Dozer, the Bulldog

Dozer, the Bulldog
Feeling the "Bern"

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
No time for gates...

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
My cooking assistant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother


38 years on this mountain, come May 31st...



Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby


Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

My first portrait

My first portrait
"Mr. Farmer"

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Outlook Isn't Stellar for the San Francisco Giants- Poetry

                                       The Outlook Isn't Stellar for the San Francisco Giants

The outlook isn’t stellar for the San Francisco Giants. I’m no freakin’ genius and this isn’t rocket science.
We have a dozen games to play, with three against LA; We’re going to need to win them all to make it all the way.

The division crown is what we need, the wild card won’t do, ‘Cause when you hit the playoffs, ONE game is four too few. 
The Dodgers have it going right now, they’re at that magic spot; The Orange and Black must strike-not out-but while the anvil’s hot.

Posey has amped up his pace-we’ve seen his act before. He’s led us to a pair of crowns; the pedal’s to the floor.
Pence is still the preacher man and Sandoval don’t stammer; The former is inspiring, the latter wields the hammer.

Now the first of two big series has gone the Dodgers’ way; It wasn’t what we had in mind, there’s nothing much to say.
But come next week we’ll meet again, down in the smoggy city, And if we can’t get ‘em back, all the more’s the pity.

Jake’s lined up to pitch this time-he is a Dodger killer; His win/loss mark against the Bums makes him a Giant pillar.
MadBum goes on Tuesday night-he is the starting ace-And Hudson throws the final game, trying to save face.

Tim got rocked so hard last time-he lasted just one plus-That now he has a real bad need to prove himself to us.
He’s never had a losing year; you know that says a lot. So don’t expect that Tim is done; he’ll show us what he’s got.

The season series, tied at eight, is just one element, Though winning two instead of three is only just a dent.
San Francisco needs all three; of that there is no doubt. With timely pitching close at hand, we need offensive clout.

Zack was hot and shut us out; maybe try some bunting. With speed at hand and practice too it could make for good hunting.
Get the rabbits on the paths and bring the big bats on; Home runs are not necessary but Man, they sure are fun.

Clayton Kershaw is the best, we say with certain candor. It’s funny that I’ve heard that tune back with Justin Verlander.
We listened to the things they said, “The best on all the planet,” But when the Panda finished up, the Tigers just said, “Damnit.”

A walk, a bunt, a hit batsman, and we’ll have things a going, Especially with the new kids here and backups really rolling.
Small ball works just fine for us, and Blanco likes the extra, So when we load the bases now, get ready and I’ll text ya.

Experience the Giants have; they know the script by heart. Seventeen of them were there and buddy that’s a start.
The playoffs are the time they thrive; the team plateaus together
And overcomes adversity so we can add a feather.

So put aside your negatives and just remember this: The Giants have stood back before and stared at the abyss.
But when the fog had lifted and we saw what had occurred, We found ourselves in cruise control, ahead of all the herd.

To win it all is no small feat; it takes all twenty-five; The schedule is so grueling that they’re barely left alive.
But if it were so easy that just any team could do it, We’d all let out a boring yawn and say, “There’s nothing to it.” 

Battling adversity, along the path is healthy, Especially if it also means the uniforms get filthy.
Complacency in MLB is not the way to go; Hunger drives the Giants-they’re ready for the show.

Some teams have got the grit it takes to overcome bad luck, Instead of simply giving up and saying, “What the heck?”
The Giants are the kind of team that knows just what to do, When October is upon us and the lot are just a few.

The pitching rises to the cause-the bats follow right along. Before you know what’s happening, we’re singing Journey songs.
Parading down the City streets, drinking at O’Leary’s-Once again the Orange and Black has won the World Series.

Friday, September 5, 2014

All That Would Fall Apart

All That Would Fall Apart

I celebrated my sixty-second birthday yesterday and spent it canning tomatoes, about the most enjoyable thing I can think of to do on one’s birthday, because I was surrounded by family and we did a lot of laughing. The contrast between yesterday, one of the best birthdays I have ever experienced, and my birthday two years ago, without question the lowest point of my life, is stark.

Two years ago in August is when our family was rocked with the knowledge that Annie had kidney cancer, she had a tumor the size of a softball that had to be removed, along with one of her kidneys, and she needed to get a place in Willits to be near her health-care provider. The surgery was scheduled, she was leaving after dinner on my birthday for San Francisco, in the company of her daughters-in-law, and I had to stay at home to tend the home fires.

I had never felt so desolate in my life. Even spending sixteen months, 7,000 miles away from home while in the army, did not compare. As is the custom in our home, I got to choose my birthday dinner, but it was like being a condemned prisoner eating his last meal. I had no interest in food but I did not want to hurt Annie’s feelings. So I ate.

I felt as though I were a high-rise and that a good portion of my substructure had crumbled, allowing me to move about sluggishly, as if in a daze, but unwilling to show on the exterior that I was not up to handling my end of the arrangement. I would be maintaining the home front, including critters, garden and all that would fall apart if no one were there to care for it.

And I would be trying not to fall apart myself, after having spent from earlier that year in March, through August, undergoing intense cognitive therapy, to try and get a handle on my mood spectrum disorder. Annie was my coach and my mentor, having done her homework and guided me through the process. Now, when I needed my coach the most to help me cope with this life crisis, not only was she not there, she was in critical danger of never returning.

I would love to say that I have little memory of that bleak period of time during which Annie was in the hospital in San Francisco and then recuperating and trying to get back on her feet, but unfortunately, I remember it vividly. I still shudder to think of it. I remember cleaning the house from top to bottom, and then doing it again, more deeply and thoroughly.  And when I finally finished the second time, I started on it again.

I did not write; I did not feel. I just functioned, operating on automatic pilot, going through the motions, waiting. Annie, who had never been sick in her life, who walked for exercise daily all those years we lived on the ridge and who was so health-conscious, had cancer.

Now, two years later, battling not only kidney cancer but thyroid cancer as well, Annie never stops. She is preserving her relishes, salsas, sauces, peppers et al; she is cooking for the farm crew’s big midday meal, two or three times a week; she is working endlessly on all matters pertaining to Relay for Life, all-year-round; and she is fighting the battle of her life and holding her own.

We traveled down to San Francisco on Wednesday, the day before my birthday, so Annie could see her thyroid doctor.  It was a two-thirty in the afternoon appointment, and we were reasonably certain that it would be a long ride home. We were an hour and fifteen minutes early because we always leave early to account for traffic and road construction delays so we checked into the office.

Amazingly, Annie’s doctor, knowing we come from Mendo, whisked her in, conducted the consultation, and got us out of there by two. The commute home was a breeze, we stopped at Star’s in Ukiah for a pleasant meal and we were home by six. Talk about lucky.
Well, yesterday’s birthday dinner of barbecued tri-tip, with corn on the cob, still in the husks, string beans and zucchini also on the barbie, a green salad, and the two biggest rainbow tomatoes I have ever seen, was stellar. My productivity yesterday, plowing through eight heaping lugs of tomatoes, coming up with a forty-quart stockpot filled to the max with sauce and enjoying the company of Annie and the family is what yesterday was all about.
Sure, I’ll talk about lucky. Anyone who has ever spent two minutes with Annie knows, that I am the luckiest man in the world.