May 2016


Erik Holder, former US Attorney General, is now saying that Edward Snowden performed a public service and should return home and take his reward like a man.


I just love breakthroughs and had a delicious one this morning:  I’ve been censored by Yelp.

Here’s the full text of the message i got:

Hi Matte,

We wanted to let you know that we’ve removed your review of Gay Butler Interior Design. Your review was brought to our attention by the Yelp community, and we found that it fell outside our Content Guidelines as it did not appear to describe a firsthand customer experience.

We want to hear about your personal experiences with local businesses. The best reviews provide context, detail and perhaps even a helpful tip or two. To learn more, check out our Content Guidelines at

Thanks for understanding, and we’ll see you on Yelp!

Removed Content:
I’ve just bought a new place out from Palm Springs and, based on what i’ve read about Gay, I look forward to hiring her to replace my four acres of dirt with a lush lawn.

The Yelp Support Team
San Francisco, California

And now for the back story since you may be wondering why a favorable review such as that one would be censored, particularly since i gave her five stars.

Well, see, Gay was briefly in the news recently.  A reporter for the Washington Post encountered her while she was out riding her show horse and conducted an interview for an article he was writing on the California drought, an article focused on the resistance of the wealthy to mandatory reductions in water use.  The article quoted Gay as saying, “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”

That quote got so much sweeter the longer it resonated with me that i felt i ought to spring to the aid of her and her lawn, and the best thing i could think of was to write a five star Yelp review saying i want to hire her.

Yes, i do admit there was a bit of exaggeration in my review, as i haven’t yet actually bought my house with four acres of dirt around it, but i promise you that as soon as i do, i’ll be contacting Gay to help convert that dirt to a watergarden….or at least lush lawns.

The bottom line, though, is that it took Yelp nearly a month to get around to jerking my review, and i like to think that in the meantime i brought some readers some laughs before somebody with four acres of lawn got huffy and turned me in.  Next time i’ll have to be a little more subtle.

Meanwhile, spotted in Jo Ann’s garden:

in a lush local garden


in a lush local garden



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Who Cares?

Regarding calls for Sanders to drop out and leave the nomination to Clinton: She didn’t drop out in 2008 until June 7, four days after Obama had secured a majority of delegates.


Last Saturday afternoon there was a knock at my door, and when i opened it, there stood my neighbor behind a wall of boxes.  Eight of ’em.  Big ones.

misaddressed boxes from Target


Just thought you should know, she said, that your packages have arrived.

My packages?  I didn’t order nothing.

Turns out they were addressed to Prab Gill, who my neighbor told me was the previous occupant of my apartment.  And yes, the address on the packages was mine.

Oh well, i thought, instead of prying one open to see if it contained something i wanted, i’ll Do The Right Thing and call FedEx.  No phone number for FedEx on the boxes, so i went online and found a number.

Called it and explained that something had gone wrong and the address on the box was incorrect and i was hoping FedEx would pick up the boxes before they were stolen.  I told the guy the address to which they’d been delivered, and he responded that i needed to go out there and get the tracking number off one of the boxes.  I suggested that i was tired and lame and that surely he could have one of their trucks pick up the boxes without my going out there and writing down the tracking number and coming back in here and reading it to him.

When i opened my door Sunday morning, the boxes were still there.  Called FedEx again and was again told they had to have the tracking number.  Went out and looked at the boxes and found several strings of numbers, so i just wrote down the longest one and came back in here and read it to him.  He confirmed that the number i’d given him was the tracking number.

Monday morning the boxes were still there, so i took a different tack.  Looked in the Petaluma phone book only to discover no listing for Prab Gill or for that matter for anyone with the last name Gill.  Then realized that i was just assuming they’d moved somewhere else in Petaluma.  So i did an online search and came up empty for Prab Gills in this country although there were at least three in Canada.

But wait.  There’s another entity involved:  Target, which FedExed the boxes to Gill.  So i pulled the packing slip off one of the boxes and found in the fine print at the bottom an 800 number for Target and called ’em.  Told him the whole story.

He wanted the order number.

No prob, as it was right there on the packing slip.  After only a minute or so he was able to find the order in his system.  Then he told me that what i needed to do was just take the boxes to Target.

I was still laughing when i broke the connection.

It’s Tuesday morning and the boxes are still there, but now i’ve rearranged ’em to decorate my doorway.

misaddressed boxes from Target


And not to keep you twisting in the wind, but yes, at some point along there i finally got curious enough to pry back one flap on a box to see what “Threshold TH DS Seat Cushion Turq”  looked like.  Yep, looks like a seat cushion.  About two feet square and five inches thick.  Nice and springy.

Need one?

Need eight?

Coda:  Ahhh, the joys of senility.  I detailed above all the sleuthing i did and my efforts to track down the Gills.  Thursday afternoon i was whining with my neighbor Laura about the whole thing, and her sharp-eyed son spotted on the address label a phone number he thought might be for the Gills.  It was.  How i could have missed it beggars the imagination, but at least Mr. Gill came right over and joyfully picked up the packages.

Case closed.


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Lynch Creek Trail

Owing to global warming, my readership continues to inch upwards. Yep, more and more Canadian readers.


I was gonna title this “An Occurrence At Lynch Creek Bridge” but held back owing to there being neither a bridge of that name nor an occurrence.  On the other hand, Lynch Creek figures prominently in my Petaluma life and deserves a post.

So let’s begin at the end, where it pours into the other side of the Petaluma River from me about 75 yards north of the Payran Street Bridge.  It was barely a trickle when i moved here last fall

Lynch Creet mouth, Sep 2015


but it looks great now thanks to our El Niño rains.

Lynch Creek mouth, April 2016


Here’s some ducks (Mallards?) at low water in the riverbed just off the creek.

Mallards? at the mouth of Lynch Creek


Lynch creek is paralleled by the eponymous graveled and well maintained trail, which actually extends beyond the mouth of the creek all the way south along the east side of the Petaluma River to the Lakeville Street Bridge, and i use this route almost daily to and from downtown.  I also use the trail frequently to go to points north of me like my audiologist, my dentist, my hospital, Skippy’s Egg Store, the McDowell Street Farmers’ Market, and Lola’s, the best panaderia i’ve found in Petaluma.  Ummm, well, at least the best bolillos, a Mexican delicacy akin to a truncated sweet baguette or the German Brötchen.  But wait, i was writing about the Lynch Creek Trail.

At the mouth of the creek, the Petaluma River takes a sharp left turn and runs to the northwest, leaving the creek to run pretty much straight ahead to the northeast.  A few yards above the mouth of the creek, there’s a bridge that transfers the trail over to the west side of the creek.

Lynch Creek bridge


From there, the trail, now paved, follows the creek under US-101, making it by far the shortest and easiest route to points in the city north of 101 between Washington Street all the way northwest to Corona Road.  Well, if you’re on a vehicle permitted on the trail.  Like me.

Besides, it’s a lovely route.

along the Lynch Creek Trail


Here we go under 101.

Lynch Creek Trail under 101


Some high school students last winter cleaning up the creek bed, which is something like a dozen feet below the level of the trail.

Lynch Creek cleaning


Looking back south from McDowell.

Lynch Creek Trail


At McDowell Blvd, you go left half a block to Lynch Creek Drive to cross the boulevard.  At that point, you have a choice.  You can continue straight ahead, paralleling the west side of the creek along the east edge of the hospital complex until you are forced a half block away from the creek as you approach Maria Drive.  The part alongside the creek is handsome enough, but a superior choice is to to go half a block east over the creek after you’ve crossed McDowell and pick up the trail, by now a sidewalk, on the east side of the creek along the north edge of Lucchesi Park, where i spotted this cottonwood tree in full bloom.

Populus fremontii, Fremont's Cottonwood


No, that is not snow on the ground.

Populus fremontii, Fremont's Cottonwood


The sidewalk, between the park to the east and the creek to the west, is a very enjoyable walk or ride, as the flora alongside the creek are rich and varied.

Lynch Creek Trail


Detail, not that i know what this tree is, but i’ve never seen leaves with such a striking color differential between the sides.

Lynch Creek Trail


And what is this small tree?  Answer provided by my faithful reader David:  California buckeye, Aesculus californica.

California buckeye, Aesculus californica



California buckeye, Aesculus californica


After you cross Maria Drive, you are again faced with choices. You can take the sidewalk along the west side of the creek bordering Flanigan Way, which is a very pleasant route since creek side is lush and there are substantial houses in the development to the west since this is a more upscale part of Petaluma.

Lynch Creek Trail


Alternatively, you can go along Maria Drive to the east and turn left onto Monroe Street in front of the Golden Livingcenter (sic), which is actually a nursing home/rehabilitation center.  I accidentally blundered onto the Yelp reviews of this place and found them fascinating since the reviews are all either five stars or one star, with nothing in between.  Either this place is god’s gift to the aged infirm or a hell hole, and frankly i’m guessing the latter.

Anyhow, at the end of the hell hole lot, there is a very narrow little sidewalk running off at 90 degrees to the west toward the creek

Lynch Creek Trail


and if you take this, you are treated to a delightful path along the creek between it and the back of a rather lavish development called Creekview Commons, which consists of townhouses packed like sardines fronting on Monroe Street and (mostly) on Creekview Drive.  We’re talking a lot of attention to the public landscaping here since townhouses have no yards, but there are bright green impeccably groomed lawns along the creek.

Lynch Creek Trail


At Sonoma Mountain Parkway, you get into the seriously rich region, where the houses are enormous

Sleepy Hollow Lane


and the lawns are broader and greener.  Well, see, when you cross a certain fiscal threshold, you become entitled to broad green lawns.  Drought, schmout.

Lynch Creek Trail


Also, up here the creekbed is fenced, perhaps to protect against the Creature from the Black Lagoon rising out of the creek, raping and pillaging through the homesteads, or maybe to prevent the help from escaping into the creekbed.  I can think of no plausible way these fences improve the experience of the creek for those who live in the enormous houses alongside it.


Lynch Creek Trail


This gets even weirder the more i think of it since a good deal of effort has been put into landscaping on both sides of the creek and the installation of two footbridges, wonderful amenities but with the fencing carefully in place right up to the railings on both bridges to make sure nothing bigger around than a gopher snake gets into or out of the creek.

Lynch Creek Trail


On the west side of the creek, the trail ends at the northern footbridge.  It continues north, unfenced, on the east side for a couple hundred yards along Prince Park.

Nice that it’s unfenced here, as this gives access to the blackberries, which grow in profusion alongside the creek at many points all the way to the mouth.  I look forward in a few weeks to making a couple of batches of Wild Lynch Creek Blackberry Jelly.

One of the 375 species in the Rubus genus


So if you wish to follow the creek toward its source, you must take a detour to the right to Washington Street, but i’ll save that for a future post and close this one with an observation on the folks i meet on the trail.

Lots of people use all parts of the trail, but i can make some generalizations.  The farther south you go, the more people you see.  And the farther north you go, the better dressed they are.  The portion that runs between McDowell Boulevard and downtown is by far the most heavily traveled since it not only has the usual complement of dog walkers and strollers but also has lots of people on bicycles who, like me, are clearly using the trail as a means of avoiding vehicular traffic on the streets while taking a shorter route.

One universal.  The overwhelming majority of people on the trail are friendly and greet others.  Hell, i sometimes stop to chat with folks, especially when we recognize each other as regular users.






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Petaluma Chili Cookoff

I have trouble believing in any religion whose god issues rules about how you should treat your slaves.


Oh, i’m such a small town booster.

Now it’s the Great Petaluma Chili Cookoff.

I wrote earlier about seeing a poster advertising the cookoff and wondering what in the world Petalumans could possibly know about chili?  I mean, between Petaluma and Terlingua there’s a thousand miles of desert punctuated by a couple of mountain ranges, not to mention another 500 mile grind up the central valley.  Still, i was eager to attend the event and even put in an application to be one of the chefs.  Fortunately, all the slots were full, which is really for the best since applying to be a chef was ridiculous, not ever having attended one of the events.

I did a trial run for Jo Ann and Christian to get an idea how Petalumans might react upon tasting real chili for the first time in their lives.  Made a half batch of my chili, cranberry beans, cornbread, braised spinach, and wall rocket salad.  For dessert after a stroll on the riverbank, a flourless almond torte accompanied by a 1998 Special Select Late Harvest Johannisberg Riesling from Beringer that i’d had tucked back.  The chili went over well, especially since i held back on the chile powder.

So last Saturday was the big day, and a festive one it was in Herzog Hall at the Petaluma Fairgrounds.  It was packed with folks having a good time, what a wonderful communal spirit.


Booth after booth of offerings, including every fire department for miles around.


Plus plenty of civilians.


And how silly it was of me to have thought i could enter this competition by myself.  In the first place, the sheer quantity of chili i’d have to make to give hundreds of people a little paper tasting bowl of it.  And in the second place, i’d need a team purely for the logistics of serving the chili.  Not to mention coming up with a gestalt and perhaps costumes.

As it was, i had a great time and tasted many of the entries in the “meat” category, skipping the vegetarian and vegan stuff and those that seemed to be mostly beans.

How were they?  Well, some of ’em were OK, a few were pretty tasty, but none of ’em was what i’d call real chili since authentic chili contains little but meat and chiles.  Hell, some of those that advertised themselves as “meat” chili would actually qualify under FDA rules as a vegetable dish since they had so much tomato and onions and beans in them.  Not to mention the sugar.  Oh please.

These folks are too far from Terlingua to know what good chili is, so it’s just as well that i simply attended the cookoff rather than trying to participate in it.  What i applaud is the spirit of the cookoff because that’s what Petaluma has in abundance.






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The Last Bridge

Sometimes everything just falls into place.

Like the other day i was coming home on the Lynch Creek Trail and about to cross the bridge over the creek at its mouth when for some reason i took another look at this little narrow trail that heads off to the northwest toward the river.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


The fields have dried out now, so even though the trail is not fully Segway friendly, i thought, why not?  Turned out it was rather interesting to roll along paralleling the east bank of the river past hideouts where folks have nested.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


Best hideout.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


And down inside.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


Another hideout.

east bank trail hideout, Petaluma River


And various trails doubtless leading to other hideouts.



Rather scenic and all that.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


Detail shot.

east bank trail, Petaluma River


More trail.

east bank Petaluma River trail


And then, wow! What’s that ahead? I’ve snuck up from the east on that NWP railroad bridge that i’d been whining about being the only bridge over the Petaluma that i’d not photographed.  Got closer and a SMART train whizzed past.  In all its glory.  Well, part of its glory.  If the damn thing had just whistled to herald its approach, i could have had the camera ready and got the rest of it.

SMART train on the NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


Moving closer to the bridge.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


And now, beneath the bridge.  There’s water here but it doesn’t really seem to be flowing, so i’ve either hit absolute high tide or i’m looking at a pool.  In any case, this does seem to be the point at which the estuary portion of the river ends.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


The bridge from the north side.

northernmost NWP bridge over the Petaluma River


What a wonderful excursion it was, to finally have bagged the last remaining bridge so that i could call The Bridges of the Petaluma complete.

Well, until i got home and downloaded the pics i’d taken and realized i needed better ones.

So i went back a couple of days later in the afternoon to get more pics, and the plot thickened.  Just as i got about twenty yards from the bridge, i spotted a couple of young women sitting in a glade and stopped to talk with them.  Sure am glad i did because you sure do meet interesting people off the beaten path.  After they learned i was a bridge fan, one mentioned that a bit farther on there was another bridge, much smaller and harder to spot.

So of course i pressed on eagerly, following the east bank of the river as it abruptly curved around to the right and then suddenly, there was the other bridge!

other bridge


Oh fantastic, i’ve discovered and photographed a bridge over the Petaluma that i’d neither seen on any map nor read any indication anywhere of its existence, which makes my coverage of the Petaluma River bridges even better since mine will be the only documentation on the internet of this last bridge. C’est moi, c’est moi!

I was shocked when i rode out on it and saw that the river had dwindled to little more than a small creek and almost dry at that.  Well, yes, our rains have stopped but i would have expected there’d still be some drainage.  But i thought no more about that when i got to the end of the bridge and looked ahead across the field and saw that the trail continued, although much less traveled.  Then i realized that that speck on the horizon was the back end of the Factory Outlet complex and that i could have an interesting circular excursion by just following the trail to the outlets and then cutting back home along Petaluma Boulevard North.

trail toward the factory outlets


Alas, when i got up to the outlets i encountered a very substantial fence with a stout, securely locked gate.  Bummer.  So i returned home with the consolation prize of the day’s additional photos and the discovery of a new bridge over the river.

It was only when i was sitting here writing about the adventure that it dawned on me that the young woman had not, in fact, told me that the second bridge was also over the Petaluma River but that i’d just jumped to this conclusion.  Nor had it occurred to me that if the bridge had been over the Petaluma, i’d have been on the west bank of the river after i crossed it even though i was fully aware that the Factory Outlet mall was on the east bank.  Nor that since the river is down in a considerable ravine both at the railroad bridge south of this second bridge and at the bridge leading to the Factory Outlet mall north of here, the ravine at this point couldn’t possibly be so much shallower.  Grrrrr.

See, when i thought the riverbank took a sharp bend to the east shortly north of the railroad bridge, it was not the river bending but rather a little creek emptying into the river with trees along its bank, too.  The creek roughly parallels the railroad tracks and cuts under CA-101 alongside them.  So the second bridge is over that creek rather than the river.

Also, the trail continues alongside the creek but ends abruptly at 101.  Bicyclists and pedestrians, of course, can go along NWP’s roadbed under there, but not a Segway.

trail toward 101 paralleling railroad tracks


Nor can the Segway cross the Petaluma on the NWP bridge, so all this exploring, as much fun as it was, effectively led to nothing but a good laugh at myself and dead ends for a Segway.  There is no Northwest Passage.

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