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, October 28, 2015

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

The week of Halloween is a most awkward time for me because I am not a Halloween kind of guy. I want to be, I see everyone else planning their costumes for a month in advance, and I know that there will be a number of gatherings from which to select, were I to choose to be a part of it.

It really doesn’t have anything to do with choice, though, because the core of my unenthusiastic approach has been ingrained in me since age ten, when I came under the grip of panic attack syndrome, a malady of which I have fortunately been able to rid myself recently.

I have prattled on enough about the ramifications of anxiety issues, that I need not go further into detail, except to note that the source of my anxiety when it comes to Halloween, is the fact that I am still dramatically impacted, negatively, by the entire genre of horror movies or any kind of creepy visual material.

A huge component is the fact that one thing that used to trigger panic attacks was the unexpected. Well, not coincidentally, scary movies thrive on the unexpected-it gets the adrenalin flowing. I found out long ago, while encountering difficulty with conventional social functions, that Halloween parties exacerbate my anxiety issues twofold, simply because when I do not know who is behind the mask, I panic.

Ironically, my teaching partner back in the day, Mr. Poulton, was completely absorbed by the autumn holiday, so we did the annual Halloween party at the middle school. It helped immensely that Annie is also a Halloween enthusiast, so that helped balance my lack of knowledge or experience in these matters.

The haunted house we set up the first year I taught was off-the-charts cool, even if I was unable to appreciate the finer points myself.

Now as I scroll on face/book, so many folks are engaged in preparations for the 31st, it is apparent this will be an especially exciting Halloween, what with the bright moon and it being Saturday night and all. 

I trust everyone will have a most enjoyable Halloween, just as I will myself, except that I will be home ensconced in front of the television set. 

Fortunately for me, there is a World Series game on between the Mets and the Royals.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tweak Your Oblique? Don't Freak!

Tweak Your Oblique?  Don’t Freak!

Call it cannabis, reefer, pot, marijuana, ganja, grass, happy smoke, or the ever-popular devil’s weed, this plant has an infinite capacity for healing and benevolence that Corporate America refuses to acknowledge. On a daily basis, I benefit from cannabis in its many forms, in a variety of ways.

I have used cannabis as a mood stabilizer most of my adult life. I was unaware of the underlying reasons for my use, but it has always been a way to keep my mania at bay. As ironic as it sounds, getting high keeps me from being high. Besides, the reality is that my indulgence is not so much for the getting high, as merely maintaining the appropriate level of THC in my body. 

Upon the extremely rare instance of me taking a header under the blankets/pillows for the depressive side of bipolarism, cannabis obviously brings me up and gradually out of my funk. Unlike many who suffer from depression, my bouts always have a trigger so it’s not quite so arbitrary. Regardless, cannabis is ultimately going to be my ticket out of the dark.

I wear sandals because I don’t like the feeling of confinement created by shoes. Consequently, my heels and the balls of my feet develop cracks and fissures that make those of the Grand Canyon, look like finger-nail scratches, if I do not apply Amber's cannabis salve on a daily basis.

If I begin in the early spring to apply the salve every day, I never develop the cracks in the first place. If they are already so advanced, that the pain resonates out from the depths of the heel, making it almost impossible to walk, the salve goes to work immediately as far as pain relief, and over the course of the next month or so, not only heels the cracks, but returns my heel(s) to full health.

I had reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder in 2004, because I took it too far one weekend in hauling a tree out of a ravine. My labrum, which is the socket that houses my arm, developed a series of chips in it, and if I raise my right arm suddenly up in the air now, it will come out of its socket and ride the rim.

It takes some excruciating maneuvering to get it back in place, but hey, that’s just old-dude stuff, no big deal, ferris wheel, and all of that. The result is the kind of discomfort that most of America would reach for pain-relief, of a prescriptive nature. 

I turn to Amber’s tincture for the simple reason that even if I got down on my knees and groveled, the VA will simply say, No way, Jose. Amber recommended that I take a single dropper of the fiery substance, but I have found that for me, it’s more like three of the droppers, which coincidentally is also a teaspoonful. 

It goes right into the center of the “discomfort” and washes over the raw edges with a cloak of soothing cool. I hesitate to use the word pain, because if I were to admit to myself that something was painful every time I experienced discomfort, I would be a sniveling little such-and-such. Pain? Nah, that’s just a little discomfort.

I use the tincture for those deep aches and discomforts that afflict my lower back, or when I jolt my oblique. I hurt in originally in 1987, when I finished up one job and was so intent on moving to the next job site, I took my filled tool box, and heaved it with my left arm up and over the side of my truck.

I felt as though I had been pierced to the core with an icepick.

Yet I was committed to go help a dear friend haul plant material down from the top of a mountain, to keep his trimmers supplied, and I could not  “call in sick.” The first two or three twenty-minute round trips, hauling a huge bag of wet cannabis down the mountain, were agonizing.

I ingested as much of the product I was carrying, as possible, and still be able to walk, and went about my business ignoring the discomfort. A funny thing happened over the next hour: The discomfort gradually faded and I subsequently have found over the past 28 years that every time I tweak that oblique, I simply keep moving and hit the cannabis.

Poison oak, heat rashes, dry skin, sunburn, insect bites, cracked skin, especially from working with either concrete or dirt, are all prime examples of what I use cannabis for, on a daily basis. 

My sweetest of Apple Blossoms, who is a private person and does not like to be the subject of my public writing, will not mind my sharing one pertinent detail. She began juicing cannabis immediately upon being diagnosed with first kidney cancer, and then thyroid cancer, three years and change ago. 

Two years ago, nodules formed on her lungs and grew rapidly before they were noted and recorded in a full-body scan. She began taking Amber’s CBD tincture right away and her oncologist upped the frequency of the body scans from once every six months, to once every four months. The very next time she had one of those scans, the progress of the growth of the nodules had been arrested; there was no advance.

The nodules have continued to remain inactive. If I were not already a convert to the church of cannabis, this divine intervention in the growth of a frightening specter in our lives, would have me in the river, ready to dunk my head. 

I recently became aware of a man who was around the same age as my sons, who had two young daughters and a supportive wife, and was afflicted with seizures. This individual was a firefighter/EMT by trade and had to give it up. 

His doctors did what they could in terms of monitoring and medicating him, but they had no definitive answers. A mutual acquaintance appealed to me and HappyDay Farms to see if there was a way that some CBD oil could be obtained for this person.

The end result is that this man’s life has been transformed. His access to the oil extracted from the cannabis has allowed him to do things that he had been incapable of doing for quite some time.
With all of the work that Hezekiah, Casey, Lito and Amber have done in the past eighteen months or more, to get the California Growers Association up and running, it is appropriate that we start educating those who are not aware, that cannabis is the source of a vast wealth of medicinal cures for countless issues.

So many uses for both physical and mental problems have been documented, that it is nothing short of a miracle. For me personally, every day that cannabis continues to fight the disease which is trying to slow down my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms, is one more day that I resonate with appreciation and gratitude for this gentle giant of a plant.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Plenty to Say, but Nothing to Add

When I first began blogging back in 2011, I wrote a half-dozen or so pieces centered on the Church of the Eternal Bleacher.  Here is the inaugural piece. I now found this to be a handy tool for delving into the sordid Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada fiasco and have done so with this piece of writing.

Plenty To Say, but Nothing to Add

In the name of Buster, MadBum and One Hunter Percent, now and forever, you’re SAFE! 

Welcome to the Church of the Eternal Bleacher, all southpaws welcome.

With the annual elimination of the Los Angeles Dodgers from the playoffs having taken place, the time has arrived for The Church of the Eternal Bleacher to reconvene, for the purpose of conducting an on-the-field examination of the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada debacle. This is not a trial, per se, to determine guilt or innocence, so much as an analysis of the incident to allow for resolution of three unanswered questions.

The old-school slide that Utley employed, broke Tejada’s fibula and sent him off the field and out of the playoffs, so the first question that looms would be, Is Chase Utley guilty of anything other than being an old-school baseball player? 

Secondly, was his slide “dirty,” with the resulting injury to Ruben Tejada, solely on the shoulders of Utley? If so, then what?

The third question is, should the rule covering this specific scenario be revisited, a la the Buster Posey rule?

The Church of the Eternal Bleacher is not here cast aspersions on Chase Utley or the team for whom he currently plays, which is why San Francisco Giants fans have been excluded from all proceedings. Though among the best fans the baseball world knows, they do take matters involving their rival from the south quite seriously, and can understandably be expected to be biased.

We are graced with the presence of many of today’s stars, some of whom will voice an opinion during the following proceedings. A committee comprised of members from The Church of the Eternal Bleacher, will ultimately render a decision, which will endeavor to include appropriate responses to the three questions posed above.

Let’s play ball, beginning with the question of whether Utley is guilty of anything more than playing good, old-fashioned, hard-nosed ball.

According to Derek Jeter, who has spent a minute or two at shortstop, “...if you watch video from years ago, that kind of stuff happened. It’s nasty. It’s tough when it knocks a guy out like that, especially in the playoffs.” Utley’s teammate, Howie Kendrick, had this to say, “It’s baseball. He probably did slide late. It’s kind of unfortunate the guy ended up hurt...” 

Kind of unfortunate”...That phrase is one of those which hits the grass and keeps on bouncing, ricocheting around the bullpen area, as fielders chase it fruitlessly...

When asked his opinion, Chipper Jones intoned, “That was not a slide; that is not how you ‘go in hard.’” Utley himself says he did not realize that Tejada had his back to him, until it was too late, to which I call, “Baloney.” 

Utley has the play unfolding in front of him; he sees Tejada taking the throw and sweeping to one side of the basepath, and he has been around long enough to know there is no time for Tejada to make the 180 degree turn. It’s all about the willingness to start the slide after he had passed second base, and the fact that a man got injured unnecessarily.  

Justin Turner weighed in with this, “Everyone knows how hard Chase plays the game and [he] did what everyone would do going hard to break up the double play...” Turner, a teammate by the way, dabbles in a bit of hyperbole here, when he says “everyone.” That is blatantly incorrect.

So was Utley’s slide “dirty?” The Dodger organization evidently thought not, as it issued a statement that read, in part, “The Dodgers stand behind Chase Utley and his decision to appeal the suspension issue by Major League Baseball.”

There is the school of thought which says the slide was wrong simply because a man got hurt, but there is also that which dictates that the guy playing the position has got to know the risks that accompany his turf. In fact on September 24th, 2010, an almost identical play took place while Utley still played for the Phillies and Tejada was already on the Mets.

The difference between the two plays is that Tejada got his feet out of the way the first time, and was therefore not injured when he was dumped to the ground. Nonetheless, having been upended once already playing against the same player, it would have behooved Tejada to get out of the way, simply because Utley’s actions matched his reputation. Forewarned is forearmed.

In handing down the penalty of two games’ suspension, Joe Torre called the slide illegal. Torre said upon a complete examination of the play he concluded Utley’s slide merited punishment. Torre said it was up to the umpire on the field at the time of the play, to make the judgment call, but that he was not blaming the umpiring crew for the controversy.

All Joe Torre seemed to want was to not have his star players hurting one another. Because the umpiring crew for the game in question did not see fit to penalize Utley, Torre did not do so, either.

Sitting in the back of the room, with plenty to say but nothing to add, was Marco Scutaro, who has played only a handful of games since his debilitating encounter with Matt Holliday during the 2012 National League Championship Series, which the Giants ended up winning, four games to three.

Should the rule be amended? 

I don’t know; shall we put the question to Scutaro and Tejada?

I am not surprised that it took the Church of the Eternal Bleacher committee less time to reach consensus on the three questions, than it takes Yasiel Puig to strike out, which he did in three of his six plate appearances during the 2015 playoffs, ending with a batting average of .000.

To answer the first question, the committee ruled that Chase Utley was guilty of being nothing other than an old-school ballplayer, except maybe also being an oaf. Secondly, yes, his slide was dirty but according to an outdated code, Utley can not be held accountable, legally. 

Finally, whereas one might have hoped that a rule change was not imperative, it is apparent that as long as there are those willing to play the game with no regard for the safety of others, that something will have to be implemented. 

In conclusion virtue is its own reward, and vice versa. Karma is a cruel mistress, praise Buddha for that, and the team from LA got exactly what was coming to it. No one is suggesting that Chase Utley deliberately caused Ruben Tejada’s injury, but his reckless play did exactly that, and the Dodgers paid the appropriate price, praise Buddha for that.

The baseball gods are alive and kicking...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Full-Stream Ahead!

Full-Stream Ahead!

If you are planning an outing to the Willits Waste Management Facility , you had best have your act together, or face the wrath of the Dump Deputies. I thought I was prepared; I thought I was on the right ramp; I thought I was doing the right thing, as I spilled my contractor bag’s paper contents into the humongous bin, but I was wrong. Oh, was I so wrong.

It was 9:02 AM on a Friday morning recently, when Annie backed up our little pickup to the base of the ramp leading up to two colossal recycling bins. The one on the right had a sign which read, “Cardboard Only” while the one on the left read, “Plastic, Tin, Full Stream” and nothing else. Glass went into different bins.

Not seeing a sign specifically for paper, I erroneously assumed that paper went into the “cardboard only” bin, an assumption which seems to prove the old adage, “Never assume; you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.’” 

There were two men on the walkway above who had been observing me as I had climbed the ramp, seemingly engaged in not much of anything. They were dressed in those stylish blue coveralls that service folks always seem to wear, with identifying industry names stitched somewhere on the front.

The one with the black bushy mustache and piercing black eyes to match his voice, had bellowed out, “Good morning!” to which I had responded, “The top of the morning to you!” while hoisting my cargo of paper up and over the rim. I was careful to hang on tightly to the plastic bag because those two “enforcement personnel” were paying meticulous attention to me, and I knew that the plastic bag did not belong in the bin. Neither did the paper, apparently.


I have a masters in English but comprehension would appear to be the issue.

There being no one else to whom the inquiry could be aimed but me, I responded, “Yes, I can,” and waited expectantly for the hammer to fall. 


It’s a good thing there was still a couple of yards between us so that I was able to avoid the spray. Is this a trick question? Here’s your sign... He just saw me dump the paper in. I guess “cardboard only” means... Let’s see how egotistical these guys want to get.

“Because I thought it was the right bin? My bad. Obviously it’s not. I am abjectly apologetic for the transgression.”

“THE SIGN SAYS ‘CARDBOARD ONLY.’ Why did you put paper in the cardboard only bin?”

“Because I thought it was the right one?” I asked innocently. “Where I normally dump my recycling, all paper goods go in the same bin, whether it’s paper or cardboard,” I explained. While accurate, it still sounded lame.

Why do I think this is not going to suffice? This guy’s just getting revved up...

The bellicose one stalked past me, positioning me between himself and the second of the two attendants, and pointed authoritatively at the sign which read, well, you know what it read. “Here is the sign. Does it say anywhere on here that paper is OK to dump into THIS bin?” His eyes were bulging, his face was mottled and he was in his element.

I stood on tip-toe and peered over the top of the bin and down into it; it was empty except for what I had just dumped in. “Would you like me to retrieve the paper?” I asked sincerely, though that would certainly not have been possible.

The indignant one looked as though I had punched him. “No, that will not be necessary.”

How nice for me. At 63 I do not have to acquire wings to be able to fly any higher than I normally do.

“I just do NOT understand how you could have made that mistake,” he flamed on.

Take me out and have me shot, already. What does this guy want?

“Yes, I understand that you are having a difficult time this morning. Let me help you out. I see this sign which reads cardboard only. I see this sign which reads tin, plastic, and nothing else. Where is the sign for paper?”

Pompously he thrust a finger out at the phrase, Full-Stream. “What do you think that means?”

What it usually means, Bub, not that it’s any of your concern, is that I am having a conversation with my doctor, so shut the...never mind. I had rocketed from annoyed to enraged in a nano-second.


And I left, taking the rest of my truckload of recycling to a different facility, one that did not include employees who felt it necessary to harangue customers, especially ones who may not be as familiar with the lingo of the dump as he should be.

I composed an email to the company in question, explaining the situation that had occurred, but I did not get a response. I wasn’t expecting the heads of the two miscreants on a platter, but I was hoping for some assurance that it was not the company’s official policy to berate senior citizens. It’s a good thing I did not hold my breath waiting.

Meanwhile, I recognize that this incident does not paint a picture of a guy (me) who appears in total control of his faculties, but it was an honest mistake. I am probably the only adult in California who does not know what the term “full-stream” means in the lexicon of the dump, but that does not make me a criminal.

On the other hand, I’d rather appear out of my element when talking about control of his faculties, because of an unfamiliar phrase, than have control of my faculties questioned, because I felt it necessary to chastise customers of the company for which I worked, in an aggressive and intimidating manner.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Get Offended-Not When You Can Get Snarky

Thou Shalt Not Get Offended-
Not When You Can Get Snarky

I spend my share of time with my nose buried in a book, face/book that is, and as a result I occasionally get my cage rattled. I have an eclectic assortment of friends, most of whom are actually my friends, so I know I will see a vast chasm between opposing points of view, on a wealth of contemporary subjects.

The rule on face/book is that you are not supposed to get offended. Whereas that is an auspicious goal, it is blatantly impossible. What the rule actually says is, if you can read between the lines (which are at least ten yards apart), go ahead and get offended but skip the drama.

Some of the stuff that gets posted is so outrageous that I want to call the poster on it immediately, but I know there is a protocol. I can simply scroll by (SOP), I can do the polite, distant, “I’m afraid we must agree to disagree on this matter. Sniff,” or I can lambaste the post.

However, I am here to inform you there is a fourth approach, one which I seem to be favoring these days: I can be snarky. One who is snarky employs a light approach, one which could come under the category of sarcasm, but one which allows the commenter to go for the jugular under the guise of humor.

Take all of the spate of pro-gun posts after the most recent installment of Sandy Hook Revisited, Part Ad Nausea. Please. Whereas I want to scream obscenities at those who sanctimoniously keep clamoring for THEIR Second Amendment rights, I recognize that is probably not the smartest strategy when dealing with gun advocates. 

However, when it comes to arming teachers and posts that advocate open carry weapons, I am finding it impossible to resist taking the snarky route to express a counter-perspective. For the one which advocates students be armed, I respond with something along the lines of, “Excellent idea! That should reduce bullying on campus. ‘Go ahead, Kid, make my day.’”

Satire is a perfectly acceptable literary device, especially when it is misconstrued. All I require is one yahoo to take one of my “snarkettes” seriously, to make all of the other readers realize how extreme the perspective in question actually is.

I mean, no one hates bullies more than I do, but blowing them away, regardless of how downright satisfying it might make one feel, is definitively frowned upon.

Another favorite is the anti-Obama posts. Kind, normally rational and coherent individuals, go off the deep end and hammer our President unmercifully. I don’t get it but I must admit that those who maintain this is nothing short of racism, have a point. Why else are the posts so derogatory? 

One can criticize the President without denigrating him, but in doing so, they show their contempt. That puts a different slant on things, and one which has a fetid stench attached.

I like face/book because there is such a wide array of opinions, and I realize that I will not change anyone’s mind, but I might change someone’s attitude with my weak attempts at humor. It’s hard to stay mad if you are smiling.

Everyone has the right to post personal opinions; each of us has the right to oppose the views presented. It’s how one goes about the business of doing so, that makes the experience either pleasant or otherwise.

Bottom line: Feed Markie malarky and see him get snarky.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Anything but Water

Anything but Water

I am embarrassed to admit that I am a recent convert to the religion of water, it having taken me more than sixty years into my life’s journey, to discover what so many others already know: Water is not just important-water is essential.

It astounds me that I could have had so little awareness of the needs of my body, that I would have ignored water for so long. I mean, if I was thirsty-really thirsty-I would chug the stuff. Otherwise, I preferred in no particular order, coffee, diet soda, apple juice, sports drinks, almond milk, bottled iced teas, mocha coffees, whatever I could find that would satiate my thirst that did not involve drinking water.

I remember explaining to Annie once that water gave me indigestion. I have no idea from what perspective I was coming. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I routinely use water when I find a headache coming on, when I get any kind of unhealthy craving, or when I think I am hungry, when it has only been a couple of hours since I had a normal meal.

I start my day inordinately early, generally between two and three in the A of M. I sip one piping hot cup of coffee slowly, savoring it, and then I down 18 ounces of room temperature water, fresh from our spring. I used to be abhorred by the idea of drinking water so early, but that is because I never tried it and I never realized how much benefit I derive from it. I then indulge in a second cup of coffee, but that’s it-two cups.

I drink a minimum of six liters of water per day-never less than that. For so long I repelled the idea of following this course of action because I was afraid I might as well take up permanent residence in the bathroom. A good night for me is only three trips to use the facilities. A bad night sees me up once an hour.

Any thought I had to going the six-liters-per-day route, was tempered by the knowledge that I would pay the price that night. Unfortunately, that “knowledge” was erroneous. The way it works is that one’s body develops accordingly, expanding the bladder to accommodate the additional liquid, and allowing me to seek sleep without the kind of repetitive trips to the bathroom that I had feared.

I have, however, found a direct connection between those frequent trips to the bathroom at night, and the amount of coffee that I drink. Coffee stays inside me and creates that need to get up hourly, if I have three of fours cups or add a latte on top of a couple of cups. The less coffee I drink, the fewer times I need to get up at night.

Now I drink nothing but my two cups of coffee in the morning and vast unlimited quantities of water. I have never been much of a beef-eater, because I have always had difficulty digesting it. Well, duh. If one does not consume enough water, one’s digestive system is going to encounter technical difficulties, as a matter of course. Elementary, My dear Watson, except that if it isn’t elementary, how do you find out? 

Guess and by golly, I suppose, as it took me more than sixty years. The funny thing is, though, that now I have reached this stage, I will never go back to the other stuff. I mean, diet soda? That stuff is so toxic, you can use it to clean your toilet bowl. And the sugar from much of the other stuff is laden with toxic components, if you care at all what you put into your body.

Water makes the world go round, and a lot of other things too. I am late to the party but I figure better late than never.

Think about it-how much water do you drink every day, and when do you drink your first glass?