Dozer, the bulldog

Dozer, the bulldog
Dozer: Spring training is upon us!

Caught in the headlights...

Caught in the headlights...
The author of Mark's Work, at the botanical gardens inFort Bragg...

Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks
Why I grow flowers

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.

HappyDay Farms bees are happy bees.
Brought to you in Three-Bee...

At the coast

At the coast
Love is the greatest power.

Beauty abounds!

Beauty abounds!
Tomatoes are what's up. Sooooo close...

If you've seen one butterfly, you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.

If you've seen one butterfly,  you've seen 'em all, said no one ever.
"You put your left foot out..."

July Jewels

July Jewels
Bees to the Kingdom

Bells of Ireland

Bells of Ireland
My first time growing these lovelies....

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

bellspringsmark@gmail.com

Saturday, December 31, 2016

And That's a Wrap, 2016

And That’s a Wrap, 2016.

For those happy to see 2016 in the rear-view mirror, I can only say that I understand your point of view. 2016 was a year that saw the most absurd political circus ever to perform on the national level. On the other hand, we also saw cannabis legalized in California, and witnessed history being made when the Chicago Cubs won their first world series in more than one hundred years.

I started off 2016 in a technological black hole, with access to my blog, inexplicably blocked. It was not until April that I was rescued by a master of the tech universe, a saga that I told when I first kick-started my well-rested blog, Mark’s Work, back to life with an interminable number of installments entitled Tech-for-Tots.

http://markyswrite.blogspot.com/2016/04/tech-for-tots-beginners-version-or-lost.html

I later determined that my blog had been kidnaped and held ransom in a pizza factory up in Eureka, coincidentally, next door to a cannabis dispensary. Sigh.

I also began the year in quasi-isolation here on the mountain, trimming full-time to stave off starvation. Winter 2015-16 was all on the 2015 side of the calendar, with November and December featuring extreme weather with vast quantities of rain.

This disparity of weather was never more evident than from March 1st onward, which is when I began to work the soil. The first time through is to simply de-rock and break up the clayish dirt, and then the second time, to mix in more rice hulls, plus all of the amendments we normally add to ensure vigorous health of our vegetables and cannabis. 

Though the temperature was often in the thirties, it was fairly dry and eminently user-friendly. My jerky shoulder, instead of being a whiny such-and-such, thrived with the four-six hours of daily exercise, the caveat being I never had to lift my right arm higher than my waist. 

HeadSodBuster and BossLady tied the knot in early March, down in The City, and then a few weeks later, BossLady headed back to Ohio to care for her seriously ill mama. Instead of things falling apart at the sudden loss of so much energy, the rest of us pulled together, and took on new and challenging roles.

For one thing, besides tilling the soil via pitchfork, I planted ornamental flowers everywhere down at my spot, because that is one thing BossLady is renowned for: her floral bouquets all summer/fall long. Gluten-Free Mama stepped up her game and took to the great outdoors, abandoning her full-time chef status, to work not only on-farm, but to do the Laytonville Farmers Market, as well.
Much love at Reggae on the River, 2016
Don’t get me wrong-she still cooked for us-it’s just that she now cooked for a much smaller crew, though keeping SmallBoy fed might come under the category of feeding a full crew…

Speaking of whom, the two of us worked the first cannabis farmers market down at Area 101, back in the spring, and got our baptism by fire. We were rocked the entire six hours with a steady barrage of pleased cannabis patients, who were only too interested to see just what that Black Lime was all about.

Altogether, I worked a total of seven cannabis markets in 2016, and if there were one person I could bring back from the other side, it would have been my father, Robert, whose penchant for flea markets and swap meets stretched over the last thirty years of his life.

BossLady was back East for close to three months, before returning, and when she did, we had a celebration of the big wedding, down at Turtle Creek Ranch, hosted by Swami and Nikki.

Summer flew by and before we knew it, August was upon us, along with Reggae on the River, 2016. I took on a bigger role in the backstage maintenance of the two volunteer kitchens, and plan to be on-site much more during the two weeks prior to ROTR, 2017. 

Together with the Emerald Cup, these two events have helped me immensely to overcome my fear of being amongst large crowds of people. If ever there were venues designed for this purpose, it would be events filled with people indulging in cannabis, the peace-maker of the all peacemakers.

If world leaders would simply gather around, and smoke a few bong rips of Ogre Berry crossed with OG Strawberry (Great Success!), I think the planet would become a different place, because there would be no more starvation, and no more war.

But what do I know?

[Editor’s note: One, two, three… Not much]

One thing I do know is that the highpoint of 2016 also occurred in August, when Gluten-Free Mama, diagnosed as Stage-IV, began an immunotherapy program in Sacramento, that has given all of us hope. Nothing more need be said except that the support structure has been as solid as Blue Rock.

Our summer was busy, productive and brought us a beautiful harvest, one that Gluten-Free Mama took upon herself, to continue providing Laytonville with fresh produce, well after the original stopping date of September 30th.

Our Great Success (Ogre Berry crossed with OG Strawberry) placed 11th in the flowers category at The Emerald Cup, a few weeks ago, down at the fairgrounds in Sonoma County. This recognition of our medicinal cannabis has been most rewarding, proving what family and hard work can achieve.

After an agonizing baseball season, with a glaring hole in the bullpen, the San Francisco Giants deferred to the Cubs, and vowed to rectify the matter. Enter Mark Melancon and bring on spring training.
NO! NOT ME! I'm not the lout; I am the author of Mark's Work.
And yes, a rude, vulgar lout of a human being, dishonest, racist, misogynistic, inhumane, greedy and narcissistic, was elected by a confused populace and a hopelessly antiquated electoral system. He was helped by the Russians.

While alarming, this should be a short-lived arrangement, with corruption so prevalent, the stench is sickening. 

The list of cherished celebrities who passed in 2016, defies explanation, except to say that they will be missed. It is also a reminder to tell loved ones how important they are, and give them more hugs than you used to. Lots more because love is the greatest power.

You know it; I know it. And if our leaders would pass a tray of dark chocolate edibles around the next time they get together for a barbecue, they would know it too.

Much love, 2016, but now it’s time to meet a new friend, 2017, one that will go up in history, as opposed to down, as a year when love overcame hate, and became the style of the decade.

Happy New Year!













Friday, December 30, 2016

Finally

David Fahrenthold, a true American

Finally

Like millions of disenfranchised Americans, I have been waiting. I have been biding my time while the fraudulently-elected president has been whirling around like a toddler in a candy store, incapable of resisting any single lolly pop in the shop. One morning, I keep telling myself, we are going to wake up, and find this nightmare has ended.

Conflicts of interest with his personal life, his professional life, his kids’ lives and his wife’s life, all dominate the scene, with $$’s  being the pervasive subject at hand. Money flows like water after the snow has melted, and that is patently not what our forefathers had in mind, when it comes to leading our country.

With President Obama’s announcement that he has taken sanctions against Russia, we now have additional reason to believe that Trump collaborated with the Russians, to rig the just-completed election.

All it takes, I keep clamoring to myself, is one individual, somewhere along the line, who follows a thread and pins something on this buffoon that cannot be ignored. Or at least Trump can ignore it, but one judge, somewhere, is going to put his or her foot down, right on Trump’s neck, and the rest of him is going to end up in jail.

David Fahrenthold, a reporter for the Washington Post, is such a man and he is my hero. Reminiscent of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, Fahrenthold not only uncovered specific instances of Trump’s illegal activity, he utilized twitter on a national level, to help track down the necessary evidence to finally end the charade.

Fahrenthold, a reporter with the Post since 2000, began his lengthy saga in February, when he took note that a check presented to a veterans group for $100, 000, originating from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, also had the slogan of Trump’s Presidential Campaign on it: Make America Great Again.

When asked by Fahrenthold, Trump said he had raised $6 million at a fund raiser, including $1 million of his own money, and that he was going to donate the money to various charities along the route of his campaign.

Using Twitter, Fahrenthold started tweeting other veterans groups searching for Trump’s money, knowing that Trump would see this activity. It worked and began a series of direct communiques between Trump and Fahrenthold. It would seem that matters were not going well for the orange one when he concluded one phone call by asserting, “You know, you’re a nasty guy,” Trump told Fahrenhold, “You’re a really nasty guy.”
Trump now wears a new mask: that of a crook

Ultimately, after the reporter had delved deeply into the charity work, all he could account for was $1.1 million of the original six, and not a penny from Trump himself. This is strike one.

Having uncovered current wrongdoing in the Trump Foundation’s activities, Fahrenthold started digging deeper, going back to the 1980’s and beginning a Twitter search of the ages. His logic was that if Trump would pilfer almost $5 million while the national spotlight was on him, how much would he have stolen when there was no spotlight?

Specifically, the reporter examined old news clippings detailing Trump’s public statements, and compared them to tax filings from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. The two sources of information told two very different tales.

From the breaking story of December 29th, I quote, “In the news clippings you could see that Trump had repeatedly made public promises to donate to charity. In the 1980s, for instance, Trump had promised to give away $4 million from sales of his book “The Art of the Deal.” In more recent years, he said he would give away $2.5 million he made off “The Apprentice.” And donated the profits from Trump University. All told the pledges in those news clips made it seem that Trump had given away more than $12 million.

In more recent clippings, in fact, Trump’s presidential campaign staff said his actual giving had been far higher than that: ‘tens of millions” over his lifetime.

The state’s records showed something else.
Narcissistic, arrogant bully

They showed the Trump Foundation-which Trump had set up to give away his own money-had received only a total of $5.5 million from Trump since 1987.”

Having been informed by Allen Weisselberg, the chief officer of Trump’s business, that the missing money had been given to other charities, but that they did not want to make them public because then it “caused a feeding frenzy” amongst others, the reporter started digging again.

He tweeted charities most likely to be targeted by the Trump Foundation, and started asking about contributions. He stopped after he had contacted 325 separate and distinct organizations and groups, without having found evidence of a single contribution.

In the years between 2009 and 2015, he could find only one example of money being donated: less than $10,000 to the Police Athletic League of New Your City.

That is a lot of missing money. Strike two.

The third damning piece of evidence against Trump, is that he used Trump Foundation money to purchase personal items, specifically two portraits of himself. The first was painted at a charity gala by a “speed painter,” who was entertainment at the affair, and the second was painted by Miami artist Havi Schanz.

In his attempt to track down the portraits, Fahrenhold’s twitter followers grew from 4,000 to more than 60,000, as he tried to discover the eventual whereabouts of the two portraits. Finally, he located the second one, a four-foot-high picture, on the wall of a Trump resort in Florida.
Your ego brought you down, just as we knew it would.

Trump used $20,000 of Trump Foundation money to buy and hang a portrait of himself, on the wall of one of his resorts.

Strike three.

The man, in addition to being a racist, misogynistic, homophobic, inhumane bully, is also a criminal.


It is at least a fifteen-minute read, but it is fascinating, as true investigative thrillers always are, and it is the cement straw that will break this camel’s back. 

And take the monkey off the back of America.




Thursday, December 29, 2016

As the Dryer Spins

As the Dryer Spins

My knowledge of celebrities is so limited, I was unaware that Debbie Reynolds was Carrie Fisher’s mother, but I am deeply moved by the passing of two such iconic personalities. Like Carrie Fisher, I am right up front about my mental deficiencies, if that is indeed, what my mania is.

Deficiency? Believe me, there is plenty to go around, in my world. Yesterday’s nineteen-hour affair, was a carbon-copy [And a carbon is what, specifically?] of many other of my days, in that arising between midnight and one in the morning, and fighting for seven o’clock on the other end of the spectrum, makes for a long day.

I wasn’t up for more than an hour, yesterday morning, before I had begun an innocuous little piece on Emma, one of the farm dogs. I love writing about dogs because they are the least complicated critters on earth, if you are willing to give them the one thing they crave: unwavering affection.

They want to be talked to, they want to have their ears scratched, and if they are like Dozer, they will be in ecstasy if you give them a butt scratch, massaging your fingers into their back thighs and upper back, places where bulldog nails can’t reach.

That loppy one-toothed grin on Dozer’s mug, is all I need to see to know that I have achieved success in the butt-scratching department.

With a family gathering in Willits, beginning early in the afternoon, HeadSodBuster and I got started on our four-hour chunk of remodeling, a half-hour earlier than we had been commencing, at seven-thirty. I mean, by that time I had already been up for seven hours, more or less. We were patching in some long-overdue sections of interior siding, and getting it ready to mud. 

We were also completing the trim and staining/painting of the interior of the room, and my participation had been limited to four or five hours a day. Much of the work requires that I use my jenky right shoulder, but that is why cannabis was invented, say I.

As a mood spectrum mediator, cannabis brings me down from the high of being manic, or what amounts to being so wide awake, you feel as though you have just had two 20 oz. lattes, with double shots each.

And then you put on the water for your first real cup of coffee.

For good measure this morning, I savored one of the few remaining chocolate squares that came in an assortment of edibles from the Emerald Cup. They had been presented to HappyDay Farms, and then bestowed upon me, by HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy, who both know I have a thing for edibles.

It’s hard to explain but they bring me up.

Mania, bong rip, coffee, edibles, headphones, darkness, wood-fire, bong rip, lemon ogre, social media, headlamp, six hours, Stephenson’s “Kidnaped,” Carrie Fisher’s passing, Leader Malproddunt, social injustice, bong rip, greed, success, much love, politics, Social Security rip-off…they all tumble around in the dryer of my mind, like that television rerun that you have already seen, but can’t drag your eyes away from now.

As the dryer spins, I arbitrarily open the door, and the first subject that tumbles out, is the one I write about. I keep a file of a dozen or so prepared-but-unwritten pieces in my head, ready to be transferred onto “paper,” as soon as I have determined exactly which one I want to bleat on about.


Job security!

What Carrie Fisher did is reveal that she was not the invincible warrior that she had portrayed in the Star Wars series. She told the world she was bipolar, and that she was not afraid to share that information with the universe.

Instead of criticizing and scorning her, the world embraced her, and effectively removed much of the stigma of being mentally ill. After all, if Carrie Fisher were not afraid to come out and admit it, or even if she were, having mental issues was nothing to be ashamed of, just as having cancer is nothing to be ashamed of.

Like millions of others, I mourn the passing of Ms Fisher, and her mother, but unlike millions of these folks, I have a greater motivation to appreciate what the Princess did because of the bond we shared. If one person reading this feels even a tiny bit better for knowing that I am also mentally deficient, then I will have accomplished what Carrie Fisher did. 

I mean, if you are going to be certifiably bat-shit crazy, it’s nice to be in the same company with the likes of Carrie Fisher.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Emma, the Dog

Emma, the Dog

Emma the dog is a Great Dane/Louisiana Catahoula mix, weighing in around 110 pounds, or maybe 120; I have never tried to pick her up. Most folks are not fans of Emma because, well, she barks a lot and her face is about level with a car window, so opening that vehicle door requires a great deal of courage and resolve. 
I'm not doin' nothin'...

I liken it to the scene in “Jurassic Park,” when the face of that tyrannosaurus rex appears in the back windshield, with those teeth, and the occupants inside simply freeze. When you show up here on-farm, sometimes your only hope is that either HeadSodBuster or BossLady will come out and tell Emma to chill out. 

The thing is, as any dog person knows, Emma is just a big softie who happens to look and sound scary. OK, terrifying. Is that her fault? It’s hard for that heart of gold to shine forth, when she is on duty, even if the inevitable result is that people fear for their lives. 

Most folks instinctively reach out a hand, as if to say, “Nice doggie! Here, take a sniff and see that there is nothing to worry about me, except my own palpable fear.” Emma immediately reacts as if saying, “Why are you sticking out your hand out at me? Why aren’t you ignoring me, at which time I will stop barking, and go back to napping?”

I say, “How can you fear a dog that has the most endearing trait of racing past me, and in doing so, has the grace and agility to sandwich in those formidable teeth of hers [Gulp…] one of my wrists, in its entirety, as she flashes by, without leaving so much as a slobber on my skin?”
Missy Emma

As light as a butterfly, with the capacity to sting like a wild boar. 

That’s our Emma, who first arrived as a pup and already was as big as Savannah Mae, our Catahoula that we ended up sending to a farm in Washington State, because Savannah Mae had the most disturbing habit of killing our chickens.

Funny how that works because Emma had that problem early on, until one of her victims was fastened to her collar for three days. She figured it out.

Something else she has figured out, is that if she can restrain herself and not bark, she is welcome in my house, at night, when HeadSodBuster and BossLady are not on the mountain. Since we feed her when they are gone, and we already have Dozer and Clancy here, it is no big deal.

Emma is so appreciative, she never makes a sound, and will express her gratitude, by lying at my feet as I type, and placing her head on one of my sandaled feet. Again, being a dog person myself, and knowing how hyper Emma can be, this is a cool development.
Uh, yeah. Clancy, feeling pertty comfy, I'd say

When we are fortunate enough to have SmallBoy’s dog Large Marge here too, that makes four dogs in the house at once, and one feisty Toby the cat, who enjoys tormenting Margie endlessly. Bottom line is that Margie is a guest, and Toby can be a pest, and of the two, the Tobester will get the bootsky every time.

Emma is a farm dog, and as such, lacks some of the refinement of say, Dozer, but she has come a long way. Since I have never been a horse person, she is the biggest critter I have ever had this close of a friendship with, and I like it a lot.
Large Marge, "Party-Hearty-Margie"

It’s the same feeling I had when I got to know Charlie, BenJamMan and Harley’s German Shepherd, who recently and unexpectedly went to where all good dogs go when they leave this world. She will never be forgotten.

Emma is a good dog and one who has taken her place in my heart, alongside a now-sizable list of other dogs, who have occupied a similar niche in my soul.

Niche? My dog niche is more like a gymnasium.

Four dogs and just me? What, only four? Toby...
 
I will not stalk my guests
while they are eating...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In Defiance of Science

In Defiance of Science

Appointing Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency is the same as installing Jeffrey Dahmer as headmaster of the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, except that Dahmer has killed his last victim, whereas Pruitt is still alive to create environmental genocide.

Continuing the pattern of heinous appointments to his Cabinet of Hate, or Cabin-Hate, as I prefer to refer to it, Leader Malproddunt selected the former Oklahoma governor, and notorious EPA basher, to head up the agency which is supposed to safeguard and guarantee us, clean air and clean water.
Leader Malproddunt, himself

Regardless of which column it lands in, this face-splat constitutes lunacy, piracy and arrogance, all rolled into one complete package. This is not about finding a cool job for a homie; no, this is Malproddunt standing with his back to America, dropping his ample trousers, and bending over at the waist.

“Take that, anyone who has the audacity to stand up to me, and get ready for more.”

Hey, Sarah (Don’t call me vapid) Palin, as head of the VA, makes no sense whatsoever but veterans are expendable anyway, in the eyes of the Republican Party, so who cares? The earth, however, should be the priority of everyone, especially our “elected” leaders, regardless of how fraudulent the “election” was.

After seeing white supremacist Steve (White is Right) Bannon appointed to Malproddunt’s Cabin-hate, along with Jeff Sessions, who feels that there is nothing illegal about Leader Malproddunt’s penchant for “grabbing-pussy-because-I-can” approach, nothing should shock me.

This, however, has provided 110 volts.

During his tenure as highest elected official in Oklahoma, Pruitt joined several other states in suing the EPA over its Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and factories. Pruitt has also sued the EPA, along with officials from other states, over its plan to regulate the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions.

There is such an obvious conflict of interest, that to suggest that Pruitt is capable of serving objectively, is to suggest that we who are watching carefully, are morons. I am not a moron.

I am perfectly capable of seeing that the new administration has as one of its primary goals, the dismantling of Obama’s environmental and climate legacy, and I am not going to stand still and allow it to happen. My grandchildren will thank me, some day, long after I am gone and my ashes are spread amongst the manzanita trees on my property.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said the appointment is “like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.”

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “Scott Pruitt has built his political career by trying to undermine EPA’s mission of environmental protection. He is a deeply troubling choice to head the agency that protects the clean air all Americans breathe and the clean water we drink.”

Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, added, “Over the past five years, Pruitt has used his position as Oklahoma’s top prosecutor to sue the EPA in a series of attempts to deny Americans the benefits of reducing mercury, arsenic, and other toxins from the air we breathe; cutting smog that can cause asthma attacks; and protecting our wetlands and streams.”

Naomi Orestes, professor of the history of science, Harvard University, finally nailed it down when she said, “Carbon dioxide is a pollutant, and has been acknowledged by policy-makers since the 1960’s. Climate change caused by carbon dioxide is now causing measurable harms. Mr. Pruitt, in defiance of science, economics and the Supreme Court, proposes to put the interests of the oil and gas industry over the interests of the American people. We all believe in freedom, but as the philosopher Isaiah Berlin noted, freedom for wolves means death for lambs. Right now it looks like a lot of lambs are about to be slaughtered.”

There you have it: In “defiance of science,” and the proposal “to put the interests of the oil and gas industry over the interests of the American people,” are two reasons why Scott Pruitt shouldn’t be in charge of a gas station, let alone the EPA.

That and the fact that one percent of the population in the country, has accumulated more wealth than the other 99 percent, are reasons why Leader Malproddunt must be stopped. He’s not my president and never will be, so the sooner some judge halts this maniac the sooner we can start to pick up the pieces.
The Republican Party when it comes to elders

The earth falling to pieces does not concern the Republican Party, as much as the pursuit of money. To quote Charles Dickens, in reference to Ebenezer Scrooge, they are a "squeezing, wrenching grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous” unit, “as hard and sharp as flint," and have no awareness, let alone care, for the slaughter of the lambs.

As long as the lambs are seasoned with mint and garlic.














Monday, December 26, 2016

Sauerbraten

Sauerbraten


Sauerbraten (sour brotten) sure tastes better than it sounds, which is why it made it onto the menu Christmas Day, along with a duck. Considering the marinading process began last Tuesday, and only culminated with the roasting of the beef, Sunday afternoon, I am here to tell you, it was succulent.

We always discuss the Christmas Day menu months in advance, going right back to our first Christmas together, in 1981. There have even been some years when we followed a theme, such as that of a Dickensian Christmas, complete with goose and plum pudding.

We ordered the goose from the small meat market in Willits, the name of which slips my mind, probably because it was not I who placed the order. We all know who that was, the maestro behind the feasts here on-farm, that we all take for granted, Gluten-Free Mama.

Does the term “food coma” strike a cord with anyone?
In the beginning...

Christmas Day was darn near outdone by Christmas Eve’s tamale-fest, complete with pork, chicken, or veggie tamales. They were accompanied by Mexican-styled rice and pinto beans, simmered all day Friday so as to be able to further absorb the spices in the fridge overnight. 

Yo quiero tamales! Me gustan los tamales, todos los días del ano!

But if I had tamales every day of my life, I would not have been as excited about the sauerbraten, the German dish I had implored Gluten-Free Mama to prepare, starting last September. It’s not that she was opposed so much as we were just mulling it over, much the way the crushed ginger snaps, onions and assorted spices mulled things over in the Dutch Oven, after mulling things over in the marinade for five days. 

What an explosion of unique flavors, with a vinegary, tangy taste that leaves one’s taste buds clamoring for your attention. I poured the gravy that GF-Mama made over everything: beef, duck, tiny potatoes, gluten-free flat noodles, and roasted cabbage, a German feast fit for a king.

This was not a dish that was served on Fellowship Street, down in SoCal where I was brought up, but my father started expanding his cooking horizons, when he moved up here on the mountain, in 1977. GF Mama has vivid memories of Robert preparing this dish for us and the boys, when they were small.

My father loved that the boys never showed up at his table, without flexing their appetites, and it didn’t matter what was served. So with as much tender, tasty beef, with mashed potatoes and probably banana squash, the boys would have been in Paradise, with Grandpa beaming.

There would most likely be freshly baked cherry or apple pie for dessert.
Into the Dutch oven

HeadSodBuster and SmallBoy were here yesterday, with BossLady back in Ohio to be with her mama and her grandma for Christmas. While the sauerbraten was roasting, we were watching films on TV. I was also in the same room, but was more focused on the occasion and my jigsaw puzzle, than I was on the television.

I had recorded many of the selections for exactly this type of gathering, and was satisfied that they served their purpose. The name of the game was “take a break,” and we all wore varsity sweaters.

Ryan and Caveman from FUBAR Farms joined us, being too far away from immediate family, and accepting our invitation as extended family, which certainly describes Ryan. Though I was only meeting Caveman for the first time, he seemed a gentle and appreciative soul, and we were happy to have provided the venue that we did.

We basked in the knowledge that though there were numerous challenges this past year, we not only met them head-on, we managed to garner eleventh place in the Emerald Cup for our “Great Success.”

As John Prine sang, “Memories-they can’t be boughten-they can’t be won at carnivals for free,,,”














Sunday, December 25, 2016

'Twas the Morning of Christmas



'Twas the Morning of Christmas

’Twas the morning of Christmas, and all through the house,
The only thing stirring was a wee, little mouse.
We’ve tried all we know to get rid of those pests, 
But they just shake their whiskers, and insist they’re our guests.

So on Christmas Eve when the fat man arrives,
The mice all sing carols while exchanging high fives.
An air of festivity fills the night sky,
And naturally makes one want to get high.

When Santa swung by here-he’s not been gone long,
His sole intent was to hammer the bong.
He scarfed all the cookies but eschewed the cold milk, 
“This Strawberry Lemonade is smoother than silk,”

He said with a smile and a hearty ho-ho, 
“I do think it’s time that I had one more bowl.”
So he hit “Great Success,” and when he was done,
He said that the Ogre was surely the one.

I had to agree with his final conclusion 
The stuff gives my brain a sure-fire contusion.
One that I find has the right combination,
Of blueberry goodness for our celebration.

On Christmas Day-we’ve some beef and a duck, 
And if there’s no snow, we’ll call it good luck.
Snow may not bother the dude with the beard,
But the rest of us here, know the snow must be cleared.

Before we can leave our mountain behind,
To go into town and replenish the wine.
Whether it’s red or it’s white, whatever is clever,
That will help me get on with my merry endeavor:

Which is to bid Merry Christmas to all whom I know,
May your day be superior and all your stress low,
Even if your family is flipping its wig, 
Grab the bong and soon find, you'll be dancing a jig.

This may not have been our very best year,
With politics making me cry in my beer,
But for one day at least, I’ll put it aside,
And try to forget that something has died:

Here in our country where freedom once rang,
Instead of a cashbox and the sound of a bang,
As the door to our freedoms has swung tightly shut,
All because of a narcissist butt.

The good news for me, at least on this day,
Is that I had the foresight to ferret away,
One last Bhang chocolate bar of delight, 
To help me stay mellow long into the night…

Merry Christmas!

  





Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Year Christmas Stood Still

The Year Christmas Stood Still

My “military career” was distinguished by its highs and lows, but there was no point during my tenure as a war monger, that stands out more vividly than the year Christmas “marked time.” For those uninitiated in the lingo of the service, marking time means to march in place, to make no forward progress, and generally refers to a negative experience.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as my family, in a collective effort to support my participation in an unwanted two-year stint with Uncle Sugar, delayed Christmas from December 25th, 1972, until January 8th, a cool two weeks of the tree remaining in place, with the gifts still beneath it, and the decorations still reflecting the fact that yule-tide spirit abounded.

I was scheduled for leave after being in Ascom, Korea, for seven months, during which time I spoke with family members back home a total of one time. Use of the phone in 1972 for overseas calls, was prohibitively expensive. Considering that only three months before I entered the army, the rate of pay was still $90.00 per month, a phone call would have represented a serious chunk of my pay.

On the other hand, no one in the 199th received more mail than I did, because I wrote home a lot.

[I cleared just over $300.00 per month as a member of the US Army.]
Mark? Sorry, that's Clark...

Of course, I had no idea that this was the plan; I only knew that I was coming “back to the world” for thirty days. But turnabout being fair play, I outdid my family when it came to surprises, because I altered my set of orders to read “January 5th” instead of January 8th, and rolled into town three days earlier than expected.

I used the word “altered” because “forged” has such negative connotations. I mean, what difference did it make to the Mean Green Machine whether I vacated the building on Monday, January 8th, or Friday, January 5th, (after business hours), approximately 72 hours earlier. After all, if I could not manipulate white-out and a xerox machine to my advantage, what was the use of working in a personnel service company?

On the flip side of the coin, to me, those stolen hours were the sweeter for knowing that I would get my full thirty days of freedom, in Cali, instead of having to spend ten percent of it traveling.

How DID I travel? I stuck my thumb out and hitch-hiked. When you traveled in your dress greens back in those days, and you had “valid” orders, you could go into any military base, and travel anywhere there were planes heading, free of charge, if there was room. It was called, military standby, and it served me well.

It was SOP (standard operating procedures) to leave a copy of your orders with the individual at the boarding desk, but I did not want to leave any copies of my forged orders hanging out, to catch up with me down the line. When I was asked, I was apologized profusely, blaming my lack of extra orders on a company clerk, who had a brain the size of a chicken’s.

I got away with it.
Seriously, could this man actually "forge" orders?
With that smile?

I flew from Osan Air base, in South Korea, to Yokota Air Base, in Tokyo, Japan. From there, it was a direct flight to Travis Air Base in NorCal. $15.00 bought me a ticket to LA International, where ironically, I paid five bucks to take a cab the five blocks to my brothers’ apartment in Manchester. 

I probably did not stroll in on them like Clark Gable, and if you believe that, I have some real estate available for you-cheap-about forty miles west of Laytonville.

Finding that Christmas Day had been delayed, was the icing on the Christmas coffee cake, that was also delayed, being served only on the Big Day itself. We had the traditional turkey dinner, with all of the trimmings, and I was in Paradise.

There was even Mama’s fruit cake, which I actually loved.

The entire experience defies duplication, because for my folks and eight brothers and sisters, to delay their celebration of such an iconic day in our lives, was epic, and I have never forgotten it.

I have even stopped having nightmares about the MP’s coming after me…


Rare photo of "Markie"....

Friday, December 23, 2016

Truckload of Krylon Paint

Truckload of Krylon Paint

The chasm between what is right and good in this country, and the reality of the hatred that is spewing forth from the fraudulently elected president, widens daily. The Cabinet of Hate being assembled by leader Malproddunt exudes contempt and arrogance, towards a huge percentage of United States citizens, making a mockery of our Constitution.

If you are not caucasian, if you are gay, or if you happen to be a woman, your basic human rights are in jeopardy. How that is possible in a country which guarantees freedom for all of its inhabitants, defies explanation to a rationale mind.
If one truckload is good, then 101 truckloads must be better...

Unfortunately, rationality has been shoved aside by greed, avarice and narcissism, as one by one, the Jeff Sessions and Steve Bannon selections take on more and more sinister implications, and they are all white. There is no attempt to conceal Malproddunt’s agenda, one of racism, misogyny, homophobia and worst of all, the attempt to inflict on its citizens, another heaping helping of Christian, Right Wing, religious bullshit.

At the rate I am going, I will be registering as a non-christian, a Muslim and in general, a dirty, commie, pinko, perverted, hippie agitator type, guaranteed to still be marching, even if I am confined to a wheelchair. I will hold my crutch high aloft in opposition to hatred.
Did I leave any out?

Though I am opposed to hatred in all forms, I do, in fact, hate haters. On the other hand, if you spew poison around me, at a person who does not measure up to your personal standards, of what constitutes a human being, then I will ream you a new anus aperture, that will make a manhole cover look like a cherry lifesaver.

If I ever find myself in a public venue, where another individual is being verbally assaulted for being fill-in-the-blank, I have a plan of attack and it goes like this: I will immediately approach the person being verbally assaulted, and engage that person in conversation.

It matters not what is being discussed, just that there is another person present, who will not give one iota of energy to hatred. Talk about Christmas decorations, ask about plans, wax on about the Raiders being in the upcoming football playoffs, anything to build up a wall to deflect antagonism and hatred.

If there is no one to display emotion in the face of an attack, the air goes out of the sails real quick-like, making the assaulter appear like the dick he or she is.
Take this, Steve Bannon.

I can’t help that a white supremacist has been appointed to the Cabinet of Hate, just as I can’t help a creep who thinks it’s OK to put his sleazy hand on a woman’s vagina, will soon be our attorney general. This is a man who used to think the KKK was pretty cool, until he found out they smoked pot.

No, I can’t help what brand of hatred is being touted by the new administration, this particular day; all I can do is ensure that I personally will never allow it to carry over into my space. 

My world is the polar opposite, no pun intended on the “polar” reference, because I am immersed in a world of love. In my world love is the greatest power.

My world is one in which that sentiment is not only expressed in words, all around me everyday, but it is demonstrated through actions too. Folks go out of their way to help others out. Diversity is not only OK, it is highly desirable. Children are taught to value cultural differences because that is how we grow and expand as a culture.
Just like the Third Reich, only new and improved! 

The current regime, The Fourth Reich, would repress this diversity, cull out the “imperfect” amongst us, according to their agenda of hate, and advocate cleansing. Let’s get this whitewash party going, with all brushes front and center.


You want white? You will face an uphill battle because I just ordered me a truckload of rainbow-colored, brown and black Krylon paint, and I know how to use it.

So does everyone around me.
Drain the swamp? Liar.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

A World of Hurt



A World of Hurt
At a protest in Eureka
or
Be the First One on Your Block

We will be amongst those expressing our First Amendment Rights, during the Women’s March on Sacramento, January 21st of this upcoming year. This event will coincide with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C., on the same date, and countless other protests in major cities throughout our country.


I am no stranger to protest, having gone to high school through the late sixties, and graduated in June of 1970, four weeks after the Kent State Four were gunned down during a protest march against the Vietnam War. 

Country Joe’s immortal line springs to mind, “Be the first one on your block, to have your boy [kid] come home in a box.” Only, that was supposed to refer to the Nam, not Kent State.
Outside the hootch

My friend and current San Dimas City Councilman, John Ebiner, wore a black armband during our senior year of high school, in support of Cesar Chavez and the farm workers, who were battling to establish rights in both the grape and lettuce industries.

John and I were classmates for ten years, from third grade through twelfth grades, attending parochial schools under the firm guidance of the priests and nuns, but nothing prevented him from seeing clearly enough as a seventeen-year-old, just what had to be done.

I was not there yet, but by the time the Big Green Machine had released its twenty-one-month hold on me, and I was up in NorCal, attending San Jose State, I had my head on considerably straighter. 

Vietnam was over. I know so because when I was in Seoul, Korea, just a quick hop over from the Nam, ten thousand returning G.I.’s were funneled through our base at Yongsan, in early 1973, we in the 199th Personnel Service Company handling their paperwork.

We were gathered together by the colonel, himself, and warned that if we “f**ked with these dudes, we would end up in a world of hurt.” The returning Nam vets were some gnarly looking specimens.
Aside from finance, the most
powerful company in Korea.

As a student at San Jose State University, from 1974-82, I was able to see protest in action, every semester along the way. Students for A Democratic Society (SDS) and the Black Power movement commanded the most attention, but our campus was the venue for countless other social causes, and the student union was a lively place to be, 24/7.

After commuting from the south end of San Jose to the university, the first year I attended, I moved across town and took up residence right across the street from the library there at SJSU, for a total of three years. I may have had an apartment across the street, but I lived on campus.

I actually attended classes for two full years as an undeclared major, and settled for a degree in Humanities, in December of 1979, nine years after I began at California Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly). Of course, there were those two pesky years of military service, having been snagged in the lottery the last year it functioned. 

Had I staved off entry for even six months, the nightmare would never have taken place. But I did serve and I emerged transformed from the experience, after have hung out with college grads my whole “military career,” who had been snatched up by the War Machine, the second they stepped down off the stage from graduation.

I liked their kind.

When I got out, all I wanted to do was to immerse myself in the world of education, and sail. After a lackadaisical approach at Cal Poly, prior to serving (a resounding 1.67 GPA over three quarters of full-time college work), I was infused with a fervor.

I never missed a class and I rocked a 4.0 GPA, passionately pursuing the classes recommended by “The Tower List,” a publication based on student polls and opinions. If a class was a hit in the Tower List, it was sure to be worth my time.
My apartment in Seoul, Korea, 1973

Eventually it all melded into a degree in Humanities, with a minor in English. I only got the Minor in English, after noticing that I had taken twelve classes in that domain, without realizing it. Four were centered on the study of Old English, One on Chaucer (Middle English) and four on Shakespeare (Surprise!), which is, of course, Modern English. The rest involved writing, another shocker.

During my long stay as a professional student, including two years of Masters work prior to relocating to the northernmost part of Mendocino County, here on our ridge top, I saw a lot of student unrest; it was part of the culture. 

Then, in 1991, I watched as middle school students from my first homeroom, ever, marched out of class and uptown to protest the involvement in the Middle East.

On November 10th of this year,  I watched once again, as students voiced protest when many left the campus of Ukiah High School, where my son Ben teaches, protesting the election of leader Malproddunt. 

So yes, protest has become necessary again, one difference being that there is not unity amongst us. The Women’s March on Sacramento’s statement of purpose goes like this: “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families-recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

That part about our safety, our health and our children, all resonated with me because of the fanatic about to assume the role of President of this country, a position formally reserved for only those with the highest level of integrity.

There are those of us around who remember-and cheered-the removal from office, of the most powerful man on Earth, Richard M. Nixon, because he lied. We held our leaders accountable for their actions in those days. Not so much now, or so we would not have supporters of leader Malproddunt.

All it means is that we have to be more vigorous in our efforts to establish that the rights of our grandchildren, must take precedence of the rights of a few rich people, to resume an open war on the few remaining resources, out tired Earth-Mother still has to offer.

Oh, and their stranglehold on the 42.5 million “food-challenged” people, in calendar year 2015.

That shit has got to go.

People starving, while the Walton family has accumulated wealth equivalent to the lower 43% of the American people. The Republican Party, bless its pointy white hats, is the domestic terrorist force behind this continued travesty.

We have got to make a statement, in Sacramento, in conjunction with all of the other protests: We stand in solidarity. Millions of seriously pissed off women, with the men alongside them, ought to represent a formidable force, one able to inflict “a world of hurt” upon any clown in high office, who acts as though no one is watching. 
Not watching the appointment of white supremacists to the Cabinet of Hate? Not watching an individual who has no connection with-or to-public education, being appointed to head that chair? Not noticing that a twisted creep like Jeff Sessions is appointed as attorney general, a guy who does not feel that grabbing a woman by her genitals, constitutes sexual assault.

In his world it apparently does not. 

And Vapid Sarah, as head of the VA? Gross me out and gag me with a spoon.

No, the time to voice our disgust for what is happening, and our unwillingness to allow it to do so, is now, and the vehicle is in place. We are personally going over to Sacramento on the 20th, and returning here to Mendo County on the 22nd.

There are others from our area also going, and we will inevitably end up together. I can’t imagine anything more powerful than marching alongside others from my community, who agree with my views on leader Malproddunt.

He is a sham, a charlatan and a perverted example of what a real American leader is, and we are going to send the message that he is not going to get away with destroying the home of our grandchildren.

I am here to tell you that Leader Malproddunt has no idea of what “a world of hurt” may look like, and how many people it will involve, but we are going to give him a sneak preview: me, and a few of my friends, in Sacramento, on January 21st.

See you there.