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Archive for the ‘Pookies Adventures’ Category

The weather was warm and sunny today, the temperature reaching into the 80s. We decided to go out wander along the edge of the nearby American River. Although we were breaking confinement, we were sure we would not violate social distancing guidelines because usually there were not too many people wandering around there. We walked to our favorite spot on the riverbank. Along the way, Naida, as usual, instructed me on the local flora.

We sat on some dry grass and watched people on the opposite bank launch a boat and the birds taking off and landing on the water. Naida recited a part of a love poem that featured rabid cormorants. She also, for some reason, sung an old Sam Cooke tune:

Every day, along about evening
When the sunlight’s beginning to pale
I ride through the slumbering shadows
Along the Navajo Trail

 

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The American River by the Enchanted Forest.

 

Before she became an accomplished novelist, Naida obtained a Ph.D. in sociology. Her 1978 thesis was entitled Leadership, and Gender: A Comparative Analysis of Male and Female Leadership in Business, Politics, and Government. She had previously published a book on the early results of her study entitled, Leadership With A Feminine Cast. She interviewed for her book and thesis such people as Ivy Baker Priest US Treasurer in the Eisenhower Administration who famously quipped, “I’m often wrong, but never in Doubt”; Ruth Handler of Mattel fame; Jess Unruh the powerful leader of California’s Assembly and over 70 other well known civic and business leaders.

We spent much of the day reading sections from the thesis. It was fascinating for me to learn that an overwhelming majority of these leaders, most of whom were and still are household names, were the children of immigrants or, in the case of African Americans, had migrated from the South. Another consistent element in almost all of their lives was the presence of a strong mother. One female leader commented:

“My grandmother never wanted to come to the United States. She made my grandfather unhappy some of the time. For instance, she wanted to see the Panama Canal. So she left to see it. She said. “If all these kids can’t take care of him, something is wrong (fourteen children) My grandmother went off to more places than you can imagine in those days when traveling was difficult.”

 

What seemed to differ in the lives of the women leaders from the men, other than the resistance of the latter to the aspirations of the former, was that women generally worked harder to get where they were. As for management and leadership skills, the men mostly learned and honed their skills in the military and tended to manage their institutions in a hierarchical top-down manner. The women, on the other hand, generally tried to encourage a feeling of family in their organizations with her as the matriarch. In fact, the woman leaders overwhelmingly reveled in being considered different in how they dressed, behaved, and led.

(Note — because women leaders overwhelmingly were the children of immigrants Naida specifically choose male children of immigrant parents to balance it out. She said, in either case, women or children of immigrants [including people of color] had a more difficult time of it than white males [and they were aware of it])

Days have rolled on by with little to comment on other than that the days of our confinement have increased. We have begun losing track of the days of the week. We have been in self-quarantine for about 50 days now — almost 15% of the year.

Interesting — the retirement village not too far from the Enchanted Forest that has been actively promoting us to choose them when we inevitably decide it is time to enter an assisted living facility, called today and offered us a free dinner from the local restaurant of our choice delivered to our home this evening. We chose Zinfandel a somewhat expensive Italian-American restaurant that we enjoy eating at.

In the afternoon, I drove up into the Golden Hills to see Hayden. I arrived just as he returned with SWAC from buying flowers for planting around the house. I put on my mask and rubber gloves and kept my social distance as he proudly showed me what they had been planting these past few days. In the side yard, they had planted about eight trees — a Japanese Maple, an orange tree, a lemon tree, apricot and peach trees, pomegranate, and some Thai fruit trees. I do not know how well some of these trees will do in that environment.

The front yard, actually a slope from the garage up to the road, has been planted with many flowers and an olive tree. On a bare area between two massive redwood trees next to the driveway had been used for burying pets — Pepe and Pesca the two Bichons, a crayfish, a couple of lizards, a tiny snake and a large goldfish named Sharky — they planted few clumps of flowers on that hallowed ground.

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I then returned home.

Shortly after my arrival, our free dinner that I had been eagerly anticipating arrived. It was a hamburger for me and chicken tacos for Naida. I was disappointed and pissed. What’s worse, the meat looked and tasted like it came in a can.

This afternoon we took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. It was sunny and warm, in the upper 70s. We tried to find paths we had never walked before and we did. At one point we found ourselves by the lake and sat there awhile enjoying the view.
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Land Park is a large park in Sacramento. The Sacramento Zoo is located there. According to Naida, the developer of the area originally created it as an amenity for his real estate development. He went on to be elected mayor of the city.

We decided to visit it today, taking all the care necessary to avoid breaching social-distancing guidelines. Equipped with masks and rubber gloves we walked around a lake and through the rock garden.

The story about the rock garden: In the late 1930s a woman began planting the garden in the public park. The city did nothing to stop her. They even gave her an award for her efforts. After she died, the garden she worked so hard on was taken over by the city. I do not know if any of this is true, but history is a story and if the story is good enough then it is good enough. As Pratchett writes, “We make up our world according to the stories that we tell ourselves, and each other, about it.” (Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.)

For the next few days, the weather hovered in the mid-80s. Sunny with a slight breeze. I placed a folding camp chair in a spot of shade in the back yard and spent much of the afternoon dozing with the dog lying at my feet and now and then typing things like I am doing now. I wonder why lazing away outdoors in sunny weather is so pleasant and not boring at all, while sitting indoors often feels tedious and uncomfortable. Perhaps Peter knows. He understands things like this. I consider him a master keeper of obscure and unconventional notions.

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I think I will go up to bed. Napping also is neither boring nor unpleasant.

That night after I got up, we watched The Sunshine Boys for perhaps the fifth or sixth time in the last month. I did not want to. I thought of going back to bed. I couldn’t. I love that movie. One could say I liked it because of the timing between the actors, the directing, Neil Simon’s script, seeing Gorge Burn’s again on the screen, or Matthau tearing up the scenery. No, I liked it because it was about old guys. Also, because once, at a Coastal Commission meeting, I was mistaken by the press for Walter Matthau. I would have preferred being mistaken for Rock Hudson.

Last night, I had a dream. No not a dream about freedom from four centuries of oppression. Instead, I was riding the bus. I do not know where that bus was or where it was going, but something about it made me think it was somewhere in San Francisco. I was sitting as usual in one of the reserved for seniors and handicapped seats that are generally filled by 20 somethings or the mentally ill. Anyway, the bus was full of men — stuffed full. They started hassling and ultimately punching me. Eventually, I fought back, swinging my cane and discovered they were all ghosts because when struck they each disappeared in a puff of smoke — except for four big heavyset men. They were real and, hopeless as it may have seemed, I waded in, punching them with all my might only to wake up and discover I was punching Naida. Having experienced this before, she knew enough to avoid my punches and calm me down until I fell back to sleep.

The next morning I felt physically, mentally and emotionally like dog shit so after breakfast and a bit of news about our Commander in Chief recommending we shoot up with Clorox to cure us of the plague and stop us from criticizing him, I drove into the Golden Hills to visit HRM in hope that it would cheer me up. Donning my mask and gloves, I met him and Jake in front of the house and accompanied them on a walk through their most recent plantings at the back. Haden now has a bedroom on the bottom floor with a large deck extending into the backyard. He has festooned his deck with flowering plants everywhere, hanging from the rafters, on the floor, and in the backyard. He has included a large wisteria bush that he plans to train to extend onto the deck.

The next day or perhaps the day after, we packed some soft drinks, a box of Fig Newtons, some coffee and Boo-boo the Barking Dog into the car, and set off for a ghost town on the banks of the Mokelumne River Naida had visited a few years ago. We drove through the Gold Country on Route 49, until we came to the turnoff to the town. Alas, the road was closed. “Let’s walk” I suggested. “How far can it be?”

So we parked the car and set off. The walk started out delightfully. The route ran along the banks of the river that snaked through the foothills of the Sierras. California Poppies, Lupine, and many other spring wildflowers covered the hills. A blue oak and Digger pine forest grew along the banks of the river.

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The Mokelumne River through arches of blue oak.

 

 

The town we were heading to was originally built to house the workers building a hydroelectric project on the river. Now and then small groups of hikers passed us along the road some of them looked like they had been bathing in the river. As the walk lengthened, I began to grow tired. I asked a group of young men coming down the path how far it was. “Not far,” they responded. Of course, “Not far,” for some 20-year-olds and “Not far,” for an eighty-year-old are two entirely different concepts.
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My plan was to walk as far as I could. Not too far (80-year-old far) from where we passed the young men, I had reached my limit and sat, exhausted, in some shade at the side of the road. I realized my plan to only walk as far as I could was flawed. I still had to walk back.

Naida, being healthier and more athletic than I, felt no such fatigue. Nonetheless, She agreed we should head back. And so we did. I walked from shadow to shadow and collapsed at just about everyone we came to. At one point I considered keeling over and forcing Naida to call for an ambulance.

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Naida discovered an unusual poppy along the way.

 

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She also found some bush lupine growing by the road.

 

 

Once we left the path to walk a few steps to the river so the dog could get a drink. (Did I fail to mention that despite bringing copious amounts of water and juice and Fig Newtons along, we left them all back in the car) While the dog was drinking his fill, a big black snake with golden stripes slithered out from under some detritus just after they passed. I thought it might be the California version of the east-coast deadly coral snake except 10 times larger. Not being much of a woodsman, I did the only thing I could think of. I screamed. “What’s the matter?” Naida responded. “A big snake,” said I. “What color?” she inquired. The snake had disappeared into the grass by now. “Yellow with black stripes,” I said. “Oh, no problem, they eat baby rattlesnakes” she explained. Not knowing if that made me feel any better, we slowly and for me agonizingly made our way back to the car without further mishap except for me almost stepping on an evil-looking thing that Naida said was an alligator lizard that she said grew much larger than the specimen I almost stepped on.
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Just after taking this photo, the snake appeared from beneath some fallen piece of bark at the foot of the tree.

 

 

(In case you wonder about my relationship with the natural environment, I am a city boy. As Neuwirth said, “We get nose bleeds if our feet are not touching cement.” We may love the wonders of nature but still prefer to sleep in our beds at night. We like the wonder better than the feeling of nature on our skin. That is why for some of us, our knowledge may be deficient but the wonder never dies. Sort of like, believing in God is a lot more pleasant than actually meeting the bearded old bastard.)

Back at the car, we drank copious amounts of water. Naida drove us back while I dozed and recovered. Back home we discovered the Fig Newtons were missing. We had not eaten any. We suspected the culprit was Boo-boo the Barking Dog, but we could find no evidence. (He is a very sloppy eater.) Perhaps it was the alligator lizard.

The next day, fully recovered from my adventure, I set off for SF for some CT scans. Traffic was so light, I was able to get back by early afternoon in time for lunch. After lunch, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting and dozing on a chair in the back yard. I one point, Naida woke me from my reverie to inform me that she had just discovered a nest of black widow spiders in a cranny in the wall near where I had been resting.

That evening we watched every episode of Ricky Gervais’ network series After Life. It was great. One of the best things I have seen in a long long while. It was about a man with deep unrelieved depression and a group of extremely odd but often engaging characters with whom he was involved. It resonated with me. It seemed to say a life of pathological depression is livable and amusing. See it you’ll like it.

Finally, this morning I awoke, the room was dark, Naida’s body was pressed against my back. “It must be early,” I thought. Boo-boo the Barking Dog had not yet barked his wake up bark. I turned over to give Naida a hug and as I did so I heard a low growl. It was the dog in my arms. I looked up at the clock it was almost noon and the shutters on the window were still closed.

Later the doctor called about the results of the CT scan he said cancer in my neck has not grown but a nodule in my chest had thickened and he will be speaking with the surgeon about removing it.
That was how my day began today. I wonder how the rest of it will play out…

And, that was my past week or two of self-confinement. How was yours?

Take care.

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I read somewhere that there is no reality only story — no matter, no energy, no universe, no love, no sorrow, no up or down — only stories. So, what is my story? This is especially pertinent now as I sit here during the great self-confinement of 2020. Who knows? Who cares? I only want to get back to a different story. One I used to know, with people I know. With goals other than simply waiting it all out. Does this make me a delusional bundle of narrative? You know, between you me and the storyteller, I don’t really care. I want out.

This morning I woke up earlier than I have for the past week or so. It was sunny outside following a couple of days of rain. That lifted my spirits. That and the fact that I had finally slept well after a few nights of disturbing dreams.

After screwing around on my smartphone a while (you know checking messages, reviewing the weather reports, sport stories, Facebook posts, and a porn site or two) I got up, did significantly less than half of the exercises prescribed for me by the physical therapist. I took my pills (Those that I have left), brushed my teeth, patted down my hair, and dressed. I then set off downstairs for breakfast.

Naida, as usual, had arisen much earlier than I in response to Boo-boo the Barking Dog’s barking. She went downstairs with him to let him out into the backyard to do his thing. I have come to believe this is more convenient and neighborly than putting the dog on a leash and taking him out to do his thing on the neighbor’s property.

After that, as usual, she, still in her housecoat, made her coffee and sat in her recliner to watch the morning news.

I strolled down the stairs slammed open the doors to the study where she was quietly sitting at peace enjoying her coffee with the dog on her lap and I belted out:

Hello my baby, hello my honey
Hello my ragtime gal
Send me a kiss by wire,
Baby, my heart’s on fire,

I do this routine at least four times a week (sometimes, but not often, I change the tune). I do not really know how this goes off with Naida. She always smiles and gives me a kiss when I bend my head down to receive one. Boo-boo the Barking Dog on the other hand generally scampers off her lap and hides under the desk. There are critics everywhere.

It rained for a day or two, I do not recall for how long. I have a vague recollection of writing in here about the minutia of our lives, but, if I had, it clearly has disappeared, most likely caused by the imps of the computer, those arbiters and critics of our life nowadays.

Anyway, today the seventh day of April the sun came out. The washing away of the pollen and civilizations grit (with an assist from social distancing) allowed nature to shamefully but happily expose itself with sparkling clarity. The tree on my back yard whose colors, the vibrancy of which, I rely upon to tell me that the glory of the day was worth experiencing gleamed in splendor.

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Frank called from Florida shortly after I had settled into my recliner with my usual breakfast of coffee and toasted English muffins slathered in butter and marmalade. He, like the rest of us, has settled into self-imprisonment comfortably having had the pleasure of experiencing its, joys, sorrows, and tedium in a far different circumstance a number of years ago. Like me and you and most of the world, he spends a lot of his time before the television viewing movies like a movie critic on steroids. He suggested I see “The Godfather of Harlem” a series of which about 10 episodes have been shown. It stars Forest Whitaker as the Godfather. He said it portrays many of the Italian Mafiosi I have met (Like Frank Costello) in actual historical events. He also recommended “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie described as “The true story of Pennsylvanian [USA] biker Sam Childers, who overcame a life of drugs and violence to embrace Christianity and wage a 13-year war to free enslaved child in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, Africa.”

After exchanging stories of our current confinement, I hung up and looking out of the room and through the sliding glass doors into at the splendor outside (a good name for a television movie), I suggested to Naida that we break out of our socially imposed confinement, leash up Boo-boo the Barking Dog, jump in the car and drive to Discovery Park. And so, we did.

Discovery Park lies on a low bluff at the confluence of the Sacramento and American River. The Native Americans called the area Mo’mol, (pronounced mok mal) The Big Drink.

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Someone Fishing at the Confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers. (The clear waters American River coming from the right meets the muddy waters of the Sacramento. The buildings of downtown Sacramento loom in the distance.)

 

The Maidu group of Native-Americans inhabited this area of Sacramento around the Park prior to the arrival of the Spanish. According to Naida, this area in effect could be considered a Native-American town because of the number of villages supported by the enormous fecundity of the immediate area.

The park area itself during that period, according to Naida, was park-like, a meadow with huge trees of Black Walnut, Cottonwoods, Valley Oaks, and Sycamores growing around.

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Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog resting by the Massive Trunk of a Cottonwood.

 

Large trees still dot the landscape.

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The Native-Americans from the villages would often gather on the meadow for festivals and other get-togethers. Naida said that when the first Spanish explorers arrived at the confluence of the rivers and noticed its park-like visage and grazing elk one of them exclaimed that it was so beautiful it was like a sacrament of God. Hence the name Sacramento was born.

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oday the park is a bit unkempt. Still, there were hikers, bicycle riders, and a few people just lounging around, all social distancing and enjoying the day. Many of Sacramento’s homeless were there also. They too were social distancing from one another and everyone else.

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That evening after returning home, I was exhausted and irritable. Trying to figure out what is going on after going through the usual, I suddenly remembered that I had run out of my happy pills several days ago. I had started taking them about 12 years or more ago because I was fed up with my inability to control myself when I was under stress or fatigued and convinced my psychoanalyst at the time that pills were quicker and less expensive than he was. Naida told me that Bill had been taking similar medicine to deal with some of the physical and psychological effects of his last months and she still had some. So I will be taking them tonight if we can find them.

The next day, I arranged for my original prescriptions to be filled. I was still feeling bad so Naida drove me to the Walgreens in El Dorado Hills to pick up those prescriptions and after that, we collected our groceries at the pickup spot at the Raley’s near our home.

On Thursday I drove into SF for my immunotherapy appointment. After parking, I put on my face mask. As I entered the Hospital everyone else was also wearing a mask and it was strangely quiet. After the treatment Drove to Peter’s house where Peter, Barrie, and I had a brief social distancing discussion through the car window. Then I drove home.

Friday was a day for naps.

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Would you believe that six months ago I was bald?

 

Today is my 28th day in self-quarantine. It has begun to feel like years. I never thought that by becoming a recluse I would be seen as being socially conscious. On the other hand, in my case and a few others, I can think of, that may be true.

This evening in keeping with the national social distancing policies during the coronavirus epidemic, Naida, Peter, Barrie, and I had a virtual dinner party. Naida and I were in our house in the Enchanted Forest here in Sacramento and Peter and Barrie were nestled in their home in Noe Valley in the Big Endive by the Bay. We were connected to each other by FaceTime. Naida and I enjoyed fettuccini arrabbiata with a side of raw cabbage and washed it all down with cran-raspberry juice. Peter and Barrie were dieting and refrained from dinner. We had a good time. We discussed these days of social distancing and the impact of the current plague on coffee and comfort.

I wonder when this epidemic is over if we will not find ourselves in a totally different world. People are discovering new ways to entertain themselves by devising different means of enjoying social interactions with others through the internet. And, what is more important, we are now beginning to find them enjoyable. Shopping has changed. Corporations may find that passing on the cost of real-estate to work at home employees is beneficial to their bottom line. I guess what I am saying is that we won’t go back to the way we lived before the plague nor how we worked. Whatever the trends and possibilities of the so-called connected society that may have been coming will be greatly accelerated by this damned plague.

On this same subject, while prowling through the internet, I came across the following in Daily Kos:

 

Here are some of the things that are going to fundamentally change.
A big return of Keynesian economics. Almost overnight, Republicans ditched their austerity mantra and quickly voted for a $2 trillion stimulus. There was no talk of “we need to balance the budget;” instead there was talk about keeping people whole.
A return to government expertise. Watching Dr. Fauci and other experts during this crisis has been very comforting because they tell the truth (which stands in stark contrast to Trump). Polls show that the public trusts them. Once this is over, expect the public to become a lot more comfortable with expertise.
A rise of teleworking: Modern technology allows people to work remotely. I’ve observed there’s a clear generational divide regarding this idea: old people dislike it, younger people are all over it. Once this is over, expect this idea to become part of the modern workforce
A huge rise in automation. One of the big problems with manufacturing in the current crisis is that large groups of people have to be in close proximity, which prevents social distancing. Expect factories to adopt automation at a faster pace to ramp-up production as this thing comes to an end. And this will lead to …
A future discussion and eventual adoption of Universal Basic Income: I’m behind in understanding the specifics of this concept, but I understand the basic idea, which is pure Keynesian in concept. Expect this to become a commonly expressed idea.
A complete rethinking of the US health care system. Watching this disaster unfold one thing has become very clear: the healthcare system has to change in a big way. I have no idea what it will look like. But it’s going to change. (https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/3/29/1932324/-Accept-That-Everything-You-Understand-About-the-World-Will-Fundamentally-Change?utm_campaign=trending)

 

I am not so sure about some of these but clearly, times are changing.

This morning Naida awoke with severe pain in her right shoulder. She believes it is a return of something that occurred several years ago that was alleviated by a trip to a chiropractor. I am not so sure. Tonight, we watched Fiddler on the Roof for the umpteenth time. Before that, we saw Sterling Hayden in a great Noir feature whose name I forgot, and before that one with Cary Grant playing a doctor and before that…well, you get the picture. All the movies were very good, unlike some of those we see on other nights.

I usually work on my computer, read or eat during the movies. I, also, sometimes just sit there daydreaming — not so much fantasy or mulling over regrets but debating with myself about things like:

Is sufficiently advanced magic practically indistinguishable from technology? Or, can we hear the thoughts of thunderstorms or the conversations of dogs? And, for something to be true, does it have to be expressed in numbers? If so, does nature care whether humans can do sums? Also, if God were separate from the material universe, would then there be an entity greater than God, namely, the entire universe plus God? Even, which of the King’s sons win the hand of the fair princess? Perhaps, does feminism address the same questions as male-oriented models? Also, why is it the three Rs and not two Rs and an A? In addition, are homo sapiens not ‘wise men’ but apes that got what they wanted or were they simply apes who gave up trying? And finally, what really is ‘the magic word’?
(Note: Thanks to T. Pratchett’s The Science Of Discworld II, for much of the foregoing paragraph.)

I am getting sick of movies. Today they were all about baseball.

Today, a day or two after the baseball movies, I decided to move into the living room from the studio in order to get away from the tv while reading. I was immediately rewarded with a bit of a new and erotic interpretation of fairy tales like Cinderella. Most fairy tales, as that old lecher Freud pointed out some with a fairly racy interpretation and so does cinder girl’s glass slipper. It seems in the old German version of the tale, the young women of the kingdom gave the lusty young prince their “fur slipper” to try on for size. When the story arrived in France and was translated in that language ‘verre.’ Verre can be translated as either ‘glass’ or ‘fur’. The Grimm brothers went for the hygienic alternative, saving parents the danger of embarrassing explanations.

As long as I am going on about the real story behind the fairy tales of our youth, here is another one from the irrepressible Terry Pratchett.

“Rumpelstiltskin was an interestingly sexual parable, too, a tale to program the idea that female masturbation leads to sterility. Remember the tale? The miller’s daughter, put in the barn to ‘spin straw into gold’, virginally sits on a little stick that becomes a little man … The dénouement has the little man, when his name is finally identified, jumping in to ‘plug’ the lady very intimately, and the assembled soldiers can’t pull him out. In the modern bowdlerized version, this survives vestigially as the little man pushing his foot through the floor and not being able to pull it out, a total non sequitur. So none of those concerned, king, miller or queen, can procreate (the stolen first child has been killed by the soldiers), and it all ends in tears. If you doubt this interpretation, enjoy the indirection: ‘What is his name? What is his name?’ recurs in the story. What is his name? What is a stilt with a rumpled skin? Whoops. The name has an equivalent derivation in many languages, too.”
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

 

I much prefer my fairy tales explained to me by Terry Pratchett than Joseph Campbell, don’t you?

Several days have gone by mostly sitting here in my recliner with the television rumbling on and Naida dozing off on the recliner next to me with the dog asleep on her lap. Sometimes I dip into Pratchett’s four volumes of The Science of Discworld and extract one phrase or another to paste in here for lack of anything else to write about.

Naida just woke up and told me that it is time to walk the dog. I used to think it was some obligation that life forced upon those with dogs in their house. Now I respond like the dog, excitedly running around the house tongue hanging out and looking for the leash.

Last night I thought, no believed, I had caught the dread coronavirus and was going to die before morning. A tickle in my throat, an upset stomach, a feeling of general malaise, and a few other things I no longer remember had me terrified. Naida said it was just a springtime allergy and gave me our last Loratadine pill. I was dubious and remained convinced of my imminent death. This morning I woke up feeling great. Later in the day, she discovered Loratadine pills she had purchased for the dog containing enough pills for all three of us to get through the next few weeks.

Today, whatever day this is, Naida scheduled a video conference call with her daughters, Sarah and Jennifer. She spent a few hours excitedly preparing for it — changing clothes, straightening her hair, reviewing the directions for operating the application. Boo-boo the Barking Dog slept and I happily banging away on the computer keys here recording the event. Thinking about it all, I could have been more up to date by recording everything on my smart-phone, but instead, I attempt to record it in words on paper— oops, on my screen. Damn, I wrote the word “paper” in the last sentence, and spellcheck changed it to “tape.” I give up, even the machines know what’s coming.

Alas, Naida’s conference call sadly was canceled in part because of technical difficulties.

Today I woke up at noon after a night of horrid dreams. It is raining outside and bit dreary but the tree at the back of the yard, at the height of its spring colors, cheered me up.

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That’s all. Keep on social distancing. Remember to say hello to yourself in the mirror every morning. You are always there for you.

 

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A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE BIG ENDIVE BY THE BAY:

 

Well, with the reality show that was the SOTU, the tragic comedy of the Senate Republican’s acquittal of He Who is Not My President and the unending melodrama of the Iowa caucus behind me, I decided I had enough entertainment overload for a while and set off to the Big Endive by the Bay and the peace of my immunotherapy infusion.

We traveled by train and arrived at Peter and Barrie’s home in the late afternoon. We spent a delightful evening together. Barrie cooked her usual wonderful meal after which we spent hours telling stories. Most of the stories that evening were about travel — Peter and Barrie’s time in India and my experiences in Israel. I told about the wonders of the old city of Jerusalem, of my friendship with the Bethlehem Muslim antiquities dealer who had purchased the original Dead Sea Scrolls from the Arab tribesmen that discovered them. I also spoke about the mysteries of Masada, Qumran, and the Negev. We also swapped tales of Paris (We’ll always have Paris) with a side trip to Bordeaux, and Rome ( The Eternal City) and its environs.

The next day Peter drove Naida and me to UCSF for my immunotherapy infusion. After the appointment, we went to the Mission Rock Cafe for lunch. Mission Rock, located on the shore of the Bay a few blocks from the hospital at Mission Bay, was a favorite dive during Counter Culture times. It has now been converted to a somewhat upscale restaurant. After a reasonably good meal, we left and returned by train to the Enchanted Forest.

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Naida at Mission Rock Resort Pondering the Menu.

 

 

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Pookie by the Salesforce Tower.

 

 

 

B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

 
The next day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM from school and to fetched this month’s medicines from the pharmacy. The sun was shining and the weather pleasant, in the upper-sixties. Hayden and I had lunch at Subway’s and he once again impressed me with how rapidly he is becoming an adult.

I am distressed at the state of my memory. Throughout the day, my mind is bubbling with ideas about what I would like to write here in T&T, but when I sit at my computer to actually write, nada, nothing. We did watch “The Irishman” on Netflix last night — vintage Scorsese. It was a story about two bygone eras. The first described the power and decline of the Italian Mafia. The second seemed to me to celebrate the end of the Actor’s Studio’s influence on movies and theater as DeNiro, Pacino, Scorsese, Keitel, and Pesci (Pesci was not Actors Studio trained, but may as well have been) flaunting their ancient acting chops across the big screen. We will not see their like again.
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Today, Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee once again. We met a woman who taught photography in Sacramento and Florence, Italy. Earlier in her life, she attended a two-week photographic safari in Montana. She volunteered to cook because the existing cook’s cooking was despised by the campers who had paid good money for the trip. She worked for the company for many years. Later, in Italy, she opened a bread bakery of some sort in Spoleto. We spoke about photography for a while. I gave her my view of aesthetics and art, “You do the best with whatever you got unless you have got to make a living out of it. Then you do whatever sells.”

Later I took H, Jake, and Ethan out for lunch at the Relish House in the Golden Hills. We ate hamburgers with complex toppings and talked about things of interest to teenagers, cars mostly.

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Ethan, Hayden, and Jake

 
Still later, back in the Enchanted Forest, Naida collected some camellias. Some were placed in a shallow bowl to float on the water. Others were used for adornment.
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Naida of the Camellias.

 

 

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On Tuesday, we were visited by Lillian Valee a friend of Naida’s, a fellow author, a poet, and a renowned translator of things Polish. She had been the student assistant to Czeslaw Milosz, a Polish writer, winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for literature (poetry). She had assisted Milosz in translating his book Bells of Winter and other writings into English. Her book, Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tule is a marvelous collection of her columns written for the local museum publication describing the history of the flora and fauna of the Central Valley around the Mukouleme River and Modesto.

We walked the few steps from the Enchanted Forest to the banks of the American River. There we sat on a log for a while and watched evening drift down upon us. Naida and Lillian spoke of things literary while I threw stones into the water and petted Boo-boo the Barking Dog who lay dozing at my feet dreaming dog things.

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The American River at Winter’s End.

 

img_7905Naida West(http://www.bridgehousebooks.com/) and Lillian Vallee sitting on the banks of the American River discussing things literary while Boo-boo the Barking Dog enjoys the late afternoon sun.

 

 

IMG_7892 - Version 2Lillian and Naida. 

 
The next day we had a pleasant breakfast and discussed, Modesto, Eugene O’Neal, cooking, family, things Polish, Naida’s early life, native Americans, and a lot more. I eventually left Naida and Lillian to their chitchat at the breakfast table and with Boo-boo the Barking Dog in tow retreated to the study where I wrote this while Boo-boo napped. For some reason, I felt ill, chilled. I put myself to bed and slept for a few hours. When I had awakened, Lillian had already left to return to her home in Modesto.

Tomorrow, people will be coming to put in new flooring for the house. While moving some things around in preparation, Naida opened and old chest. In it was some of the clothing her great-great-grandmother had worn when she arrived in America in the 1840s almost 180 years ago. She decided to do dress up.

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Naida as the well-dressed Scottish immigrant of the 1840s.

 

 

IMG_7921A more formal version.

 

 
After watching a silly movie featuring a classical pianist, a singer and an all harmonica band, we went to bed. Not a bad day at all. I have had far worse.

Today the workers arrived at 8AM and immediately began tearing up the floors in the house in order to put in new floors and carpet. The racket and confusion of activity drove the three of us from the house like refugees from war — homeless and looking for refuge. We ended at Naida’s daughter’s house, sat on the back porch, drank some tea and talked, and talked. The dogs, (Sarah’s two and our one) played frenetically throughout the yard and upon the tool shed. Eventually, we all left except for Sarah’s two dogs, Sarah back to work and Naida, Boo-boo the Barking dog and I, returned home, navigated the noise, mess and apologies and ran upstairs to change for this afternoon’s Happy Hour with the members of the Saturday Mornings Coffee Group at someplace called Clubhouse 56 because it happens to be located on 56th Street in Sacramento. We drank a few Margarita’s. I ate a Hot Dog. We talked with a lot of people but I remember nothing about what we may have talked about. I did talk with Winnie. We compared maladies as we usually do when we meet. Her’s seemed much more distressing than mine.

We returned home after the workers left, made our way through the detritus and materials left behind pending the workers’ return tomorrow and up to the bedroom on the second floor. The floor installers had not yet attacked that floor. We crawled into bed.

Oh, I remember one other thing about the day. The Good/Bad David called from South Dakota to tell me that the temperature there reached one degree Fahrenheit today. I mentioned it was about 70 here in the Enchanted Forest. I invited him down to enjoy some California weather. He said he would think about it as soon as he finishes doing something or other with the cows or something like that.

It is Valentine’s Day. The house is in shambles as various teams of workmen continue tearing up the floor and hammering down new flooring. Naida and I have fled to the studio room to escape the noise of the tools and the Serbian, Chinese, and Mexican shouts of the workers as they lay down the floor. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too.

On Saturday the clattering of the workmen as they put down the carpets upstairs continued. Naida sentenced me to the big recliner in the living room while she cleaned out the studio before they began working in there. In rejecting my assistance, Naida said that there were a lot of personal papers and things lying around she wanted to go through. So Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I happily dozed in the recliner while everyone else worked.

Sunday, I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and Jake and bring them to The Enchanted Forest to help me move some furniture around the house. After completing that chore we went for lunch at a small family-owned Arabic restaurant. The food was surprisingly good.

After a few days of which I remember very little, Naida and I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog to the dog park. While there, some dog pissed on my cane.

It is now Wednesday evening, Naida and I are watching the Democratic Presidential Nomination debate on MSNBC. We sit here talking to the TV set like we were watching a football game. I hate the moderators. They seem more interested in pushing their personal agenda and gotcha games than in encouraging a debate. How about a question like “how do you propose to defeat Trump?” Or, “how is your position on ______ different from that of the present administration?” Nevertheless, there is a lot of shouting, self-justification, and a few apologies. Overall it is enjoyable, like watching a street fight.

It is now Friday evening, things have happened in the past two days have disappeared through the holes in my memory. Tomorrow is another day.

Another Saturday morning at the coffee in the Nepenthe Club House. Winnie’s husband Paul and I have a long talk together. He had been an accomplished architect in Los Angeles until he was diagnosed with incurable cancer. Wanting to spend the last few years in an idyllic setting, he along with Winnie moved to Salmon Idaho. Their house, designed by Paul, sat in a pretty little valley a few miles north of the town. A portion of the Lewis and Clark Trail crossed their property. Close by the Middle Fork of the Salmon River rushes by their home. It is the location of the book Murder On The North Fork written by Naida’s uncle who used to be the Methodist minister in the town. Naida had helped her uncle to write the book, edited and published it. The book told the true story of a murder that occurred in the area about 100 years ago.

Sunday was a day of rest and rest we did.
Tomorrow I leave for the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy treatment. Today, during our walk around the Enchanted Forest, I noticed the ornamental fruit trees were in bloom — the Japanese cherry trees a brazen pink and the whites and reds of the others bursting out here and there along with the camellias adding the blush of color to the lingering shades of winter. I expect, by the time I return from the Big Endive, our back yard will be a riot of spring colors.

Until then, take care of yourselves.

“Crivens”

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POOKIE’S DAZE: Grey Skies, Sadness, and the Coming of Mushrooms and Camellias.

 

 

January and February are dreary months. Grey skies, naked trees whose spindly branches scrape the heavens, slick damp ground, chilling breezes creep through every crack and the silence. In the mornings when I look out through the sliding glass doors to the back yard, I see only the bleakness of the season — a forlorn flower or two, naked trees and gray skies.
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Naida and I spent the past few days watching the impeachment hearings. They fit the season. Dreary and dismal best describes the level of misery to which this nation has fallen. Again and again, the trial managers presented the facts and law that under the rule of law led ineluctably to the verdict they call for. Sadly, it appears the rule of law in our society has been shredded beyond retrieval.

The weekend arrived and I was getting restless. Not energetic mind you, just antsy like there is something I should be doing, exercising perhaps, or singing, maybe even taking a long hot bath. Instead on Saturday, we went to the coffee at Nepenthe Club House. That evening we watched “The Two Popes” on Netflix — great acting to go along with splendid shots of the Vatican and Castel Gandolfo. On Sunday while Naida was off visiting some old friends, I took Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk through the Enchanted Forest. I am always amazed that no matter how many times I have walked through those woods over the almost two years I have lived here, I still find paths I had never walked on before and groves of majestic trees I had never seen.

I returned home to discover that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. Perhaps, as far as history goes, his death is of little importance in light of the real possibility that our nation and even our world is poised on the brink of dissolution if not outright destruction. Nevertheless, the death of someone whose life, exploits, and youthful enthusiasm have been cut short must sadden us all. Like a feather brushing up against my consciousness, it makes me wonder if it presents an analogy for our age, nation, and indeed us all — the hero’s dreams and his enthusiasm for his future come crashing down in an uncontrolled helicopter. Good-by Kobe, I hope you find whatever it was that you devoted your life to.

I then took a nap, my usual remedy for depression. Later we watched a Nordic silent movie, Swedish I believe, in which a woman throws her three-year-old daughter over a cliff, and then she and her lover die frozen to death in a snowstorm. It is interesting how it can be that even when you do little of anything to make you sad, it still can be a miserable day. But then again “tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara)

A few days later, the weather became warm for this time in the year — not balmy but lacking the cold wet chill of the winter months. In the early evening, Naida and I decided to take Boo-boo the Barking Dog on a long walk along the banks of the American River. It was a pleasant evening. There was a slight pink blaze in the sky to the Southwest. The naked trees painted dark stripes across our view of the river. We stopped for a bit at some benches along the path then continued our walk up to the Guy West bridge where we turned away from the river and meandered back home through the Enchanted Forest.
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The pastel colors of the evening.

 

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Naida and I rest for a moment during our walk.
A few days later the surprisingly balmy days continued so I drove into the Golden Hills. I picked up HRM after school at the Skatepark and took him to Nugget Market in Town Center for a healthy lunch of pepperoni pizza and soda. We had a great talk. I enjoy believing that I am the older wiser person guiding the callow youth past the rocky shoals of adolescence — an affectation, I know. He on the other hand, given his sweet temperament, probably considers it as spending a little time indulging a garrulous and lonely old man.

The next day, I returned to the Golden Hills for my physical therapy appointment. Before the appointment, I picked HRM and Jake from school and drove them to a nearby restaurant called the Relish House that served pretty good hamburgers. They chatted away about cars. H was excited that he had spent a day or two “detailing” Dick’s Mom’s automobile, a 30-year-old Honda. The car became Dick’s after his mom died and he promised it to H when he becomes old enough to drive in a year or so. H’s Mom objected and upset him very much.

It is mushrooms and camellias season in the Enchanted Forest. We had little or no winter this year — perhaps half a shiver’s worth. Now we seem to have slid into early spring without a cry of protest or a whisper of regret. Climate change will beguile us all for a moment or two before we may need to chant Kaddish. Perhaps this is the rapture, a moment of delight followed by eternal darkness.
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Today we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House. We walked from our house to the clubhouse in the balmy morning. There were a few announcements today — The Super Bowl Party tomorrow; Happy Hour next Wednesday; a few more things. Then we got down to small conversations. Winnie and I exchanged treatment stories and our distress over the impeachment hearings. A man whose name I have forgotten and I discussed vests and Bangkok. After browsing through the clubhouse library and finding nothing trashy enough to attract me, we left to return home.

Later that day, I drove the Mitsubishi into the Golden Hills. HRM and Jake wanted to “detail” it — basically a car wash on steroids. So, gathered at Dick’s house were the two boys, Dick, Jake’s father, and me — a gathering of the guys discussing cars. I know nothing about cars. I barely know how to drive them. So, my role in the discussions was to nod knowingly at what I had hoped were appropriate moments and at other times to look suitably serious.

Later this week, I have my immunotherapy infusion appointment. The past few days were days of disappointment. Disappointment in the results of the Impeachment, the Super Bowl, the pizza I devoured recently, and the movies on television I watched during the past few days, but as my favorite philosopher has observed, “It’s always something” (Rosanna Rosannadanna.)

Then, of course, there was the Iowa Democratic Caucus to add a bit of levity to the week.

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Heading Home:

 

 

We left Salmon and set off through Idaho to Boise where we would take a plane back to Sacramento. Although we were driving across the entire State of Idaho as we did 10 days ago, we were not traversing the high desert of southern Idaho as we did then. Instead, we were plunging directly into the remote alpine upland of the state and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We approached the highlands through some beautiful and scenic river valleys.
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Soon the majestic Sawtooth Mountains sprang up before us.
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We, of course, stopped for photographs before plunging into the narrow steep inclines of the passageway through the mountains.

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As we approached the far side of the uplands we noticed a number of outdoor natural mineral springs along the side of the road. The photograph below shows one of them.

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Then we were in Boise. We checked into a motel. We were too tired to partake in the Boise nightlife if any. Instead, we took a brief stroll through the mist along the pathway by the river, returned to the motel, and fell exhaustedly into the bid.

The next morning, we caught out flight back home to Sacramento. It was a great trip.

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A. CHRISTMAS:

 

Christmas morning arrived dark and dank in the Enchanted Forest. Last evening, under a crystal clear sky, we attended a Christmas party at Naida’s daughter’s home in Land Park. It was fun. We sang Christmas carols, ate Chinese food, and opened presents. For a present, I got a throw blanket to remind me how old I am while keeping me warm in the evenings watching old movies on TCM and sipping egg-nog laced with brandy. I also received a book by Donald Hall entitled A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety also to remind me how old I am becoming. The book contains a series of short essays by the author, who also used to be the nation’s Poet Laureate, about how it feels to be ninety and still alive, the famous and not so famous people he has met, and his sometimes trenchant thoughts on various unconnected things. To quote the author on the nature and tenor of his opinions, “Why should the nonagenarian hold anything back?” I loved the book.

Today we drove into the golden hills to give HRM and Dick (or as we refer to him Uncle Mask) their Christmas presents. When we arrived, we learned they were both down with the flu. Hayden was nestled in bed in his teen cave. I went downstairs and gave him his Christmas presents, eight 5 by 7 wood-backed photographs of him and me over the years, also a pocket all-purpose tool, all separately wrapped. He unwrapped them one and a time and thanked me profusely after exposing each one.

Leaving him to ponder the meaning and significance of my presents and wrestle with the physical and psychological miseries of being sick on Christmas Day, I returned upstairs to find Naida and Uncle Mask in the kitchen making coffee laced with Kailua. For the next 3 or 4 hours, we sat around the table and discussed ancient Native-American society, the origin of bees, turkeys and grapes in California, petroleum development, coastal regulation, Willie Brown and related subjects. About halfway through our round-table discussion, Hayden, having resolved whatever quandaries I had left with him and suddenly cured of his maladies, emerged from his sickbed and told us he was off to the skatepark. The skatepark I concluded must be a miracle remedy that can cure certain adolescents of whatever psychological, physical, or existential issues they may have to wrestle with during that brief and certainly not beloved few years of raging hormones before recognition sets in as to how bad life can really get.

Eventually, Naida and I returned to the Enchanted Forest and watched a thoroughly silly movie starring William Powell and a far too young Debbie Reynolds. I wrapped myself warmly in my throw. It was warm. I was happy.

 

B. BOXING DAY:

 

(“In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect ‘Christmas boxes’ of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year… This custom is linked to an older British tradition where the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families since they would have to serve their masters on Christmas Day. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts, bonuses, and sometimes leftover food.” [WIKIPEDIA])

 

Boxing Day (or if you will St. Stephen Protomartyr Day or the first day of Kwanzaa) broke, as our mornings usually do, with Boo-boo the Barking Dog, our reliable alarm clock, barking. Every morning at 9AM he begins at the upstairs window then running as though his fur was on fire down the stairs, high pitched almost hysterical barking following, to the living room window for a few moments then to the sliding glass doors by the garden and finally back again to the upstairs window where he then sits quietly and, it seems to me, smugly waiting to see if one of us responds and lets him out for his morning pee and breakfast. If not, he leaps onto the bed pawing at Naida’s arm until she gets up and staggers down the stairs to do his bidding.

Thus, unless we wake up at 7:30 or 8:00 this leaves little time for shagging. For those who wonder about shagging over 80 be advised while perhaps the more athletic positions are a dim memory, we decrepits remain quite able, at times, to enjoy all the pleasures of that activity with little of the self-consciousness of youth.

This morning, for my viewing pleasure, Naida provided me with a brief fashion show of the tennis outfits she had received as Christmas presents from her daughters. After this, she presented me with a nice cup of cocoa.

Later we went shopping for pants for me — a belated Christmas present. All this excitement so exhausted us we went to bed at 8PM. St. Stephen Protomartyr would be proud.

 

C. SAINT JOHN THE EVANGELIST DAY OR FOR THOSE NOT OF A RELIGIOUS BENT YOU MAY CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE ONE DAY OF THE FEAST OF THE WINTER VEIL OR LIFE DAY (THE WOOKIE CELEBRATION OF LIFE) OR NOTHING AT ALL AND JUST CHILL OUT.

 

What was different this morning than all other mornings? This morning Boo-boo the barking dog did not bark. I woke up alone in bed. Naida and the dog had slipped out of the room without a sound and were enjoying an early breakfast together in the downstairs studio.

The only thing that happened today that may be of interest to Johnny the Saint or Chewbacca the Wookie is that I learned that today’s adolescents are experts in the gastronomical merits of various fast food joints.

 

D. HOLY INNOCENTS DAY:

 

(“On this day it is custom to give the youngest child in the household the power to rule the day. From what to eat, where to go and what to do, the youngest is in charge. In Mexico, it is a day for children to play practical jokes and pranks on their elders.” National Day Calendar.)

 

Today also happens to be National Download Day. I do not know what that means. It is also Saturday, the day of the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Club House here in the Enchanted Forest. Alas, we missed it. Naida was having a long, long conversation on the phone with someone, so I decided to make my breakfast and write this.

I did nothing the rest of the day — not anything notable, nothing, not even a nap. Nothing is hard to do. Try it sometime. We did walk the dog this evening, however.

 

E. TODAY, DECEMBER 29, I HAVE LEARNED IS: BARBIE DOLL’S BIRTHDAY, SECRETS DAY, SENDING SHORT MESSAGES TO UNKNOWN NUMBERS DAY, INTERNATIONAL NUTCASE DAY, AND, SPARKLER DAY.

 

(Note: I can find no reference on the internet for any of these days. I did find a site that indicated that this was, Still Need To Do Day. [I thought that was every day.] If one were really interested, one could check the Catholic Saints Calendar and find about 50 saints whose celebrations are listed for this day including Albert of Gambron, Trophimus of Arles and Ebrulf of Ouche [Ouch?] Ouche is a river in the Cote-d’Or in France.)

 

At about 11 AM today I set off for Peter and Barrie’s home in The Big Endive By The Bay to spend the night before my appointment at UCSF for my treatment. Naida stayed home to work on Volume II of her memoir and attend to the needs of the dog.

That evening Jason, Hiromi, and Amanda joined Peter, Barrie and I for dinner. Barrie prepared a delicious shrimp and Polenta dish for dinner. Unfortunately, she added jalapeño peppers making it too hot and spicy for me to eat, so I contented myself with a banana, a pear, a Japanese yam and a slice of coconut pie. I was happy and sept well.

 

F. DECEMBER 30, NATIONAL BACON DAY:

 

(It is also National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day and the last day of Hanukkah. Or, if you would prefer you can celebrate the feast day of Saint Raynerius of Aquila Bishop of Forconium (modern Aquila), Abruzzi region, Italy who was noted for his excellent administrative skills, but little else. Does this make him the patron saint of bureaucrats?)

In the morning, I drove to Mission Bay for some CT scans, meetings with the doctor and my infusion. As I walked through the newly built areas of Mission Bay, I could not help feeling like I was participating in a movie about a dystopian world of the future. I strolled through long narrow public spaces with monolithic facades rising on each side. The view of the new development along the shoreline with their bulges and sharp edges looked like cartoon renderings of the city of the future. Unlike most cities, there were fewer people drifting along with you as you walk down the streets and sidewalks. Instead, they seemed to pop in and out of various doors of the buildings as you walk by. There was a small market at the edge of the bay where shaggy Dead Heads sold their wares, mostly dope paraphernalia. Strange tents filled a few spaces that appeared to have been intended to be parks. One seemed to require playing a round of miniature golf before shopping in the tents for something to eat. Odd I see.

My meeting with the doctor went well — no evidence of the cancer spreading.

After my infusion, I met my grandson Anthony. We walked to The Ramp one of the two old hippy hang-outs that still cling to the edge of the Bay. Today they are filled with somewhat less colorful patrons. We sat outdoors and enjoyed the view of the bay, boats and the old shipyard that included a large tanker under repair.
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I then set off for the Enchanted Forest and ran into a traffic jam as soon as I crossed the Bay Bridge in Emeryville. I heard on the car radio the entire freeway had been closed in Vallejo for a “police action” and drivers were advised to find alternative routes. I took 680 and eventually arrived home three hours later. There were no news reports that evening about what the “police action” was all about.

 

G. HOGMANAY AND NEW YEAR’S EVE.

 

On New Year’s Eve, we attended a party at the Nepenthe Club House. It was scheduled to end at nine PM when the ball was dropped on Times Square in New York. It was planned like this so that we decrepits could get home at a decent hour. Even so, most of the people had left long before the Times Square ball did its thing. We stayed to the bitter end, however. At some point, we danced. A relatively young woman insisted I dance with her. Later at home, Naida told me that the woman was trying to seduce me. I had not noticed. I thought she was just tipsy. Anyway, I was pleased to learn that.

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H. NEW YEAR’S DAY, AND ST. ZYGMUNT GORAZDOWSKI DAY.

 

I did nothing at all today. I took a long nap in the afternoon. Watched a bit of television. Perhaps I was resting up from 2019 and getting ready to tackle 2010 — then again perhaps not.

 

I. NATIONAL SCIENCE FICTION DAY, NATIONAL PERSONAL TRAINER AWARENESS DAY, ST. BASIL THE GREAT DAY, ST. BLIDULF DAY AND ST. CASPAR DEL BUFALO DAY.

 

This morning broke sunny and relatively warm for this time of year. The arrival of the garbage trucks and the leaf blowers drove Boo-boo the Barking Dog into paroxysms of hysterical barking and sent him running like crazy throughout the house.

Determined to approach the new year with greater vigor and determination than I evidenced yesterday, and to escape the unholy racket both inside the house as well as my realization that we were out of my beloved English Muffins, I left the house and strode vigorously and purposefully through the Enchanted Forest to where I had parked the car. I drove to the nearest shopping center where I stopped at Starbucks for breakfast after which I went to Safeway to buy the English Muffins, a few other necessities (e.g., frozen ravioli and several bars of dark chocolate with sea salt) and a bouquet of flowers for Naida. I then returned home with a sense of accomplishment that I was convinced equipped me to successfully face whatever the current year throws my way.

I put the groceries away and went upstairs for a nap. I had enough vigor and determination for the day.

 

J. TODAY JANUARY 3 IS 10TH OF THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. IT IS ALSO THE FEAST OF THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS AS WELL AS OF KURIAKOSE ELIAS CHAVARA IN THE SYRO-MALABAR CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 

On the 10th day of Christmas, I picked up Hayden, Kaleb, and their snowboards and drove them to Northstar near Lake Tahoe for a day of caroming down the snow-covered slopes. It was a sunny and surprisingly warm day, about 50 degrees. After we arrived, the boys set off for the slopes and I set about seeking amusement in the pseudo-alpine village at their base.

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Ready to hit the slopes.

 

I was hungry so before beginning my exploration I searched for someplace to eat. I found a modest place where I ate a breakfast of pancakes that cost as though they were made of gold and tasted like it also. I then wandered about and ran into Jake and his family. They were leaving because Jake’s friend from Arizona, Kaden, had fractured his arm snowboarding yesterday. Jake’s mom said the emergency room when she visited yesterday looked more like the results of a terrorist strike than a room full of holiday vacationers. Skiing seems to be a hazardous duty for recreation seekers.

I then found a Starbucks where surprisingly I was given a free cup of coffee. I took my free coffee over to a seat by a window and watched the crowds strolling by while slowly sipping my drink. This was not my first cup of coffee that morning. I had consumed enough coffee that morning that I amused myself by contemplating the possibility of dying here of caffeine poisoning.

After a while, I left and strolled through the faux village and inspected the wares in a few shops. Tiring of this, I sat on an upholstered bench by a fire pit near the skating rink. I watched the skaters, some gliding by and others whose by was something less than gliding. I also listened to a female twosome singing western tunes on the stage next to the rink.

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Just as I was about to drift off into a mindless reverie, HRM called to say that they had finished snowboarding and were waiting for me nearby. I found them and we were soon heading off for home.

K. TODAY WE CELEBRATE THE DAY OF THE FALLEN AGAINST THE COLONIAL REPRESSION (ANGOLA), DAY OF THE MARTYRS (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO), HWINUKAN MUKEE (OKINAWA ISLANDS, JAPAN), OGONI DAY (MOVEMENT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF THE OGONI PEOPLE), AND WORLD BRAILLE DAY.

 

 

It is Saturday today and Naida and I attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe Clubhouse. It went as usual and I paid little attention, drifting off into a semi-dream state while the others talked. Winnie sat down beside me. We discussed the state or our health. She observed that I needed a haircut and recommended the stylist she uses. She then invited me to join her and a few of the girls for a drink after the meeting.  I declined. Naida and I returned home and vegetated for the rest of the day. We did not celebrate those who had fallen opposing colonial oppression in Angola. But I did think about them. I, however, did not think very much about the martyrs or the Ogoni I am afraid.

 

L. TODAY IS THE TWELFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS AND THE TWELFTH NIGHT OF CHRISTMAS, NATIONAL BIRD DAY, AND HARBIN INTERNATIONAL ICE AND SNOW SCULPTURE FESTIVAL (HARBIN, CHINA).

 

The Twelfth Day of Christmas arrived in the Enchanted Forest as bright as springtime. After breakfast, I felt the need — an itch — to do something, anything, even to just take a walk. And so I did. I hooked up Boo-boo to his leash and set off. It wasn’t much of a walk but it will do for me.

It is now a day after writing the preceding paragraph. I tried to recall what else I did yesterday. Failing, I turned again to Naida and asked, “Do you recall what we did yesterday?”

“Not much” she replied, “and I enjoyed it.” After a moment of reflection, she added, “We did see a marvelous movie with wonderful music.”

“Do you remember its name” I inquired.

More reflection. “Fiddler on the Roof,” she eventually declared.

There you have it. Pookie’s Twelve Days of Christmas, such as it was.
You have fun too and remember to always keep on trucking.

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Leaving the Big Hole we crossed the Bitterroot Valley entered the Lemhi Pass through which Lewis and Clark passed on their way to the Pacific. We dropped down into Idaho and the town of Salmon. Salmon Idaho is a smallish western town, near the place where Sacagawea was born and the home of some family members of the Smith branch of Naida’s family. The patriarch of this branch Don Ian Smith was the town’s Methodist minister and the principal author of two books published and substantially revised by Naida, Simon’s Daughter, and Murder on the Middle Fork (bridgehousebooks@gmail.com). Two of his children Heather and Rockwell still live there.

Heather, a tiny woman, who in her mid-seventies still rides out into the fields herding cattle. We arrived at the ranch just as Heather and her daughter rode in from herding some stray cattle into the corral.
Heather is also an accomplished author writing many books on the care and training of horses. She is also one of the most amazing pack rats I have ever met. I doubt whether she had thrown anything away in her entire life. Even the detritus lying around outside the ranch seemed to include farm implements going back to the nineteenth century.
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Heather and Naida converse at the kitchen table.

 

Heather’s daughter Andrea, a woman who lives her life as she wants to — untamed and tempestuous — suffered a devastating injury almost 20 years ago. A wildfire, one of the largest and most disastrous in Idaho’s history, began on a hill near the ranch. She and a friend quickly jumped on a tractor and sped off toward the fire intending to dig a firebreak in an effort to halt its advance. Alas, the wind changed driving the fire towards them. She jumped off the tractor and attempted to outrun it. She did not succeed. The fire swiped over her leaving third-degree burns over much of her body. She was eventually transported to the burn center in Salt Lake where she remained for a few years. She then spent the next eight years or so receiving skin grafts. It has been only a year or two since the worst of that process was finished. Now, unless one gets close to her and looks closely her scars are barely visible.

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Lynn Thomas, Naida, Heather, Andrea, and Andrea’s most recent boyfriend whose name we forgot.

 

 

Naida explained to me that the family over the years, suffered many other difficulties and tragedies such as the death of Heathers father, the respected Methodist minister of the City of Salmon, the vicious behavior of a close relative causing great financial hardship, the eternal vagaries of the ranching business and of course the creeping infirmity of age.

We explored the pretty little valley in which the ranch was situated. At one time Naida’s father owned a ranch further up the river. Before the land had begun used for cattle it had been populated by minors searching for gold. Some of their old dwellings built mostly underground were still visible.

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Naida exploring an old miners hut.

 
We also visited Rockwell Smith and his wife who live further up the canyon. Rockwell was a noted radio personality at the major Boise radio station who now, in his retirement, still conducts a popular talk show on the local Salmon radio station.

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Naida, Rockwell, and Beverly.

 

He recently built a large home further up the valley. Is was much too large for the two of them. Rockwell plans to use the excess space for housing AirBNB guests.

Rockwell is also a much sought-after Santa Clause during the Christmas season in Salmon.

We also explored the City of Salmon and its environs. Sacagewea of Lewis and Clark fame had been born in the area and war returned her by the explorers. We spent an afternoon a a park honoring Sacagewea designed by an architect friend of ours who now lives near us in Campus Commons Sacramento.

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I am resting in front of Sacagewea’s statue in the park dedicated to her memory.

 

One eventing, Naida and I had dinner at the Junkyard Bistro, Salmon’s premier restaurant. It actually is a bar with a few tables in the back. The food, however, is very good (a grate gnocchi dish) and the good California wine goes for only $9 a bottle.

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THE JUNKYARD BISTRO.

 
Finally, it was time to leave and return home.

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A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

 

With a weather report for a week of rain and a steady drizzle slicking the streets and turning the landscape gray, Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I set off for Mendocino. I have done this trip so many times I no longer either notice or remember much of the drive other than where Naida and I switch driving duties and walk the dog.

I do recall stopping at Williams for lunch at a tourist restaurant that was not too bad, whose name I no longer remember but whose food was not so good that I would spend the time to look up the name on the internet in order to post here. After lunch, at the deli attached to the restaurant, I bought a panettone (Italian holiday bread) and a large jar of beautiful Sicilian olives for the party my sister was having on Sunday. Alas, when we arrived at my sister’s house and I was removing the jar of olives from the paper bag, I dropped the jar on the counter and it broke. I was so upset that I stalked off into a corner and sulked while Naida struggled to save what was left of the olives.

The first evening or perhaps the second, both Naida and George were suffering migraines and went to bed early, so my sister Maryann and I set off for dinner and caroling at the North Coast Brewery Pub and Jazz Club in Fort Bragg. The Club is usually a jazz venue but that evening the jazz had been set aside for a night of caroling. I ordered a delicious plate of sausage and peppers with polenta and washed it down with a glass of the brewery’s stout followed by a special seasonal berry-flavored light beer. Everything was delicious.

The meal was followed by entertainment. A local guitarist played and sang a few Christmas tunes. He was Followed by the main event, the carolers, a local group dressed in faux 19th Century costumes that spent the rest of the evening singing many of the familiar carols of the season, enthusiastically and slightly off-tune

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The next day the sun played hide and seek with the clouds. Naida, Boo-boo the Barking Dog and I went Christmas shopping in Mendocino and Fort Bragg, after which we had an excellent lunch at Maya Fusion in Fort Bragg. She had a mushroom soup to die for and I a sampler that included Arancini.

Arancini, one of my favorite things, originated in 10th Century Sicily when it was under control by the Arabs. It is a deep-fried rice ball usually filled with ragù (meat or mince, slow-cooked at low temperature with tomato sauce and spices), mozzarella and/or caciocavallo cheese, and often peas, and al burro or ô bburru, filled with ham and mozzarella or besciamella. It is a traditional Italian street food ranking right up there with pizza.

Later, at the wonderful Mendocino shop where our friend Maryjane works, Naida purchased a marvelous scarf. It was woven in India out of wool and silk by women who had been sex workers and were now attempting to break away from that life. Maryjane, who usually has a joke for us, when I asked for it said that she did not have one. It must be the season. Christmas season was no laughing matter in the Petrillo family I grew up in.

That evening, after Naida went to bed, Maryann, George and I watched episode two of the television version of Phillip Pullman’s novels in The Golden Compass series. In one of those strange coincidences that have you believing that you may be living in Pullman’s world, at the moment my sister suggested watching the show, I was in the midst of reading the second novel in Pullman’s second series on the same theme.

Another evening, we all piled into Maryann’s car and drove to the Festival of Lights at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens a Christmas event that I always enjoy. The gardens are lit up with thousands of lights arranged in strange and astonishing tableaus that surprise you at every turn along the dark paths.

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Here, I managed to erase about a week’s entries. Given the current state of my memory, erasing what I have written means most of it is lost. This makes me sad — not because anything I had written was either important or memorable but because for me once gone it is gone forever. Worse, I have the vague recollection that what I had written I enjoyed. Anyway, here below is my best recollection of that week.

On Sunday Maryann and George held a Christmas party for a few friends and the staff of WEST Company, the non-profit she runs. The food was delightful, varied and copious. The special egg-nog prepared by Maryann was unusual and delicious. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.

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B. OFF TO LAKEPORT AND BEYOND:

 
Monday we set off for Lakeport where Naida’s brother lives with his son Bob. From Fort Bragg to Willits, the shortest route from that area of the Coast over that portion of the Coastal Range is Route 20, a wickedly curvy road that passes over the Mendocino Ridge portion of the Coast Range on its way to Route 101. This road is a main route from that part of the coast to Ukiah the Mendocino County seat and relatively heavily traveled. As we turned from Highway 101 (Pacific Coast Highway), Naida told me that at the prior evening’s Christmas party one of the guests who drives that road daily told her that she and other similarly situated drivers actually counted the curves on that 35-mile road and numbered them so that as the drive them they could report to each other the nature and location of any problems along the route.

Another thing, perhaps several more things, that I learned while I drove that road was prompted by the fact that I usually drive as fast as I safely could (at least in my opinion). I believed it would get me to where I was going faster, and of course, confirm my manliness by proving that I was the most testosterone poisoned person on that road that day. Naida, however, protested. Actually, it was more than a protest. She screamed and insisted that she drive rather than me.

It seems, she had been in a number of automobile accidents in her life, including, she told me, once while riding in a car filled with her high school cheerleader teammates, it skidded on a curve, spun as it flew through the air and smashed into the ground tires up. These experiences so affected her that she would become ill when sitting in a car going too fast especially on a curvy road. So, I slowed down a lot and discovered not only was the drive time not appreciably longer, it actually appeared shorter to me. It also allowed me to enjoy the drive more — the dark redwood groves, the glimpses of the valleys between the trunks of the trees, the pretty little bottomlands, lakes, and marshes.

In Lakeport, we met with Roger Smith, Naida’s older brother and his son Bob who seems to suffer from Asperger’s syndrome a condition that appears common in the Smith side of her family. Roger is an accomplished artist, set designer, and singer. Now, because he suffers from macular degeneration, he can no longer paint. Nevertheless, he showed me a number of paintings that he had previously done. They ranged from photorealism to modern impressionism. Of the latter, he favored Cezanne like muted hues with a strong dash of red or another vibrant color.

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At the bottom of the page, I have posted Roger’s homage to Governor Jerry Brown. He would like to bring it to Jerry’s attention. If anyone has any idea how he can do this, please let me know.

His set design pieces were quite dramatic and fascinating.

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A backdrop for the opera Aida.

 

 

Naida, Roger and I then went for lunch at Park Place restaurant by the lake. I had gnocchi stuffed with mushrooms. It was as good a meal as I have had in months.

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Naida and Roger

 
After lunch, we drove back home to the Enchanted Forest.

 

 

C. A NIGHT OF PROTEST:

 
The next day, we attended the Indivisible’s Impeach Trump Rally in Sacramento. It was held at the Capital. I had not been to a protest rally in over twenty years. There were between 3 and 5 thousand people there. There was the usual coterie of long-haired, bearded, shabbily dressed men and colorfully attired women carrying signs. We listened to impassioned, inspiring and at times incomprehensible speeches, sang a few songs, and generally had a good time.

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A protesting dog attended and some children also.

 

 

D. ALAS:

 
Unfortunately, especially at this season, Mark’s mother died a few days ago. Mark is the husband of Naida’s daughter Sarah. She had been suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease for several years now. We attended the memorial. It was a family affair. I suspect I may have been the only non-family member there. Josephine, Naida’s granddaughter sang a splendid version of Ave Maria. Anna’s children each gave a brief eulogy and remembrance of their mother. After a few more recollections and reminisces, a prayer and a joint singing of a Christmas carol, the memorial ended. Most of those who attend left for a reception at Sarah and Mark’s home. For some reason, I felt exhausted and depressed by the ceremony so I had Naida drop me off at home before she went on to the reception.

I dropped exhaustedly onto the bed and slept until the barking of the dog made such a horrible racket it woke me up. Between barks, I could make out the sound of the doorbell. I rushed downstairs and threw open the door and saw a slightly frazzled Naida standing there. She had returned from the reception but had misplaced her keys to the house.

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This is a continuation of the story of my trip with Naida through the Pacific Northwest in what may be her final opportunity to experience the place of her birth and childhood and to visit her relatives who still lived there.

 
Into the Big Hole
We left Julie Miller and Alder Montana and drove along the path of Lewis and Clark on their voyage of discovery and the later migration of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce nation as they fled their ancestral homes to seek freedom in Canada and avoid annihilation at the hands of the American Army.

On our way to the Big Hole Valley the Land of 10,000 haystacks, we passed through Wisdom Montana. The town takes its name from the Lewis and Clark’s expedition’s naming or the nearby river the Wisdom River (now the Big Hole River). It is considered one of the coldest places in the continental US and home to 98 people.

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Beautiful downtown Wisdom Montana

 
A few miles later we passed the spot where the Lewis and Clark expedition almost gave up and turned back but was saved by Sacagawea who recognized the solitary mesa (Beaverhead Rock) near which her people would camp during that time of the year. She directed the expedition towards it and discovered nearby her brother leading a party of Shoshone rounding up horses.

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Beaverhead Rock

 

We then passed onto the ridge overlooking the Big Hole Valley.

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The Big Hole Valley

 

Sometime during the Nineteenth, Century the ranchers in the valley developed a mechanism for bailing hay. Here is one preserved at a historical site overlooking the valley.

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A little further on we passed some Nineteenth-Century log cabins and barns of the original European settlers.

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Further on we came to the Big Hole battlefield site. Here the 750 Nez Perce including about 200 warriors (basically the young men of the tribe) set up camp to rest for a few days before continuing on their trek to join Sitting Bull’s people in Canada and escape the genocide threatened by troops of the American government. They did not believe they were at risk because they thought the American army was far behind. Unknown by them, a second army had been dispatched to deal with them. In the night, that army arrived and hid in the trees and bushes by the Nez Perce encampment. As was the usual strategy of the American Army in the Indian Wars, they waited for morning and for the women and children to leave the teepees in order to begin preparing the morning meal. They poured gunfire into the camp in hope that the slaughter of their women and children would so dismay the warriors they would give up. Contrary to the army’s expectation, the Nez Perce warriors rallied launched a counter-attack, destroyed the army’s cannon, drove the army off with significant casualties and allowed the remainder of the tribe time to withdraw in relatively good order.
IMG_E7326The Big Hole Battlefield Site. The Nez Perce were camped in the field a little right of the center of the photograph. The soldiers were hidden in the trees and bushes that appear slightly reddish. The cannon was placed on the large hill just below the tree line on the left.

 
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