Last Chance Sea

tin hats

There are many things we don’t understand about others.  The face and body are there, but we can’t see the invisible footsteps left behind, the old heartbeats that have made them alive, soft and warm, troubled and happy, and we seldom have the time to spend solving the mystery of who they are.     

I’d taken a temporary job in the US to help settle Vietnamese boat people.  Normally I didn’t work in the US, but I’d made an exception.  My case load was about forty people.  Some were couples, frail and slow moving; there were families with young children; and then there were a handful of single people. 

My job was to get them placed in housing, set up bank accounts, enroll them in English classes, find them work, etc.  They’d all received small sums of money from the US government and private charities to make a start.  The…

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Many Strange Sights to See

I just took my first trip post vaccination and oh my, how the world has changed. From a safe distance I spotted my very first Spiky Thermoleggon! Luckily he, she or it did not see me!

Spiky Thermoleggon and pet (assumed to be dog)


Can you see the face?

The Flirty Palmgalour. Yikes she’s looking straight at me!

The bathroom in my hotel room was haunted by an Inkyglobbo which grew steadily by the minute until I ran out into the hall where radioactive Bubbleheads waited impatiently for another victim.

“Come into the light!”

I closed my eyes and clicked my heels three times and guess where I transported to? A world composed entirely of small plastic pieces.

No, that’s not graffiti. It’s the exit of the newest ride at kiddie friendly Legoland, San Diego. I know. I didn’t get it either.

Because the ride had just debuted, not all the kinks had been worked out. Thus, we ended up waiting in this dark hall for about thirty minutes while maintenance folks ran in and out the “Model Citizens” door until they figured out the problem. Oh dear, I thought. I’ve just escaped the Thermoleggon, the flirty Palmgalour and the Inkyglobbo only to spend the rest of my life trapped on Emmet’s Flying Adventure! But, years ago I’d survived being trapped on Disneyland’s It’s a Small World ride for twenty minutes and eventually regained my sanity. So I could do it.

Holy Cow! It’s a fast-paced rock and rolling ride meant to assault all the senses. Some of the kids wanted to immediately go again but my four year old grandson had had enough. He couldn’t wait to get over to the aquarium and watch the sharks and the seahorses and pet the starfish. Apparently they survived the pandemic.

Now that it’s time to get out in the world again, do so gingerly. Things have changed!

Can You Do That For Me?

tin hats

He was worried about his daughter in that way of doing what I say, not what I do, and she had a life of her own and it was dangerous by his standards, nothing like the risks he had taken. She was an alcoholic, hardly ever drugs, which was a good thing, but she was a binge drinker. A bottle of vodka or maybe four or five bottles of wine, sometimes a few bottles of sake and then she would pass out. When she would call him in the throes of a drunk, she would cry and tell him she was an outcast. She didn’t fit into normal society. She saw the world in a different light. Pain was part of her sexual experience and afterward she would feel guilty and it all related to the way she had grown up as a child. The secret things that had happened.

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If People Don’t Know Where You’re Going, It’s Hard For Them To Follow

I’ll be mostly off-line the next five days.. While I”m gone please enjoy this piece by Duke Miller.

tin hats

That was how he liked it, the man who was generally unfriendly, except to the locals.

Now in Mexico, with a wife, dogs and a number of aliments, he felt anchored for the first time in a long time. A flame tree spread next door and a jacaranda tree painted purple in the garden and the bees flew low over the Rosio when the sun came out and heated the nectar. He had a maid and a doctor he trusted. Life at 9,000 feet often meant extreme UV radiation, but he never used sun screen. He didn’t have time.

There was a criminal, who sometimes sat on the park bench. He’d pretend to be waiting for a friend. Actually, he was more a drunk than a criminal and he kept a bottle of liquor in a bag and he would sip it until his eyes got glassy. Then he would…

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Do you hang?

One of the first things we installed after moving into our house over twenty years ago was a retractable clothesline. It’s a fancy device with five lines that stretch to over twenty feet.  I can easily hang at least three full loads of clothes, bedding and towels and I do own one of the largest washing machines ever sold.  

Over the years I’ve had people make the strangest comments about my clothesline:  

  • “Isn’t it illegal to hang clothes outside?”  
  • “Can’t you afford a dryer?” 
  • “You hang your underwear outside for the world to see?”

To the first question:  Some states do allow homeowners associations and landlords to ban hanging clothes outside but thanks to good old Governor Moonbeam (Jerry Brown) I live in a “right-to-dry” state!  HOAs and Landlords can restrict the hours and items which can be dried in the sunshine but not outright forbid it. 

To the second question: Over 92% of the house fires in the US were caused by dryers which were either improperly installed or improperly maintained.  Or overused. Or … they’re just plain evil.

To the third: Have you ever put on a favorite pair of underpants and had them slip down to your knees?  Unless you’ve lost a lot of weight, you’ve fried the elastic in the dryer. So my bras and panties all get air-dried.

There is a day devoted to the joys of hanging out laundry, of course, but as far as I can tell, there is no ceremony or national event associated with Hanging Out Day.  What a shame.  I think I’ll petition the White House to install a clothesline in the Rose Garden (I guess it’s now the “Former Rose Garden”) and hang out Old Joe’s knickers to celebrate! Care to join me or perhaps … you have a better idea? Check out the Museum of Fine Line Art Clotheslines for ideas. 

Well, it’s a warm day here and my clothes are now dry …. so adios and happy hanging!

Would you rather play the Prophet or the Missionary?

In 1965 a Swedish actor named Max Von Sydow made his debut to English speaking audiences as Jesus Christ. Von Sydow had previously been working with director Ingmar Bergman on movies few people had seen because they dealt with the meaning of life and its constant companion, death. The producers figured the audience would accept an unknown as Jesus more than they would say Cary Grant.  Good thinking. However, ironically they had no problem casting other well-known Hollywood stars in key roles. It was really quite bizarre casting. One critic wrote: “the most distracting nonsense is the pop-up of familiar faces in so called cameo roles.” He was so right.

The movie – The Greatest Story Ever Told – was on television the other day and because I am a huge fan of Von Sydow I had to watch until at least his entrance. Ugh. It was torture.  I’ll never understand how Charlton Heston’s portrayal of John the Baptist as a lunatic in a caveman wig didn’t ruin his career forever.  

The Duke himself, John Wayne, even pops up just as Jesus is being crucified to affirm they got the right guy. “He’s the one!”   What? Did Wayne find out he was the only Hollywood A lister not given a role in the story of Christ and throw a tizzy fit?

In order to rid my mind of that stinker of a movie, I downloaded Hawaii, a Max Von Sydow flick which was released the year after The Greatest Story. It’s always been a favorite of mine only this time I watched it with the knowledge that the year before Von Sydow had played Jesus Christ.

Amen. If you’ve never seen the movie, Reverend Hale (von Sydow) believes passionately he is following the word of God through Jesus however, over the centuries the words love, compassion, and forgiveness have come to apply only to the true believers. Everyone else is a sinner and unworthy of God’s love in his eyes.

Can you spot Bette Midler in this clip?

The plot of Hawaii is based on the third chapter of James Michener’s massive history of the Hawaiian Islands: After the discovery of the islands, word has spread that sugar grows abundantly in volcanic soil and businessmen rush in to grab land from the laidback islanders.  They convince church leaders that the “heathens” on the islands are need of “salvation” which really means “colonization.” Some of the missionaries sent over fall in love with the islands and realize the people are not heathen savages … but not Reverend Hale.  He’s about as hard core Old Testament as you can imagine, inflexible, stubborn and often cruel but Von Sydow plays him as a laughable idiot with a bit of genuine kindness that tries to escape his loveless childhood but cannot.

When he realizes that he cannot convert the Hawaiians through fear and intimidation, Rev. Hale calls upon God to send earthquakes and plagues to teach them a lesson. I won’t say anymore in case you’ve never seen the movie but I’ve seen it many times and always wondered at how completely he captured the character. Knowing that it followed a bloated Hollywood block-buster depiction of the life of Christ makes it that much more interesting. At least to me.

I made the moon blow its top!

Last night I went out to view the full moon. It started out well and then …

And then it began to change into an egghead sitting on the horizon.

And then this happened. I have no idea what I did but apparently it wasn’t the end of the world. Perhaps my cell phone is possessed? What do you think?

The Ugly D Word

In April we should be complaining about the incessant rainfall here in California. But it’s dry and, although it’s beautiful outside, the dreaded D word echoes in the news: Drought.

It’s a terrible feeling when you can’t enjoy beautiful weather without worrying that the Rain Gods have abandoned you and may never return again.

Clouds float overhead but … no rain in the forecast.

But who in the face of Drought or Death or even Disease, can resist smiling in a field of Daisies? Not me.

Why Did This Have To Happen To You?

Good Friday …

tin hats

My words look like half-burnt cake candles tossed into the alley, the cats ready to lick the bit of frosting, but the rain begins and takes the space, flattening ears and closing doors

Not a great beginning for a poem about suffering and despair, although the cats might have something to say, how they were cheated once again … what of the difference between suffering and despair … surely there is more pain with suffering, while despair is a luxury of far-off eyes … yet, they are sisters without love and we can tell them apart in our feelings

I overlooked celery for most of my life, but today I found it in all its glory, the stalks knew my name and they forgave me for floating in the seagrass, picking the flowers of the sea … and I found an old notebook, down there on the bottom of the…

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Jan finally goes on a drive

I haven’t been on a drive that didn’t have a specific mission in over twelve months and so I am pleased to announce that yesterday … ta da … we went a’wandering. Our only mission (his not mine) was to secure fresh oysters.

We ended up toasting the sun gods from the top of a tower.

Well, that’s not really us. Those fellas are actually greeting visitors to Copia, a culinary institute in Napa California which is unfortunately not open.

We could see the CIA (as it’s known) from Hog Island Oysters where hubby got to overdose on those little bits of slim while I kept it safe with the clam chowder. Hog Island only serves oysters and clam chowder but there is a taqueria, pizzeria and gourmet market in the same building with plenty of out door seating all around.

There’s even a roadside burger joint around the corner. These folks were doing a rip-roaring business.

After lunch we walked over to Copia for a better view of the mural. Here t’is:

The front door to the place is nothing special and the vegetable gardens are all dormant. I hope they return because it was depressing to see.

Whelp, nothing to do here so we walked across the river to downtown Napa.

Of the two famous wine counties just north of San Francisco, Napa is said to be the poshest and Sonoma the more laid back. I don’t really see it. Downtown Napa is built right on a river that flows down into the SF Bay.

This mural on the side of a Starbucks on Main Street, depicts what downtown Napa must of been like before the region became famous for wineries. Nowadays the river is neither wide nor deep enough for large ships. I only saw two small fishing boats heading downstream. No yachts or pleasure boats.

This fine old building sits right at the town center and was probably once a watch tower. Now it seems to have been abandoned – hopefully not forever.

Next to it is another fine old building which seems to have survived as a wine tasting shop.

Around the corner the block is closed off to traffic and the street filled with tents for outdoor eating … which is good for the restaurants along that stretch but not good for those us looking to photograph interesting old buildings.

At the end of the Main Street is Napa River Inn which is a repurposed textile mill.

This archway path leads to the back of the Napa River Inn where there is an outdoor restaurant. I imagine later this spring, when the plants are all in bloom, it will be a glorious entrance. Once through the archways, you can sit down next to this fountain and have dinner. (it’s not currently open for lunch on weekdays.)

And, just for the #ThursdayDoors folks, the not so spectacular front door of the Napa River Inn. Check out other doors at Dan Anton’s place!