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Monday, July 20, 2015

A Notice to all of Ann's friends and followers

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mas Parting Shots

Since my last posting, I've entered the Wilshire Hospice Program, which is to say that things have sped past the speed of light and slid down into absolute down-time, all at once. In other words, neither the brain nor the computer seems to be working properly.  But then, as some wag would say, "How ever can you tell?"

True. 

But here's an update on my recent Grand Pre-Estate Sale End Times Garage sale, we managed to raise $1,182 for the Wellness Kitchen, They have a wonderful "pay-it-forward" program to help reach and teach people facing health issues who can be helped by way of of good nutrition.  They can be located at www.TheWKRC.org or at (805) 434-1885.  And for all of you who help me with this project, I can't thank you enough.  I'm am so blessed with so many kind neighbors and friends who were ready to step in at a momemnt's notice. My thanks to them all. 

So many of those same friends have also been there to help get many things settled as my house, like Penelop's loom slowly comes unspooled. (I'm still trying to figure out just how in hell I ended  up with 4 table cloths all the the same color.  Yes, it's a nice peachy-pink, but, c'mon!)

In the meantime, life, even in Hospice, goes on.  As a matter of fact, that's the credo and while it'll be a bit of a puzzle and a bungle, well, that's about right as well. My hugs to all of you.  The precious, fragile  thing you hold in your hands every second, well, that's it.  Life.  Treasure it. 
,



Sunday, May 31, 2015

Parting Shots: The Penultimate Papers



I Need a Nap



A friend sent me a copy of Tom Brokaw’s “A Lucky Life Interrupted.” (A good read by the way) And I was oddly comforted to read that pancreatic cancer strikes one in seventy-eight men and women.  My peeps! It seems like I’ve got a lot of company.  He also notes the one devil fact about the disease – how sneaky it is.  How low it flies under the radar which means that by the time it’s discovered, it’s almost always too late.
 
It sure must have taken my Docs by surprise.  They must feel awful, as in Well, Dang!  But then, maybe not. So far, I have refrained from calling them up to say, “I told you I was sick.”   That would be churlish.  And, realistically, who’s to know, with a disease this sneaky.  You'd  have to run tests every 24/7 since if you missed even a month, a week, a day, you'd likely still miss the seeding.  In my case, all my blood tests were “perfect,” and since doctors are trained to look for horses, not zebras, when doing diagnostic workups, this is one of those diseases that can get past even the best gatekeeper. (Not to mention the cost of various tests, and with tests involving radiation, there's the problem of the test causing more harm than giving any benefit. 

But the thought is still there, like the cancer itself.  A poisonous variant on the old whine, "Why Me?" Or, it's deadly cousin: "If only." Perfectly natural, but not helpful.  I have had a lot of such thoughts lately. Plenty of time to ruminate in the early morning hours. 

I am absolutely sure that my one-in-78 Peeps have had the same thoughts.  And well-meaning friends are now coming to tell tales of many such caught-too-late medical horror  stories.  The tales make me angry and sad and cynical.  And something of a fatalist since life itself is constantly turning on just such missed moments.

In my case, there were additional wrinkles that made the ultimate diagnosis a sort of Max Sennet comedy of errors since the symptoms were coming in wrong – are we looking for a kidney stone? kidney disease? some bowel problem?  Whaaat?  Add in an overall physical system constantly disordered from the in--and-out middle-of-the-night emergency room stress, a poorly handled initial "solution, no sleep, and generally lousy pain management, by the time I left the French Hospital radiology office with a print-out of my MRI diagnosis in hand, I was already deep into PTSD. 

Add in more exhausting maelstroms of replaced kidney stents, an actual biopsy, MRIs and PETs to come, my brain was stumbling along in exhausted "D'oh" mode.  But instead of resting like a normal, sane person would do, in front of my sister Joan's horrified eyes, I turned into grim-lipped Brunhilde preparing for a Viking funeral.

An aside here: Many, many years ago, when my sister was visiting, I looked around at the book and-art-and-stuff-filled living room (and, mindful of the filing cabinets and boxes of Can(n)on fodder paperwork in the den), I wearily said, "I can't face sorting all this out. When I die, I want you to invite all my friends into the house for a Zorba the Greek giveaway (I didn't have a parrot, but if you've seen the movie, you get the drift, have them take what they can use, then put my body on the dining room table, light a match and run away. Viking Funeral! 

Then, months ago, I can't remember, maybe it was like a New Year's resolution and long before any of these health issues were on the radar, I did my usual, "Gosh, I've got to seriously sort all of this out." ( I have no doubt my body was telling me something I wasn't ready to hear out loud)  So, I started looking around the house and asking myself such questions as: "How will my poor sister, Joan, know what to do with all this crap when I die?" Or, after opening a closet door looking for a towel, "Why do I have  four lamp timers in here?  Seriously?  Four?"  

Live in a house 31 years and you'll know the feeling. One of those annual spring cleaning projects that usually last a day and a half then peter out with you stumbling upon your childhood winkie-bear which you couldn't possibly bear to part with. So winkie-binkie bear gets put back in the closet along with the amp timers until . . . next year.  

And so I started going through all of the stuff with serious intent.  At first I found it hard going.  So many decisions.  Like, Do I think my niece or great-nieces would like my childhood photo album?  Look how cute I was.  Surely they'd just love to have that valuable piece of the family tree? Answer.  NO. Well, what about my high school yearbook?  NO! NO!  Not even winkie-bear?  NO!NO!NO!

When I started the process, it was all sad-faced review, a spotty walk down memory lane but soon it became a gleeful rout.  Out! Out! Don’t need any of this. The photo albums were filled with people, half of whom I couldn't remember, while others  too often brought up memories of sadness and loss,  so why keep photos that make you sad?  The few images I wanted to keep were already burned into my memory, so I sure didn’t need any albums.  And so it went with photos, papers, mementos.  All of it.  Yes, I was seriously, deliberately erasing a life -- mine --but soon the act became a pretty wonderful, liberating experience because it finally occurred to me that the life I was tossing into the recycle bin was a life that didn't exist any more.  And since it didn't exist any more, why dust it?

After I received the diagnosis, but before I had met with the oncologist, that's when I turned into Brunhilde before Joan's horrified eyes.  I didn't then (and still don't know), how much time I had left, but through my exhaustion, pain and fear, I was determined that there was no way I was going to say, Fuck it all, and leave this mess to my poor sister.  

Therein started the Great Pre-Estate Sale, Viking Funeral, Zorba the Greek Garage Sale of the Century. Out! Out! Out! Like mad warriors and with the help of friends, when sleep wouldn't come, as pain allowed, we boxed and tagged and hauled.  I had years before made certain arrangements for earmarked items to go to specific places, so that paperwork could be turn-keyed, while the rest of the stuff was slowly being transferred to the garage, stacked and ready to go. 

So, come Saturday June 13 at 7 in the morning, the Stuff will head out into the universe to become treasures for somebody else to enjoy. With an additional mad scheme attached: I'll be donating all the proceeds from the sale to the "pay it forward" part of The Wellness Kitchen  (www.TheWKRC.org), a great group of folks who teach as well as cook prepared super-nuient dense foods (think "bone broths") for "individuals facing serious life-altering disease."  Their classes are for caregivers and patients alike.
Looking back on it all, it was mad.  I was mad.  But it  also turned out to be excellent therapy.  Not only did it keep me busy, but it was a daily reminder not to get mired in the past, not to stop, to keep moving forward.  It was also a daily discipline, a firm reminder of the impermanence of it all.  Nothing was mine.  Not even my life.  All of it was (and always had been) on temporary loan to be enjoyed, then let go

It also turned out to be a good way for friends to process what was coming.  Once you hear bad news and say, I'm sorry, the next questions is What can I do to help? Seems like garage sales are a pretty good answer.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Yo, Rush, Can I Borrow Some of your Oxy?



I heard through the grapevine that a kind friend wanted to loan me her old laptop so I could continue to write no matter how crappy I was feeling while the Cancer Crazy Road Trip gets underway.  It was such a sweet offer and immediately conjured up visions of The Artist all tucked up under the coverpanes (pink with flower sprigs, a nice rosy checkerboard pattern, maybe a stuffed white woobie-rabbit under an elbow) while the Muse dictates.  Tap, tap, tap, wondrous insights about Life and Death flowing easily from under my fingertips.

It was such a lovely picture and I thanked the friend of a friend who put the idea forward and said I'd certainly keep that option in mind but for now I was still able to shamble out of bed and sit at the compute, a crazy dog lady wandering around the house at the odd hour.

The problem with writing while sick is that sick always takes precedent. When it's a choice between a trip to the toilet or the mot juste, the crapper wins out every time. That's the one iron rule of the human body.  It's wishes will be heard.  The rest is just icing, illusions that we are in control of our fates and masters of our souls. 

Souls? Maybe. But toilet time? Ah, not so much.

And pain.  Can't forget that little demon.  It's the great interrupter -- one constant, stuttering "D'oh!" in the brain.   The slap upside the head that stops the mot juste search in its tracks and substitutes inspired verbiage for getting up and stomping around for a while muttering, "Ow, Ow, Oh, crap, Ow." 

The Docs like to speak of "pain control," nowadays.  Or "Pain management."  That's a new field of study.  A welcome one to be sure, since for too often pain just hasn't been effectively dealt with or understood as the killer it can be. Truly.  Pain hammers the body something awful, adding insult to injury.  Both physical pain and psychic pain.  It's all hard.

But our allowable drug formulary in our weirdly drug-addled country is totally inadequate to the job. (And, to be fair pain medication carries with it its own tricky damages as well.  Tough needle to thread.)

Even "imaginary" pain is an amazing hammer.  When I ended up in the emergency room with the first inkling of what was coming down on me, the CTs indicated a ureter blockage and the Docs thought, "kidney stone's stuck." The pain, they said, was as bad or worse than childbirth pain.  Real knee-buckler stuff.  And out of curiosity (once the morphine IV was making life bearable again) I asked the Doctor about this and was told that the kidney, per se, didn't have any nerves.  Neither did the ureter.  Not like other organs or parts of your body.  So I asked him how in the world a little thing like a ureter tube, a tiny bit of wibbly flesh could generate such hideous pain? 

Well, turns out that the ureter isn't "in pain," but the inside of the human trunk is absolutely bathed in nerve networks, all surrounding all the vital organs. And when the body, in it's "gut wisdom," senses that something life-threatening is amiss inside you, all the nerves start firing off like claxons. So even though the ureter in this case wasn't actually being "harmed," i.e. cut or damaged, the nerves figured that something was up to no good and all hands better get on  deck. Which they did.  Loudly.

Later this morning I'm headed in to see a Nurse Practitioner (the coming thing on the medical front due to the lack of doctors in our brave new world) to see if we can come up with some practical "pain management" that keeps me "comfortable" without turning my brain to mush. 

Which is going to be a trick since I've lived with some degree of  pain for so long I really don't have an idea what "comfortable" means any more.  I suspect on the scales they use -- Zero being no pain and 10 being OMG! -- my zero would be somebody else's 2-3.  Like what an luxury to be able to say "zero."  But you don't get to a certain age without carrying with you all the dinks and donks and blows and falls you've inflicted on your body.  Rattling bag of bones and ouchie tendons grumbling along making the best of it.

Which, let's face it, is about all we can do.  Grumble and open our bag of tricks and see if any of our nostrums help ease the way -- eye of newt, way cool hemi-sync earphones and glorious new age hemi-sync music that's supposed to reset your brainwaves or maybe bring in some short-wave messages from old Earl out there in Hog Hollow West Virginia, yoga, tai chi, meditation, or lovely aroma therapy.  

And if it works without exacting too high a penalty, it's all good. Including getting out of bed at odd hours and scribbling into the quiet morning.  Or snuggling down in the coverpanes with a laptop, though using that that platform might be too tempting to get distracted by a e-book or a movie.  Sitting upright at my computer in the office/den does have the added benefit of resembling "work," so I can claim I'm not frittering away my  time. 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Battle Notes



 Parting Shots: The Death Diaries -- A Comedy in a few acts, maybe.

I have always known
That at last I would
Take this road, but yesterday
I did not know that it would be today
                                  Kenneth Rexwroth

I've been on hiatus for a while, in case you've noticed.  And I wasn't sure if I'd even return to the Can(n)on again.  More and more the utter idiocy unfolding around me has gotten so silly that it just got harder and harder to expend any energy on any of it.  (I know why Jon Stewart's getting out of the Biz.  Once all you've got left to satirize is Louie Gomet, you'd best pack it in.)

 Three months ago I had a life.  Busy, active, from dawn to dusk on the move.  Walk dogs, prepare for the summer's Garden Folly garden, make soup, eat soup.  Same old same old.

Then that life was gone.  Poof!  A trip to the emergency room a confused, unclear diagnosis, bewildering emergency stop-gap proeedures, an ass-backwards muddled diagnostic search filled with growing misery and disppearing strength (including the loss of my two dogs, an awful blow on top of this unholy misery)  finally a report nobody wants to hear ever from any doctor anywhere:  Stage IV pancreatic cancer.

That's when the world goes silent.  And then changes forever.  

And now I'm hip deep in the maelstrom  of Cancer Land -- a bewildering forest of Doctor appointments, research material, unknown unknowns, known unknowns and overwhelming confusion.  I start a chemo program next week.  It's no cure, but  "cure" just doesn't seem to be a word oncologists use very often nowadays.  The new rules seem to be: Live for a while.  Try something else and live for a little more while.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  So the trick now is to learn how to live while dying.  Or vice versa.  And it's bound to be a unique and interesting journey.  One that I'm sure many of my readers have already been on, are on now, or will be about to start as the body's clocks tick over and transform all our lives. 

If that's a shared journey for you, please add your voice any of my future entries. (Dealing with the medical establishment, you just know I'll have some apt comments to carry on about, don't you. Yes, yes.)  And if you are a fellow wayfarer and citizen of Cancer Land,  I'm sure you're  full of news of far wonders as well as practical sources of where to get a good cup of soup that the body can handle. So, do share.  

Meantime, through it all, I have to remember to . . Breathe.


 


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Your Sunday Photo



Polo.  Florida.  Chukka's rising.  Great way to spend a Sunday.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Garden Follly

The little tree was so scrawny, bare root, bare branches.  Looked like something out of a "Charlie Brown Christmas."  But I had faith and mulch and so it made it through the first year, then the second spring and now, a few tiny apples. 


And now that The Mighty Finn McCool's ashes are planted around the little apple tree, I expect it will begin to grow tall, taller, tallest, like the Finn himself. 

In addition, my Garden Folly continues.  In the face of this drought, I concocted a scheme to bury empty plastic 1-gallone pots in the ground, fill them with mulch, and dump sink-water therein withhopes of getting the water down deeper into the soil, thus encouraging any roots to do likewise.  With that idiocy in mind, I fixed up last year's green-bean poles and planted green beans and then stuck in a few acorn squash seeds in the other raised bed.

Then poured water and waited.  And waited. While Mother Nature decided to toy with me, sending down unseasonable cold weather, followed by unseasonable heat and no rain then some rain.  Until, finally . . .



And . . .



Sunday follies, Sunday Miracles.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Your Sunday Photo

Sammy, The Snail Male

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Mighty Finn McCool



Calhoun's Canons for April 26, 2015

In his beginning, was his end.  Alpha.  Omega.

The Mighty Finn McCool arrived in a cat carrier.  A puppy small enough to fit easily in your lap, all elbows and stick-legs. His mother had died giving birth at the racetrack in Tijuana, and the puppies had been thrown in a cage to die.  But volunteer angels from the Greyhound Adoption Center in La Mesa swooped in to save and nurse them back to health.

And so he arrived here 11 years ago to confront a dog-busy household filled with Basenjis and the late, great Archibald McDog, whose clumsy social graces towards puppies was to rudely poke them in the tummy with his nose.  Finn's gentle sweetness precluded confrontation so he would hide in the nasturtiums and soon his soft, gentle nature befuddled Archie into proper Big Brother manners.  The Basenjis, of course, dismissed him out of hand as some kind of small alien species beneath their interest.

He thrived and grew.  And grew.  Until he was towering over everyone, a stilt-legged dog who greeted strangers on the street by doing a happy little dance, convinced that this person had come a long, long way just to see him. He was also a leaner against legs, his politely insistent snooter searching for an ear-scratch. Born with a sweetness, he was a true gentleman in all things, convinced the entire world was an oyster that daily gave him pearls of joy;  A morning hug and head rub, a daily walk to visit and slowly, carefully, inspect, inhale, savor each previously peed-upon bush and shrub and twig along the route as if they were the aromas from the finest wines. All of it delighted him.

As did racing runs with Archie at the dog park where, in many ways, our story begins and ends.  It was there that his blinding speed and juvenile awkwardness in controlling those long legs sent him into a slide that slammed him into the leg of the kiosk.  With a sickening thunk, he went down, his fate sealed.  I loaded everyone into the car and raced for Coast Veterinary clinic to find Dr. Stephens waiting and the diagnosis of a bad leg break was rendered.  Like race-horses, bad breaks in large dogs with tall, tall legs is very often an ultimate death sentence.  But since he was so young and healthy, Dr. Stevens and I decided to go for broke. Dr. Sykes, the local dog orthopedic surgeon was called in and together they put in the steel plate and gave him his leg and life back.

Recovery took weeks of confinement, careful rehab work, endless guided potty-calls, but somehow Finn knew he had to endure all this patiently if he were ever to run free again.  And so we forged a deep bond and understanding: He had my heart and I had his back. We were in this together, whatever it was.

And so his life was restored to him.  A reboot. A ten year gift to us both. 

But all love stories end and for Finn that came with age-related hind leg nerve damage that made one leg fail and made getting up and about difficult.  Anti-inflamatories helped until a few days ago when he stumble, went down hard and was unable to move.  We got him to the vet and, as fate would have it, Dr. Stephens was on duty.  Once again, we tried a Hail Mary pass -- hospitalization with IV prednisone, a treatment worth a try since prednisone can often make magic happen.  But in this case, magic was impossible.  Dr. Stephens discovered a re-break in the old plated, repaired leg. The old fatal injury had returned.

I was able to get quickly to the office to say goodbye as Dr. Stephens, the doctor who gave Finn his second life ten years ago, was there again to gently help him out of it.  Beginnings.  Endings.  Alpha.  Omega.

I will bury Finn's ashes under the brave little apple tree.  The first of its delicate, pale blooms are open now, giving me the promise of another spring.  And once again, there will be another ghost in my garden.  This one with tall legs, a happy soul, and all my heart. 




       

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Garden Folly: The Drought Version

Due to the drought, the CSD has put all of us Los Ososians on a water budget. So, here’s the experiment and the challenge:  Grow some green beans on a budget of 50 gallons of water per day per person per household, that includes indoor and outdoor water use.  Can it be done?  I have no idea.  But I will try. That’s the folly of it.


001

To prepare, there’s the water-thrifty dishpans at the ready.

002

And the rinse-water slop bucket standing by. (You would be amazed how quickly that rinse water adds up, no matter how quickly you turn the faucet off in between rinses.)

003

And, one of the biggest water wasters of all – a bathroom sink far away from the hot water heater.  At least a gallon down the drain before the water’s warm enough to splash on your face.

004

Last and by by no means least, the good old shower water capture buckets. (Well over a gallon there.)
Plus, of course, big garbage cans under the gutters to capture whatever bit of rain happens to arrive.

And now for the folly, sparked by a growing tip from Sunset Magazine: bury gallon plastic pots in the earth, fill with pebbles or wood chips.  Plant your green beans  (or squash or tomatoes) next to the buried pot.  Pour your saved household water into the pot.  The water will leak out of the bottom, a good 8-9” down in the soil, thereby avoiding topsoil evaporation.  It also creates  a deeper water source and thereby forces the green beans roots to go deeper for their moisture. 

005

At least that’s the theory.  And I’m going to see if it’ll work.  Last year, I inadvertently discovered that I could  pretty effectively “dry land” farm tomatoes by keeping them starved for water.  Instead of too many leaves from too much water, I ended up with bedraggled leaves and tons of very, very sweet little cherry tomatoes. We’ll see if that happy accident will work as well this year. I hope so since Zuri had so much fun last year waiting for her green beans.
Waiting for the Beans, 9-14-14  bean pole, zuri, 003

 Stay tuned. And, if you have any bright ideas you're using in your house to meet our community-wide 50-gallon challenge, do share your ideas here.
















Saturday, April 11, 2015

Archibald McDog



Calhoun's Cannons for April 11, 2015

He had no brakes.  Full of wild enthusiasms, he ran at everything full tilt.  Two speeds: Zero and Oh, No!  Nothing in between. Bang his food dish and in a split second he would ramp himself up into panting Full Crazy.  Pick up the leash and he was at the door, engine roaring.  Nothing by halves.

He had no manners, either.  And didn't speak or understand "Dog" very well, which made every social encounter with other dogs fraught with peril.  His blundering approach to a new dog was to rush up into their face and bark or poke at them in a clueless attempt at engaging in play.  Naturally, they reacted with a warning growl, but instead of backing off and minding his manners, he took that as a threat and moved in to bully them.  Bad move, since Archie was, at heart, a big, clueless weenie and even though the new dog would put him in his place for his rudeness, he never learned.  It was all Boo-Hoo, Poor Me. Wash, rinse, repeat. 

And it was always wash, rinse, repeat with him because he had some kind of profound short term memory disorder.  Alzheimer Dog, I used to call him. "Sit," I'd tell him.  "Huh?" he'd reply.  He wasn't dumb.  In fact, he was a very smart dog.  I suspect that his intense focus on the moment just erased every previous moment.  For him there was no past, it was all just a series of disconnected Now's.  Which made living with him exasperating.  Training classes simply went in one ear and out the other.  "Sit. Stay."  "What? Oh, look, a squirrel!" Hopeless.  

I stumbled on him at Animal Services some 15-plus years ago.  He was a skinny, black-masked feral-looking brindle dog, a lurcher of dubious pedigree.  A greyhound with somebody else's ears, I called him.  As he grew older, the German Shepherd in him overtook the greyhound as he grew heavier and filled out.  In most cases,  a greyhound/shepherd mix can produce a great dog if you get the sweet gentle temperament of the greyhound and the smarts and inherent obedience of the Shepherd.  Unfortunately, you can also end up with Archie, in which you get the worst of both of those breeds -- the world-erasing,  laser-focus ("I can't hear you, La-La-La") of a greyhound on the hunt who has spotted and locked on his quarry, combined with the Nazi bully-boy herding temperament of the German Shepherd. In short, Archie was a pain in the butt who kept my eyes rolling for years. "ArchEEE! Jeeze!' became the metronomic music in the house.

No manners, no brakes, an unreliable temperament, stubborn and hard-headed.  We had issues, he and I, but for all that he had a big soft heart and in all things meant well in his bungling fashion. And he lived a long, long time, a very strong, remarkably healthy dog. When his hind legs became too weak for walks, he was still up for a totter to the car for a ride to the dog park.  And when that became too much to manage, with a little help in getting up, he'd still insist on carrying on as usual. It was a heart-breaking lesson in courage to see him single-mindedly shambling all the way to the back yard to do his business.  It did not matter to him that his legs didn't work right.  They worked well enough and he kept going forward because that was the only way. Until it wasn't and his body just got too weak and tired to go on. When that happened, he let me know it was time for him to go.

His ashes now join all the other ghost dogs in the garden where he once lazed in the sun, noodling and nosing around the lavender bushes, looking for lizards.  I have no doubt his incorrigible spirit is somewhere, causing trouble.  He was a bad dog.

And I loved him.   

  

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sunday’s Blessing

001

The little apple tree was a folly in the face of time and the vagaries of weather.  Leafless, skinny, it sat in it’s little plot of dirt through the cold winter and come spring, grudgingly gave out a few leaves.  Somehow it weathered the drought summer with me carefully monitoring the soil and judiciously applying scarce water.  Then another winter, a screwy winter with no winter and little rain giving anyone hope. 
And then, on a quiet spring morning, this delicate gift arrives.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday's Muse


What more can we ask than to never know what to expect. 
                                                       Paul Violi

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Sunday Gratitude


The heat, the relentless sun turning the land to an endless expanse of grass too tired to even be golden.  Dead ash, the color of defeat. Time seemed to stand still and we thought it would never end, that the rains would never come.  That the land had fallen into death, crumpled into defeat, finished, done for.  And then, from the exhausted silence, renewal.  Life again. Small, wonderous miracles. Gifts of hope in a hard but still-fecund world. .
Thank You.
Thank You.
Thank You.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Again

005

When I first read Joe Tarica’s column on our beautiful bridge bear being vandalized, I had a flame of anger.  Then I felt a wave of fatigue and thought, Oh, why bother? This is just another story about another loser asshole in a world filled with loser assholes.  Indeed, we are awash with them.  Some are famous world leaders, others crazed religionists bent on world conquest, but  most are run-of-the-mill annoying bumps on the world's backside.

I'm sure the people who did this, if they're caught, will have some kind of explanation, but you can bet on one thing:  It will be a loser asshole reason – banal beyond belief:  their Mommie didn’t get them the toy they wanted, they’re angry because they didn’t get the job thy delusionally felt they were entitled to, their car wouldn’t start, somebody recognized them for their basic loser assholeness and dissed them, they’re just having a bad day.

I have no doubt there was more than one loser asshole involved in smashing the nose off the bear. Fueled by booze or drugs and their own pathetic sense of self entitlement, they set to work.  I have no doubt either that they thought what they were doing was funny.  Their way of getting back at a world that keenly acknowledges their assholeness.  Take that!  Thinking somehow that this act of stupidity will improve their lives.  Give them some momentary triumph until the sad reality of their looser existence returns.

It’s a dull story, retold all around the world in ugly acts that range from our little bear’s broken nose to the psycopathic hooting of murderous Jihadi pseudo-warriors smashing ancient treasures, and sawing off heads while grinning at the camera.  Look at me! Look at Me!

Asshole losers all. The world is filled with them, more’s the pity.  I can only hope the police catch whoever broughtthis pathetic looserness to our beloved bear.  I suspect, it will be like the last time assholes visited our town and smashed the bear.  They were never caught but the town rallied and raised the money needed to recast and restore our treasure.  The Chamber of Commerce owns the molds and an anonymous donor has offered $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.  Additionally, the Chamber may be starting a fund drive to restore out bear.  Contact them at info@lobchamber.org.

Let’s hope that the community of good people who live ere are wiling again to do the work needed to overcome the sad effects of loser assholes and a new bear will once again take its place looking out over our splendid marsh. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Get a Mirror!

It's one of the abiding mysteries why too many stars trekking down the Red Carpet to the Academy Awards are so fashion challenged.  Seriously.  They're professionals working in a visual medium.  Their work depends on seeing.  Yet, oddly, too many of them suddenly go blind when looking in a mirror.  Surely, in Hollywood, everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who knows basic fashion?  Or call up the costume designer on your last film and ask for help?  Or, if you can't afford to pay for that service, and if you're going to be on that red carpet, wouldn't you think you'd at least call a brutally honest friend to ask, "Does this dress make me look stupid?"

Like, did nobody have the heart to tell the beautiful Marion Cotillard that while wearing her very, very expensive white Dior gown she had apparently sat down on a very large patch of black duct tape that was now stuck to the bottom of her butt?

Granted, dressing women of a certain size and age can be a challenge.  But it can be done.  I give you two words:  Oprah Winfrey.  That Queen of Zoftig knows how to get Spanx-wrapped and go full out Diva. Not so lucky was Patricia Arquette.  She looked like she had been out in her yard in a too-large white tee-shirt and oversized black pants, her hair grabbed up in a scraggy bun to keep most of it out of her face while she washed the family's laundry in a big bucket, when the phone rang, reminding her it was the Red Carpet hour, so she dropped what she was doing and came as she was -- a hot mess. And take a closer look at her "gown" and you'll see something that looks like it was made at home using an old Singer, by someone who doesn't know how to sew very well -- cheap satin, seams showing. Oh Dear. 

If she actually paid somebody to make her look like that as she headed for the microphone to get her much deserved Oscar, then she should put a bucket of shame on their head. And one on her own. But, alas, too many stars believe their fashionista dressers (huge pay-off money in that let-me-pay-you-to-wear-my-loopy-designs business).  And the result is, too many beautiful ladies earn the ultimate, but much-deserved, acid critique: "Poor Dear, you just had to buy that dress, didn't you?" 

But there was one fashion stand out:  Neil Patrick Harris stripped down to his tighty-whities in a spoof of  Michael Keaton's underwear stroll down Broadway in "Birdman." Basic simplicity in fashion is never out of style and it doesn't get more basic than that.

As for the Oscar show itself, it was one of the best ones I've seen in a long time -- plenty of glitter, plenty of heart-felt and often genuinely sweet acceptance speeches, (Eddie Redmayne's spontaneous little kid  happy-dance at the microphone, Graham Moore's touching and encouraging speech to all the "weird, different kids" out there).  And, best of all, with so many great movies and nominations, all of them worthy,  it was impossible to feel too disappointed by any losses.  It was an embarrassment of riches. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Post



Keep your eyes open to your mercies.  The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.
                                              Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Post



The charm, one might say the genius, of memory is that it is choosy, chancy, and temperamental:  It rejects the edifying cathedral and indelibly photographs the small boy outside, chewing a hunk of melon in the dust. 
                                                                              
 Author Elizabeth Bowen

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Media Credibility LOL

An, poor Brian Williams.  Sent to Coventry without six months worth of nice salary, the chorus of "Boo, Boo! Booooo!" ringing in his ears, some of which are coming from his colleagues who've been waiting for his take down  for some time.  To them, he wasn't NBC's hyped-up "Most Trusted Newscaster in Television,"  he was an ego-puff in an expensive suit, That Guy who never lost an opportunity to remind everyone in the room of his Wonderfulness.  And for guys like that, it's just a matter of time.

Add in the fact that Williams is a very sharp, funny man and a terrific raconteur, and it was all just inevitable. The seduction of being a celebrity, of being the talk-show guest that everybody who's anybody is clamoring for is a temptation few can resist.  Add in the utterly unreliability of memory, the lure of embellishment when telling entertaining tales, and you have the  recipe for disaster:  Ego, spotlight, fungible memory, the unalterable demands of fiction.  It's the banana peel on the top of the stairs time.

Well, no harm, no foul.  The fake hero is disgraced and gets to eat humble pie, his fellow journalists get to preen in their (as yet) unsullied ethical mantles, NBC gets a lot of publicity, the public gets confirmation for their belief in the fakery and unreliability of all news organizations, cynically tossing babies and bathwater alike out the window (thereby making running the long con on them even easier), and stand-up comedians have a field day. 

And instead of using Williams as a wake-up call and demanding (and getting) better news, the public flips the channel and settles for stories of lost kittens and 24/7 coverage of sex-drenched murder trials.  Everything back to normal in Alzheimer Nation.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Oh, Dear God and Oh, Dear God, Not The BOS, Too.

Is there some virus, like measles, going around that seems to make "Christian Republicans" stupid?  Especially a former "Christian Republican Governor," like Jim Gilmore, and makes him stupider than usual?

Obama goes to a National Prayer Breakfast and talk about the high anxiety over "Muslim" anything and points out that evil deeds done in the name of "God" are nothing new.  Then goes on to say, "Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history."  And rather aptly points out that " . . . lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, salvery and Jim Crow all to often was justified in the name of Christ."

At that former Gov. Gilmore's head exploded and he said, "The president's comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I've ever heard a president make in my lifetime.  He has offended every believing Christian in the United States.  This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.'

Seriously?  Gil, Baby, and all your fellow "Christians" need to get a grip.  It's clearly time that you  read up on your history! Being that willfully ignorant is just plain embarrasing.

 FOOD FIGHT AT THE B.O.S! 


Talk about viruses, it seems the famous LOCSD "crazy" germ has been transferred to COLAB (Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business) supporters and they're now appearing at the County Board of Supervisors to take over for the LOCSD Sewer Gang as the Favorite People the Board Loves to Growl At.  You know, those people?

But this time, anti-COLABers have both Tom Fulks, Bruce Gibson's political operative, AND Bruce Gibson, AND the Tribune editor in their corner.  It's a kind of political trifecta that promises much excitement just when the Sewer Wars were winding down and the BOS was about to return to its sleepy old comity.

No such luck. 

First, back on August 1, 2014, Ron Crawford posted a blog entry titled "Bruce Gibson's 'Evil Genius in the Back Room,' and Why I Predict Four Awkward Years in SLO County Government," at http://www.sewerwatch.blogspot.com   all about Tom Fulks, Bruce Gibson's, uh, "political consultant/operative," who, uh, let us say, has an active presence in the politi-sphere.

Then, before you know it, up pops Tom as the Tribune's "liberal" half of a new "liberal/conservative" op/ed section. Before anyone can say,  "Huh, Whaaaa???" things get rolling.  On Feb 1, Tom rolls out a huge hit-piece on COLAB, railing against "secretive" folks who hide their identities and sneak around while taking pot shots at their political "enemies." (Which struck me as rather funny after reading Ron's piece about Tom's own alleged sneak-around operations?)

Somewhere between the first Op/Ed, and Tom's Feb 1 huge anti-COLAB take-down, the Tribune editor, Sandra Duerr gets an email from Ron asking whether or not the new Op/Ed kids were getting paid for their scribbling? And had Duerr read or was aware of Ron's Aug 1, 2014 Sewerwatch blog posting on Tom's ongoing paid professional/political activities?

The answer came on  Feb 5, with Ms. Duerr's Tribune editorial reply that "local people who are writing commentaries are not paid for contributions . . ." and noting that Tom's first op/ed piece included some background on each writer.  What went missing was the question concerning whether or not Tom is still acting  in any way on Gibson's behalf or is funded, in any way, by Gibson's campaign organization, etc.  In other words, full disclosure.

Then the fur really flew.  At Tuesday's BOS meeting, what should have been a routine changing of the guard (Whose turn was it to play Chairman.) turned into this weird battle over the "soul" of the BOS -- Liberal Coasters (Gibson, Hill) vs Conservative Rape & Pillage Evil Developers Fronting a Gang of "Lord of the Flies" brutish, Anonymous Malice-Spewing Bullies, Thugs & Hooded Goons. (Or so so alludeth Fulks in his Feb 1 Tribune piece.) That crowd is apparently headed up by the Dreaded Tea Partying Debbie Arnold.

Since things were apparently headed into World War III and because of this glitch in the rotation schedule (said glitch claimed by Gibson to have been caused by Gibson), Frank Mecham figured he'd head off the worst of the vitriol allegedly dumped on his head and so fell upon his sword for the Greater Good and stepped down so Debbie Arnold could get her turn at being Chairwoman in hopes that everyone would shut up and get back to working for the good of the community instead of squabbling over who got to bang the gavel for a year. He also wanted to end the perception of a "good ol' boys" Board and nominated Lynn Compton for Adam Hill's slot as Veep-Chair. So we get to have Ladies Nite for a year.  Apparently a lot of the folks in the audience were happy with that odd "compromise," and thanked Mecham for being a "gentleman" about this whole thing.  

Which should have settled the affair except on Feb 6 there was a Tribune editorial tossing brickbats to everyone and declaring that the whole thing stunk of politics while hurling a few brickbats at COLAB.  Meanwhile, on the next page was a long Viewpoint from Supervisor Gibson "apologizing" for allowing the routine rotation issue to get politicized.  He  took a few hefty swipes at "Supervisor Arnold, encouraged by her COLAB coaches and cheerleaders [who] has decided to thoroughly politize what was once a collegial, nonpartisan yearly rite of passage."  He then threw Frank Mecham under the bus with a hilarious bit of faux sorrow.  Said Gibson, "In any case, Frank Mecham, I'm sorry that my procedural oversight exposed you to this bulling and that you chose to abandon your chairmanship."

You lying, weasle-bellied, lilly-livered, waffle-spined, cowardly girly-man you!

So much for sleepy, calm, productive Board comity.  Now, how did Ron Crawford put it?  Oh, yes, "Why I Predict Four Awkward Years in SLO County Government."  Good call, Ron.  Good call.

As for me, I'm gonna open up a popcorn stand outside the BOS doors.  Make a mint. 
  

Monday, February 02, 2015

Morro Bay Clowns, Pirates, and Little Kids

Ah, Poor Morro Bay.  Last year the city hired Devin Weigant of Municipal Auditing Services (MAS) to pull an Inspector Javert on the city and track down anyone, including "outside vendors" who do business within the Morro Bay city limits and see if they have the proper business license.  Weigant and MAS will get 40% of whatever monies he can shake out of the pockets of the business community.

The reason for the sudden enforcement of what has been, apparently, a lax and sloppily administered law, was the city is, well, broke-ish and needs mo’ money.  But it turned out Inspector Javert’s ham-handed enforcement methods left a lot of business folks feeling insulted, threatened and, above all, totally confused and angry.

And now, Colin Rigley of New Times got his hands on 492 pages of emails between Weigant’s firm and the city staff, including the city’s new Manager, David Buckingham.  And, being New Times, “The Shredder” had to chime in as well.  I don’t think MAS will be amused.  Neither will the good folks of Morro Bay when they read what Mr. Weigant had to say about them in those emails.
( http://www.newtimesslo.com/news/11955/clowns-and-weed-huts-new-times-reviews-hundreds-of-pages-of-emails-between-morro-bay-and-its-business-license-auditor/)

Well, who can blame them? The original roll out of this enforcement effort wasn’t ready for prime time.  Even after some modifications, it still isn’t ready. 

This is one of those ordinances that’s been on the books for years, wasn’t really widely known or diligently enforced, and needed  considerable re-working and re-thinking before being turn-keyed. None of which happened here.

Instead, business owners woke up to what they perceived to be threats and bully-boy tactics when they tried to inquire or appeal.  They were faced with totally confusing information (at an early public meeting, officials didn’t know whether the income parameters were for net or gross).  They were also facing an ordinance filled with strange loopholes, exceptions, disparities that left the city staff scrambling to make patches, and soon these bungles started to reveal a poorly written and considered law that was filled with unintended consequences.

For example, the owner of one of the city’s consignment stores pointed out that her consigners really made so little selling their art or collectables  that if they had to cough up big bucks for a license, they’d simply leave town and she’d be out of business.  Artists chimed up to note that if they had a show in a Morro Bay gallery a couple of times a year, they’d be dinged with a huge bill for the license and 4 years of back fees, an untenable hit for an artist who may only sell a few pieces of work a year.
They too would leave town.  After all, why would any artist bring their work to any gallery in town, when no other gallery in the county requires such an expensive license?

Realizing they were faced with some unintended consequences heading their way, the City Council created a second tier of fees for artists, small crafters, etc.  But, I recently heard (unconfirmed) that thanks to some lobbying, musicians were now exempted while (visual) artists are still stuck with what could turn out to be fees totaling $160 just to hang a picture in town. If true, then clearly this cobbled together law still needs  more work.

Meantime, Weigant & Co’s emails have done nothing to improve the mood of the Morro Bay business community.  Calling them “scoflaws,” “child like” and “clowns” when they were just trying to make sense of, clarify and appeal what was so obviously a poorly written, confusing ordinance, is not a way to make friends or influence people.

And for a town that relies for so much of its tax money on small businesses, hiring MAS now looks like one of those penny wise, pound foolish desperate measures elected officials make when stressed over flagging budgets. 

Instead of doing the hard work of consulting with and understanding the communities’ business structure in order to construct and perhaps amend and improve on previous ordinances to enhance both small business and the city’s coffers, they just grabbed at a rain-making Inspector Javert who came roaring into town promising  that coins would fall out of the sky with little or no work on their part.

Knowing Morro Bay Politics, it’s a choice that’s likely to have consequences --unintended, many of them unhappy, few of them necessary. But then, in a city filled with “clowns,” what can you expect?