Tag Archives: human folly

Slacker Dudes Sailing Baja

Tropical storm Raymond has arrived late this season. Raining here in Ensenada. We will hold here while seas settle down.

A safe passage isn’t just luck. You want to tip the odds of an uneventful sail in your favor? Show some patience and wait for the weather to settle down.

The first leg of our journey was a fine first taste. South to San Jose de Cabo we go. 800 nautical miles to the south and east down the Baja peninsula we head. For a brief while out on the first day there were whitecaps for a spell. Then dolphins came to play on our bows wake, crew was made merry by their sight. 

Entering Ensenada Spirit found her slip right off. We tied up, checked in with the harbormaster, took showers, made dinner and played backgammon. We were on our bunks to read soon after. 

From where we departed in San Diego we sailed east of the Coronados Islands. There are three. North, South and a third called Middle Ground. Charts indicate a sailing vessel may find use of the eastern leeward side of the islands to anchor.

Further south over the horizon Isla Todos Santos hosts pelagic birds, fishing boats and sailors headed north or south. Low and coming into view out of the mist, far off, will be on our starboard beam once we clear from Ensenada.

South of Ensenada it is 316 nautical miles to Turtle Bay. The Bay of San Quentin is more or less one hundred miles. We would make San Quentin in a day, Turtle Bay in two. Now set to sail Sunday we will make our next stop Turtle Bay.

The disintegrating remnants of Raymond continue to have us holding here in port. Fractional memory of geezers in these waters after much discussion agree none can recall an event of this kind at this time of year since forever. 

Our watermaker has malfunctioned. A solenoid (it is always an infernal solenoid) has given up after twenty years. Tomorrow an agent from Ensenada travels for business to San Diego and will return with the necessary German made replacement part. Our agent has a global entry pass making her trip less difficult. Our skipper has no such document and since there is no Rick’s here in Ensenada the agent will expedite getting the solenoid back to Ensenada.

Our Gulfstar 50 has a formidable engine room. There is also an electrical generator, inverter, watermaker, various types of water filtration, water pumps, water heaters and other assorted appliances. Our skipper spends his waking hours in the engine room. The Cummins turbo diesel is a worthy mechanics adversary. The King Kong sized alternator and the thick copper cables that transfer the electricity to the bank of batteries all look to be ready to light up Paris.  

We’ll cruise along at 7.5 knots with the motor spinning at 1700 RPM. Our Jeanneau, a much smaller boat, the diesel cruises at 2700 RPM. Still we are pushing a sailboat that weighs four times our boat and tips the scales at 41,000 lbs. That is a lot of guacamole.

Each boat comes with its own set of virtues and vices. For instance our smaller lighter sailboat, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 36.2 has many fewer systems and is built to thrive in much different forces of wind and sea. 

Because I do not have a complex system of inverters and generators I have much less complicated electrical system to maintain. I have no solar panels and no solar power regulators to maintain. Even a smaller, less complex sailboat needs tending. There are no free lunches in pursuit of coastal cruising.

While sailing is done by sail we use our auxiliary power to help us get in and out of our berths. With the motor running we can make electricity. While running the motor we store extra into our battery bank. When cruising we’ll run our motor each day to top off our two house batteries.

I am due to install a device that will monitor how much energy I have remaining stored. Until this year I have spent my years running the boat by intuition. You don’t want to rush into these upgrades and even more important “if the dang thing ain’t broke don’t mess with it.” This advice works for boats, marriages and marine electronics. Stand alert to truth sailor!

By now our time in Ensenada has stretched out to a length of time that the street vendors know us by name. For reasons I think are self evident many sailboats arrive and never leave.

We wish we knew why but a boat is much like a woman to a man and their coming and going is an inexplicable mystery so confounding as to halt speculation dead in its wake. 

Slacker dudes will find their lives ruined if they make a mistake of judgement and imagine they’re is something compatible with their lifestyle and going to sea. A slacker type will find the discipline of chores and maintenance something like living with your mother-in-law.  

What you want in the mariner that has taken leave of their senses and possession of a sailboat is an insatiable appetite for puttering. You’ll want to fuss over things. If a thing isn’t broken perhaps you may try to fix it before it breaks. Rebuilding your equipment ahead of schedule is a kind of pocket protector form of behavior.

Many great sailor have traveled the globe while spending the entire voyage either in the engine room or hunched over a workbench trying to bring some piece of machinery back to serviceable life. 

This is the way it has been, the way it is and the way it will always be. We don’t go to sea with the boat we want or the boat we go to sea with the tools we have and as we sail we discover along the way that there remain tools we still need.

bedazzled Soul Sellers

Buzzards Bay

Perfection will have to wait while we tinker with this experiment in self-governance.

Amazing isn’t it that the Office of Legal Counsel located at our Department of Justice has so foolishly slipped the reigns of self restraint from the jaws of our chief executive. Any quick back of the envelope calculation by a student of human nature would have figured that might be too risky a temptation, that eventually that elected executive would test this ill conceived memorandum.

Then, get this. Over in the Senate we can’t seem to find twenty-one Republican Senators in spite of being sworn with hand on Bible to protect and preserve the constitution. Am I being too petty?

Half my life ago I was being prepped for surgery by a nurse who would while shaving my body hair off of the very private so called surgical field try to calm me down. “Now, you can just relax, because young man in case you didn’t know, in my line of work,” she slowed way down, her enunciation was impeccable, she said, “I have seen everything, and by everything, I mean everything…”

If the constitution is going to prevail, if we are a nation of laws and not just at the whim of men we’re going to need every Democrat, both Independents and twenty-one Republican Senator’s to vote to halt this madness before all is lost.

Baker, Nevada

Sixty-eight citizens call Baker, Nevada home. Five miles from the entrance to Great Basin National Park makes this unincorporated corner of the universe a park visitor must-do experience- like it or not.

Nearest grocery stores are 56 miles west in Ely, pronounced E-Lee. Nearest saloon once you depart the two saloons in Baker is 8 miles distant. This is why for safety in dog days of winter the barkeep will open up for the other 67 citizens stuck in Baker due to inclement weather. This is a Nevada nowhere public service,  Lord knows it is not for profit.
In particular writers prefer as little distraction as Baker may provide. Due to the consumptive nature of writing 67 other stubborn desert dwellers is regarded to be a near maximum number when giving consideration to writer focusing dysfunction. Procrastinating writers if wired up to the grid could provide enough electricity to light São Paulo. 
This thistle of tennis shoe torment begs my revisit. Parking my escape vehicle just yonder of my threshold, mere steps from my four cords of wood, where I may fend off the ice demons, where I may plunge my fingers into immortality, where I may give chase to time, where the Bristlecone pines on Wheelers Peak landmark their longest living thing on earth defiantly, where geology sneers, and the gods bait our convictions.

Fallon, Nevada

Getting packed and out of town without a hitch wasn’t likely to begin with. Because of the sailboat, home renovation and general spirit of upheaval there were things that would go missing. Forget the vest and 12 volt cool chest so you know. Bitter pills to swallow. Success in low budget showmanship demands a vest. 
Near as I can tell I’m plenty far enough away from the maddening crowds. Wasn’t until I got 25 miles east of Carson City before I began to recognize the Nevada I know. Fallon, Nevada mixes things up 
Ukulele is upstairs. Fantasize and sports franchise   You might imagine how we can create a lyric about a sports franchise that doesn’t run off and leave Oakland for somebody else.
I’ll roll to Baker, Nevada and take a room.  Between here and there I’ll juggle, recite my new lines and investigate a few roadside curiosities while Great Basin high desert drifting.
Like mustang near everything in Nevada makes being here a disrupting proposition. Early man was here hunting 12,000 years ago. The terrain was more verdant, herds were larger, the animals were bigger. Most of what counts for size here is imagination. There were too few here back in that era and too many now.
Nevada in the warmer months hiking among the pinyon and then up near the tree line among the Bishop pines proffers a chance to run deep. Ancient trees holding on for dear life provide a “arboristic” mirror to your own clinging here on this hard rock. Let’s move out. We’ve some east to make good

Dealing with it

Galloping across the west this week. To San Francisco Monday in a downpour. Tonight to Burbank and back to Los Angeles Arts District apartment. Thursday to Palm Springs for hiking and soak at Sam’s Family Spa. Friday to Portland to meet our daughters new special guy. Saturday a meeting with street performing photographer Daniel Schulruff.

One liner’s are a daily process. Fragmentary nuggets for upcoming tour. Fort Collins, Colorado will be one stop for a few weeks while I practice my life work. Excited to show up throw it down do some shows self anointed and without asking permission. Street theater at its best.

I’ll bang out three a day for a few weeks. Sharpen the act. Best of all I can get most of this done in the shade out of the sun. Constant exposure to sunlight has not been kind to me after all these years of practicing this art.

In another week I will resume a very consistent workout schedule. Juggling, hand balancing and some cardio. More one liner’s to memorize. Add a few sound effects to closing routine and there you have it you now have a view of backstage.

Forty-seven years later I’m still quite capable of accounting for myself in the fine work that is sidewalk show. Simplicity itself. Pure as snow. Rejuvenating and utterly soul healing for audience and artist. See you out there on the street of dreams…

Cattlemen Association Chaining Pinion Pines

No Such Thing as Free Range

We’re blowing through this decade. I had expected more from time. I got this instead.

Doorbell rings…

“Who’s there?” 

“It’s me, 2020.”

“You mean like perfect vision twenty-twenty?”

“I mean like Mother Nature-Father Time.”

Go away…”

Only going to take about two years.

I’ve got an idea for a new villain. Going to pin some evil doing on cattlemen intent on cutting down more pinion pine trees to make way for more forage for their herds. 

Pine nuts sell for $40 a pound last time I checked. Steak sells for less, when consumed as directed puts users on a path for cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. 

Oldest Trees in the World are Located in Nevada

Got a pretty good rotten no good miserable group of folk that come hell or low water are intent on growing more meat and to do that want to clear out one of the most precious tree’s in the world. 

Range in Nevada is a tangle of confused interests. Government doles out grazing rights. Cattlemen bitch about their allotment. Federal land is in theory about multiple uses. Cattlemen believe otherwise.

I’d say I’ve got a pretty good villain. Stripping trees out of the landscape, cow pies everywhere, stubborn mind’s made-up don’t get in my way or I’ll carve your heart right out of the center of your chest and feed it to the vulture types wearing spurs and kicking an old Ford pickup truck around.

Hard not to laugh and cry at this tragedy of ranching overreach. 

That’s the plan. A comedy with a good rotten no good bottom feeding villainous bunch of free grazers running roughshod over the landscape.

Happy New Year

Tyranny’s Last Round

Hidden Figures
Traitors are Everywhere

The Spaghetti Western as stories go begs for a villain. Riding into town he climbs down off his saddle, pushes his way past a freckled faced boy, wraps his grubby hands around the mother’s waist kissing her against her will. The dastardly villain’s snicker trots into a menacing chuckle unhanding his victim only after fondling her breast.

Sergio Leone’s mastery of the tormented, the overlong close-up, in tight on the actors eyes, the swelling orchestration, Ennio Morricone moody-vengeful heartstrings, misconduct has been witnessed, order now must be restored.

In a confrontation one or the other character may not care what happens to the bystanders. Self-preservation can be a weakness, protection of the innocent a distraction. Best of all is to allow for our adversary enough rope to hang himself.

We have been waiting, until now our frail billionaire, if he is even that, has by incessant lying escaped the inevitable.

Fragile, petulant, quick to be psychologically wounded, his weaknesses are there for the world to see. The gleam on his allure dulls with time. Predictably he hits back at the least insult by returning all volley with a more squalid insult than the truth he has been forced to confront.

But, the counterpunching has made his challengers only more determined. Never the quitter, fighting to the metaphorical death, our villainous adversary deep within his fragile security system of an ego can’t admit the jig is nearly up. But, it is.

I am sure the blow to come will be a beauty, a real bolt out of the blue. We may not recognize that the punch has staggered our villain or that he is on the ropes groggy now and ready to take his inevitable fall for the count.

It’s coming. The agony his election has caused bares too great a burden on our democracy. Had he the sense to have moved to the middle, to govern as promised on the stump, not betray his own not so well to do conservative voters.

Our boorish occupant of the Oval Office has an entire opposition party, a significant fraction of deputized investigators, forensic accountants and members of the free press delving into his darkest corners. The great orange one will soon be vanquished, it is obvious. He might have had a happier life, but there was this one last skirt to chase, one more sovereign private part to grab. Nobody is above the law or more equal than a mistreated-innocent-involuntarily hit-on woman. I see the end to a movie that ought never to have been made.

Tyranny’s Last Ride

human folly rides again

Vulgarians of the East

Bay Bridge

Beauty as Bridge- Beast as Brute

Back East was once sufficiently far away. Arriving on the opposite coast by cannabis infused Volkswagen bus was enough sudden enlightenment for a few spare decades prior to now. I didn’t need to arrive since I had been born here in Oakland by bright pre-enlightened East Bay Area breeding stock.

A good shingle-sided two story in the Berkeley Hills, a rough idling Peugeot that needed brakes and willowy denim clad unshaven woman that didn’t need brakes was all the fashion, the rage, we were the famous coyote she sought to know horizontally.

Fog was customary, winters more or less arrived on the clock, as did spring and the fierce belief that parking tickets would as if by magic just go away.

Michael Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop arrived and remained. Lydia Pense fronting for Cold Blood replaced our Janis jones. Weekends were spent in Mendocino. Weekdays we toiled as little as least as was possible. The sun-washed deck at Sam’s in Tiburon for lunch an ache in our voracious appetite for lazily crafted cocktails. Before good booze there was strong booze. The hangover and squandering of wages and time we deluded ourselves into believing cost us next to nothing.

There were the years we had Jerry and the years we didn’t. There was a dot-com bubble, fern bar and the arrival and departure of the Fillmore to do. We did a lot of doing. Counterintuitively we altered the course of history first with Nixon and then Reagan. William F Buckley’s ruling class was rendered monosyllabic. There was only one word left- taxes. Education and science once identified as progressive ghettos have been squeezed by conservative tourniquet.

The summers in the Loire were splendid. Returning again and again to the crumbling ruins of our streets and bridges, what passes as infrastructure, the remains of our once great nations vaunted upward trajectory now frozen in squabbles between the have’s and have mores.

This and other circumstances we are no are longer in control of- take your pick- we have so many unsolved problems to ignore.

I am imagining the wildfires while inconvenient will eventually after incinerating most of the what remains of California will go away. On the other hand our nations capital inhabited now, whether you voted for him or not, all agree I should think it unanimous, the current man about town has proven to be a particular kind of billionaire. We have elected a vulgarian. Foul-mouthed, uncouth and loutish are terms that come to mind. Over sixty-million of our citizens thought it was time for a puppet preferred by Putin to follow the black man so that instead of solving some of our more pressing problems we could ferment the mother of all constitutional catastrophe’s to be triggered by the firing of this rumpled suited honcho with the last name Mueller.

This is that famous moment when we realize that this is the long spoken of hot water and we are all that unconscious amphibian resting in this pond of our own making as the temperatures rise. I’ll break it to you gently, whisper into your ear, as gently as I can, in case you didn’t yet know, just one word… it’s time to—  jump!

knocking it out of the park

There Really is a Better Way

Taking the New Normal for a Spin

Burned Out Four

Valley Fire 2015

Lake County, California

We flew south from Seattle to Burbank arriving over the Thomas Fire where the blaze had just crossed from Ventura into Santa Barbara County. Last summer’s dry season never came to an end. Instead this fall the Southland of California was treated to twenty degree above normal temperatures, low humidity and then the voluble Santa Ana winds.

Last nights flight down the coast was crystal clear, picture perfect. While cool in Seattle less average was the clear sky. Less than common still was the monolithic singular cloudless atmosphere witnessed the entire length of the west coast. As we approached Burbank after sunset we descended over the top of Los Padres National Forest. Looking down off the starboard side of the plane we could see flames approaching Carpentaria and further north near Montecito. The fire had in just twenty-four hours consumed another one-hundred-thousand acres with the most inhabited of those yet to be consumed acres in sight. Both densely populated communities are thickly canopied and in any other moment would be regarded as blessed with a handsome landscape. Not visible were the five thousand firefighters who had cut fire breaks. Standing along the break they braced to snuff out blowing embers that might escape from the national forest and ignite a blaze within the city limits of the two communities. Thousands had been order evacuated. The Department of Homeland Security had no answer to this terror threat.

There have always been wildfires, but there had always been a time of year associated with the fires. In decades before the present California had grown to near forty million citizens. In past times the wildfires happened out there in the wildlands far from the California car crazed maddened clogging crowds. An unintentional a price had come due for our obsessive horizontal sprawling real estate development. And as we all know Mother Nature bats last in the game called life. In this instance wildfire had come to speak about the risks homeowners take when locating their domicile adjacent to a tender dry fuel loaded landscape that with one accidental spark and aided by an ill-timed windstorm can ignite an inferno of unstoppable proportions.

My much loved daughter in Seattle and her partner have put off any thought of having children. Even at just twenty-five they’ve recognized and noted that the climate has changed, they know that the world is in trouble and the trouble that most concerns them is the trouble people make for the people who take climate change as a real and present threat. Stalemates are quaint even useful on a chessboard and existentially suicidal when played on the surface of the earth.

Puerto Rico is in super hurricane ruins, barely able to function, its electrical grid destroyed. Houston pounded by rains and floods- turned into a lake and now is mecca for slightly water damaged furniture. California not to be outdone has put on a wildfire show unlike any other. How we react, what we do, the planning and precautions we might take will tell us all we need to know about how smart, how intelligent, how adaptive and resilient our species is. Stalemate and gridlock might be a useful tactic in our nations capital but it won’t work here. If ever the world needed enlightened leadership now is that moment. If you are an optimist it is never too late, for the pessimists it already is, either way Mother Nature doesn’t care. Facts speak for themselves.

great tree

Piece of Reality Prior to Wildfire

 

Notes from Near the Last Page

Story on the Front Burner

Women of the Oak Savannah’s, my fourth novel has started and ended my day for what will soon be two years. I stand on the edge of the end of my work of seventy-five thousand carefully chosen words.

Hot Spring Honeymoon, my previous novel, a sexual farce was in the wheelhouse of my native mind. This current work descends into the politics and economics of a more ruthlessly ambitious place and people. The story is set in the idyllic pastoral Golden State splendor of the much overwhelmed Napa Valley.

I had gone to Calistoga looking for a story, and as wildfire and fate struck, I found a billionaire funded world renowned globalized tourist destination being crushed to enterprise death by an influx of people coming to lay claim to a piece of this once unspoiled earth that no longer can exist under the current circumstances.

Four hours east and much like Yosemite National Park an endless stream of automobiles crawl bumper to bumper into a preciously small overcrowded valley. The once vast and open American West has been corralled and branded. There are still empty places, still small wineries just not here. Here is not small. Here is not quiet. Here is a place in flux.

Makes for one hell of a story so long as you have the stomach for oak trees being cut down, groundwater being pumped dry, every agricultural chemical known to winegrowing being sprayed from north to south, east to west over every acre of arable land.

There are just too many of us and too few acres for them. That pretty much sums the plot up. Never intended to do a full double-twisting somersaulting tower dive into the realm of the American environmental literary greats. I didn’t mean to go all freaking Thoreau on you. No matter how much I never shave my chance of looking like John Muir is slim to nil to none.

So, here I am. I imagined at the beginning perhaps a quaint quasi-romantic Nancy Meyers bit of romantic fluff emerging  from the laboratory of my writing desk. No, not this time. Here we go up against the fat-cats and bulldozers, the multinationals and the overzealous entrepreneurial pterodactyls. I have set down in long fiction form a story about a pregnant woman with her whole life in front of her fighting to save what remains of a place she has come to love.

Next time a comedy….