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

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Good Lord, but it was a shit-show, what with one to two inches of rain having already been dumped on Santa Rosa between ten and four, Sunday at the Emerald Cup. Our booth inside one of the huge white tents had been “taking on water” since noon, and the level had risen four inches from then until seven o’clock that night. The water that BossLady had suggested might fall from the ceiling of the huge tent, had found a different entry point.
Early on. "Houston? Y'all keep an eye on us, hear?"
First, the inch-and-a-half-thick mats already in place started to gradually slip under the surface, leaving all of us in the booth with water starting to slosh over the mats. A crew brought in a second set of mats and scattered them intermittently on top of the first ones. It took no more than five minutes before I accomplished the feat of sidling to the left, just far enough to step right into an inch-and-a-half of water.

As me father used to say, “I zigged when I should have zagged.” 

Was there weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from booth members at this calamity? Not so's you'd notice. Rumor has it that cannabis was indeed smoked, helping immeasurably, but I would know nothing about that. 

But, I mean, is nothing sacred? We were at a cannabis festival and we weren’t allowed to indulge? 

Our mindset-water or no water-was, “Another day in Paradise.” As I liked to say, “We implored the gods for rain, and they listened. Am I going to complain about the delivery method? What’s a little water here and there, among friends?”

The reality was that by seven, the water had risen high enough to also cover the second layer of mats, one result being that all of our boxes, crates, bags, backpacks and tuppies stored beneath the counter, were sitting in standing water, or was that standing in sitting water? Whichever, we had already stuck what pieces of wood we had beneath the cardboard boxes, and then watched helplessly as the water rose above those chunks.

Clearly within our view. Shout-out to irony!
The booth itself must have been set up in a low spot, because the area beneath our feet had it way worse than any other part of the tent within our view. In the long run, though, the entire tent was not far behind the pace we had set, and patrons of the fair were left making their way along the soggy pathways as best they could. 

These were the adventurous folks who had journeyed out in furious winds and rain to begin with; at least now they were under cover. By itself this speaks volumes to the popularity of the event.

The other Emerald Cups I have worked, HappyDay Farms has closed the booth down when foot traffic came to a halt, and headed out to either dinner or music, or both. We took the essentials with us but left everything else behind in the booth, neatly organized and covered beneath the counter.

My own plan had been to bail out at seven, just as I had done Saturday night, and take a cab back to our spot. I was not going to pause to grab something to eat, I wasn’t going to go check out the other sites and I wasn’t hitting up the music. 

Wait for it: Just like that, my bail-out plan got overturned (I was going to say “trumped” but, you know…) by another bail-out plan, this one taking precedence. As Gluten-Free mama likes to remind me, after having her own memory nudged, “We make plans while God laughs at us.”

Folks I think of as family, dropping by.
BossLady provided the alternate bail-out order. After examining the big picture, she had determined that the fun inside the booth had to end, as all good things must. There was no hint of this being a hint. 

“I’ve got a lift on the way; I’ll be back with the Subi as soon as I can. You guys can have this stuff ready by the time I get back,” were her instructions.

Turning to me, she asked if I wanted a ride back to the house in her lift, for which I was grateful. It felt warm and fuzzy to be given the option to bail out, if that was what was better for me. “Leave?" I asked her. "And let these guys have all the fun? No way, but you’ll never know how much I appreciate the offer.”

May I be candid here? My initial thought at leaving Sunday night was, “Are you out of your fucking mind?” but I restrained myself, not being interested in drawing back a stump. After all, the directive did originate from BossLady and as HeadSodBuster pointed out, one could argue until blue in the face, but one always capitulates. 

When he said it, he had been mumbling almost inaudibly, while shuffling from one foot to the other, and back. Leaning forward I caught his words. “It don’t pay to argue with BossLady. First of all, don’t do no good. Second,” and this was even harder to hear, “She’s always right.” 

Well, that was easy enough! We were now united as one, three men on a mission. I might have said “Two-and-half-men” but that title has been usurped by a certain television show.

Worst case scenario? BossLady heads back to the Air B & B to get the Subi, and while returning, the car sinks up to its hubcaps in clayish mud. It then becomes cemented into place, until such time as a tow-truck becomes available to drag it out.

HeadSodBuster and Katie Jean before the flood
At best, we were going to be schlepping the contents of the booth far out into vast nether regions, inundated by torrents of rain, with me maneuvering along in my barefooted, sandaled feet. Allow me to assure you, I have long since become accustomed to having wet feet, which in my universe does not equate to anything other than, well, having wet feet. It’s not good or bad; it’s just what is. I will go on record as saying, however, that there is nothing worse to me than having wet socks-certainly not wet feet.

Wet feet dry out in moments; wet socks dry out in their own good stead. Besides, similar to wearing a wet suit, the water sloshing around between my sandals and my feet, is pleasantly warm. The only time I ever experience cold feet is when there is snow covering them. At that point, I break out the heavy artillery and don socks. If there is snow, the chances are it is below freezing and hence, no wet socks.

Speaking of perks... A jar of goodness from
Castle Rock Sustainable Heritage Farm!
Prior to commencing, HeadSodBuster, SmallBoy and I briefly assessed the situation, with HSBuster summing matters up quite succinctly. “This seems to me like a bad idea. There isn’t anything that can get any more damaged than it is right now. Why not come back in the morning, as we always do, and avoid this nightmare? Everyone else is doing the same thing. It’s gonna be nuts."

I was inclined to agree with him, but since I knew that all of the heavy lifting was going to be done by the kids, I confined my comments to a generic, “It all sounds pretty fun, but I tend to think that slogging through mud is better if you can also see where you’re going, as opposed to venturing out tonight.”

No matter when the grand event took place, I was not going to be at the wheel of the Subi, one of those perks of being a graybeard. Heck, there’re so many perks, I know you get tired of me prattling on about the aging process. Succinctly put, you either get old, or you die. See? My surgically reconstructed left knee and right shoulder feel better already!

I did come close to revisiting that ACL blowout, unfortunately, as I was heading out of the tent with my first “load.” It was almost weightless but had to be transported and I had glommed onto it the minute the organizing was done, as if SmallBoy would ever take anything but the heaviest unit. 

I was sloshing along on one of the mats as I approached the left turn leading out of the tent, so I had to step onto another of the raised mats. As I did so, foolishly expecting a stable surface, the entire mat simply went straight forward, leaving my weight supported by that same surgically repaired left knee, as I tried to avoid falling. 

My life as I know it flashed before me, and if you think I am exaggerating, you would be dead wrong. What a blown knee would mean to me at this point in my life, what with trying to live in two places at once, leaves me staggering-er, well-that’s not right image-never mind.

Katie Jean, just to our left in the booth.
I thanked two beautiful women in my life at that moment, fervently. The first is BossLady for urging me to get a knee-brace recently, when I had a brief issue with my knee in the kitchen while pot-walloping. The second is Gluten-Free Mama, who just last Thursday, directed me to the knee-brace section of Rite-Aid, for the sole purpose of buying a new one for my knee, to retire the aging ace-bandage currently being employed. Without that new brace, I am not writing this piece and the world is a bleak place indeed.

It took all of fifteen minutes for HSBuster and SmallBoy to have ten units neatly lined up on the top of the counter. Simultaneously, the powers that be decided to shut the whole show down, and we congratulated ourselves on being ahead of the game. How much ahead I had no way of knowing at that second, but in cosmic fashion the following events occurred: 

Miraculously, BossLady finagled her way back into the fairgrounds, defying logic, and scored a parking place-on pavement no less. The cosmic door remained ajar long enough to see our friend, Paul, maneuvering the golf-cart-train right up to the entrance of our tent, just as we emerged lugging out the first load. At best we had been looking for pavement that was not in standing water, and here was our own personal coach and driver.

Our neighbors to the left
Paul had conveyed us out to the exit Friday night, whereupon we had had to march forever through already thick, slimy mud to get to the vehicles. As we parted ways, though, I made sure to extend to Paul the courtesy of offering him an AR (already-rolled). “Sour strawberry,” I explained and Paul was stoked (Damn-caught myself typing, "Paul was stocked.") 

“I will enjoy this immensely!” Paul assured me. “Just give me a shout-out when I can chauffeur you fine folks again!” He was serious as a heart attack.

There were three benches on the train and one seat up front, alongside the driver’s seat. We heaped everything in, with HSBuster draped over a heavily-laden bench, trying to prevent any runners, while reserving the seat up front for BossLady. 

Boom! The Subi was entirely squared away with the contents of the booth, the kids were ready to take in some music, and I was on track for a cab back to our spot. Time-check? Eight-fifteen. That’s precisely one-and-a-quarter hours from the initial call to man the buckets and bail out, both literally and metaphorically, to the present. No muddy feet, no rain during that time span, and music put back onto the table after having been given up for dead. 

We call her BossLady out of love and much respect. 

Big Ups and much love to these folks!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Color My World

“‘All right, men, discipline’s getting pretty lax around here. Why, I remember just last week, when I asked for volunteers to go weed out that marijuana patch, I damn near got stampeded to death. Talkin’ ‘bout them-where in the hell are they? They been gone a week now.’

‘They’re still out on patrol, Sir.’” Cheech and Chong

That’s me, recently, with discipline getting pretty lax in the writing department. No posts in November? Only four in October, following two in September? As I say to my little sister JT, “If I’m not writing, there’s probably hard times going on.”

One of my favorite recent "floats..."
The reality is that life is a parade of hard times, intermingled with the occasional float, inundated with flowers, breathtakingly beautiful, which keeps us all in our seats. The rest of the parade involves the day-to-day existence which can pass with almost no remembrance, if you are so inclined.

For two months I have worked primarily indoors, twelve hours at least, every day I have been on the mountain. The work is tedious but immensely rewarding at the same time, and to be quite honest, a welcome respite from the frantic pace of the last six weeks of summer.

Removing the flowers from
the stalk (bucking)
Building the storage unit and relocating the four, floor-to-ceiling cabinets, proved most challenging, and various components of my 66-year-old self began to complain, as they are wont to do. Praise be for cannabis, the sole form of pain relief to which I have access. I am forever grateful for this gentle giant of herbs.

I will always prefer cannabis over opiates because I have a most irrational contempt for Big Pharma. This is a concept that was not even hatched until 1973, when the ban against making money off of medicine was lifted under Tricky Dick. I turned 21 in 1973, while overseas. Imagine, if you can, a society in which there was a disdain for profiting off of the misery of others.

I hear you. Me neither.

Once a cure-all for everything medicinal, cannabis was swept under the rug in the 1930’s, by a few powerful, rich, white men, hell-bent on destroying the concept of democracy. These men demonized cannabis, which must have confused a large percentage of the general population. They were eager to replace democracy with our current form of government, an oligarchy, or rule by a few.

Bucked but not trimmed
So I grow my own medicine and it serves me well. Nonetheless, the best medicine for a cranky shoulder is to sit for two months and let the hands carry the load. I do walk Ellie Mae up the driveway to Bell Springs Road every morning, and as long as I can do that, I am reasonably good to go. 

Once the harvest work is completed, I have high hopes of attacking the kitchen, in similar fashion to that of my bathroom/laundry room remodel of last winter, so I need this “rest” time, even if I am putting in twelve hours a day. Besides, with my schedule, that still leaves close to eight hours every day, to really get something done.

The life of a manic is certainly productive.

No, the hard times to which I alluded earlier, deal simply with the reality of living most of the time by myself. Gluten-Free Mama resides in Willits, where she can be close to her primary health provider. Like a ping-pong ball, I go back and forth. The irony of my having to drive, after being-for the most part-chauffeured around for thirty years by GF Mama, is rich indeed.

Processing apples...
I strongly suspect that not being able to drive a car, due to health-related matters, “drives” GF Mama right up the proverbial wall. If I let three days pass, and then jet down to Willits for a day, I can be her personal chauffeur and run her around town to take care of the errands that need addressing. 

Sometimes that even means treating ourselves to lunch at Lumberjack’s, where our waitress, Audrey, commented recently, “I am seeing my old teachers here since I came to work. Mr. Bowles was just in here the other day.”

I laughed and responded, “I could say the same about former students; besides you, there is Krissy and I just saw Adam the other day.” 

GF Mama likes that Lumberjack’s will wrap a burger in lettuce, as will Cafe 101, the other spot we will hit when we are of a mind. I have been to Buster’s but it’s too everything for me: too bright, too loud and too much of what I struggle with for comfort.

As for not writing, I have found it difficult to take pen in hand when so much of what is whirling around me, refuses to pause. There is too much outrage in me, threatening to overflow, if I am not careful. I stopped writing about the daily atrocities emanating forth from the White House a long time ago because it’s pointless.

Money drives all in this country, and big money crushes every glimpse of humanity right out of existence. The corruption oozing from every pore of Corp’rate ‘Merica is palpable, all under the guise of democracy. For a hearty chuckle, talk to the Koch brothers about democracy.

Certainly one of my favorite all-time photos. Gluten-Free Mama
and I in Old Paint, our VW bus, heading out from a snowy
Bell Springs Road.
Today, however, one of the most brilliant floats of all is traveling the parade circuit, and that is the one that presents itself every December 1st, the day of our wedding anniversary. Thirty-six years ago, on a remarkably similar day, weatherize, Gluten-Free Mama and I got hitched up in Ukiah, in a five-minute ceremony in the chambers of the Honorable James Luther.

So I am taking word-processor in hand and celebrating that fact. And what’s even sweeter, GF Mama was swooped from Willits by HeadSodBuster and whisked back up here on the mountain last night. I have the house warm and toasty, even as I write.

Color my world dazzling.
I took this snap of a Cooper's hawk preening, the day before