May 2017

The Hamadas

“Did you sleep well, dear?” i asked the Muse as she fluttered down with my morning inspiration.


I tuned in to the Hamadas in 1994 when the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market was new and Yukio and Yonki were bringing their cherries and nectarines.  I found them delightful.  No no, Yukio and Yonki were delightful, the cherries and nectarines were merely delicious.

And it wasn’t just Yukio and Yonki.  I immediately hit it off with their workers, Gordon and Janet, somehow jumping to the conclusion that Janet was a family member on the sole shred of evidence that she was Japanese.  So early on they became one of my favorite vendors, and i gradually expanded my purchases beyond the cherries and nectarines to their other offerings, most spectacularly the Buddha’s Hands since i’d never seen one and Yukio was the first vendor to bring them to the market.

And then, in the early 2000’s Yonki died suddenly and tragically, and shortly thereafter Yukio turned over operation of the farm to his son Clifford, who was just as delightful and just as innovative.  On a lark back then he brought to the market some Marsh grapefruit, not from their groves but rather from an old tree in their yard.  I went wild over these things because finally finally i got to again eat the grapefruit of my childhood, quite sour like God intended rather than hybridized for increasing sweetness.  These fruits are virtually extinct now since farmers have ripped out the old Marsh trees and replaced them with sweet varieties that pander to the American taste for sugar.

Clifford, bless his heart, kept bringing them to the market every January – February even though it was only i and a handful of other old folks who bought them, and this endeared him to me even more.

And then, a couple of months ago, Cliff mentioned that owing to a shortage of things to sell, he wouldn’t be at the market for a while, and i thought, well, i’ll just have to hold my breath until his cherries are ripe.  I’ve been writing about them and their wonderful fruit since the beginning, and i want to keep doing so.

Last Friday the bomb went off.  Things have not gone well for them, and they’re leaving the market.

I’m devastated.  Other vendors of mine have left, but none i was as fond of as the Hamadas.  Worse yet, this departure carries with it an undercurrent of misfortune and makes me wish there were something i could do.  Well, other than fan the flames of my eloquence to their brightest in a letter employing my best penmanship.

Meanwhile, some green plums on the tree overhanging the flood wall downstream from me.  As with the Hamada’s cherries, our lifesaving rains this spring knocked off a lot of the blossoms, so the crop will be small.

Plums overhanging the Petaluma River flood wall

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Eclipse Idiocy

“Put a little piece of tape over the hole in your soul that keeps you physiologically dependent on refreshing your social-media accounts every four minutes.”  Vernon Chapman


Oh good grief.  Sometimes i see a news account so egregiously stupid that i cannot stifle my outrage.  Such is the case with this breathtakingly alarmist coverage of the impact of this August’s solar eclipse on California solar power generation.  Click on the link and read it.

Now let’s think about it.

In paragraph 2 we read, “But the day of the eclipse, much of [our solar-generated] power will be turned off over a period of three hours.”  Ummm, it will not be turned off, but merely reduced.  And the duration of the eclipse is not three hours but rather two hours and thirty-nine minutes.

In paragraph 4 we read, “Skies will start to darken”.  Well, actually, in LA the eclipse will reach a maximum of 62% for about two minutes, during which time the skies will be only slightly less bright, so little that looking directly at the sun then will still broil your retinas.  At the beginning, the reduction in brightness will not be discernible to the human eye.

A few paragraphs later, we read, “As the state loses sunlight, people  will be turning on lights as if it were night”.  Oh no they won’t because it will never get dark, and at maximum there will be every bit as much light as on a hazy day.

This thing is obscenely alarmist, going on to envision such remote possibilities as the overblown problem being exacerbated by a brush fire taking out a transmission line.  Oh please. And what if an earthquake strikes simultaneously!!!!

What we’re actually going to have is two hours and thirty-nine minutes of marginally reduced sunshine.  The impact of a thunderstorm on solar generation would be much greater, but that’s not the kind of news that grabs viewers.


Meanwhile, here in sunny Petaluma, our alley murals are illuminated.

Petaluma alley murals



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Brain Health Registry

Give the reds what they want:  strip mine Utah.


Umm, yes, my fading brain is a source of worry since my greatest fear is that my brain will die before my body does like my mother’s and three of her sisters’.  In that, i’m like everyone else my age because by now we’ve all seen loved ones in the previous generation go out gaga.

My first experience with brain testing was after i’d crashed on the Segway and woke up at SF General Hospital.  A nice young woman there told me that they were doing a study on people who’d had brain injuries, and i immediately volunteered.  Then, after that study was over i volunteered for a UCSF study of older folks who were slipping into dementia, but a day-long extensive battery of tests revealed that i was not yet crazy enough to meet their criteria.

However, they told me about UCSF’s Brain Health Registry, and i’ve been participating in it online ever since.

Then, last winter i learned about a brain study the VA was conducting on veterans with AIDS, so i volunteered for that.  Just to make sure that they knew i was crazy enough, i showed up for my appointment 24 hours and 15 minutes early.  Went back the next day for three hours of testing and walked out with a very nice gift, a new iPad with a splendid little microphone accessory on which i will do monthly testing at home for the next few months.  The plus is that i get to keep the iPad when the study is over.  Not that i could expect them to want it back after i’d been drooling AIDS-tainted saliva over it for a year.

I love being a lab rat, and if you want to Do Your Part for the advancement of science, you can click on this link to the  Brain Health Registry and volunteer to participate in their on-line study.


Meanwhile, some California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) blooming at the edge of the Lynch Creek Trail.

Eschscholzia californica California poppy


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