August 2016


“Every nation gets the government it deserves.” – Joseph de Maistre


While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity heavily thickening to empire,
And protest, only a bubble in the Molten Mass, pops and sighs out, and the mass hardens,

I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and decadence; and home to the mother.

You making haste, haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stubbornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: shine perishing republic

But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thickening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lies at the monster’s feet there are left the mountains.

And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man.  A clever servant, insufferable master.
There is a trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught they say ­ God, when he walked on Earth.

Robinson Jeffers  (1920)


And OK, i couldn’t find a recent photo of something rotten, so here’s an edible flower garnish plate put out at Stephen’s fourth of July garden party.

edible flower garnish

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Stalking the Strandbeest

I’ve long been fascinated with strandbeests but never dreamed i’d ever see one since they’re not indigenous to these shores.  Here’s one in its native habitat.


And then i discovered to my great joy that a pack of them had been captured and moved to a new temporary home on Pier 15 in San Francisco, so last Tuesday i mounted an expedition to go there and photograph them.

All went well at first.  The drive was uneventful and unimpeded, and i lucked into a parking place just a short block from the pier.  I strolled in lovely weather to the entrance, and then the problems began when i discovered that my Exploratorium membership had expired and renewal rates had escalated to $89.  Not a prob, really, as it’s such a fine institution that it deserves my continual support.

Inside, i was pleased that the strandbeest pack was situated at the far end of the hall, so i got to stroll along admiring exhibits and, hey, kid at heart, couldn’t help playing with a few of ’em.

And then i spotted ahead of me an enormous strandbeest hanging from the rafters.  Oh dear, one has already died, but at least they’ve preserved and displayed its skeleton.  Actually, there’s so little meat on ’em that it’s hard to tell the difference between a dried one and one that’s still alive, and i eagerly pressed forward to frame my first photograph.

Only to discover that i’d forgot to charge the battery in my camera.

You ask why i didn’t just snap pics with my cell phone?  Well, see, i’m in this program with T-Mobile whereby i give ’em $10 every six months for my phone service, but i’d neglected to do so and my phone was dead, too.  Besides, it’s the cheapest phone i could buy and i never learned how to take a pic with it…or whether it will even do that.

Stifling my disconsolence, i wandered among the pack.  Well, at least i got to see them, and better yet, one was walking about and the rest were standing close enough that i could have touched them.  Amazing creatures.

They’ll be returned to the Netherlands on the 5th of September, but if you have time, i highly recommend a visit.  Here’s a link.

Got back to my car and found a parking ticket, but even at that, there was a consolation:  my crime was so exotic that it was not included in the computerized list of stuff like overtime parking and yellow zone, so the meter maid was at least forced to write an addendum describing it.  Not sure how she came up with the fee of $64, but i didn’t know there was any violation you could commit in San Francisco for so little.

Meanwhile, since i got no photos of strandbeests, here’s one of a Dutchman’s Pipe (not Theo Jansen’s) at JoAnn’s.

Dutchman's Pipe - Aristolochia durior

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The Pursuit of Lynch Creek

The Lynch Creek Trail ends at the east side of the creek on the northeast edge of the city where Prince Park fetches up against the Rooster Run Golf Course, a private entity through which no public trail can pass.

So to follow Lynch Creek toward its source you have to cut south a hundred yards to Washington Street and run along on the shoulder northeast to where it tees in to Adobe Road, which thankfully has a stop sign to let you get across onto the east shoulder.  And then you head northwest on Adobe Road with the foothills of Sonoma Mountain on your right.

Sonoma Mountain foothills


After a bit over a half mile, you cross Lynch Creek.

Lynch Creek at Adobe Road


And just beyond this crossing you can take a right on Sonoma Mountain Road for a bucolic ride in the countryside as you gradually climb the mountain.  Well, this ain’t the Sierra.  The “mountain” is only 2400 ft at its highest point, but it’s far enough north that from the summit you can see Sonoma Valley to the east and, on a handful of days of the year when there’s no maritime haze, the Pacific to the west.

About a quarter mile up the road, you cross Lynch Creek again.

Lynch Creek off Sonoma Mountain Road


I rode up Sonoma Mountain Road on the Segway in the expectation of getting photos of lush countryside punctuated by derelict farmhouses.  Alas, prosperity has swept over this whole valley for at least the last twenty years, so there’s little dereliction in sight.  Here’s the best i could come up with.

Sonoma Mountain derelict



What’s been going on at an escalating pace the past few years is gentrification, as seen in those upscale developments flanking the creek back in town and in country estates like this.

Sonoma Mountain country estate


That hawk above the right end of the roof has been privatized and put under contract to circle the manse.  He’s wearing a small videocam tied into the Intruder Detection System.  At night, there’s no need for anything to connect to the detection system because four of OR7’s cousins have been hired to pad quietly around the grounds.  A key feature in their benefits package is that they get to eat anything they catch.  Fence?  No need.

As we rise up the mountain, we see additional signs that security is being maintained.



And this.



And this.

Si tu tiras


Not to mention other roadside attractions.

Other roadside attractions


Still, as you rise, it gets lovelier, as with this teasel.

Teasel - Dipsacus fullonum


Sonoma Mountain Road leading back down into the valley.

Sonoma Mountain Road


As we climb higher, we get good views of southern Petaluma nestled in its valley.

southern Petaluma from Sonoma Mountain


When we get high enough on Sonoma Mountain Road, we reach the first point at which Lynch Creek crosses any road.



Well, no, not much to it this close to the source.

Lynch Creek highest point crossing Sonoma Mountain Road


On the other hand, the views up here are splendid.



And this framing of the northern edge of Petaluma.



And hey, another great big house.



Might as well admit it now.  These pics were taken during four rides up the mountain.  Here’s another big house taken in early June.



And finally, a fence shot from early June.


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Down By the Riverside

Devoted fans will have noticed that i sure haven’t been posting much of late.

Yep.  Well, see, we’ve been a little preoccupied here with some issues, and rather than explaining to the passengers that something has gone wrong with both wings and the tail, i’m just waiting until i’ve worked out a resolution so i can get on the intercom and announce that everything’s fine and we’ll be landing shortly.

Naw, just kidding.  Nothing’s really wrong, but some great news is in the offing.  Unfortunately, it’s been in the offing for a couple of months, so thank goodness i haven’t been blabbing about it and then having to tell everyone it’s not happening after all.

But that’s why i haven’t been able to focus on writing and have been just posting collections of photos.  Like the following shots taken on the bank of the Petaluma River near my apartment.  First, a Canada goose (Branta canadensis).  A bunch of ’em have discovered that it’s a whole lot easier to just live in sunny California year round.

Branta canadensis


So much for the fauna.  Here’s some roses growing over the flood wall.

floodwall roses




And this wonderful thing, whatever it is, growing in profusion straight down from my apartment.




Here’s the buds on it.


When the flower goes to seed, it looks like this.


But the seed structure is torn apart by the breezes in a day or two.  Here’s the remains of one after a heavy dew one morning.



And another shot that dewy morning.



Fennel, which in April is just beginning to sprout new growth.

young fennel


At the beginning of May, the blackberries are blooming.

may blackberry blooms


At the end of May, plums were hanging over the flood wall.  I made a chutney of these and then later, when fully ripe, a jam.

Petaluma River floodwall plums


And the blackberries forming.  I made two batches of jelly of these when they ripened.



Stay tuned for the fab news as soon as it’s definite.

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