodically called to Sicily to reside in an attic room in Poldi’s house whenever the Sicilian relatives believed Poldi was skating on the thin edge of reality or Poldi herself needing someone to beguile and complain to demanded his return.

Or perhaps, it is the denizens of my beloved Sicily like the three aunts fascinated, often shocked, and at times participants in Poldi’s escapades. Or her partners in crime, so to speak, sad Carmina and the local priest. Or, Poldi’s French friend, Valerie her forlorn nephews love interest who Poldi steadfastly refuses to allow him to meet.

“For Valérie, like Poldi, happiness possessed a simple binary structure, and the whole of human existence was suspended between two relatively distant poles. Between heaven and hell, love and ignorance, responsibility and recklessness, splendour and scuzz, the essential and the dispensable. And within this dual cosmic structure there existed only two kinds of people: the deliziosi and the spaventosi, the charming and the frightful. Rule of thumb: house guests, friends and dogs are always deliziosi, the rest are spaventosi. At least until they prove otherwise.”

“‘You see,’ Poldi told me once, ‘Valérie has understood that happiness is a simple equation. Happiness equals reality minus expectation.’”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2) . HMH Books.

 

Or perhaps it is just that I am a child of Sicily, have lived as well as visited many times and loved that large rocky Island whose citizens have suffered almost two thousand five hundred years of continuous occupation by a host of invaders— Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Germans, French, Spanish, Bourbons, Nazi’s, and even British and Americans. Where the inhabitants were considered so irrelevant by their foreign overlords their cities, unlike the rest of Europe, were built without defensive walls. Where the people are reticent with strangers but boisterous and generous with friends and family, where Bella figura reigns, the cuisine is wonderful, people speak in gestures and revel in the mores of their medieval culture and where “Being Sicilian is a question of heart, not genes” (Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna, An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2. HMH Books.)

Whatever, the reasons for my own enjoyment of the books,

Pookie says you should check them out, after all, as Auntie Poldi advises:

“Moderation is a sign of weakness.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna (An Auntie Poldi Adventure Book 2). HMH Books.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
Another snag from Brad Delong’s Grasping Reality with Three Hands (https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/04/economics-identity-and-the-democratic-recession-talking-points.html#more), this time an outline of a paper he wrote entitled Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points. I have included here that portion of the outline dealing with Economic Populism.

I would like to draw a sharp distinction between:

On the one hand, populists: who have a coherent theory about how the market economy is rigged against ordinary people by an upper class and have practical plans for policies to fix it;
On the other hand, a different group: a group who believe that a true people, among whom some are rich and some are poor, are being deceived culturally, sociologically, and economically by internal and external enemies, and need to follow a leader or leaders who have no patience with established constitutional powers and procedures to point out to them who their internal and external enemies are.
It is this second set of movements—true people-based, leader-based, enemy-based, that has been by far the most powerful since the breaking of the real populist movement before 1900 by the hammer of racism: the discovery that a large enough chunk of the populists potential base were easily grifted by a white identity-politics assignment of the “enemy“ role to African-Americans.
Powerful both in America and—except for when under the shadow of Soviet threat—in Western Europe since the day Benito Mussolini recognized that rich Italians who liked order would not fund Benito’s socialist movement, but would gladly fund Benito’s “we are stronger together, for a bundle of sticks tied together with leather thongs is strong even though each individual stick is weak“ movement.
Today looks to me like nothing that special: Recall:

Harding and Coolidge, Taft and Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon, and Buchanan:
Harding and Coolidge’s mobilization of the revived Klan and of nativism against blacks and immigrants to geld progressivism in the 1920s.
Taft and Nixon’s mobilizing McCarthy against the communistic New Deal at the end of the 1940s.
Goldwater’s transformation of the Republican Party from the party of upward mobility and those who believe they have something to gain from economic growth and creative distraction to the party of those who believe they have something to lose if uppity Negroes and the overly educated overly clever are not kept in their place.
Richard Nixon’s idea to drag out the Vietnam war for four more years at the cost of 40,000 American and 3 million Vietnamese lives. Why? So that he and Pat Buchanan can break the country in half, but with him getting the bigger half—until enough Republicans plus Mark Felt of the FBI were sick of him and willing to help bring him down.
How is today different? Possibilities:
Concentration of the easily-grifted, somehow the internet, Rupert the Kingmaker, the Gingrich model, unlock:
Tyler Cowen’s observation: 20% of the population have always been crazy— easily grifted by some variant of white identity politics—but they used to be evenly divided between the two parties and now they are concentrated in one.
Somehow the internet.
Blowback from Rupert Murdoch’s insight that if you could scare the piss out of all the people you could glue their eyes to your product and then make money by selling them fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.
Rupert the Kingmaker: In the fifteenth century the marcher Earldom of Warwick was uniquely able to mobilize those in the affinity of Earl Richard for the battlefield—and so became known as “Warwick the Kingmaker”. There are analogies here…
The Gingrich model: We now have two generations of Republican politicians who believe that technocratic policy development is for suckers, and then what do you need are:
tax cuts for the rich,
regulatory rollback,
perhaps a short victorious war or two, plus
Whatever culture war currently resonates with the base—notice that “women need to stay in the kitchen and the bedroom“ and “we need to shun homosexuals“ have passed their sell-by date, but transsexuals and anyone who fails to shout “merry Christmas” every five minutes between Halloween and New Years are still fair game.
Or perhaps we have simply been unlucky—and we had gotten used to luck running in our favor:
Otto von Bismarck, perhaps: “a special providence watches over drunkards, fools, and the United States of America”…

 

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
Too much happiness is a precarious state, it eventually leads to anxiety.
C. Today’s Poem:

 

Considering the current fear and anguish over migration, refugees, and asylum seekers, I thought it would be interesting to see what Homer may have thought about it over three thousand years ago.

SOME SHELTER FROM THE WIND: HOMER ON OUR DEBT TO EXILES
Homer, Odyssey 6.205-210

“We live at a great distance from others amid the much-sounding sea,
Far way, and no other mortals visit us.
But this man who has wandered here, who is so ill-starred,
It is right to care for him now. For all are from Zeus,
The strangers and the beggars, and our gift is small but dear to them.
Come, handmaidens, give the stranger food and drink;
Bathe him in the river, where there is shelter from the wind.”

οἰκέομεν δ’ ἀπάνευθε πολυκλύστῳ ἐνὶ πόντῳ,
ἔσχατοι, οὐδέ τις ἄμμι βροτῶν ἐπιμίσγεται ἄλλος.
ἀλλ’ ὅδε τις δύστηνος ἀλώμενος ἐνθάδ’ ἱκάνει,
τὸν νῦν χρὴ κομέειν· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε, δόσις δ’ ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε.
ἀλλὰ δότ’, ἀμφίπολοι, ξείνῳ βρῶσίν τε πόσιν τε,
λούσατέ τ’ ἐν ποταμῷ, ὅθ’ ἐπὶ σκέπας ἔστ’ ἀνέμοιο.”

D. Readings from the Mueller Report:

 

In a section related to episodes involving the president and possible obstruction of justice, Mueller’s team explains how it “determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment.” But the special counsel’s team also said it was unable to definitively conclude that Trump did not commit obstruction of justice:

“Apart from OLC’s constitutional view, we recognized that a federal criminal accusation against a sitting President would place burdens on the President’s capacity to govern and potentially preempt constitutional processes for addressing presidential misconduct … The evidence we obtained about the President’s actions and intent presents difficult issues that would need to be resolved if we were making a traditional prosecutorial judgment. At the same time, if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment. Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

 

“You have imposter syndrome,” He says, “but paradoxically, that’s often a sign of competence. Only people who understand their work well enough to be intimidated by it can be terrified by their own ignorance. It’s the opposite of Dunning-Kruger syndrome, where the miserably incompetent think they’re on top of the job because they don’t understand it.”
Stross, Charles. The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) (Kindle Location 4514). Tom Doherty Associates.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
6a00e551f0800388340240a44e61df200c

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
Children

Categories: April through June 2019, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 11 Joseph 0007. (December 31, 2018)

 

“However many sorrows you drag along with you, you’ll only have walked a few steps before bumping into someone who will remind you that there’s always another person with a far worse set of cards than yours in the game of life.”
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Labyrinth of the Spirits (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) (p. 193). Harper.

 

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

(In 1919, one hundred years ago:

WWI officially ended in June 1919.
Einstein’s theory of general relativity is tested/confirmed by Arthur Eddington’s observation of a total solar eclipse in Principe and by Andrew Crommelin in Sobral, Ceará, Brazil.
Women’s rights: The United States Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would guarantee suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification.
Prohibition begins: The United States Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto.
The American-born Lady Astor is elected to the British House of Commons, becoming on December 1 the first female MP to take a seat.
Female suffrage in Germany and Luxembourg.
May 25 Madam C. J. Walker [Sarah Breedlove], African American entrepreneur (First American self-made female millionaire, Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company), dies of kidney failure complications at 51.)

 

 

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

 

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND THEREABOUTS:

 
The Coming of the Holidays

Sickness eventually, like most journeys, features periods of high and low adventure stitched together with periods of annoyance and joy. Then one briefly feels the excitement of reaching his or her goal. — Well, a goal if you achieve health — other options, not so much. A few days telling the stories of high excitement follow, then creeping boredom begins urging you to move on again to somewhere or someplace else. I’ve, alas, grown tired of my adventures with the dread disease. It’s been a week since my actual treatment began. Things went right, then wrong, then right once more, and so on. I thought when treatment began I would be happy and see each visit as another adventure of sorts or perhaps even experience a few descents into slap-stick. No, no such luck, they have now just become boring.

Anyway, the Holidays are rumbling on toward us. I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend my sister’s Christmas celebration this year. I will miss visiting with my Mendocino friends, Debbie, Nancy and Duncan, Maryjane and her clown, Brendan and Ashley, Katie and Quinn, Ester, and everyone else. Buon Natale to all.
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Christmas in Mendocino

I usually hate the holiday season — too much expectation, scant reward. My sister’s celebrations, however, are different, always better than anticipated.

 

More news about the Mysterious Orb.

 

Apparently, my announcement about the disappearance of the Mysterious Orb was premature. As you may recall, it appeared suddenly in the street in front of our home with a sign attached reading something like, “Take me — free.” It sulked around for a few days. Suddenly, the sign attached to the orb sprouted some more words declaring, “I am a fountain.” A day or two later, it disappeared from lurking in front of the house. I not many days after that, I dutifully reported here in “This and That” that I thought it had departed to find neighborhoods exhibiting greater empathy.

I was wrong. Naida told me today, that she has seen the Mysterious Orb skulking about in the alleyway that leads to the garages in back of the homes. She described both its demeanor and location as “slinking about.” It stayed about one week moving from one unmemorable location to another until It disappeared again a few days ago.

While writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to leash up the dog for his evening constitutional and have a look around to see if the whereabouts or fate of the Orb could be discerned. And so, Boo-boo and I departed the house and set out on our search. We explored the front lawns of the nearby houses, the street and the alleyway behind the homes. Not a trace of the Orb could be found. So, I decided to ford on off the property and into the narrow woods that covered the small hill separating Campus Commons from Howe Avenue.

Suddenly, as I brushed by some waist-high bushes, I glanced down to my right and discovered the Orb hiding behind a bush from which, I was sure, it could furtively observe the alleyways and garages. It was not more than a one or more quick steps from bustling Howe Avenue.

What to make of all this: Is it not as it declared, “A fountain?” Does it secretly travel about the neighborhood spying (Remember there are at least two human “spies” living in the subdivision.) Is someone, screwing with my mind by rolling that cement ball around — gaslighting me? Why? Who? Is Naida playing a joke on me? Is this a Christmas present from an alien presence on earth? Is the dog thinking of telling me something I should know? Too many questions, too little time.

 
I did it.

 

I mentioned in my last post that my frenetic repostings of two of my blogs on Facebook and other sites were intended as an effort to beat my annual number of views received by each. Well, by Christmas Eve I did it. I am proud of me. It makes me about as happy as learning that the Mysterious Orb still exists and is prowling about outside our door tonight. I can rest until the New Year.

 
A Christmas Story.

 

On the day before Christmas, I did not leave the house until the evening. That was OK. It was a grey day with a light drizzle and I was not feeling well. I did not sleep much during the night and the side effects of the cancer treatment played havoc with my body and emotions. I spoke with HRM on FaceTime. He had just finished a day of snowboarding at a ski-resort above Lago Maggiore. He looked well and happy.
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HRM at Lago Maggiore

Nikki was there also. He looked pleased but seems to have put on weight. HRM is soon off to England to spend a few days with Adrian’s family after which they will all fly with Nikki to NYC to welcome in the new year among the Times Square throngs.

I rested in the afternoon. Then I prepared to attend the Christmas Eve party with Naida’s children and their families. Naida spent part of the day practicing Christmas Carols on the piano. I concluded that meant we would spend a good part of the evening caroling.

I expected the side effects of the treatment will limit my eating, drinking, and singing. I hoped it would not put a damper on anyone’s enjoyment.

I remember, one night in Sicily about 50 years ago following the local automobile races. The participants and their families gathered at a large farmhouse among the vineyards. The old grandmother, who was bedridden, insisted her bed be dragged from the bedroom and positioned in the center of the salon. She spent the evening lying there telling all who would listen that she was happy everyone was having such an enjoyable time singing and dancing and how much suffering her various maladies caused her. It was all great fun. Later my girlfriend and I slipped out of the house and walked through the vineyards until the music and the laughter drifting out from the open windows spread across the hills adding their silver sounds to the silver light of the full moon. There we spent the rest of the night until the first light of sunrise brightened the eastern skies somewhere beyond Mt. Etna.

Shortly before we were to leave for the Christmas party, I gave Naida the present I had bought her, a large brown leather purse. She was distressed that the present she had gotten for me had not arrived yet. She rushed out to the mailbox to see if there was a late night delivery.

She returned carrying a large box and happily announced, “It arrived!” She then left me to open the box, took the purse and went upstairs to prepare herself to leave for the party.

I set about cutting away through the tough cellophane tape that bound the box closed. After a while, I had severed enough of them to be able to rip open the box. In it, I found the box filled with dried flowers. Lot’s of dried flowers.

Now, I have learned in the past few months that Naida’s thought processes could be quite subtle and so I decided not to jump to any conclusions and spent the next 15 or 20 minutes attempting to unravel the conundrum of symbols and goals that this gift, one of love I was sure, represented.

I couldn’t help but recall the 0’Henry story of the down and out Babbitts of NY. She who cut off her magnificent hair to purchase a watch fob on which he could hang his grandfathers pocket watch of which he was so proud and he in turn selling that same watch in order to buy her a glorious baret to display in her hair.

Eventually, I gave up trying to rationalize my way through the puzzle and carried the box upstairs. There I found Naida in distress. “I cannot find the purse,” she exclaimed. “It just disappeared.” Now, this was not some little purse, but one of those giant ones that someone could carry everything they own in it, even a small car. We searched everywhere. No purse.

I then showed her the box of dried flowers. “No,” she said, “it’s supposed to be a Hat. The winter hat you wanted, not dried flowers.”

We eventually reasoned that the dried flowers belong to one of the medical students living with us who plans to wed in a month or so. “But,” she said, “where’s your hat?”

We drove to her daughter’s house. Along the way, I noticed Naida appeared distressed. I asked her what was that matter. “I must be losing my mind,” she replied. “First, your present to me disappears and then there is no hat.”

The party was pleasant. We sang carols. Naida and Jenifer, her daughter, played the piano. I was a little too ill to fully enjoy it all.
img_5941
Caroling in Sacramento.

After returning home, I climbed the steps to the bedroom with the dog trailing along behind. He scooted over to his bed and sat in that proud erect way dogs sometimes do. He stared a slightly arrogant stare into my eyes. “Oh ho,” I thought, “what do we have here?” I looked closer and saw a small patch of brown leather peeking up from a fold in the dog blanket. He glanced were I looked. He knew he was caught out. He tried to resume his arrogant look but could only manage shame. “The game is up.”

Apparently, while Naida was otherwise occupied, he dragged the leather purse to the dog bed — the purse being about the same size as the dog bed. He carefully tucked it in the bottom so it lay perfectly flat. He then dragged over one of his blankets and tucked that in so that the purse was well hidden.

I called Naida to come upstairs. When she arrived, I told her the story and added, “See you are not going senile at all.” She seemed dubious. “Look at it this way,” I said. “We solved not one but two mysteries. We had a good time at the party. We discovered our dog to be a master criminal and we came away with a great story. What better Christmas could one have.”

She remained dubious. “Yes,” she drawled, “but what about your hat.”

 

An old year ends

 

On Christmas night at the early hour of 6PM, I slipped into bed, sipped from my well-steeped cup of cannabis tea and opened my computer. My thought was to make some sort of plan for the remaining six days of the year. Not so much a to-do list as a muddle-about-file which I could, now and then, dip into without too much difficulty in order to pass the time while waiting for this arbitrary section of my life to dribble on to the next.

The first thing to pass through my mind was Joyce’s opening line to Ulysses: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
mulligan-portrait-color
Buck Mulligan

I haven’t the slightest idea why it did. Except perhaps, to encourage me to contemplate why I would consider ending the year pondering the opening line of Ulysses. Perhaps, having not yet consumed enough tea made such reflection worthwhile. Maybe, my subconscious was attempting to jump-start the evening’s descent into irrelevancy.

The second item to suggest itself as a subject worth ruminating on was the first thing I read on my computer after opening it. Under a heading entitled notable events on history on this day, I read: “1194 Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans [Germany], Sicily and Jerusalem, born in Lesi, Italy.”

That was something I felt was of little more consequence. Or, at least, I generally considered that someone who in his time was referred to as “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World) was someone of greater consequence than “stately plump Buck Mulligan” and his shaving utensils — Then again perhaps not. Fredrick later in life was also referred to as “The Anti-Christ.” Nevertheless, I still felt, someone who held suzerainty over most of Medieval Europe, was of more consequence than a fictional med-student with flamboyant grooming habits — Then again, perhaps not.
federico_ambasciatori-alkamil-dipinto
Nicholas II

“Stupor Mundi” was clearly not fictional, although his adventures and the stories about him rival that of any character inhabiting the world of fiction. As to why I would consider intentionally including the contemplation of one or the other or both into my remaining six day’s of 2018, I have no idea. Perhaps it is because it is a mystery requiring a solution and that always pleases one’s consciousness. Perhaps it does not. Maybe it just has something to do with the cannabis. Take chess, for example, it has always appealed to me as a worthwhile way to cut two or three hours from one’s life. On the other hand, cocaine, cannabis and a host of other things, I think would do so as well, without requiring your consciousness to leap from the chair in which it had been dozing and actually exert itself entertaining you.

 
Strange Dream.

 

Since upping my medications in order to mitigate the side effects of my treatments, my dreams at night have become even stranger than usual. Last night, I found myself, a much younger man, well-dressed wandering about my dream New York. My dream NY is not at all like the NY I remember. It is a real estate development made up of large buildings in vibrant colors and streets dark, bleak, and dank. In this dream, a young man I knew, for some reason lost to the vagaries of dream memories, had been killed by the authorities. People were organizing to protest the death. The mayor and his advisers swore to put down the disturbance with maximum force.

I put myself front and center swearing to risk body and health in protest. As the police and soldiers could be heard approaching, everyone ran away leaving me alone to confront them. Alas, the police never arrived.

I then noticed another group of protestors forming. This one, well equipped with PR people. Again I put my body at the forefront willing to risk it in the name of the right and good. Again as the military closed in, the protestor’s disappeared, leaving me alone once more. After about four more events like this, I decided, I was not going to give up body and soul in the name of the right and good or anything resembling it, so I went home to take a nap and ponder the imponderables of life.

 

The Cat in the Hat.

 

The day after Christmas my hat arrived. It is red. It has a fluffy band around the outside. It might be a women’s hat or a pimp’s. I love it.

Here I am, the cat in the red hat standing by the wreath made by Naida from detritus from the Enchanted Forest
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The Cat, The Hat, The Wreath, and The Hibiscus.

 
From Christmas to the New Year

 

The first day after Christmas I spent with Dick, exchanging presents, picking up mail, and discussing Governor-elect Newsom’s plans for California and the possibility of his running for President in 2020. Hayden left me a much needed back-scratcher shaped like a stretching cat. Dick gave me a fine elegant sweater.

The next day, George and Maryanne arrived bringing gifts. George brought me a brown winter hat and Mary a bitching shirt. Here I am, The cat in the red hat on the top of the brown hat wearing the bitching shirt.

img_2113
The Cat, the Red Hat, The Brown Hat, The Bitching Shirt and a Pair of Sunglasses.

We ate dinner together that evening a Zocalo’s a local Mexican restaurant the Naida and I have grown to like.

img_2109

 

That night I had one of my most difficult dreams. It was a large space and horrible full of screaming, anguish, and fury. I awoke in terror and was afraid to return to sleep so I sat up. Eventually, I fell asleep. The next dream was different. Somehow I was high on a mountain on the border between Russia and some other country, I do not know which. I was living with a pleasant family of one ethnic group and a few steps away across the border lived a poverty-stricken family from the ethnic group they had been at war with for generations. We opened a cantina to service travelers. The other tribe settled down opened shops and prospered. I built a house overlooking the valley.

 
Capital Park.

 
The next day, my sister, George, Naida and I traveled into downtown Sacramento to walk about one of my favorite parks, Capital Park. During the five years or so I have been living in the Sacramento area, I would try to spend at least day or so a month at that park. I usually would have my breakfast (Coffee and Bagel with cream cheese) at a restaurant called Chicory on the corner of eleventh in a building in which I had my office when I worked in Sacramento. It was a nice attractive place with a back room with a fireplace and a few comfortable armchairs. I also liked to see what new and strange tattoos the baristas had acquired that month. After breakfast, I would cross the street and spend the rest of the day walking around the park or sitting motionless staring at a particular monument or tree.

Surprisingly, of all the Vietnam War Memorials that sprung up following that regrettable conflict, I appreciate that one in Capitol Park the most. As a work of art, it is crabbed and inward looking. That is its beauty, I think. It is a monument to neither the heroism nor the misery of war but its banality, the burden of which is first borne by the troops at the front and then later by those back home who eventually wonder what it was all for. There are no necessary wars only mistakes and aggression.

img_5965

We spent a good deal of time at the Fireman’s Memorial where George could pay homage to firemen friends who he served with and who died in service. Then George and Mary left, back to Mendocino, and Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest. There we will wait out the end of this year.

 
More Dreams

One night, while waiting for the year to wind down, I had a dream.

Well, first let me tell you about what I think about dreams. No, I do not buy what those strangely obsessed physicians living in and around Vienna thought during the dawning years of the Twentieth Century nor their descendants. To me, a dream is simply non-quantum reality. Time and place are simply mathematical abstractions that impinge upon our neurons. In dreams, however, time and place and most of what we think we know during our waking life are not necessary for existence. They are only arbitrary elements.

Ah… well, enough — the dreams:

I first found myself on an airplane flying into an airport somewhere. We were not too far away, perhaps beginning our descent when I heard the shout. “Kill the Jews.” It came over the speaker and a few passengers jumped from their seats joining in. “The Nazis are at it again,” I thought and hunkered down hoping it was only an idiotic cowardly far-right group like the “Proud Boys” trying to stir things up and then running away. Then the killing started. Somehow, I found myself in the first class section. There were a few Jewish businessmen there. They asked me to help them escape. As we landed I led them crawling through what seemed to be the airplane’s engines into the large terminal. As we ran through the Terminal, others were running to escape the slaughter also. Those too old or weak would slip through a door opening into a side room off the endless corridors hoping their pursuers would not check those rooms. I felt, no I knew, in the dream, in my dream, they were going to die. I did not know who they were. They seem like everyone, every skin shade, and every dress type. I remember a Muslim dressed in a thobe, Bisht and kaffiyeh seeking refuge in one of those rooms. There were all sorts of people. “Why was I helping only the rich escape?” Then I awoke. I sat up and drifted back to sleep. The next four or five dreams all took place on public transportation, ships, planes, and trains. Always, the same — the screaming would start, then the killing. I would rush to the windows and break them. Then, I would help those trying to escape by pushing them through.

Then they would come. Large blood-shot eyes, slightly pointy teeth, they looked like Gollum although not as handsome. They ignored me like I was a wooden post. All they wanted was to get at their victims. I would put myself in their way as best I could in an effort to keep them away from their intended victims. I continued to push their prey through the windows. Often shards of glass would slice into their flesh as I pushed them. I never knew if any survived.

After each dream, I would sit up. Not because I feared to return to the dream but because I simply wanted to restore my strength. I did not know why I had to do what I was doing or whether it did any good or not, but I had to do it.

Then, in my last dream of the night, everything changed. No more was I the blind beast compelled to do what I thought was right but having no idea if it was or was not. In this dream interestingly enough, Goggin appeared. Like in real life whenever he appears, it was interesting — this time to my great surprise, I became rich — six million dollars rich. But as usual, it was not what I wanted, far from it. Perhaps I will tell you about it next year.

This mostly dismal year is now ending. Strangely, I think it is one of the best years of my life, even though it began in sorrow. I watched HRM grow from boy to teetering on manhood, discovered in Naida the love I always craved, laughed with joy of life with my Sister Maryanne and my Brother-in-law — no, George I consider my real brother, there is nothing In-law that I feel about him — My friends, Peter, Barrie, Dick, Ruth (my conscience) and yes Terry too and so many others who had been there for me when I most needed them and least expected them to be.

Tomorrow The New Year 2019 begins. To anyone who reads this far and to all those I send it to whether they want it of not, may next year last all year for you all.

One of the pleasures of being old is that now whatever foolish things I say, write or do are usually ascribed to senility or the wisdom of the aged.

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

 

Doug Jones writes:

 

“On Boxing Day [December 26] 2004, a tsunami resulting from a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake killed about 250,000 people around the Indian Ocean. This was one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history. The Indian Ocean tsunami illustrated a major theme on this blog: the importance of catastrophe in human history, and in the history of life and the universe”

“Earthquakes are one example of a phenomenon following a power law statistical distribution. The frequency of earthquakes drops off as an exponential function of their magnitude, so that on a logarithmic scale, the magnitude-frequency relationship looks linear. This is known as the Gutenberg-Ritter relation. (The deviation from linearity in the upper left part of the chart below may reflect measurement error, with a lot of tiny earthquakes not being detected.)”
pasted graphic
“Power law distributions are found in many other contexts, for example, in the frequency of wars versus their magnitude [as measured by the number of war deaths]. A power law distribution is very different from the more familiar bell-curve Gaussian normal distribution: extreme “black swan” events that are astronomically unlikely under a normal distribution may happen at an appreciable frequency under a power law distribution. Depending on the exponent, a power law distribution may not have a well-defined variance or even a well-defined mean.”

“For a technical discussion of why small scale processes sometimes aggregate to generate normally distributed outcomes, and other times aggregate to produce power law distributions, here’s an article on The common patterns of nature. A take home lesson — not always covered in introductory treatments of statistics and probability theory — is that catastrophes and extreme outcomes can be an expectable part of the natural order.”

“Finally, Steven Pinker and Nichlas Nassim Taleb have been squabbling about the implications of all this for the probability of a peaceful future. Here’s a level-headed review. And here are a couple of blog posts from me about why the bloody early twentieth century was maybe more than just a run of bad luck.”
https://logarithmichistory.wordpress.com/

By the way, the competing (or, a) theory is the famous and infamous “Bell Curve.” That placing the data points on a two vector grid events tend to congregate forming a hump or hill and if repeated, a wave. In other words, predicting the future of historical events on a two-axis graph produces either an inclined plane or a bell curve. Why this is so, I have no Idea. Maybe someday, I will find out. Right now, however, I couldn’t give a fig. (Actually, there is very little I would not give for a good fig.)

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

 

A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

 

The United States is now presented with the age age-old bind of politics: Is the leader an ideologue or just an idiot?

 

 

B. Today’s Poem:
All though not my favorite for here in this post, I am aware that this year’s Winter Solstice Holiday’s Season is coming rapidly to a close. So, I decided to post this evening’s poem, In A Drear-Nighted December by John Keats. Unlike many of the other poets practicing in the poetic world, Keats could have done better.

In A Drear-Nighted December

1.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

2.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

3.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at passed joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it
Nor numbed sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.
John Keats

 

 

C. Adventures with Hayden:

 

Hayden and I were watching television. Rather he was watching and I was playing with my computer. Someone on the show he was watching was crying. Hayden turned to me and said, “He is crying because his grandpa died. Pookie, I don’t want you to die. When are you going to start getting younger?”

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“There is more than one heart unruled, on the walled shore and the new-caulked ships, watching the set faces on the ships grow more and more distant from the set faces upon the land, until the last sight of sails and gilded weather vanes is gone over the curve of the sea, and the day grows bright to noon.”

Saunders, Graydon. The Human Dress. Tallwoods Books.

Categories: October through December 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 Shadow 0007 (July 18, 2018)

 

The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that, “My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
~~Isaac Isimov (1980)

 

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SICILY — GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN:

 

Following a delightful breakfast of coffee, brioche and a fried egg with pepper chips, we set off to Cosenza and the train station. After a series of the usual misadventures and annoyances, I boarded the train to Sicily. It was the same cattle car I remember from years ago when I used to take the dolorous train from Sicily to Rome, a train carrying the impoverished Sicilians to jobs in the North (Sicilian Il Norte) — standing room only for the 13-hour trip. This time there were no impoverished workers going north, but many not particularly impoverished people going south for whatever reason. Passengers still were standing in the aisles and sitting on one another’s laps. My reserved seat was among a group of young women and families going somewhere in the same direction I was. They did not appreciate my expropriation of the seat one member of the group occupied. She then continued the trip sitting in the lap of an older man accompanying them or walking up and down the aisles.

I was also disturbed by the loud braying voice of one of the men traveling with that particular group. I could not make up my mind if he was a “cafone” ( loud, ignorant and oblivious) or “pazzo” (crazy). I decided it was a little bit of both. Even those traveling with him seemed to either humor or ignore him. When the women next to me left the train at Messina, I moved into her seat by the window. He sat down next to me and began to fling his arms about, pester me with questions and opinions and generally acted grievously obnoxious. I seriously considered braining him with my cane. But, long checkered experience in dealing with situations like this has taught me to act like I understand nothing about the language, am old and feeble and a little bit addled and confused (which is not too hard to do at my age). Inevitably, they either give up in frustration or some woman comes to my aid and drives them off. It happened like that here. The women in the group began to yell at him and told him to stop bothering me. The high point of the trip other than when he got off the train was the crossing of the Straits of Messina on the train ferry.

IMG_5361

Scylla and Charybdis. (The Straits of Messina)

 

The trains were decoupled and stacked into the hold of the ferry. We disembarked the train and climbed to the top decks where we could sit, walk around, buy snacks and enjoy the half hour or so trip across the straits.

IMG_5355.jpg
The train ferry.

 

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Messina.
We disembarked at Messina. They reassembled the cars into several trains depending on their destination. Ours set out for Catania. Along the way, we passed Taormina and Mt, Etna blowing out smoke from its caldera.

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Mt. Etna.

 

I changed trains at Catania, boarding one for Caltanissetta where I expected to change trains once again to take me to my final destination, Canicatti the ancestral home of my mother’s family. Unfortunately, after arriving at Caltanissetta, while attempting to read the train schedule to find out from which track my connection would leave even though there was only one other train at the station, that train, my connection, left with me running after it banging at the side of the cars until it left me standing at the end of the platform forlorn and alone as the train disappeared into the distance.

I was truly alone and forlorn when I realized I was not at the train station in downtown Caltanissetta as I had thought, but in an almost derelict and abandoned station far out in the countryside at the end of an unpaved and weed overgrown dead end road — and the night was descending. It seems that that station was used only for passengers to disembark from the express train to Palermo and catch the now departed train to Caltanissetta Central and Canicatti. So I called up Antonio and asked him to come and save me. He good-naturedly agreed and explained it would take at least 45 minutes for him to get there. So, I stood there in the gloom and watched hoards of swallow type birds flitter through the sky in search of those insects who dare to come out at dusk, while a hawk sat calmly on a phone wire contemplating tonight’s dinner. A group of young men arrived driving a truck containing a jitney type vehicle in the back, They met some other men who came from somewhere I did not notice although one drove up in an old car with cardboard covering a broken window. They took the jitney down from the truck bed and began pushing it up a hill toward an abandoned building. The jitney got away from them and began rolling down the hill sending the men running in every direction. It then tipped over and skidded to the bottom of the hill. I thought I was watching a Buster Keaton silent film. They then all stood around — wondering what to do, I guess. I never found out what happened next because Antonio arrived and drove me to his home.

During the ride, I noticed much of the highway between Caltanissetta and Canicatti that they had been building two or three years ago when I had last been here has been completed. It is exceptionally lavish. Where it is not elevated it is tunneled. To construct the tunnels they first tear down the hill. Then they build the tunnel. Then they put the hill back on top of the tunnel. I’m not kidding.

When I first arrived in Sicily, now about 50 years ago, although the modern technology of the time, telephone, automobiles, television and the like had been well established but much of the social life of the people remained medieval — Marriages were arranged, dowries negotiated, crime of honor legal and common, crime organized, autocrats vicious, noble families if not admired then respected and government remote and rapacious. It was a place for travelers, not tourists, for those that traveled with no schedules expecting discomfort, not those with schedules, sights to see and an expectation of basic comforts. Yet, despite their suspicion of strangers, the people were welcoming when that suspicion waned, the food good, the wines better and the climate benign.

Since then, most of that has changed, the young are more independent (although my female cousins, PHDs all, will not leave the island even for brief periods without their mother’s consent), suspicion lessened, crime diminished, noble families dispersed and the government still corrupt but no longer remote. The food has not yet been completely homogenized to suit the food production industry and the wines are perhaps even better and while tourism has become accepted, old historical sights cleaned up and new ones developed, it is still not as easy to get around, make schedules and enjoy pure luxury (Taormina and a few other places accepted — but it was always like that). On the other hand, there are few places that afford the wanderer such a variety of experience, even ones that are not so good but, on the other hand, rarely so bad either.

My visits to Canicatti and to Antonio’s house are neither as a tourist or a traveler, but is simply returning home. As I grew older, I found, at least for me, there is no one “home,” a principle place of residence perhaps, but many homes identified by the fact that there reside, people, I love and like to be with. In Antonio’s case, there is also the food and the wine.

 

 

B. ANTONIO’S — THE FIRST NIGHT.

 

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A view of Canicatti. Antonio’s house is behind the tree on the left.
We arrived in Canicatti my mother’s ancestral home and drove on to Antonio’s house at the edge of the town. After getting settled in my room and meeting the new houseboy, a young man from Bangladesh whose name I cannot remember (Friday, the previous houseboy from Nigeria, left to sell shoes in Venice), Antonio suggested a light snack before retiring. I agreed. Here it is:

The first course, lamb stew piccante in tomato sauce.

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The second course, arancini con panel.

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The third course, melanzane parmigiana.

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The Fourth course, Pasta Norma.

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The Dessert, local berries, and lemon granita. All accompanied by wonderful red and white local wines and finished off with Limoncello and grappa.

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C. ANTONIO’S — DAY TWO.

 

The next day, following breakfast and a brief nap, I went for a walk. By that time most Sicilians had returned to their beds for their afternoon siesta. Antonio worried about me walking around during the hottest part of the day. He insisted I carry my phone and call him if I passed out from the heat.

It was hot. Antonio’s home stands at the border of the rural area and the commercial-industrial area of the town. I chose to walk into the rural lands. I walked along a mostly white stone covered unpaved road through some olive groves. The sun’s glare reflected off the white road hurt my eyes even though I was wearing dark glasses. Reaching the end of the road I was traveling on and sweating a lot, I decided to return to the house and take a nap until dinner — and so I did.

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Through the olive groves.

There were two couples and me at dinner. One couple from Germany traveling with a two-year-old boy, an inveterate explorer, were staying the week. The other, a delightful older English couple, were only staying the night. What follows is the meal:

The first course, four different local goat cheeses with a suitable different (local) fruit preserve on each,

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The second course, ripe fig from Antonio’s garden with speck, local goat ricotta with fruit preserve and fried squash blossoms.

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The Third and fourth courses were the same melanzane parmigiana and arancini as I had the previous night except I learned the parmesan cheese had been replaced with a local cheese.

 

The Fifth course, a soup, the ingredients of which I no longer recall, perhaps seafood.

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The Sixth course, mixed fresh local seafood and a vegetable of some sort.

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The Seventh course, local fish, the name of which I missed, cooked in an olive, caper and tomato sauce.

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The Dessert, the same local berries and lemon granita as I enjoyed last night followed by a flute of different local berries and a different granite. I have eliminated the photo here out of pure exhaustion.

We also drank copious amounts of delicious red and white wines from a vineyard located closer to Agrigento (Antonio seems to feel something grown ten or so miles away as not fitting his definition of “local.”) And of course, limoncello and grappa. We all got very drunk and began telling each other our deepest darkest secrets. Ok maybe not our deepest and darkest, we never tell those even when drunk, but we certainly told those that we would otherwise be embarrassed if anyone but our dearest friends knew about them.

I guess I should write a little something about Sicilian cuisine — at least as I understand it. It is not simply indigenous recipes made from fresh local products improved over the centuries by the addition of spices, condiments, and recipes to overcome whatever deficiencies existed in the local agricultural products. It is also a cuisine that requires the reuse of food not consumed the previous day, not by simply reheating leftovers, but as foundational elements in completely new recipes. Another element of the cuisine is its adoption and development of the tremendous variety of deserts and sweets gifted to them by the Muslim community that ruled the island for so many centuries. Finally, the use of sweet liquors in Sicily, like in much of southern Italy, appears to be some sort of a religious ritual to celebrate a meal well cooked and well eaten.

Note: I will no longer post photographs of each course I enjoy since that would extend this issue of T&T beyond tolerable limits.

 

 

D. ANTONIO’S — DAY THREE:

 

This morning, I decided to go into Canicatti to walk around, search out places I remembered from when I lived here 50 years ago and also do a little shopping. Antonio drove me to the center of the town and I set off walking.

Canicatti is not a tourist city, there is nothing to see here. Monuments built by the rich and famous are usually reserved for the hilltops where they lived in their grand villas and palaces. Canicatti, set in a broad agricultural valley, has always been a commercial town for the sale and distribution of agricultural products. It looks grubby but is actually more prosperous than it appears.

I found the park where my mother had told me she played in as a child before she was sent off at seven years old to America in the early Twentieth Century version of indentured servitude. It is now a scruffy little park. It was much grander fifty years ago when I first saw it.

I sat on a bench among other old men and listened to the harsh guttural tones of Sicilian that Marlon Brando mimicked in Godfather I. I wish I could say I thought deep thoughts as I sat there, but I didn’t.

I eventually left and walked through back alleys and streets looking for the cafe where I would sit with friends fifty years ago. The cafe with the bullet holes still in the walls. Bullet holes made by American soldiers in WWII in the Canicatti Massacre when the American commander lined up random citizens and had them shot as a punishment for the town harboring the Germans. The fact was, there never were any Germans there.

My friends and I would gather at the cafe and watch the white-suited Mafiosi stride into the place with their jackets draped over their shoulders and the furtive hand gestures among the other customers ringing as loudly as shouts. The cafe where I sat those long afternoons so long ago with Gigi, Piccolo Gaetano, and others. Alas, I think it is no more, swept up by the years like unwanted refuse.

I looked for the Landowner’s Social Club building that, so long ago, I sat in front of one afternoon with the Baron La Lomia, the head of the hereditary ruling family of the town, a fat overdressed little man with a great square beard who was making his annual appearance at his demesne. As each resident of the area would approach to pay their respects to the Baron, he would say to them “And, I would like you to meet my good friend Mr. Petrillo who traveled all the way from America to be with me today.” And, I would shake the hand of each person in that long line as they passed by. I could not find that place either. Did it exist and was eventually blown away as an anachronism like the dust and litter blowing around as I walk or was it simply my imagination? Who cares? There is no difference — imagination, memory, reality — all the same.

I also looked for the tiny park with the statue of the erstwhile patron saint of the town, the Blessed La Lomia, a missionary in Brazil killed by the natives who saw through the baloney he was trying to sell them. I could not find it. So I sat down outside of a little cafe across from the Church where I was to meet Antonio and ordered a coke and a lemon granita. I chose the cafe because the outdoor tables were shaded by a large tree and an awning.

Alas, I soon realized it was probably the place where the dregs of the town congregated. Those young people who lived at home had no job and wanted none. One table was occupied by a boisterous threesome, two young men, and a tiny young woman. One of the men would shout at me and make faces. The other young man and the tiny young woman would every now and then rise from their chairs and chase each other around the table, ending in a brief wrestling match. I do not know why they did it. A very large tattooed man carrying a beer came in, sat on a bench facing me, not more than three feet away, and stared at me for a long time, then declared “Hot isn’t it?” I agreed and responded, “Yes it is.” He continued to stare and sip his beer. Various people who seemed not in complete possession of their mental faculties would enter, wander around, and sometimes stand next to my table and stare at me. I loved it. The chances of anything dangerous happening was minuscule. Yet the frisson of excitement drove away any residual melancholy remaining from my walk around the town.

Dinner was the usual many course affair, a mixture of old and new. The new included a fava bean soup, crawfish and the melanzane parmigiana with capers and other savory items replacing the cheese. Dessert included cassata as well as the berry and granita dish.

At dinner tonight was an Argentine couple, Herman and Christina who live in Florida and run a business finding investment properties in the US for foreigners. They also have started up a treasure hunting business in Columbia to raise several sunken Spanish Galleons. The twist of this effort compared to other treasure hunting schemes is that instead of distributing the treasure to the investors as it is recovered which when attempted by traditional treasure hunts runs into severe legal and political problems, they intend to keep the treasure hoard intact, but use its value base for the creation of a new crypto-currency and pay the investors with the crypto-currency. Crazy perhaps. But, Trump made a career of persuading people to invest in much less and look where he ended up — the bitch for an insecure Russian autocrat who trapped him in a wired Moscow hotel room taking a golden shower.

As coincidence would have it, about twelve years ago, I had a small practice representing treasure hunters, almost all of whom failed. The dream never dies.

 

E. ANTONIO’S DAY FOUR:

 

Following another excellent breakfast, the Argentinian couple invited me to join them on a trip to the beach. They had asked Antonio to suggest a remote and secluded beach and he did — at a very remote and far distant location. We drove at least 40 miles before we turned off the main road and on to an unpaved track that wound its way through farmland with many abandoned farmhouses and a few appearing not so abandoned. We saw three maybe four very old men working in the fields, and a very old and hunchbacked shepherd driving a small flock of undernourished sheep — no-one else. At times, we drove through weed forests with the cane like stalks twice as high as the car cutting off all view. We drove for five or six miles up steep hills and through narrow canyons before we came to a dirt parking lot containing a few cars and a small shack with a somewhat rotund gentleman standing in front. He took our money and announced in very good English that it was at least a two-minute walk to a sandy beach where it was suitable for swimming which he called “Beach One.” “Beach Two,” he said, “was a ten-minute walk up the coast and was good for taking photographs but because it was rocky was not good for swimming but suitable for snorkeling.” Beach three he explained was a twenty-five-minute walk down the coast, but I forget what it was good for. We walked the allotted two minutes and came out of the towering weeds and saw a very attractive sandy beach containing a few bathers but still many more than I thought would ever chance the treacherous drive.

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Pookie at the beach.

 
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The Beach.

 
After setting up the umbrella in the sand, instead of going swimming, I abruptly announced I was going to hike the ten minutes to the photogenic beach, and then set off. I do not know why. I found a small weed overgrown path that seemed to climb up what appeared to be more than a hill but less than a mountain. After several minutes of climbing, huffing and puffing, and sweating profusely, I realized I was all alone on this steep rocky path that I knew not where it went, without water, becoming rapidly exhausted and convinced I was about to collapse. But like Scott in the Antarctic, foolishly pushing ahead only for the irrational pleasure of beating Amundsen, I went on. Like Scott, I thought I could beat Amundsen too,

I noticed the path was strewn with the bleached shells of snails. I could tell they were not laid down here due to some ancient geological catastrophe, they were strewn around not buried in rock hardened silt. I then imagined massive escargot eating rituals by Sicilian cultists in honor of Diana the Huntress every night of the full moon. But, finally decided they were simply the carcasses of egotistical land snails who believed they could make it across the blazing hot paths in the middle of the day and were fried for their arrogance. I picked up one desiccated bone white shell, put it in my pocket and continued struggling up the slope.

I little later, I came upon a single quill lying on the path. I stopped and stared at it and wondered what sort of quilled creature survived the five thousand year commitment by Sicilians to rid their island of every mammal except those they could domesticate and rats and mice. Unable to reach a conclusion, I picked it up and put it in my pocket too. I also picked up and pocked some interesting small stones and happily contemplated carrying them back home and washing them, not to study but to remind me that it was not a figment of my imagination that I chose to climb this damned path at midday.

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The Treasure.

 

 

Eventually, I reached the top and found myself on a high bluff overlooking a beach with no way down. I then realized I could have reached that same beach by simply walking a few feet from where I began and wading in ankle deep water around some rocks. Annoyed by this discovery, I began to retrace my steps. I was further annoyed when a family with two young children carrying beach equipment and towels jauntily passed me by having clearly enjoyed their morning at the ten-minute walk rocky photogenic beach.

When I returned to the Argentineans they were just packing up to leave. So, we left, renegotiated the weed jungle and drove another twenty miles or so to Sciacca to have lunch.

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The Photogenic beach?

 
Sciacca (pronounced Sha – ca) is a fairly large town on a hill near the water with an interesting if arcane history (look it up). At its base was a large working fishing port.

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The Port of Sciacca.

 
We entered a restaurant directly across the road from the port. It had a great view and served freshly caught fish. We chose our fish and from a comely waitress ordered them grilled and then ate them along with an extremely tasty salad.

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The fish.

 

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The comely waitress and the Argentinians.

 

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The cooked fish.

 

For dessert, I had cannoli made with local ricotta.
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The sacred cannoli.

 
On the way home, we came upon a traffic snarl caused by an electrical transmission wire having fallen across the road. There were no police or first responders anywhere so passengers would jump out of their cars hold the wire up over their heads while the driver drove the car through, then drop it and jump back into the car. Thinking I could be as brave and foolhardy as the women in the photograph below, I jumped out of our car, held the wire over my head until Herman drove under it and then jumped back into the car and we sped away. No, I did not die.
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The brave but foolhardy women of Sicily.

 
That night I played my first game of chess in 50 years with the German gentleman and I won. It took the sting out of Croatia’s loss in the World Cup final. There had been no meal prepared. Antonio was gone for the evening so we snitched some sausages he had cooking on the stove for tomorrows meal. I went to bed happy. It was a good day after all.

 

 

F. ANTONIO’S — DAY FIVE:

 

Today is my last full day here. Tomorrow, I fly to Milano and two days later back to the Enchanted Forest and Naida. I am both sad and eager to go. Sad because I feel so comfortable and relaxed here and eager to go because I feel too comfortable and relaxed here. Too much of a good thing can become irritating if it goes on too long.

After breakfast, I said goodbye to the Argentineans. Then Antonio, the Bangladesh houseboy and I left for Licata, a town on the coast, to buy some fresh fish for tonight’s meal. I pictured a large fish market open to the fishing boats tied up to the wharves, burly men pushing crates around slick cement floors while fishmongers in their stalls lined up their wares with military precision on beds of gleaming ice. It was not like that at all. It was more like a dope deal. First a stop on a remote road on the edge of the city for a telephone call. Then two more stops at gas stations for more calls. Then a wait in a cafe drinking espresso until a man arrived and engaged Antonio in a whispered conversation. Then we get back in the car and follow the man’s car through the back roads of the city until we both come to a stop on the side of the road and Antonio and the man get out of their cars and walk around a building and disappear for a fairly long while. Then Antonio returns with a small plastic bag that I presume contained the fish and we drove off returning the 50 or so kilometers to Canicatti.

Back in town, I asked Antonio to drop me off at the church so I could go to the bank and withdraw the money I would need to pay for my stay. The charges amounted to about $70 per day for the room, breakfast, and dinner and all the wine, grappa and limoncello one can drink. It is not so bad a deal when I consider that I probably drank $20 worth of alcoholic beverages each day.

After, withdrawing the money, I returned to strolling around the town looking for places I knew — no luck there. I then looked for the ice-cream shop I had spotted two days before that made the best ice–cream in the area — but it was closed. I then thought about walking up the hill to where my mother lived in a section of the city called the Borgo, the old center of the town before they filled in the stream from which the town got its name (Cane Brook, for the dense cane like plants that flourished along its banks. Wikipedia, on the other hand, says it comes from the Arabic word meaning “muddy ditch”). I thought it would be good to see my mom’s old house again. But, I looked up at the hill I would have to climb, felt the heat of the sun and concluded it was not going to happen on this trip, so, I chose to sit in a cafe on the main street drinking a very good chilled white wine and nibbling on the little snacky things they brought me. Around me sat a number of young men and women. The men all had beards and the women all had tattoos. In my day, the men all had beards also.

I napped the afternoon away.

That evening, my last here, Antonio made dinner for only him and me. There was a wonderful salad of vegetables picked that day from the garden including sweet onions all in a vinegar, olive oil, and pepper dressing. He also broke out his favorite local white wines from Canicatti. Since he was busy cooking I drank most of the wine.

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He indicated we were going to have a light dinner this evening. For pasta, he prepared a dish with zucchini and mushrooms.
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Then came the fish course.

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Antonio with the fish.

 

I do not know if that was the fish we pursued that morning, but it seemed like a lot of fish for two people. It was cooked with oranges, capers, and tomatoes in olive oil. After, deboning and serving the fish, Antonio brought out another bottle of white wine from Canicatti vineyards. “This,” he said, “is the best white in Sicily and perhaps is all of Italy.” While the previous bottle was made from Grillo grapes, this he said was made from a blending of four local grape varieties.

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The Great White.

 

The white wines from Sicily I have tasted so far on this trip have been very smooth and suitable for drinking with food or alone. They seem to lack that slightly astringent aftertaste of other expensive white wines.

After the fish course and having downed most of two bottles of wine, I was —well drunk or at least well on my way.

Dessert was a cassata followed by an absolute smashing mulberry granita accompanied by limoncello (a lot of it) but no grappa.

I was helped off to bed and woke up the next morning with no hangover.

 
G. DEPARTURE

 

Breakfast, some puttering around packing and then Antonio drove me into town to catch the bus to the airport. Hugs and kisses all around. Then a two hour or so ride through an ofter relatively bleak and empty Sicilian countryside I arrived at the Airport waited for several hours and flew off to Milano.

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The Sicilian Countryside on the way to Catania.

 

 

 

 

DAILY FACTOID:

 

From Harper’s index: Minimum number of scientific papers published on nomophobia, the fear of not having access to cellular service: 55
Sigh — modern life can be so stressful. Bring back public phone booths with internet connections and save us from this debilitating affliction.

 

 

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 
A. Matthews’ Musings:

 

Jason Matthews, a retired CIA operative with extensive experience in Russia, in his espionage thriller “Red Sparrow” expresses what are clearly his own feelings about Putin’s Russia through the words of one of his fictional characters.

“Energy, population decline, natural resources, client states. Forget all that. Russia is still the only country that can put an ICBM into Lafayette Square across from the White House. The only one, and they have thousands of nukes.”

“Russians. They hate foreigners only a little less than they hate themselves, and they’re born conspirators. Oh, they know very well they’re superior, but your Russki is insecure, wants to be respected, to be feared like the old Soviet Union. They need recognition, and they hate their second-tier status in the superpower stakes. That’s why Putin’s putting together USSR 2.0, and no one is going to stand in his way. “The Vkid who pulls the tablecloth and smashes the crockery to get attention—that’s Moscow. They don’t want to be ignored and they’ll break the dishes to make sure it doesn’t happen. Sell chemical weapons to Syria, give fuel rods to Iran, teach Indonesia centrifuge design, build a light water reactor in Burma, oh, yeah, people, nothing’s out of bounds. “But the real danger is the instability of all this generation of world-stopping crazies. People, the second Cold War is all about the resurgent Russian Empire, and don’t kid yourselves Moscow is gonna sit back and see how the Chinese navy handles itself when—not if—the shooting starts in the Taiwan Strait.”

Matthews, Jason. Red Sparrow: A Novel (The Red Sparrow Trilogy Book 1) (p. 28). Scribner.

 
B. Giants of History: Pat Carlone:

 

Peter, after reading the previous T&T post, was reminded of his old friend, Pat Carlone.

Our friend Pat Carlone hails from Calabria via New Britain, Conn. Your travel descriptions help explain some of Pat’s endearing bizaarisms. FYI, we enjoyed his aging parents dancing on a table at Spengers around midnight at one of Pat’s birthday celebrations some years ago. Pat, who used to play trumpet, piano, and accordion, was the guy who nudged me to start playing jazz bass back on the 1970s. He lived for a short time with our friend Howard over what was then a laundromat on the corner of 24th St. and Diamond St., which we used to frequent before we acquired our mechanical improvements. Remind me to tell you a couple of vignettes about Pat’s peregrinations before his rendezvous with Lois Lane.

Now doesn’t that last line make you just salivate to learn more about Carlone’s peregrinations and rendezvous with Lois Lane? I can see many a long afternoon at the Geezer Bench listening to Peter’s stories.

 

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTES:

 
Two from Kieran Healy (@kjhealy) on gun violence in America:

“In any case, over a few decades, the US got nudged into a terrible but stable equilibrium by gun hobbyists, at an annual cost of 10,000 homicides and 20,000 suicides. At this point, the issue is less “policy” and more whether there’ll be some tectonic shift in public opinion.”

“Most policy discussions are beside the point, too. There will be no Port Arthur or Dunblane moment in the US. The main response will be to further entrench a layer of consultants whose job is to socialize children into the expectation that they might be murdered in their classrooms.”

:

Categories: July through September 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th.    32 Cold Tits 0007 (March 16, 2018)

“[I]nstinct was a word lazy people had come up with to make guessing sound like something more impressive.”
McDonnell, Caimh. Last Orders (The Dublin Trilogy Book 4) (p. 169). McFori Ink.  
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
It is Wednesday, March 7, HRM’s 13th birthday. On our drive to school this morning, he turned to me and said, “Yesterday I was a child and today I am a teenager. I liked being a child.”
The weather was mixed. I spent much of the morning trying to persuade myself not to exercise. I lost the argument and after a lot of grumbling, I managed to walk three miles around the lakes in Town Center. After that, I felt so good that I jumped into the pool for a 30-minute swim.
On my drive with HRM that morning, I sang and acted silly. I asked H whether he preferred me silly or grumpy. He answered, “It doesn’t matter. You’re silly whether you are grumpy or not.”
Before getting into the car this morning, H announced he wanted to put off his birthday party until Saturday when he was scheduled to go to the scooter camp in the Sierras. I learned then that I was to accompany H, several of his friends, and the other three fathers into the mountains to drop the new teenagers off at the camp until its was time to gather up birthday boy and his cohorts and retreat back down the mountain. Dick told me that later that evening, all four fathers were supposed to go to a western themed  Karaoke Bar. There we were expected to drink and sing.  I was told we would all dress in cowboy outfits also. I assumed they were joking.
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Hayden (in the hat) with his book if western poetry. Tall Jake holds the dancing chicken birthday card.
Days passed, things happened. When the weekend arrived, H and two of his friends had a campout in the redwood trees alongside the house. Dick was away at some earthquake preparedness conference and Nikki, Adrian and I spent time grumbling about life, but not too deeply.
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Tall long haired Jake in the top Hammock, Hayden in the middle and Graham in the bottom,
    My strategy to let things slide regarding travel plans for March and April worked. I still do not know what will happen but whatever I thought might occur will not and a few things actually resolved themselves. So, no lengthy travel plans are in the offing for the next few weeks. Hooray.
Yrrggh! —Everything from here on that I had written during the past four days suddenly disappeared from my computer for some reason. I am furious. How could that happen? I now have to recreate it from memory — something of which I am in short supply —
Let’s see — what happened next:
The weather cleared up for a day or so. Nikki and I went to the health club one morning. On Saturday or Sunday, we had dinner at Wanni’s restaurant, Thai Basil in Roseville.
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Adrian, Richard, Hayden, and Nikki in Thai Basil.
Nikki, Dick, and Wanni went on to the Western Karaoke Bar deep in the wilds of Loomis. I went home. Nikki had dressed in a leather jacket, a black cowboy shirt with elaborately embroidered designs in black thread and black buttons that sparkled like rhinestones in the light. I got it on good authority that at the Karaoke bar he performed a magnificent rendition of “That’s Amore.” Microphone in hand, he passed from the stage and into the audience. While crooning like Dean Martin, he stared into the eyes of several of the startled but appreciative aging matrons. No, he was not thrown out or beaten into sausage by the ex-hippies turned redneck husbands and boyfriends of the bemused ladies.
The next day, we went to Denio’s Auction (flea market) to play our usual game of “see who could buy the most useless object.” Often Nikki and I would compete over who would return with the most outrageous shirt. He preferred Mexican and I was more into Hawaiian. Unfortunately, I had to leave early to go to see “The Shape of Water” and thereby conceded the contests to the others.
As for Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” although I enjoyed it, I preferred the acting and directing in “Lady Bird” more. As typical in Del Toro’s movies, there was a short period of stomach-turning violence. Tarantino movies have a lot of violence also, blood and death everywhere but it is cartoonish with little regard to actual pain and suffering.  Del Toro’s violence on the other hand although briefer makes up for it by focussing in on the agony and anguish. I was surprised at how closely the story of this movie matched that of Del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” — In a world of pain and despair, a damaged but innocent young woman enters into a complex relationship with an alien creature, dies violently but is resurrected into a far better universe — all very Catholic.
By Monday, Nikki and Adrian had left to return to wherever they go after they leave here. Following my morning exercises, I called the good/bad David. He lives in South Dakota now — in a little town called Andover. We commiserated about him sitting in his house staring at the snow while I sat on the porch in the golden hills enjoying the 70-degree sunshine. Later, I got on Google and David took me on a tour of the highlights of Andover — there were not many of them — the Lutheran church, the threshing barns, a post office, the railroad tracks and lots and lots of flat grassland with a few grazing cows.
I had an interesting dream last night. I seemed to be watching a movie and did not participate in the action. I recognized the main protagonist, a minor television actor whose name I could not remember. I seem to have come in during the middle of the story. The main protagonist was a pirate of sorts but had not always been so. He was preparing his band and some poorly equipped villagers to defend themselves from the expected attack. Although they were confident they could prevail in the conflict when their enemy showed up it became clear they would be overwhelmed. They agreed to a meeting with the opposition commander who proved to be an old friend of the hero (from an earlier scene in the movie that I had missed). The two friends agreed that the hero and his motley but competent crew would undertake a difficult and somewhat questionable assignment to lead a sneak attack on the commander’s enemy. I then woke up. It was raining again and after dropping HRM off at school and eating breakfast, I put myself back to bed and slept until the afternoon when it was time to pick up HRM again. And, so it goes in the waning years of my life.
The weather turned miserable again. I feel better, however.
News on the adolescent front: HRM’s march beyond childhood accelerates. He may have just graduated from the scooter gangs to the bicycle maniacs all in one day, putting him further removed from his past and mine. Our influence over his environment diminishes with each additional mile he can now place between us. I currently drive him to the skate park the outer limit of his universe.  In two weeks he will be riding his bike far beyond that.
The weekend approaches. Yesterday morning I listened to the heart-rending memories of a dear friend. Life has been described as a vale of sorrows. It is that for most of us — even living through the greatest Golden Age in the history of humankind and consider ourselves fortunate we have not had to experience sufferings like our predecessors in the past, most of us sooner or later experience unimaginable pain. Some handle it better than others and some worse. Some are able to smile through it all and some complain bitterly (I am of the latter group). Like it or not we are all riding together it the same Looney-Tunes cable car careening through the mountains, some cringing in fear, others filling themselves with hate over who they suspect caused them to be in this place, some laughing deliriously, some crying and some just stare at the sky, fist outstretched middle finger extended — but one thing cannot be denied, for most tomorrow  will be another day — And for me, the weekend begins and I intend to make it a happy one…
B. BOOK REPORT: STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT.
If you continue to read beyond this, you will notice (if I am able to reconstruct them from wherever this evil machine hid them) an excess of items of and about Sicily. The reason for this is because I have just completed reading a mystery novel entitled “Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions” by Mario Giordano. Surprisingly, the author is not Sicilian. He is German. A descendant of a Sicilian laborer who had left the Island seeking work and a better life in the Colossus of the North. The novel itself is no classic work of literature. In fact, it barely makes it as light summer reading. I liked it, however, because of the kind-hearted way it plunges into the history, landscape, and foibles of the people and places that I have grown to love.
The main conceit of the novel lies in the author’s alter ego, a young struggling writer recording, at the behest of his Auntie Poldi, her adventures, and misadventures in Sicily. Auntie Poldi a dipsomaniac, over-sexed, bi-polar, caftan-wearing, overweight, sixty year old widow from Bavaria who, after the death of her Sicilian born husband, buys a home in a small coastal village in Sicily in the shadow of Mt Etna where she intends to “drink herself to death with a view of the sea.” Unfortunately for everyone, Auntie Poldi is also loud, pushy, nosy and her father was chief of detectives in some city in Germany. As a result, when she discovers, on the beach, the dead body of her part-time handyman, the handsome young Valentino, she drafts her dead husband’s three sisters and goes on a hunt for the murderer. Along the way, she also shags the handsome but mature local detective with the improbable name of Vito Montana.
Pookie says, “Check it out”
[T]he worst thing that can happen to any Italian male, especially a Sicilian. Economic crises, volcanic eruptions, corrupt politicians, emigration, the Mafia, uncollected rubbish and overfishing of the Mediterranean—he can endure anything with fatalism and a bella figura. The main thing is never to present a brutta figura, a figuraccia. Bella figura is the Italian credo. The basic equipment for this includes a well-groomed, unostentatiously fashionable appearance, a pair of good shoes and the right make of sunglasses. Above all, though, bella figura means always looking good, never foolish. For an Italian this is a must, not an option, and quite indispensable. It also means you don’t embarrass your fellow men. Impatience is unacceptable and direct confrontations are taboo. You share restaurant bills with your friends, don’t put your foot in it, never receive guests in a dirty or untidy home, ask no intimate questions, address anyone with a university degree as dottore, bring some dessert with you when invited to dinner and—even at the risk of rupturing your abdomen—finish everything on your plate. You put your faith in beauty and proportionality and try to make the world a better place. Sometimes you even succeed.”
Giordano, Mario. Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  
DAILY FACTOID:
The Sicilian language has no future tense.
(JP— It is scary to think about a culture that lacks the ability to express the future. It does have a special tense to express the remote past that has ended. Sicilians use it a lot in their conversations — Everything is in the present or the far past and there is no future.)
PEPE’S POTPOURRI:
A.  On Top —The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 – I’d kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 – Borrow money from pessimists-they don’t expect it back.
3 – Half the people you know are below average.
4 – 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 – 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 – A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 – A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 – If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 – All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 – The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 – I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ….. But she left me before we met.
12 – OK, so what’s the speed of dark?
13 – How do you tell when you’re out of invisible ink?
14 – If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 – Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 – When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.
17 – Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 – Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 – I intend to live forever … So far, so good.
20 – If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 – Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.
22 – What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 – My mechanic told me, “I couldn’t repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.”
24 – Why do psychics have to ask you for your name
25 – If at first, you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 – A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 – Experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.
28 – The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 – To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 – The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 – The sooner you fall behind, the more time you’ll have to catch up.
32 – The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 – Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don’t have film.
34 – If at first, you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.
35 – If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?
 
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
While doing some research on things Sicilian, I came across the blog, “The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife,” (https://siciliangodmother.com/2013/02/12/sicilian-women-are-scrubbers/) It contains some amusing stories about the life of a foreigner (in this case a British woman married to a Sicilian man) in Sicily, especially regarding her relationship with her Mother-in-law whom she refers to as “The Godmother.”
One day, The Godmother came round to my house when I had just swept and mopped all the floors. She was wearing her black skirt and black blouse, which is what Sicilian housewives put on when they really mean business. She gave me a pitying, or perhaps critical, look and said,
“Oh, you poor thing! You must be so worn out with all this unpacking and organizing that you haven’t had time to clean the floor.”
“Erm, yes,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” she said, her nose already in the cleaning products cupboard she had given me as a housewarming present. “I’ll take care of it.”
She extracted a thing which looked like a broom with no bristles and then wrapped it in a cloth which she dipped in something that smelled pungent enough to make my nose run and proceeded to rub it all over the floor with so much verve I thought she might actually erode the glaze off the tiles. “That’s just given it a quick removal of the main dirt,” she said, as she got on her knees and proceeded to pull the plinth away from the fitted cupboards under and around the kitchen sink.
She put the steel strips on the balcony and then proceeded to remove the entire underside of the island unit as well. Not satisfied with this, she then prised all the knobs off the hob, did something that looked downright painful to remove the oven door and then turned the extractor fan over the cooker into no less than eighteen separate, yet almost identical-looking, pieces of plastic grille.
Whilst I was profoundly shocked to see her calmly pull my kitchen to pieces, I was also flabbergasted that she was actually able to. For my whole life, up to that point, I had believed you needed men with exposed bum cleavages to do that type of thing.
While I was still searching for appropriate words, she filled the sink with several potent products, which foamed and gave off a greenish hallucinogenic vapour, and put all the small components of my ex-kitchen in it. While I sat down to regain some breath, she filled a bucket with whatever the Mafia use to dissolve dead bodies away to nothing except a few gold fillings, and started rubbing it into the pieces of stainless steel plinth she had yanked off the cupboards. I had chosen a matt finish but she kept working away at each piece of metal until she had made it look like a mirror.
C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I Heard It Through The Grapevine:
During 2016 Presidential nominating campaign there were two candidates who:
Declined to support sensible gun control regulation;
Received support from the Russians and;
Refused to release their tax returns.
D. Today’s Poem:
ISULA
Isula nascivu, isula vogghiu moriri.
Isula comu mi fici lu Signuri
cu li turmenti e li dulura
ma sempri abbrazzata a lu mari
e figghia pridiletta di lu suli.
Bedda tra li beddi sugnu
‘nghirlannata stati e mmernu di ciuri.
Curtigghiara, baggiana, ciaurusa
mi vestu di milli culura
e cu sta peddi di meli e di rosi
attiru lapuna d’ogni razza e paisi.
ISLAND
Born an island, I want to die an island.
An island, the way the Lord made me
with all its torments and pains
but always embraced by the sea
a favored daughter of the sun.
I’m a beauty among beauties
garlanded in summer and winter.
Plebeian, proud, fragrant
I dress in thousands of colors
and with this blanket of honey and roses
I attract drones from every race and place.
–by Lina La Mattina –translated by Arthur Dieli
E. Charlie Stross on Bureaucracy II:
The iron law of bureaucracy dictates that most of the people in any large organization will, after a time, be more preoccupied with preserving their own jobs than with fulfilling the mission statement of the agency.”
Stross, Charles. Empire Games: A Tale of the Merchant Princes Universe (p. 322). Tom Doherty Associates.
TODAY’S QUOTE:
Sicilian men (of which I am one) prefer to discuss the minutia of history and almost anything else rather than answer a personal question and risk making a brute figura of himself. Here is an example taken from a novel I am reading:
“Uncle Martino talked at me without a break. He pontificated on Sicilian history, the source of the best pistachio nuts, Lord Nelson and the Brontë siblings, life in the Middle Ages, Frederick II, Palermo’s Vucciria market, tuna shoals, overfishing by Japanese trawlers and the mosaics of Monreale. He commented on Radio Radicale’s live broadcasts of debates in the Italian parliament. He lectured me on the Cyclops, the Greeks, the Normans, General Patton, Lucky Luciano and yellow silk scarves. On the only acceptable way of making a granita. On angels, demons, the trinacria, the truth about Kafka and communism and the relationship between physical stature and criminality in the male population of Sicily. His rule of thumb: the shorter the man, the more threatening and the more likely to be a Mafioso. That I scarcely understood a word didn’t bother him. My Italian was appalling—in fact it was practically nonexistent apart from one or two helpful swear words and che schifo, allucinante, birra, con panna, boh, beh and mah, which constituted an adolescent’s vocabulary on the beach.”
Giordano, Mario.Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
(JP- For those interested:
Che Schifo — how disgusting.
Allucinante — hallucinating, stoned
Birra — beer
Con panna — with whipped cream
Boh — I don’t know
Beh — I don’t care
Mah — maybe yes, maybe no
Facility with these few words will allow you to communicate adequately anywhere in Southern Italy and Sicily, but only if you also know how to gesture properly with your hands [see below]).
TODAY’S CHART:
Pasted Graphic
These are only a few of the gestures used in Southern Italy and Sicily. As with any language, it takes a while and a lot of repetition to learn. Failure to learn a language properly can lead to confusion and embarrassment. For example, after examining the chart, I realized that during my sojourns in Sicily I never quite understood the difference between What, where, why and you shitted your pants eh — much to my embarrassment in the cases where I have misused them and much to my annoyance is now realizing that I had failed to recognize when someone who I thought was asking a question was, in fact, commenting on my ignorance or worse.
Categories: January through March 2018, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 P0PS 0004 (August 31, 2015)

 

“Never under any circumstances interrupt a story!”
Bruen, Ken. Green Hell (Jack Taylor). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

After a long, tiring and mostly uneventful trip back from Thailand, I met my sister in San Francisco and she drove us to Mendocino where I slept my jet lag away.

The next day Annmarie and her husband Dean, my grandson Anthony and Irene a relative from Sabina spending a few weeks in the US arrived. Anthony is having a difficult time. Arrested again for operating his marijuana business, he is in a lot of trouble.

Later that night my other grandson Aaron arrived. On the way up he crashed his car into the back of another car that had that had stopped in the middle of the road having struck and killed a large deer. Aside from that, he seemed in good spirits and happy about his burgeoning career as a chef.

The next day we visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. While walking along the path someone going the other called out to me, “How’re you doing Pops?” I was not amused.
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Later we attended the Art and Wine show at the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were a Coastal Conservancy project during my time as director. It was in danger of closing down. So, since it was considered a significant coastal resource for the area, we developed a plan for its preservation enabling it to redesign and reconstruct its physical plant and exhibits and to purchase a large parcel extending to the coast.
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There also was music to go with the art and wine.
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On Sunday, we went canoeing on Big River. It tired me out so I skipped lunch and took a nap.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Finally, I returned to the Golden Hills and things ground to a halt.

My sister dropped me off at the Trans-bay Terminal and after a riding a bus, a train, the light rail and another bus I arrived at EDH Town Center three hours later. The house was still over 2 miles away and there was no way for me to get there except by walking and dragging my luggage (Mr. Suitcase) behind me.
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I looked like a homeless old man searching for a place to sleep. I hoped that that image would so horrify the citizens of EDH that they would call the police who would arrest me and then, after I convinced them I belonged there, would drive me home in an air-conditioned police car. No such luck, so I struggled for another hour and a half walking with Mr. Suitcase, trudging from one bit of shade to another until I arrived home. I then took a nap.

The next day Dick and HRM arrived from Thailand. Since then I’ve returned to my usual routine — Drive H to school, eat breakfast at Bella Bru, go swimming, return home and play with the computer, pick up H from school, eat dinner and go to bed.

Today I met an old retired man from India. I was enjoying a cafe latte in the Starbuck’s at Target while waiting for H to shop for school supplies. The man sat down at the table where I sat. He was waiting for his family to finish shopping. He told me he spent half the year in New Delhi and the other half in the Golden Hills. He said that he used to be a sociologist and, although he now was retired, he sometimes still is called on to lecture about the differences between US and Indian culture. He said he often seeks out Americans to talk to in order to learn more about our culture. Then he said, in words to the effect, “Being old in America sucks. I have to hang out in this Starbuck’s in order to find someone to talk to.”

I have a new phone, an iPhone 6. It frightens me.

I went to the pool early this morning. Alas, the pool I usually swim in was occupied by an exercise class, so I sat on a beach chair to watch and wait until they finished and cleared out of the pool. One of the first things I noticed was the enormous size of the boobs that I observed. Not simply on women but on the men with their distended bellies and their man-boobs sparkling in the sun. Now I admit I had hoped to sit there and enjoy a visually erotic experience since at my age visually erotic is the only type of erotic granted me. Alas, it was anything but erotic. I then I looked down at my own body and realized I fit right in with the water exercise crew. Finally, the music accompanying the happy and vigorous workout eventually drove me to the much colder lap pool for my own usual morning workout.
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This week the trees with the red flowers were in bloom throughout the subdivision. As I have mentioned before, the landscape architect for the various subdivisions did a marvelous job in siting trees that bloom in different colors throughout the year delighting those with little going on in their lives and annoying many others who suffer from pollen allergies.

HRM report: Back in school in fifth grade. Currently, he is focused on his Youtube activities, “The Haystack Show.” He is the Chairman of the Board, Director and Star, his friend Jake is the CEO, Producer, and Editor.
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HRM, Pookie and Tyson HRM’s friend but not the CEO of “The Haystack Show.”

 

I find that spending my time with 10-year-olds is a rewarding and enjoyable as traveling around the world.

Alas, the pump that pushes the house’s wastewater up to the sewer that runs along the street broke requiring HRM and me to spend the nights until it is repaired in the Holiday in Town Center and eating in some of HRM’s favorite restaurants, MacDonald’s, Taco Bell and Panda’s.

I cannot believe I am reduced to writing about broken sewer pumps and Taco Bell.

Since I have returned to EDH my cuisine choices have been limited to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Panda and the snack bar at Target.
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Sometimes we go fishing at the Duck Pond. Where I lie on the grass and stare at the sky until I fall asleep but usually I do nothing.
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I guess I can report that the drought resistant spiders are back and have covered with webs the landscaping for the houses on the street prompting the migration of itinerant pest control experts knocking on our doors and promising to remove the pests in the most environmentally safe manner possible. I assume if that were true, they intend to pick up each spider individually and crush it between their thumb and forefingers.

C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Earlier this month when a bomb blew up in Bangkok near a much-revered shrine killing almost 20 people and injuring almost 100 more, the unelected Prime Minister and leader of the country’s most recent coup said that it was an attempt to injure Thailand’s tourism industry, while completely omitting any expression of sympathy for those killed or injured.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“We usually think of Christianity as the great contrast to the Roman ideology, but this is to misconceive the whole civilization. Christianity as an organization was in no way incompatible with Romanism as an organized structure. The teachings of Christ were, but these teachings were so very alien and strange that no one took them very seriously and being a Christian soon meant, not belief in Christ’s teachings but belief in Christ, a totally different thing. The same thing happened in Islam where Muhammad’s teachings were soon ignored, and the requirements of Islam became a few rituals, plus monotheism, and so far as Muhammad was concerned, belief that he was the Prophet of the One God.

The Christians cut down Christ’s teachings to a minimum also, insisted only on the belief that Christ was the Son of God and some related beliefs and certain rituals, and then began to engage in violent controversy on minute details of implications of these, very remote from Christ’s teachings or attitude. On this basis, there was not much in Christianity which could not be reconciled with the Roman system, and the original enmity between the two came more from the Roman side than from the Christian.

…The willingness of the Christians to become part of the Roman system can be seen in the present survival of the Roman Catholic Church as a copy of the Roman empire, a system organized in municipalities and provinces under an absolute ruler who uses the robes, nomenclature, language, and modes of action of the late Roman empire.”
Carroll Quigley

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“When I won my Best Screenplay award several years ago, I had the great pleasure to see a number of films. One short film in particular caught my eye. It was a musical comedy called “West Bank Story,” and . . . you guessed it — it was a take on “West Side Story,” but set on the West Bank in Israel. I laughed so hard, I triggered muscle spasms in my back, and I had to go home and lay on a hot moist heating pad. It didn’t win, which I considered an enormous injustice, but I kept in touch with the film maker, a tremendously talented guy named Ari Sandel.

I saw it was nominated for an Oscar in the live action short film category, and I called Ari and arrogantly proclaimed that he would get an Oscar before Martin Scorsese would, and he DID . . . by about 2 hours! The Live-Action Short Film award was announced very early in the broadcast, with the major categories, like best actors, director, and picture of course saved for the end.

Now I see that Ari is dating actress Julianne Hough. Some guys have ALL the luck! Hey, Juli — for once, what about dating SCREENWRITERS, huh???

“West Bank Story, just shy of 20 minutes, is uploaded here:|

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgQfCUNf0no

But if you purchase it, Ari is donating all proceeds to a nonprofit in the Near East that benefits victims of the violence — Israelis AND Palestinians.”

 

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think this animal rights thing may have gone too far. I mean, what’s wrong about a tiger living in a zoo in a place made to look like the jungle it’s never seen and free from scratches and annoyances of the wild, where someone else catches, slaughters and cuts up his food into bite-sized bits while people pay good money to watch him lie around and yawn? Wouldn’t this make him a Kardashian?

After all, humans in their natural state were made to huddle around the entrance of a cave and be periodically culled by Saber Tooth Cats and Cave Bears — not working 80 hours a week in order to afford to live in a fake greek revival house far too large to ever be fully used with a new Ferrari parked in the driveway that inevitably his doped up kids will drive into a tree.

 

D. Today’s Poem:

The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.
Dylan Thomas wrote this when he was fourteen-years-old. He remained blindly arrogant and mostly drunk for the rest of his life.

 

E. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Altschmerz

n. Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
Barack Obama

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Shadow 0004 (June 26, 2015)

Laudato Si’

“Life has no reason. You are either here or you are in the Cemetery.”
Giovanni Corsello (June 2015)

Jon Snow Lives — Winter is Coming.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SICILY:

 

A. Sicily Agonistes.
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The morning sun lighting up Mt. Pellegrino and the Port of Palermo.

I got up early and watched our arrival into Palermo from the deck of the ferry.

After disembarking, we left Palermo to drive across the island to Agrigento. Being spring, the countryside was still green and bright.
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Since it was still early by the time we arrived in Agrigento, we decided to visit the Valley of the Temples. Actually, valley is a misnomer. The temples are sited on a two-mile long ridge atop a cliff facing the sea that formed the fundamental defensive structure for the city. The ancient Greek City of Akragas itself sat in a long flat valley between the ridge and the heights on which the modern city is built. The temples, made of sandstone and originally covered with plaster and painted bright colors, run the gamut from the almost complete Temple of Concorde through various stages of ruin.
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Temple of Concord                                               Temple of Giove

Having been there before, I knew the site would be hot. I had hoped out morning visit would shield us from the worst of it. It did not. Approaching the end and unhappily contemplating returning, this time uphill, I flung myself on a bench in the direct sun, too tired to search for one in the shade. I was still sick, exhausted, old, thirsty and despondent because I had not taken my happy pills for three days. I felt like an aging tiger licking his wounds in the shadow of a rock, contemplating his rising urge to slay and destroy everything in sight, buildings, people trees — all of it.
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Jason, noticing my distress, helped me into the shade of a small park where I could rest. The park, noted by Camilleri in one of his novels, is the attempted restoration of the area where the ancient Greeks used to fish and recreate among the olive trees. Like most operations of this kind, its hopes did not match its funding or staffing levels. Staring at the trunks of 2000-year-old olive trees soon bored me so Jason walked me to a little cafe where I sat quasi-conscious while he trudged the two miles back to the car and then get lost, as one must before he could return and pick me up.

B. Paradiso Siciliana.

We drove to Canicatti. I tried to remember the way to Antonio’s BnB but could not and after a contretemps with Jason and a comedy with the locals over the name of the street, Antonio arrived and led us to his house.
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There we were restored by a lunch of a spectacular caponata and sun dried tomatoes, Pesto Siciliana, local sheep cheese and sausage. I went to sleep until 9 pm when it was time to meet the neighbors.

The neighbors, in this case, being those renting out the two other rooms in Antonio’s house. They were two youngish couples, one French from Montpellier and the other Belgian from Brussels. After a round of introductions and a few pleasantries, we sat down to dinner.

The dinner began with Eggplant Parmigiana made with local tomatoes that look like large chili peppers and have a stronger more piquant taste than regular tomatoes. This was followed by arancini, (Sicilian fried rice balls, rice packed with cheese [mozzarella] and a meat sauce). After this came a plate of mussels cooked in a heavenly sauce that I will not even try to describe. After sopping up the dregs of the sauce with local bread, Antonio presented us with a pasta with clams, mussels and swordfish and some vegetables. All this was accompanied by four wines, three of which were supplied by Antonio, a Grillo and two varieties of local Criso di Campobello. The fourth bottle was a surprise brought by one of the couples, a red from Nimes.

All this was followed by an orange salad, (large pieces of orange covered in well-cooked onions and lightly dusted with black pepper). Then we were served Sicilian cassata, accompanied by a Sicilian Limoncello. And, of course, fruit freshly picked from Antonio’s garden.
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Antonio is a local pediatrician and a leading member of Sicily and Italy’s Slow Food movement. The house has been the family home for at least three generations. It sits on a little less than an acre of land at the edge of Canicatti. There is a small industrial park on one side and a roadway on the other, yet sitting here one feels far away from urban life. On this tiny bit of land, Antonio grows most of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and some of the nuts with which he serves his guests — and of course, the flowers. When I sit at the outside table at which we eat, I see the following:
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The yard has a litter of kittens, the mother of which has disappeared. They romp through the gardens and in and out of the house catching mice and one another’s tails. Now and then one will take a swipe at your big toe should you wiggle it under the table as you eat.
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I ought to mention the recipe for polpette that Antonio made for Jason and I one evening as we were taking a break from the relatives —take very (hard) stale bread, soak in water for about three hours, squeeze out the water; add meat (half pork and half beef), coriander, three eggs, capers, pecorino cheese, garlic, mint, Italian parsley, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Knead, roll into balls and cook in hot sunflower oil.

At that same meal, we enjoyed a pasta with shrimp and prawns and a meat dish made like braciole.
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Pookie digs in

Later in the week, after the two couples left, we were joined by a German couple. They were here to attend the wedding of a friend. The wife, an ex-bartender, was seven months pregnant. The husband was director of business planning for Siemens wind power subsidiary. We had a number of interesting conversations. They both spoke English well having lived in England and India where the husband worked as a medical systems consultant.
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Jason eats a Cannoli                                           Venerdi and Jason

Toward the end of the week, the figs ripened on Antonio’s trees so we pigged out on them as we watched him turn some of them into preserves and other delicacies.

C. Meet the relatives and eat a lot.

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View of Canicatti
Visiting relatives one has not seen for a while is always a mixture of stress and joy — everyone straining to make each other comfortable for the brief time they have together yet wishing for the easy communication of an ongoing relationship.

Anyway, my eighty-year-old cousin Giovanni arrived with his son to take us to his farmhouse on the top of a hill overlooking Canicatti, the town in Sicily where my mother was born and where I lived for a short while over forty years ago. Giovanni likes to sneak away from home most afternoons to drink wine and nod off to sleep free from his wife’s observation. While he enjoys his pleasures, his son putters around the property. A few days later, we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at the farm with Giovanni and his entire family.
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Jason, Giovanni, and his son.

On another day we had lunch with an additional group of cousins, Guglielmo, his wife Giovanna and their two sons, his sister Elina and their mother Giuseppina. Giuseppina, Giovanni’s sister, still lives in the same building Jason and I lived in so long ago. Guglielmo is a banker and committed marathon runner. His wife, Giovanna runs half marathons. His sister Elina teaches school in Catania. We had an excellent meal as always.
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Guglielmo and Family                        The view of Canicatti from Giuseppina’s window.

Alas, the next day we had planned a tour of the area with Guglielmo and Elina but unfortunately, he took sick and we had to cancel. That was a disappointment as we looked forward to spending the day with them.

Jason, the good guest that he is, ate everything placed in front of him at the various lunches and dinners. I on the other hand, with varying degrees of success, tried to beg off food offerings before they were served, blaming my all too true intestinal maladies.
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Giovanni and his son, his two daughters Teresa and Maria and their children.
One day, while being driven around the city and its environs, we passed Piezzu Giumeddru (I think it is spelled this way), a large outcropping on the outskirts of the city. It dominates the landscape and it appears to have been split apart by a great force. According to the relatives, it is here the Paladin Orlando, in the great Italian epic “Orlando Furioso,” feigning madness over the woman he loved choosing to bed his best friend, sliced the rock in two with his sword.
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We also visited the beach (it was too windy and cold to swim), and the wonderful Spanish Baroque City of Naro, seat of the Chiaramonte Family, tragically mistakenly bombed by the allies in WWII — but mostly we ate and talked.
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D. Our evening with GiGi.

One night we visited my friend GiGI and his wife. Unfortunately, GiGI suffers from Parkinson’s and has a great difficulty getting around. We spent some time looking at photographs of his illustrious automobile racing career and later we went downstairs into his garage to look at the cars he used to race and where Jason was able to view for the first time in over 40 years the tiny three-wheeled Trojan motorcar that he and I travelled in across Europe from England to Sicily when he was only two and one-half years old.
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E. Departure and return to Sabina.
Eventually, our time in Sicily was at an end and with great regret, we set off for Palermo and the ferry to take us back to Sabina. We spent several hours in Palermo, before boarding the ferry to Naples, getting lost, viewing a few historical sites and shopping.
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Pookie in front of Palermo Cathedral
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Our last view of Sicily

The next morning we drove back to Sabina stopping along the way at Nemi in the Castelli Romani and enjoyed a fine lunch overlooking the lake.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“So I told them about the USA — really very hair-raising when it is all laid out in sequence: . . . .1. cosmic hierarchy; 2. energy; 3. agriculture; 4. food; 5. health and medical services; 6. education; 7. income flows and the worship of GROWTH; 8. inflation. . .showing how we are violating every aspect of life by turning everything into a ripoff because we. . .have adopted the view that insatiable individualistic greed must run the world.”

“Although our cognitive system has made our civilization the richest and mightiest in the world, its continued use without cognitive sophistication is leading us to disaster. Lynn White, Jr., pointed this out in his article, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” in Science for March 10, 1967.”

“Professor White’s thesis is that when the Judeo-Christian faith established the view that there is no spirit in nature other than the human, the world was reduced to a created object to be exploited by humans, and the way was thus opened to the destruction of nature and to the total pollution of the world — a consequence that may have become inevitable with the rejection, in the latter thirteenth century, of the message of St. Francis to treat all nature as sacred.”

“The cognitive techniques derived from our underlying outlook have included ( a) using analysis rather than synthesis in seeking answers to problems; (b) isolating problems and studying them in a vacuum instead of using an ecological approach; ( c) using techniques based on quantification rather than on qualification study done in a contextual situation; (d) proceeding on the assumption of single-factor causation rather than pluralistic, ecological causation; and (e) basing decisions and actions on needs of the individual rather than needs of the group.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“When all is said and done, it is not how many toys you die with, but how many stories.”

C. Today’s Poem:

Who invited him in? What was he doing here,
That insolent little ruffian, that crapulous lout?
When he quitted a sofa, he left behind him a smear.
My wife says he even tried to paw her about.
If that is what his friends thought of him, what of his enemies?
Norman Cameron on the visit to his home by the famed poet, Dylan Thomas.

D. Emotions people feel but cannot explain — from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
(Thanks to Denise Mina — may she soon write another novel.)

Sonder. The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 29 Cold Tits 0004 (March 14, 2015)

 

“A man is never too young to kill, never too wise, never too strong, but he can damn well be too rich.”
Brown, Pierce. Golden Son (The Red Rising Trilogy, Book 2 (p. 41). Random House Publishing Group.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett. Discworld will live forever.
Pratchett, the inverse of Spock, turned logic on its head and found truth. May they enjoy each other’s company wherever they are.

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The weather in EDH has gone from pleasant to marvelous, the afternoons in the mid-seventies. The sky a deep blue, now and then dappled with clouds.

A few days ago I read that some scientists suspect the perception of the color blue is a recent innovation for humanity. They were put on to this theory by the fact that Homer never mentioned the color blue in his works (nor did most ancient texts such as the Bible). Homer’s description of the Aegean as the “wine dark sea,” a sea that to us today is decidedly blue, led them to conclude, either the sea was a different color then (wine is not blue even at its darkest) or something was different in the color perceptions of the ancients. They then discovered that people in societies today that have no word for blue, when asked the color of the sky, most often respond that it was colorless. A modern tribe that has no word for blue but several for green can see differences in green not perceived by the rest of us. So given that colors are merely reflections of certain frequencies of light, what is going on? This freaks me out. When I look at the deep blue skies over the golden foothills what, if anything, am I seeing?
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Alas, still no rain. Paradise before the fall?
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So, I have now completed a PET and a CT (CAT) scan. I guess my next one will be a RAT, BAT or perhaps even a VET scan.
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Nikki arrived. He plans to stay for about a week. This means that a lot more noise and a bit more laughter it the house. H has been fitted with braces and is unhappily suffering through the irritation of getting used to them.
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With Nikki attending to H, I spend even more of my time in my room trying to find something interesting to read other than Facebook and trashy novels. Recently I even have begun to look forward to my medical appointments.
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While having coffee with Reed a few days ago, he mentioned that the Coastal Conservancy staff said that they did not know what a coastal restoration project is, despite the fact that their implementing legislation specifically directs the agency to do them.
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During breakfast with Nikki, he asked what would I do if I was no longer living in EDH. I said that I would probably still do much of what I do now. I would divide my time between; California, probably as much as possible with my sister and brother in law in Mendocino; Italy, at Nikki’s home at Saliceto in the Alpine foothills or Sabina or Sicily; and Thailand, although I would prefer moving out of BKK and back to the beach. Winters at the beach in Thailand, Spring and Fall somewhere along the California coast and Summers in the Alps it seems would not be such a bad life.

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Mendocino, California

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Saliceto, Italy
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Roccantica in Sabina

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Sicily

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Jomtien Beach, Thailand
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My visit to the orthodontist with H was a revelation. The waiting area was more playroom than office with its jungle motif, separate play areas and massage chairs for parents. The staff of about 20 or so seemed to have overdosed on ebullience as though they had hit the nitrous-oxide on the way to work. The staff was all women except for the man himself, the orthodontist, the chief giggler himself — the lord of the manor — the Caliph. I used to wonder who lived in those super large homes that line the ridges of EDH. I now imagine they are all inhabited by happy-talking orthodontists.
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El Dorado Hills is an almost place, almost a forest, almost a mountain, almost a city, almost a community and living here is almost a life.
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Well, I can put my hypochondria back in its box for a while. The PET scan came back negative for any evidence of migration by big C into other parts of my body. Now, if the biopsy shows signs of it in the nodule itself, the doctor believes it can be safely removed without resort to either radiation or chemo.
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My very dear friend from Sicily, Luigi (Gigi) Gallo, who suffers from Parkinson’s, recently slipped, fell and broke his leg. He appears to be recovering. I hope all goes well with him. Last year, after an over 40-year hiatus, I visited Sicily and had a wonderful time with him, catching each other up on our lives over the last 40 years and reminiscing about our time together in Sicily and Rome.
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B. BOOK REPORT:

I read “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins. It is an interesting book in spite of it being a best seller. All ten or so characters in the novel are reprehensible. It is difficult to care about which ones deserve to die (they all deserve to do so). Yet, their very insensitivity to their own irresponsibility despite their intense and constant preoccupation with it that gives the story whatever appeal it has.

Pookie says, “Check it out.”

 

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

As for one of the primary organizational elements of Western society, capitalism, in its constantly changing form over its 1000 year existence, Quigley has the following to say about its role:

“…capitalism, because it seeks profits as its primary goal, is never primarily seeking to achieve prosperity, high production, high consumption, political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Any of these may be achieved under capitalism, and any (or all) of them may be sacrificed and lost under capitalism, depending on this relationship to the primary goal of capitalist activity— the pursuit of profits. During the nine-hundred-year history of capitalism, it has, at various times, contributed both to the achievement and to the destruction of these other social goals.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.

Although Quigley refers to it in this other works of his, the above quote does not mention the impact on society of Debt and the Merchants of Debt, Creditors, even though they are many thousands of years older than Capitalism and Capitalists. If one were to rewrite Quigley’s quote with debt in mind, it might go something like this:

“Debt and Creditors, the Merchants of Debt, because they seek repayment of the loan and the interest due thereon as their primary goal, never seek prosperity, high production, high consumption, direct political power, patriotic improvement, or moral uplift. Instead they seek to assure that the value of the principle and interest remain constant or increase by encouraging depression of the economy to eliminate the potential for that prosperity, high production and high consumption to encourage inflation and reduce the value of their future returns. Interest in political power is limited to issues of so called “sound money” politics. Over their 4000 year history, the Merchants of Debt have rarely, if ever, contributed anything to a society’s patriotic improvement or moral uplift other than to assist in their destruction now and then.”

It is important to understand that banking and capitalism, although they more often than not work together, they are not the same thing nor do they have the same institutional goals or the same impacts on society. Capitalism is as subject to the demands of the Merchants of Debt as is the rest of society. Because of the overwhelming impact of debt on society, the Old Testament of the Bible and most civilizations until the 10th Century AD in Europe encouraged periodic forgiveness of debts. It could be argued that the Lord’s Prayer New Testament plea to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” refers to the Old Testament practice as well as, if not more than, it does to other moral transgressions.

There exists and inherent conflict between Capitalists and the Merchants of Debt. The former risk their wealth on investments in enterprise, the latter abhor risk of any sort.
B. Molly’s Poem:

A New Years Poem
I have a desperate attraction to new beginnings
Sometimes the numbers on the calendar look so beautiful
I think
Today’s the day I drink less and run more
No smoking, all veggies
Honesty, integrity, self-reliance, perseverance, creativity,
No fear, live large,
Dream big, be bright, believe in love and believe in yourself!
And I do
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Sometimes I just feel it, on a Tuesday
Today’s the day I keep doing yoga
I don’t back down when I’m right
I go to bed at a reasonable hour, pay my bills on time
Clean out the toe jam, learn all those languages
All the little steps start here and I’m climbing
I can feel it now, right now, and I won’t look back
This is it!
Today is an auspicious day
Today is my new beginning
Then I find myself making the same mistakes
Who manufactured the grooves in my record?
How would it feel if the DJ scratched me across the turntable?
The dissonant rip, like a zipper coming undone
A cut away from the 4/4 time that I was trying so hard to hold
But this is why the crowd came to the club
To hear the sound of the universe tearing into a new song
The maligned has become music
We throw our hands up and we dance
I am scratched across the turntable and the crowd is screaming
We are scratched and screaming
And the dj takes it back, and the song plays
All of it is beautiful
Every moment new
Every moment auspicious
Every moment beginning
Molly Trad

C. Zander’s Perceptions

“Lentil Soup and Lent

Yesterday I made a pot of lentil soup as well as a loaf of bread, since the weather demands it. I realized that while my back was screwing with me last week, I missed out on Mardi Gras on Tuesday. I have not been a practicing Catholic for . . . yikes. That would be over a half a century. I do dig McDonald’s having cheap Filet o Fish sandwiches (YEEE-Hah!!) during Lent, so naturally I will take advantage of that for the next 5 weeks.

But here’s the thing. Stay with me on this: When the kids were still in elementary school and their mom was on the dating scene, which I called the “Boyfriend of the Month Club,” I decided not to date. One parent dating like a rat in heat and dragging impressionable young kids to these men’s homes was bad enough; it didn’t need to be repeated by me.

I knew that the dating cycle was about 5 weeks is because that is how often I’d be asked for my recipe for scaloppine alla Marsala, the dinner she’d prepared for those guys. And I wouldn’t date.

It got to the point, though, that those years were adding up. Because I did the celibate parent thing voluntarily, I believe I should be allowed to give it up for Lent. Got it now?

So in Rome, we’ve got Il Papa, Pope Francis, who reflects virtually political and social position I have. I’m going to throw myself at his mercy and see if there is a special dispensation in his heart to allow me to give up celibacy for Lent. I’m guessing that he’d go for it. Hell — he can even live vicariously through me, if he wants. So I am confident.

Do I have any volunteers?
Pete Xander

D. Granddaughter’s Painting:
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Athena Petrillo

E. Today’s Paraprosdokian:

Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Epicurean Paradox

 

 

TODAY’S CHART:
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Sometimes I wonder if the American South is really another country or whether most Southerners are actually illegal aliens residing in the US. Surely a people who are so poorly educated, in such ill health, so superstitious and immoral and so unambitious cannot be real American citizens. Should we require them to go back to where they came from? Who would have them?

These people seem to insist on remaining poor, illiterate, diseased, religion obsessed and immoral. Shouldn’t we allow them to endure that state? Perhaps laws like, unemployment, social security, Obama care and the like should not apply to the South?

We do not have a poverty problem or a racial problem or a health problem or a moral problem or an immigration problem in the United States. We have a Southern problem. We have always had a Southern problem.

 

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Point Cabrillo Light House, Mendocino

 

Categories: January through March 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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