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

Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Clueless Leading the Blind

Dealing with tech issues for me is like playing Pin the tail on the donkey, in that I would appear to be blindfolded every step of the way. Pin the tail on the ass is more like it. There is no other way to better describe it. At least when I look back on my various antics in these matters, I derive a fair amount of comic relief.

Not that trying desperately to pay a computer hacker is THAT funny. I thought we had agreed to let that one go.

It's hard to tell us apart when one is blind, the other clueless.
The beginning of the end began a month or so ago, when the screen on poor Suzy Puente's monitor went blank, and I was left in the dark (I give my computers names; this one was Suzy). I handled it pretty well until I got to the part about replacing her. There I encountered some technical issues. The saltier I got, the more comical it all seems to me now, after the fact. The gestation period for cooling off is generally around two weeks. I can hold a grudge but my grip is shaky.

Torturing my computer is an art; it’s a miracle I don’t have to replace it more often. Take coffee, for instance, but first let me just shift this mug a bit more out of range. And yeah, sorry about that; it won’t happen again. For sure, bro. There can be no food or beverages anywhere near a computer.

Let’s begin this most recent fiasco with my decision to go up to Arcata, instead of down to Santa Rosa to replace my Apple. I wanted a calmer experience than what one generally receives, when heading down into the frenzy that is 'Rosa. 

Calmer? The MacIntosh computer shop in Arcata was as peaceful as a mortuary. Arriving just as the store opened, I was the only customer and there were at least four employees. Having a veritable ocean of tranquility did not help me one iota, just as it probably would not have helped were I actually in a mortuary.

What would have benefited me I can now see clearly, would have been to have written down those things which were crucial to me. I could then have handed the list over to the clerk. If there were a problem after that, at least we would have had a starting point. As it was, I dug my own grave and then was surprised to find myself buried in it. How was I supposed to know that the new computer would have completely different ports than Suzy Puente, other than the fact that it was predictable?

This dude is good. I can fire specific instructions about the set-up on the new computer, even as he is buried in his own computer, looking up prices and information, and typing them into place. But, you know, these tech guys just absorb information. The rest of us have to listen first, and then write everything down. 

I was wrong on so many levelsHe was certainly pleasant and most eager to help, but I had walked into the shop determined to leave with a computer, even if it did not match the one I was replacing. I announced as much at the outset of our conversation. The story behind the shattered screen, by itself, is comical enough, in a twisted sort of way. That's where I began.

This whole photo is what my screen looked like...
I had murdered poor Suzy Puente by simply closing her lid with something sitting on the keyboard, thus rendering her screen about one-fourth of the way unreadable, along with anything on the desk-top beneath the blackness. I was able to do that remarkable thing because I was not sitting down in front of the computer, but instead, I was standing behind the monitor, and had simply pushed the computer lid shut. 

The sound I heard was enough for me to immediately recognize that I had disabled-if not destroyed-this two thousand dollar tool. I might not have thought so much destruction could result from one, number two, yellow pencil. The irony of the pencil on my keyboard (I had been making a grocery store list) has not been lost on me.

In a perfect world I would keep the computer arena free of everything, to prevent this sort of accident, but in a perfect world, the valet would attend to these matters, and the cook would prepare fantastic feasts and the butler would-

[Editor’s note: My Dude…]

Poor Suzy. She lingered on for a couple of months before one day, just going blank, kind of like my mind. Call it blindfolded if you please. Instead of pausing for a week or so, to allow the dust to settle, I went off half-cocked, as my father used to call it.

I knew that my sister who lives in Sebasketball, which is coincidentally close to Santa Rosa, was off gallivanting around in The Big Apple, making her unavailable to help me with my little Apple. That contributed to my decision to go north. Had I chosen to mark time for a week, she would have been back in town, and we could have run a few ideas up the flag pole, maybe even saluted one. We’ll never know.

It’s not that losing poor Suzy Puente cut me off from civilization, it’s that I had to-gasp(!)-acquire some telephone skills. I thought I did that back in the late fifties, but now I need to do more than say, “O’Neills’ residence, Mark speaking…” Take a picture with my phone? Access face/book with my phone? Did you know there is this thing called Messenger? I had more than a thousand messages, heretofore ignored. And something called Chat? Ditto. I still do not know how to access them on my computer.

I can say one thing for sure: My new computer is no female. I know that because my new computer is clueless. Draw your own conclusions. As for the clueless leading the blind, I needed no assistance from the shop; I was perfectly capable of mucking things up on my own. 

I have the gift, you know.

Next: My sanity for an adaptor

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Case of the Lost Smile

This story is for Ollie Mac, a little man who is always smiling. 

One soft summer morning a small boy named Ollie Mac woke up to find that he had lost his bright, cheerful smile. Normally the happiest small boy on the mountain, this was quite a change and everyone noticed it.

When a scrumptious breakfast of hash browns and chili omelet failed to bring the fat, sunny smile back to Ollie Mac’s face, Papi suggested that maybe Ollie Mac should go searching for it. 

“After all,” Papi said, “It can’t be far away. Maybe you should take a walk around the land, and see if any of our friends have seen it. What do you think, Ollie Mac?”

Ollie Mac tried to smile to show that he thought it was a good idea, but that was hard to do when his smile was missing. He held out his hand for Papi to take and asked, “Will you help me, Papi? I don’t even know where to look or how to talk to my friends when I do see them.”

"I don't care for the way that cat is looking at me..."
“Oh, that’s easy,” Papi responded. “We will just have to go outside and start walking around, keeping our eyes open. There are many of our friends out and about today, if we only pay attention. As for talking to them, we’ll just wait for them to start the conversation.”

Papi was right. No sooner had they stepped out the back door when they heard blue jay on the railing, screeching his head off at Toby the cat. Toby was looking at the bird with a different kind of smile, one that alarmed the blue jay. It was certainly not like Ollie Mac’s bright, happy smile.

“Hey there, blue jay,” began Ollie Mac, but the bird did not even look at him, keeping his eyes fastened on Toby. “I know you are busy, but I was wondering, have you seen my smile? I woke up this morning and it was gone. Can you help me find it?”

"Can't you see we are busy?"
“I would love to help you, but I have a certain cat that has me on his menu for breakfast. I am sorry I cannot help you. Why don’t you ask the bees? They are everywhere, so maybe they have seen your smile.” The blue jay flitted from the fence to a nearby tree, never taking his eyes off of Toby, so Ollie Mac and Papi had no choice but to go looking for some bees.

They did not have to go far because bees are everywhere on-farm. Walking up to some sunflowers, Ollie Mac waited for one of the bees to notice him so he could ask about his smile. The bees ignored him.

“Hey there, bees!” began Ollie Mac. “Do you have a minute? I can’t find my smile. Will you help me?” He asked so nicely.

At first none of the bees answered, but when Ollie Mac asked again, one said simply, “Bees are too busy pollinating flowers and making honey and to help find smiles; maybe you should check with a butterfly. They seem to have plenty of time on their hands.” The bees droned on about their work.

"I hate to boast but I am beautiful..."
Heading over to some zinnias, Ollie Mac and Papi found exactly what they were looking for, painted lady. This butterfly was gorgeous and she knew it. She was perched on a brilliant red zinnia and she kept opening and closing her wings, staring daintily at nothing in particular.

“Hey there, painted lady, I can’t find my smile. Can you help me?” Ollie Mac began. The butterfly seemed not to hear him.

“Try using the magic word and see if that helps,” Papi suggested.

“Oh, I mean, please, Mrs. Painted Lady?” Ollie Mac tried again, but it did no good.

All the butterfly said was, “Can’t you see I am busy? It’s my job to go around looking pretty; if your smile is gone, then you will have to get someone else to help you find it. Why not try the hummingbird? He’s been hovering around here all morning, humming up a storm.”

"I will gladly help you Tuesday, after I have dined..."
And sure enough, just as Ollie Mac turned around, there was hummingbird, its wings beating frantically as it dipped its beak down into a flower, and then did it again and again.

“Hey there, please, hummingbird, can you please help me? My smile is missing and I can’t find it,” Ollie Mac pleaded, but the hummingbird ignored him. A little louder, Ollie Mac repeated, “Hummingbird! Can you stop for a minute and listen? Please?”

The racket stopped and all was silent. “What DO you want, Little Man? Can’t you hear I am busy?” the hummingbird spoke softly for a bird that was so noisy.

“I am looking for my smile, please, hummingbird. Can you help me?” Ollie Mac tried to smile up at the hummingbird, but as we all know, this morning his smile had called in sick.

“I cannot help you look for your smile. Can’t you see I am famished, and must visit hundreds of more flowers before I can take a break? I suggest you ask red-tailed hawk. She is at the top of a tall tree, so she can see more than anyone.”

“Thanks, hummingbird! I will do that,” said Ollie Mac. “That shouldn’t be hard,” Papi added, looking up at the ancient pine tree on the side of the nearest hill. “She’s right where she often is. You may have to shout.”

"Do I look like I'm smiling?"
Ollie Mac and Papi climbed down into the gully and up the other side, where they stood behind the dead pine tree, admiring the huge bird. Her back was to them. “Do you think she knows we are here?” Ollie Mac asked. 

Papi chuckled, adding, “Oh, she knows. She can see a mouse at night from a great distance. She is just resting. Go ahead and ask her; just yell loudly.”

So Ollie Mac tilted his head back and looked straight up at the red-tailed hawk and bellowed, “Hey there, hawk! If you can hear me, I have lost my smile. Because you are so high in the sky, I thought you might have seen it somewhere. Please!”

At the last word, the hawk bent her head forward, and without seeming to raise her voice, spoke clearly, “A smile is not something I can find from up here, even if my eyesight is excellent. The only person who can find your smile is you, but maybe visiting some of your friends who live on the ground, will help you find it. They walk the same soil as you. The best of luck,” she finished and then resumed her siesta.

"No smiles loitering down here...A"
No sooner had Ollie Mac and Papi walked back down into the gully, to climb back up the other side, when Ollie Mac saw a flash of blue. He knew that it had to be a skink because the sunlight shimmered and shined off of it for a second in the morning sunlight, just before it disappeared under a medium-sized rock. 

“It probably won’t come out again. Maybe you should just ask him without turning his house upside down. He might appreciate that.” Papi waited.

Ollie Mac decided to try Papi’s advice, so he got down right next to the rock first so the skink knew that Ollie Mac could only be talking to him. “I’m searching for my smile, and I thought maybe you could help me. I have asked many things with wings and they all said no. How about you?”

The skink knew it would do no good to ignore Ollie Mac, so he poked his head out and squeaked, “I’m not the right guy to ask because I never get out of this gully. I find it hardly likely that your smile would be loitering around down here. Why don’t you check with Jerusalem beetle, who lives in the middle of the garden?”

“That’s smart thinking,” Papi exclaimed. “I like a skink who is always thinking! Let’s go!”

"16 tons and what do I get?
Another day older and a deeper in debt...".
They found Jerusalem beetle doing what he always does, digging. He paused when Papi’s foot narrowly missed crushing him, sticking his head out of the ground and sputtering, “Why don’t you watch where you are going? You almost stepped on me.”

“Please forgive me, good sir. This young master has a question for you. Do not allow my rudeness in almost stepping on you to interfere with your good judgment.”

Clearly pleased, Jerusalem beetle glanced at Ollie Mac, who was quite fascinated by the zebra-bug. “Well?” he inquired. “Say something!”

“Oh! Yes! Please! I am looking for my smile; I did not mean to ogle. It’s just that I have heard so much about you, I had to stare.” 

The giant beetle never stopped moving, zigging this way and zagging that way, his two long antennae waving frantically.
He was a sight to behold and not one that made Ollie Mac want to smile. It made him want to count his fingers and toes before he got out of there. 

"I can't say why people do not smile when they see me..."
“This might come as a shock to you but people don’t generally smile when they see me, even though I eat lots of things that harm gardens. You smile is safe from me. You know who I would check with is scorpion, not that folks smile a lot when they see him, but because he’s not such a bad guy as people might think. I saw him over in the freshly dug dirt by the new steps.

“Thanks,” Ollie Mac ventured, as he and Papi moseyed over to the newly created rock steps. Upon their arrival an unusual looking specimen came scuttling out from a small pile of pebbles. “You looking for me? I heard you were looking for me.”

Without even wondering how the scorpion knew he had been looking for him, Ollie Mac nodded. He had never seen a blue scorpion. One thing he did know, though, is that the scorpions who lived in this neighborhood were not dangerous. Though it was not recommended that you pick one up, if you did and it stung you, its venom is comparable to that of a bee or yellow jacket sting. It would hurt mildly but otherwise would be no big deal.

Ollie Mac repeated once again that he was hunting for his missing smile, and assured scorpion that he knew scorpion wouldn’t know. “I just thought you might be able to give me your best guess as to who could help me find it. Please? I know you go inside our house, even. You seem to know a lot,” he added. A little flattery couldn’t hurt, he figured, especially since the scorpion seemed highly interested in his toes.

"Smile when you say that, Partner."
“Oh, well, I do know some stuff. Let me see. You know who also knows a lot? Mr. king snake knows a lot. You can find him in the orchard, hunting.

“Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? Come on, Papi!” And Ollie Mac trotted off towards the orchard where the tomato plants grew. Papi followed behind, glad to see that Ollie Mac had regained his enthusiasm, if not his smile.

When they arrived at the orchard, it did not take long to to find king snake, who was enjoying a morning nap after having dined on a pesky gopher. This little varmint had the misfortune of poking his head out of his tunnel, and right into king snake’s mouth. What was a bad day for gopher, was pretty much a good day for everyone  else.

"Ribbet, ribbet..."
“Good morning, king snake. You may have heard that I have lost my smile. I was wondering if you could help me find it. Scorpion said you know a lot so I thought I would check with you.”

King snake nodded his head sagely. “This is serious business,” he responded, “but I think I can help. Let me ask you something. Do you remember the last time you had it with you? That seems like a good place to start.”

Ollie Mac frowned and tipped his head to one side. “I’m not sure but I know I had it yesterday. Papi, do you remember?”

“I do remember you having your fat, saucy smile yesterday, especially when we read that book that had the frog in it. Do you remember? There was also a dragonfly, and those guys were chasing mosquitos and gobbling them up by the dozen.

"Here's looking at you, Kid."
And right on cue, a little frog poked his head out from under a cherry tomato plant. “My ears are burning. Are you talking about me?” To complete the picture, just then into the orchard flew a dragonfly, a brilliant orange fellow with huge eyes. He settled down on the top of a fence post and basked in the morning sunlight. 

And that was all it took, for at the sight of that frog and his dragonfly buddy, Ollie Mac burst out into the brightest smile ever, like magic.

“Just like in the book!” he exclaimed. And he smiled and he smiled, not only happy to see his friends, but happy to have his smile back. 

And Papi smiled too.
A smiling Ollie Mac