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Posts Tagged ‘The United States of America’

A. IN THE GOLDEN HILLS.

Thanksgiving Day brought with it an intermittent sun playing hide and seek with the rain. We had lunch in the Golden Hills with HRM, Uncle Mask, Adrian and N. I was surprised to see N there. She had come to California a few days before and will remain until late December when she will take HRM to Italy for the Holidays. The lunch featured a well-made ham with several toppings to choose from. I was a bit disconcerted because I had expected I would be minding H during Dick’s absence in early December but with N there, I expect that would not be necessary.

N and HRM

Later, we drove back to Sacramento for dinner with Naida’s Daughter Sarah, her family, and their two dogs, a black and white brindled standard poodle named George Washington and Franklyn Delano Roosevelt, a large mixed pit bull and retriever. We brought along Boo-boo, a mixed Chihuahua and whatever, who although he may have lacked the size and prestigious name of the other two dogs, by the end of the night had clearly acquitted himself as an equal.

Dinner included turkey with all the fixings and pumpkin pie and cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake made by Sarah’s son Charlie, who happily explained to all of us the secret of making a perfect cheesecake — first rule “do not beat your eggs,” mix them slowly using only a certain rotation of one’s arms and shoulders. He then demonstrated the movement. It looked quite painful

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:


The rains have returned soft and gentle. The streets, lawns, and pathways in the Enchanted Forest glisten a brilliant red and yellow. Here and there pods from the Deodar Cedar litter the walkway like little banana slugs. For the first time, it seemed like autumn.

As usual, we attended the Saturday morning coffee at the clubhouse. Surprisingly, as many men attended this week as women. I sat a bit off to the side, observing as I often do. I could not help noticing the usual neatly coiffed hair on the spy who goes by the name “Ducky.” It always looks as though she just came from the hairdresser. Unlike most of us at this advanced age whose hair of various colors gone drab, interlaced with streaks or dreary grey, and winds about our heads like birds nests, hers, a brilliant white, sparkled like icy snow in the sunlight.

I decided to survey hands today. Most of the woman had long slender fingers gone knobby with age. The model’s fingers were the longest. Like many whose movements are often characterized as elegant, the tips of her fingers seemed to move as though they were independent of the hands to which they were attached. Naida’s hands, unlike the others, were the hands of someone who spent a life of a farm or a ranch, thick and strong.

I noticed while most kept their hands relatively still when they talked they would now and then gesture whenever they were making a point. Naida again was an outlier. Her hands flew about vigorously as she talked. She would not be out of place in Southern Italy. In fact, in Sicily, the Sicilians would consider her an uplifting and ebullient person before even hearing a word she had spoken. Alas, to these same people, her hand movements would appear to them as gibberish — meaningless noise. Americans use their hands while speaking only as punctuation. Without words it is meaningless. In Sicily, the gestures are words and have meaning independent of what is spoken.

We then returned to the house, Naida to work on her Memoir and me to write this. Later we walked the dog along the levee beside the American River. The setting sun shining through air recently washed clean by the rains lit up the autumn colors like fireworks.

On Sunday we sat around the house. Naida read to me sections from her memoir. As she read the words, my mind transformed them into scenes from a movie — the frightening 25 mile skate down the frozen Big Hole River; learning of her parents divorce; the comical introduction to her father’s new girlfriend; the infatuation of a 13 year old girl with her handsome uncle; the fight with her brother over a plate of macaroni and cheese; the dreams, the fears and the sorrows… It will be a wonderful book — a Little Women with real drama.

The Author at Work in Her Studio

Monday I had an appointment with my primary care physician. As he entered the examining room, I said, “Since my surgeons agree I am a dead man walking, I intend to go out happy, pain-free and without my bowels turned into cement. So, I need you to prescribe the pills that will allow me to do so.”

“We are from birth all dead men walking, ” he responded. “Nevertheless, I think I can provide what you need. I even know of something that relieves pain without constipation.” He added that he understood what I was going through because he has had two bouts of his own with cancer. Also, his seven-year-old child was struck with bone cancer and had to have his leg amputated below the knee.

Once again, I found myself embarrassed and humiliated by my misplaced sense of humor.

The doctor a youngish man, in his late thirties or early forties, is built like an NFL linebacker and specializes in sports medicine. At my prior visits to his office, I noticed a deep sadness in his eyes that made me wonder. Now I know why.

He prescribed a healthy supply of Xanax to keep my spirits up, a pain reliever that keeps my bowels lubricated and even a topical that eliminates the irritation caused by my clothing rubbing against the tumor. Finally, he explained that the most important thing he’d learned from his own experience with cancer was that one ought not to concern one’s self about the future but concentrate only on what needs to be done that day. In other words, take it one day at a time. I am not a fan of platitudes (unless they are my own, of course) but appreciated the effort.

C. TO SAN FRANCISCO AND BACK AGAIN:


On Tuesday we left for San Francisco to spend the evening with Peter and Barrie before my visit with the physician at UCSF early the next day. We brought the dog along with us because Barrie thought it would be a good idea to see how he got along with their dog, Ramsey.

That evening, leaving the dogs with Barrie, Naida and I went to a French restaurant on 24th Street where Peter’s trio was performing. They were very good, as was the food. Peter played bass, the leader of the group, guitar, and the third member, the violin. Peter told us he (the violinist) is or was first violinist in the LA Symphony. If you’re ever in the Noe Valley area on a night they are playing you should drop in.

The Boys in the Band.

The next day, I met with the oncologist at UCSF to explore potential treatment options including clinical trials. As usual, I began with an inappropriate joke. When the doctor entered the room and settled into the chair opposite me, I said, “Now that two surgeons have agreed that ripping out a part of my throat and slicing off parts of my body with which to fill the resulting hole was not advisable, what options are available to me?”

The doctor a youngish Korean-American oncologist with a national reputation was not amused. Nevertheless, after asking some questions he played out a treatment program that appeared to me to be promising if we could get the insurance company to approve it in a reasonable amount of time.

D. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST AND A VISIT TO THE RIVER OF RED GOLD:


On Wednesday, I rested all day and Thursday, I turned my attention primarily to a request of Terry’s that I am sure, as usual, will turn out more interesting than beneficial. I also received a call from my doctors that the insurance company approved my treatment plan and it will start early next week. Hooray!

If I have learned anything from life (I am pretty sure I have not), it is that that one learns less from success than from failure and it’s more interesting too. Also, behaving foolishly is a lot more fun than propriety could ever be.

On Friday, I accompanied Naida to Meadowlark Inn at Slough-house on the old Jackson Highway. There Naida had a luncheon with a small book club (about eight women). They discussed her California Gold Trilogy. Later we all went to the historical Slough-house cemetery several of the characters mentioned in her books were buried. Naida told some fascinating stories about the area — the Native American, Chinese and European settlers, the gold discoveries, the massacres and the private lives of the people buried in the cemetery that she had garnered from their diaries. She even found the grave of the old woman who had become her friend and whose diary had begun her interest in the area and became an important part of her books.

The Girls at the Cemetery.

Following that, we drove to the bank of the Cosumnes River in Rancho Murieta where the Indian village described in her books stood. She became quite upset when she saw that the great old mother oak, sacred to the Native Americans who were buried in the ancient midden that lay beneath its branches, had been chopped down by the developer (despite his promises not to.) We then walked along the river bank and explored the rocks containing many native grinding holes and the stepped stone platform where she was sure the natives gathered to listen to the orations of the head man whenever there was a festival or a party. Naida mentioned that the area was so productive that it has been estimated the average time native male worked (built things, hunted and so-on) was only 45 minutes a day and the average women 3 hours. It was a peaceful paradise that existed for over 600 years until it was utterly destroyed by European immigrants from the United State in less than twenty.

On the Banks of the Cosumnes.




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I have not written to you all in a while because of the bane and obsession of the ex-pat community everywhere, visas. I entered Thailand on a 30-day tourist visa intending to convert it to a retirement visa (one year renewable) during those thirty days, the most common method of obtaining the RV. Unfortunately, I did not know that the change of visas requires 21 days. I applied with only 19 days left on my original tourist visa and therefore they could not process it in Chiang Mai. Last weekend, I flew to Bangkok because I was told that the 21-day rule did not apply there. All I got for my efforts was annoyed.

So now, I have to leave the country briefly to renew my 30-day visa. Normally that would not be much of an issue. For years ex-pats on a tourist visa would take the bus to one of the borders, cross it and immediately return with an additional 30-day visa.

Unfortunately for me, a few years ago in the fervor of anti-immigration patriotism that rivaled the frenzy of the GOP on the subject, the Thais changed their immigration laws so that a land border crossing gets you only 15 more days while flying in and out remains as it was. I will leave it to you to contemplate the rational, effectiveness and consequences of the change.

Anyway, I am now making plans to fly to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia for a few days to renew the visa. Stay tuned.

I missed my jungle trip as a result of this travail. Hayden went with some friends anyway. Today’s photo shows him with a tiger cub.

Joe…

—————————————————————————

FROM MY JOURNAL:

January 29 2010.

11am
I am on the Air Nok 10:45 flight to Don Muang airport BKK. I am going to see if Tai can arrange for my visa. I called this morning. She still has not gotten the information regarding the visa from her brother. This is the third day that it was supposed to be coming. That and the lack of response to my call to her this morning leads me to suspect that something else is going on. Maybe Natalie is right she is married to a policeman. After all, I have not been allowed to visit her apartment and she did not show up to the hotel as she promised the last time I was in BKK claiming the baby was sick and her phone was not working.

Last night I sat on the patio musing about how big a fool I have been with Natalie (and most women), believing what they say with my arrogant insecurities. I am doing the same with Tai as I did with her. Fuck, I am still an adolescent.

Spoke with Natalie. She accused me of going to BKK only to see the “bitch”. She prohibited me from visiting AVA because she did not want any “trouble” from her. I assured her I was coming to BKK only to resolve my visa problems and that if I cannot then I will have to go to Kuala Lumpur to renew my 30-day tourist visa. Am I any better than them? No, just not as good at it.

Cordt and Nikki are supposed to take Hayden to the Tiger Park and the other animal attractions outside of Chiang Mai. Cordt is to pick up Nikki at our house at 11 AM. As of 10:50 Nikki was still in the supermarket. Will Cordt wait for his return? Stay tuned.

Spoke with Anthony this morning. He told me Hiromi sold the dining room set to a used furniture dealer for only $300. Ann has the paintings and they will continue to try to sell them. They have almost paid for the car registration and insurance.

10:23 PM
I checked into the Swan Hotel near the river and across the street from the Haroon Mosque, near the Assumption School and church and the Oriental Hotel. The manager’s body oder made me gag. I could not help but think that at times I must smell like that. It embarrassed me.

Waited over an hour for Tai. Went to MacDonald’s in Robinson’s. Ordered a Big Mac meal. Tai said she was not hungry. She had put on about 20 pounds as a result of the pregnancy. On her, it looked good. The conversation at lunch was strained and mostly concerned Natalie.

I returned to my hotel and she went to check on the baby. I was becoming furious because she had not responded to me with any affection. What did I expect? I had gone to Chiang Mai for Hayden and had put her and her child off.

I took a shower and then spent about a half an hour trying to kill a mosquito buzzing around the room with no success. Slept for about an hour and a half, through many bites from the damned insect. Woke up and saw him lying on the bed enormously engorged with my blood and unable to take flight. I swatted him and my blood splattered on the sheet.

Waited for Tai then went to the lobby and called her on my cell phone. She said her uncle would not return until Monday and I would not learn about my chance of obtaining the Marriage Visa. I was greatly annoyed by this since she had almost a week to find out and I had traveled all the way to BKK to hopefully process it.

She came to the hotel and we left for dinner. She was wearing the same things she had worn earlier, jeans and a T-shirt with writing on it most of which I could not make out because it was printed in faded light blue.

While waiting for a taxi a European woman was almost struck by a taxi as she ran across the street.

We went to the Good View Restaurant on the river and sat at an outside table located at the corner of the balcony in such a way that it felt as though we were sitting on the prow of a large ship.

We ordered. Mine was prawns stir-fried in egg. I did not like the texture of the eggs and their color which was orange. I drank watermelon juice and switched to coke. Again we spoke mostly of Natalie and the conversation got so stilted that we stopped talking and stared over each other’s shoulder. I began to feel that the relationship was over.

In the cab, as we rode back to the hotel, I resolved to tell her that the relationship was over and blame my self for it. I realized that I was feeling sorry for myself and only trying to generate an emotional commitment from her as would any other adolescent.

When we got to the hotel I did not speak. She led me back to my room. After some desultory conversation, she lay on the bed and said that she had to go pick up the baby since she had left him with a friend. I was furious believing that she had a lover back at her apartment. I tried to say what I had thought of in the car. I did not get far.  We embraced. She felt good. The extra weight made her both soft and firm. My dick hardened. I began to undress her. She said that the doctor told her she could not have sex until he examined her incision. Suspicion again. She told me to shower and said she will go and pick up the baby and return tomorrow. She promised to spend the night with me then since her auntie would return and be available to take care of the infant. I showed her my boner sticking up in my pants. She grabbed hold of it. It felt electric. We kissed and hugged some more and she got up from the bed and came around to my side and told me to undress for the shower so that she can leave. I did and my boner was as hard as it ever gets now. She asked for 1000 baht to pay the sitter. I gave her two. She stood there and leaned down and kissed me. Then she played with my cock. I wanted to cum. This went on until she pulled away saying if she stayed any longer she would not be able to leave. I got up and held her thinking if I go to Ke Sahn for a massage tomorrow would I still be able to get it up after the orgasm the Kesorn would elicit from me. She left and I took my shower and am now writing this.

3:00 AM
Cannot sleep, mosquitos. Lowered Temp. to 18C on theory mosquitoes do not like cold. Am lying in bed typing this waiting for the room to chill eating a KitKat and drinking water

January 30, 2010

12:30 PM (Saturday)
Woke up showered, dressed and called Tai. Spoke for moments and phone went out called back many times.No answers. Suspected she was with a boyfriend.

Called Anthony, Hiromi gave most of my things away to charity.

Called Nikki,. No answer.

Went to Starbucks. Ordered caffe latte and croissant. Tried to connect with internet. Could not because it required joining their system and then resisted all my attempts to do so.

Walked to Skytrain. Took it to NANA. Went back way to Ambassador and up to health club. Asked for Kesorn. Told she would not be in until 1PM. Left walked to Asia Books on Sukhumvit near Asoke. Saw new Hewson. Looked for a bird identification handbook. Could not find one. Decided not to buy. Left.

Natalie called. Did not answer.

Tai called. Answered. She explained phone was out of order. Agreed to meet up later.

Called Nikki. He found a barber and other shops across from the school. He also found out from maid info on electric bills and HOA fees. Said I could not access the internet for research on Laos and Cambodia visa requirements. He said he would do so. Asked me to say hello to Ke Sahn for him. Agreed to pick me up at the airport tomorrow morning. Returned to Ambassador. Drank a Pepsi float. Wrote this and went upstairs to the health club.

4pm.
Waited for Kesorn. She acted very excited to see me. She was still in her street clothes. She grabbed me by the hand and dragged me to the massage room. Hugged and kissed me. She started the shower for me and helped me into the tub and left. I showered, dried off and laid down in the massage table to wait for her to return. She came back with her massage oils and uniform. She stripped off her clothes and got into the tub to shower. Finished. Stepped out. Put on only her bra and tights. “No one will see”, she said. She then leaned over me and kissed me long and hard. Then I turned over and she began with her deft strokes on my back working slowly down my back to my buttocks where she concentrated for quite a while first with feather-like strokes of my asshole followed by stronger strokes. Then my dick and balls were oiled and stroked. Sometimes both my asshole and dick were worked at the same time. I began to moan and I felt the exquisite rising of my cum. This went on for a while and then she went on with the massage of my legs and feet. I turned over. She oiled my dick and began working on it. She bent over and began sucking on it as I moaned with the rising implacable orgasm. Again and again, I came. Then it was over and she washed me off and dried me and finished the massage as I drifted in and out of sleep. After, I invited her to Chiang Mai where she had been before. She gave me her number and said she would take the train. I paid and left.

Got on the Skytrain and spoke with Nikki on the cell. He said Natalie had called him asking if I were back yet. He said I was still working on my visa. I guess so.

Tai called. said she had not found a baby sitter, but hoped she could join me for dinner.

Returned to hotel. Ate Pad Thai and drank a watermelon juice. Went to my room then sat outside, lit up my cigar, watched the overweight tourists mostly women sunning themselves by the pool and wrote this.

9:30 PM
Just returned from dinner with Tai and some of her family. She called me before dinner, said, “come down to the lobby my uncle and brother are going to dinner with us”. I thought they were preparing to execute me for marrying and not supporting Tai. I probably thought this because they are Muslim and my conscience was not clear.

Instead, I was met with the Auntie with Tai’s baby, Tai’s sister-in-law with her two-year-old, Tai’s female cousin who works in the Chinese Embassy or some such. Went to a fish place, ate, drank coke and had a chocolate sundae. While ordering I was over-conscious of their being Muslim and did not order beer or pork. The men arrived later. I slipped Tai 2000 baht to pay for dinner (there were seven adults and two children and a baby). The bill came to about $8 per adult.

Decided to prepare budget for Tai.

I am now back in hotel waiting for her.

January 31 2010.

Sunday 8AM
She did not show up nor call. Once again I am the fool. When I was a child when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I usually answered, “a bum and a clown”. It looks like I will get my wish. When the Chiang Mai house is sold I will be a bum and I have more and more become Emmet Kelly. I am now at the airport waiting for the plane that will return me to..what?

February 2 2010

Tuesday 5PM
Well, she called eventually that day. Said she fell asleep with the baby and woke up at two in the morning and did not want to wake me up by calling. Do you believe it?

Anyway got back to CM, took a nap and saw Nikki off to the airport.

On Monday morning Hayden wanted to take his bicycle to school. After a few blocks, he asked me to bring the bike home with me after getting to school. Told him could not. He then wanted to bring the bike back to the house we did and drove to school. Got a shave, 50 baht. Gave 50 baht tip.

Tried to buy tickets to KL. Debt card not accepted.

Used Skype to talk with Nikki.

This morning Hayden decided he did not want to shower and made the maid and I chase him around the yard laughing. Caught him, carried him up the stairs to BR

After shower and dress, I drove to school.

I drove to US consulate. Broke my left side mirror as I passed too close to someone on a motor bike going the other way. Do not know if I struck him or he struck me with his hand for getting too close.

Parked across the river from Consulate, talked, experienced security entered the inner sanctum, got my notarized document and fled.

Went to Central, parked waited in Starbucks for the mall to open, went to ATM, denied. Drove home in a panic. Called BOW straitened things out. Natalie called said she was coming up while I went to KL. Thought about this called Tom arranged for additional 7 days on current visa. Picked up Hayden, drove to Big C, got 5000 baht from ATM, ate donuts. Returned home called Natalie, said I was not going to KL until next week. Suggested she did not need to come to CM. She agreed.

Called Tai told her to try again to get visa in BKK.

COMMENTS:

From Irwin:

joe – it seems more than somewhat ironic that a person such as you who spent years dealing with, manipulating and often overcoming stringent government bureacracy and regulations to find yourself having to sojourn for 1/2 week in parasitic filled malaysia due to a visa screw up – not a place i would want to visit right now; come to think of it i don’t visit anywhere at the moment, i am in my isolation period having cancelled all my luncheon appointments with relatives (one) and former collegue political operatives (three) and worrying about not cancelling a date previously planned for next week with my younger son (one) to attend mexican wrestling (“sexo y violencia”) at the mayan theatre in downtown los angeles. speaking of “younger son”, hayden appears to be a good looking young chap obviously resembling the good looks of his mother and probably doesn’t even care for scampi.. please take extra precaution while in kuala lumpur remembering not to speak hebrew or to stare in people’s eyes, particularly those wearing turbans and the like.

although i am in isolation, i still take my daily walk. on it i pass two churches. today’s photo is the more curious of the two. the building does not have any windows. i’m not sure if it’s to keep their god in or out.

take care!

Joe’s response:
Irwin, you may be remembering me from the days before my psychiatrist put me on Prozac. Since then I have been happy but worthless in any professional or personal endeavor that requires any amount of aggressiveness or cynicism. The choice was to retire or quit Prozac. I tried going cold turkey and found out what that means.
ciao

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IMG_5699

The weekend passed by quickly — mostly waiting for the biopsy on Tuesday. Not having an automobile (it is in the shop having its crumpled fender and other maladies attended too), cuts down on my activities. I had to turn down an assignment from the Scooter gang over the weekend. So, I read and went on walks through the Enchanted Forest. I get all the angst and despair I can handle from social media and television news.

Well, well, — I went for my biopsy yesterday and for the third time during my age of physical deterioration, the doctor, in this case wielding his sonogram, could find no reason for a biopsy. In other words, he could not find a mass in which a malicious deranged cell would hide. I do not know whether or not to be embarrassed after spending a month or so in gloomy speculation and endlessly disclosing my fears to all who would listen — I guess at my age I should not be embarrassed by anything I do anymore. Anyway, I know it is, at best, only a temporary reprieve.

Onward and upward as Terry always advises. Lack of a car limits my mobility and the awful air pollution from the fires restrict my walks and swimming. So, I sit at home, watch Naida work on her memoir, read as much junk as I can, and nap a lot. So goes the winter of my life. It’s not too bad. I could still be sitting around wondering about the results of my medical tests.

This evening was spent watching Janette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy movies. The last movie ended with the Canadian Mountie and the Opera star in an embrace and singing:

You belong to me
I belong to you.

We then rolled up the stairs to bed singing, one with a professionally trained voice and the other with a throat ruined by radiation therapy:

When I’m calling you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh
If you answer too, ooh, etc.

That means that I offer my love to you
To be your own
If you refuse me, I will be blue
And waiting all alone

But, if when you hear
My love call, ringing clear, ooh, etc.
And I hear you’re
Answering a call so dear, ooh, etc.

Then I will know
That our love will be true

What could be better than that?

The next day I swam in the Nepenthe pool. It is my first time swimming in over a month. It felt good. While sitting by the pool a woman got out of her car and started banging on the gate demanding to get into the pool area. Eventually, she somehow got in. She was hugely pregnant. She took off her shoes, then jumped, fully clothed, into the pool, swam its length, got out, picked up her shoes, returned to her car and drove away. I did not realize it was that hot out. Life is wonderfully surprising even when you are doing nothing but staring at the leaves of some trees.

Today I spent the morning watching Doris Day — Gordon MacRae movies. Listening to them sing “Tea for Two” is an experience I rank somewhere between being drowned in a vat of medicinal cannabis or smothered in meringue.

Later I went to the pool and fell asleep in the shade only to be awakened by the sound of ten-year-olds doing flips into the water. I did my laps while trying to determine if I was in a good mood or bad. Gave up and went home.

My sister Maryann and her husband George dropped by on their way back to Mendocino from Nevada City where they were making arrangements for the wedding of their son Brendan to Ashley his intended. A few weeks ago, I discovered that a friend of mine from my childhood who I haven’t seen in almost seventy years, Snookie Salerno, now lives in Nevada City. I have been told he never returns calls from his old friends (Would you return a call to someone who called you Snookie?). He did not return my calls. So I left him a message inviting him to the wedding.

Anyway, I took Mary and George on a walk around the Enchanted Forest and along the banks of the river. Mary seems well recovered from her bout with breast cancer. I am well recovered from my bout of hypochondria.

I did not watch movies of any sort this evening. Instead, I went to bed at 8PM. Tomorrow the automobile comes out of the shop. I am relieved. I now can drive aimlessly about. I like that better than “tea for two.” Check that, it depends on whom I am having tea with and what kind of tea.

Picked up the car. Have not yet driven it aimlessly but have driven it between the shop and the house with great determination to avoid another crushed fender.

The days pass on — driving the scooter gang around, walking through the Enchanted Forest, swimming in the pools, singing show tunes, drinking margaritas, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, petting the dog, crying over Aretha Franklin, watching old movies, laughing at old jokes — the wheel turns on. And then there is this:

“For the past 2,700 years we have been evolving through the ascending Kali Yuga, and this Yuga is coming to an end in 2025. The end of the Yuga will inevitably be followed by cataclysmic earth changes and civilization collapses,…”
Bibhu Dev Misra

This morning when I left the house I ran into one of the TURKEY GANGS right beyond the front door. Yes, the Enchanted Forest is plagued by several TURKEY GANGS. They lounge along the pathways, mumbling threatening sounds and forcing residents to walk around them. They litter the sidewalks and don’t clean up after they leave. They terrorize small children and small dogs. They are huge, hulking, ugly creatures often four feet tall or more. Something needs to be done about them by the HOA. Perhaps once a year say in November we could have a community Thanksgiving Party and eat a few. They are so large they could each feed several families.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, isn’t that the celebration of a group of immigrants saved by the citizens of the area who in turn demonstrated their gratitude by slaughtering their rescuers and taking their land? Instead of Thanksgivings Day shouldn’t the day be called something like Ingratitude Day?
On Saturday morning, we attended then weekly Saturday Morning Coffee put on by the Nepenthe HOA in the Enchanted Forest. The usual group had assembled. I had a lively discussion with the 93-year-old architect about our various maladies. Later the woman that seems to run these things announced she was not going to run the “Sock Hop” in September (don’t ask — I think it is some attempt at replication of an ancient mating ritual that everyone believes existed and they experienced but it didn’t and they only imagined it. Ask yourself, “Did you ever attend a ‘Sock Hop?’” And if you did, did you think the experience was such that you would want to replicate it in your old age?). This set off a flurry of whispers. Later I learned that there is a conflict between the Nepenthe HOA and the nine other HOAs over the running of the social events. I did not understand the politics involved but agreed with Naida who leaned over and said to me sotto voce, “It seems pretty silly to argue over who gets the right to volunteer.”

There are three Ages of Declines:

The first Age of Decline is now. It is the first time in history that a majority of a generation lived to old age together, declined together and ultimately will die together. As usual for the past 80 years or so, we have, for better or worse, been the pacesetters.

The second type of Age of Decline is the end of an era. In our case, the end of the greatest Golden Age the world has ever seen.

The third version of an Age of Decline is experienced by all of us that live beyond 75 or so years. Not only do our bodies begin to undergo the inevitable physical and mental failures faced by all biologic creatures who have exceeded their use by date, but also our functions in society at large begin to dissipate. Oh yes, some of us keep on working and striving — and good for those of us who do. Others of us can sometimes pass through a brief period where we are consulted (not very seriously) or honored (weekly or monthly visits) by younger relatives or friends. But really for most of us, we ultimately gather in homes for the elderly or periodically meet with other elderly friends where we attempt to create a small replica of the society that we strode through in our past life — much like the members of the Nepenthe morning coffee, complete with its politics, petty annoyances, and amusements. Lucky are those of us who instead fall in love and experience a decline no less painful but much more blissful.

For the second time in a little over a month, I have been attacked by a Russian Bot. Three critical comments from the same person appeared on my Blog, Trenz Pruca’s Journal — https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/. This is unusual because almost no one ever comments on my blog. Two of the comments were general criticisms of my writing competence in two of my blog posts. A criticism I believe fully justified. In the third comment, this time on my blog about Vladimir Putin (https://trenzpruca.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/petrillos-commentary-who-is-vladimir-putin-and-why-is-he-an-enemy-of-the-united-states/. Also, reproduced below.),

He not only objects to my writing style but included an example of how it could be improved by changing my criticism to a justification of Putin’s behavior.

I am so proud to have been noticed.

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Hayden and I, March 2011.

The following post from 2011 describes some of my impressions of California upon returning after spending one year living in Thailand.

“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”

“Some of my Impressions of America after a one-year absence”:

“Following the adjustment of my system to the shock of the relatively cool and dismal weather, my initial impression was distress at the dark, drab, shapelessness of the clothing that everyone seems to prefer wearing. It was interesting to me that when I commented to others about my perception they readily agreed that the fashion was indeed dark and perhaps drab, but they denied it was shapeless. One person even went so far as to hold up a dark grey T-shirt as evidence that some people (himself in particular) did not wear shapeless clothing. And indeed, I could discern that it had the classic shape of a T-shirt.”

“Although the Bay Area looked mostly the same wherever I go, the latinization of the Mission district in San Francisco continues unabated, extending at least another 5 to 10 blocks in either direction along that thoroughfare and into the neighborhoods surrounding it. On the other hand, the Sinoization of North Beach appears to have slowed in favor of the Sunset.”

“The Holidays were, as usual, a mixed bag and the serious illnesses and suffering of several of my friends made almost everything appear listless. Nevertheless, my traditional Christmas Eve dinner with my daughter and seeing my son and his family along with my sisters family and my grandchildren cheered me up.”

“During my stay, I re-connected with many friends, Maurice Trad and his daughter Molly, Bill Gates, his daughter and his friend Tiffany, Peter and Barry Grenell, Sheldon Siegel, Terry Goggin et.al. and Bob and Charlotte Uram. Unfortunately, I was only able to contact others by phone.”

“In Sacramento, I spent three lovely days with Bill Geyer and Naida West on their ranch and a day with Stevie and Norbert Dall. Surprisingly, I was asked to take Hayden with me during this time so that his mother could go off to the coast (Pismo Beach) with “friends”. He had just returned the prior evening from spending 5 weeks with a family he hardly knew in Seattle while his mother traveled to Thailand to have what appeared to me to be a facelift. Nevertheless, I enjoyed his company and was quite sad when I had to leave him and return to San Francisco.”

 

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One of my favorite writers is Henry David Thoreau, not because of his insight or style, but because he was an amusingly truly strange dude (Remember he thought getting thrown in jail was…well..cool). He believed the minutia of life represent the archetypes of the big things in life and by paying close attention to those little things you will learn something about something and maybe everything. He once spent a better part of a week at Walden Pond observing and writing about two gangs of ants who had decided to fight over something in the dirt in front of the door to his cottage. Thoreau seemed to see in their tussle a metaphor and analog of the larger conflicts between nations, people and within one’s own spirit.

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I really couldn’t understand what he was talking about. If I were to choose a metaphor for life from his experiences, I prefer the one where Thoreau stands at the back of his rowboat traveling down the Connecticut River spittle dripping off of the end of his nose, passing under the bridge on which the spittor glares down at him. Think about it. Put yourself in Henry David’s flip-flops. Do you, staring at the smirk on the face of your adversary, feel the spirit of unity and oneness with the universe well up inside you as Henry David claimed he did, or do you decide to head the boat into the bank, jump off and beat the SOB to within an inch of his life or continue on forever questioning the nature of your experience and of your response. Now, that’s life.

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Anyway, although the monsoons have arrived, so has the heat of “mad dogs and Englishmen” and so after walking to the cafe for breakfast, I return to my apartment turn on the AC, take a cold shower and nap until the shadows of the building cover the pool and I go for a swim and then at night perhaps walk along the beach in hopes of catching some ocean breezes.

Henry and I have a lot in common — but sadly no one has spit on me recently.

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It was the Golden Age, after the pill and before the scourge of AIDs. Like all Golden Ages, people’s attention turned from mere survival to self-indulgence, self-absorption, and self-aggrandizement or as some say Hedonism, Mysticism and Capitalism and still others simplified to Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.

Now at that time, the City of San Francisco was one of the centers of that age, often referred to as “new”, when society as a whole suffers from a mass attack of Alzheimer’s.

In the City at that time there lived a man who, like most people, wanted fame, fortune, and sex. Like most people, he believed it was his right to not have to work too hard for it.

Eastern Mysticism was sweeping the country then and attracted a wealthier class of adherents than the ever-popular Pentecostal Christianity. Besides, burning books and sexual suppression was not popular then.

So, he decided to become an eastern spiritual leader. He called himself “Baba Giufa” because it sounded like something an eastern mystical guru who could become popular and attract a lot of followers would call himself.

Now Baba Giufa knew in order to be successful he needed to assemble his own followers. So, one Saturday he put on a white busboy’s jacket and a pair of mostly white pants with a string belt. On his head, he placed an old white Panama hat from which he had carefully cut off the brim and on his feet, he wore a pair of pink rubber flip-flops.

So attired, he went into Golden Gate Park at about 3PM. He sat himself down on the heavily traveled sidewalk along-side the road that ran past the Japanese Tea Garden and the DeYoung Museum across from the Band Shell.

He sat in what looked like the traditional lotus position but really was not because he found the lotus position too uncomfortable but as long as it looked a little like the lotus position he thought that it would do for his purposes. He had no idea what to do with his hands, so he placed them palms up on his knees because he thought it looked like the picture of a Yogi master he saw somewhere. He closed his eyes and then he began to chant…

Actually, Baba Giufa did not know any chants. But in school, he had memorized Lewis Carrol’s poems the Walrus and the Carpenter and the Jabberwocky. By reciting them in a very low and sing-song voice he hoped that it would seem to sound a lot like chanting. And, it did.

Whenever he finished chanting one of the poems he would open his eyes as wide as he could until his irises seemed to float in bloodshot white seas. He also stuck his tongue out as far as he could. To most observers, it appeared as though he was having a seizure of some sort. Then after a few moments, he would retract his tongue, close his eyes and begin his chanting again.

Now after a while at this, a crowd began to gather around him; some because they were upset that he was sitting on the well-traveled sidewalk forcing them to detour around him, others out of curiosity and still others attracted by his seeming other-worldliness.

Finally, a skinny, inquisitive young man with long flowing hair and a scraggly beard that was in fashion at the time, approached him and inquired, “Who are you and what are you doing here?”

Baba Giufa stopped his chanting, opened one eye, and stared at the young man for a while and then asked, “Do you have friends and family?”

“Why yes I do.” replied the startled young man.

“Then let me tell you this,” Baba Giufa responded in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, “I am called Baba Giufa and I have found the secret to inner peace and happiness and if you want to share the secret with me then next Saturday at precisely 3 PM bring along your family and friends and I will return and instruct you all.”

With this, Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting, passed through the crowd and went home.

Next Saturday at precisely 3 PM, Baba Giufa returned to the same place in Golden Gate Park and found a crowd of about twenty people standing around. The skinny young man was sitting on the sidewalk cross-legged directly to the right of where Baba had sat the previous Saturday. Baba took his seat and began his chanting and spasms. This continued until the inquisitive young man leaned in towards Baba and said in a loud voice, “Baba, last week you told me that if I gathered friends and family here at precisely 3PM on the following Saturday, you will instruct us all on the secret to inner peace and happiness.”

With that Baba Giufa rose from where he was sitting and looked over the crowd that had grown quite a bit larger since he had arrived.

Baba Giufa then asked the crowd, “How many here know what I am about to say? Raise your hands.”

No one raised their hands.

“Than why.” said Baba Giufa, “should I say anything to those who have no idea what I will speak about? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM and at that time I will instruct only those that really want to know, the secret of inner peace and happiness.”

With that Baba Giufa passed through the crowd, left the park and returned to his home.

On the next Saturday at precisely 3PM Baba Giufa returned to the park and resumed his seat and chanting. This time the crowd was much larger. Also, although the young man remained seated on his right, an attractive blond woman in a granny dress with flowers twisted into her hair sat on his left.

Again after a while the inquisitive young man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked of him the same question.

Baba Giufa rose from his seat and observed the ever-growing crowd and shouted so that all could hear, “All those who know what I am going to speak about raise their hands.”

This time everyone had been instructed by the skinny inquisitive young man to raise their hands when asked that question and they all did so,

Baba Giufa look at them for a moment and then said, “Why should I speak at all to any of you when you all know what it is I am going to say? I will return here next Saturday at precisely 3 PM and instruct those who truly wish to know the secret of inner peace and happiness.”

With that, he passed through the crowd, left the park and returned home.

On the third week, at precisely 3PM on Saturday Baba Giufa returned to the park. This time he carried a bunch of paper in one hand and a shoe box in the other. He found a crowd even larger than the last time. And, not only was the inquisitive man and the comely woman already seated on each side of his place on the sidewalk but several other seekers were assembled on the sidewalk as well. In addition, surrounding his place were several vases filled with multi-colored flowers. He took his seat and handed to the inquisitive young man the bits of paper on which he had written his name, Baba Giufa, and his address and phone number. In front of himself, he placed the shoebox in which he had cut a hole into the top and on which he had neatly lettered the word “Donations”. He began his chanting.

Eventually, the skinny man leaned towards Baba Giufa and asked the question again. This time Baba Giufa did not rise, instead, he simply stared at the shoebox in front of him.

After a while, everyone got the idea and several of the onlookers came forward and dropped money into the box. When Baba Giufa was satisfied that no further contributions were forthcoming, he stood up and addressed the crowd. “All of you here that know what I am going to say please raise your hand.”

About one half of the crowd, having been well-trained by now, raised their hands.

Then Baba Giufa said, “All those who do not know what I am about to say raise their hands.”

The otter half of the crowd did so.

“Well then,” said Baba Giufa, “I would appreciate it if those who know what I am going to say would tell those who do not. For those really interested in learning the way to inner peace and happiness I have given to my first disciple here, who shall hereafter be known as Babu Beardo, scraps of paper with my telephone number and address on it.”

And with that, he picked up the shoe box made his way through the crowd and went home.

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