post by Mary Whealen
Oh not ALL of California, just that "other" CA, you know the part of it away from the coast and well-known population centers..... the part of it where most of us could afford to live. (Because real estate in CA is insanely expensive, but this is not a blog post about that.)
Most of it has to do with my dog, but a lot of it is cultural as well. Where I live right now is the California outside that desirable coastal range where most of the iconic locations are; the inland valleys of desert, farmland, ranches, former gold rush country, small towns and mid-size cities, rural, conservative, with flora and fauna that takes itself very seriously.
Now, when most of the northern hemisphere is blossoming with springtime optimism, here in the other California it is blossoming poison oak. Everywhere!
For most people nighttime temps above 55 degrees are a welcome antithesis to winter's icy grip, here, where winter is so mild it reminds me of Seattle's summers, it means mosquitoes carrying heartworms and a new monthly drug to give my dog. It means burs of every conceivable shape and design, all with murderous intent toward all dogs but especially long-haired breeds. (There is one with a viciously barbed point atop a twisted shaft, with a semi-circular hoop at the other end that looks likes like a piece of miniaturized mining equipment.)
These developments are followed by the beginning of rattle snake season, and minor annoyance of scorpions. Which is followed by daytime temperatures in the high 90's, sometimes 100's so that one must be up and out at the crack of dawn to get the dog walked before temp's top 80 degrees. The sun shines down relentlessly, day after day after day without respite, making me long for the grey skies and drizzle of Seattle!
Months of heat and sunshine bring fire season! A danger made all too real when last September we had to evacuate for 5 days because of the Butte wildfire that burned 70 thousand acres and destroyed 500 homes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butte_Fire
On the upside, the ticks go away for the summer! (Winter and spring they are horrible.)
And I don't know if it's a climate thing or what, but outside of major metropolitan areas, there is no decent coffee to be had in California!
And no one here seems to know the difference! They just don't have coffee in their souls. Which for someone from Seattle, gourmet coffee heaven, is cruel and unusual punishment.
Three different individuals have had a go at running a coffee shop here in town-- mostly the coffee was not good but at least it gave one the option not to have to drive 10 miles to a Starbucks-- but apparently there is just no market for it and the space has languished empty since the last owner's girlfriend left him and absconded with the espresso machine. Payment for services rendered I guess. In any comparable-sized town in Washington there would be at least 2 flourishing espresso stands!
And that, dear reader, all of the above, is why I hate California!
"The people, united, shall never be divided"
- old protest chant
The Dog Owners of my neighborhood were understandably angry and upset when City Hall recently passed a new "leash law."
Most of us have been walking our mutts in the park across the street from my house for many years now. We're the ones who always kept the place clean and beautiful (ours is an exceptionally lovely park with rugged terrain and 300-year-old trees. In the past there were trout in the creek but local overbuilding managed to destroy them)-- by removing cans, paper and miscellaneous garbage strewn around by partying teenagers, by shoring up eroding trails along the creekbed with rocks and fallen timber and especially by always picking up after our pooches... all of whom are well-trained, loving animals, as most dogs are and should be except when they've been brutalized by insane humans.
Then one day we were forced to incorporate as a city (at gunpoint you might say) with a Council that loves to pass more laws and throw its weight around-- fining citizens for this or that infraction of its clammy rules, churning out endless new legislation that we are asked to fall upon our knees and obey ("Because it's The Law!" as idiots say), assessing fees for whatever it can dream up and all the rest of it... Just as most City Councils are in the habit of doing (but not the good ones).
The first to be ticketed was Kathy, a Korean lady who recently suffered a stroke. The daily walk in the park with her little pug-dog, Bug, was her only exercise and Bug's too. This little guy can't walk very well. He's old and arthritic. It was easy for the cop to catch up with this pair; Kathy walks on ahead swinging her good arm to get her exercise and Bug, waddling and panting, tongue lolling, struggles to keep up... a very dangerous little mutt, Bug. But let me put that in the past tense because those two do not stroll in our park any more. Welcome to America, Kathy!
The second to be ticketed was Jasper Cunningham and was he ever mad!
Jasper has a sweet, gentle Golden Retriever named Mica. Like all the park regulars, Mica is beautifully trained. He would never dream of harming a soul. But like every dog he needs his daily run down the hill where people do not walk.
His owner said: "They're ticketing the wrong people! Dogs don't run you off the path with their bikes and motorized razor scooters, dogs don't build fires at the base of trees that were growing here before Columbus landed, dogs don't shoot birds or dump their beer empties in the river--" Jasper managed to talk the judge into a half-price ticket, $60 instead of $120 because he said he hadn't been warned but that didn't lessen his anger at the unfairness of another cruel, blind law handed down to us from "above."
Yes, there are attack dogs in the world (just as there are attack people) but to penalize everyone is not only less than sane but inevitably leads to worse problems. Why not enforce those laws already on the books-- laws that go after criminals (to call them what they are for a change): people who treat animals viciously and create the "attack dog" problem in the first place? The law looks the other way when it comes to them. That, at any rate, was Jasper's argument. "It's because dogs don't vote, pay taxes or support these lousy politicians," he fumed.
And then the inevitable happened.
One afternoon around four o'clock, Reba and Steve and I were out walking our canine family members--minus their leashes of course. Every day we hike down to a small hollow that boasts a pretty little clearing where we can toss tennis balls around and have the dogs chase them and come racing back, tennis ball in smiling mouth (if you don't think dogs can smile you've been sadly miseducated. I'm told that even young Arctic foxes who have never seen a human before--the lucky little devils--love this tennis ball game. Just as much as we do).
But that day, something bad happened.
First of all there was a man with two little kids in the clearing. None of us knew the man, he wasn't one of the regulars and the minute he saw our dogs he went into the type of hysterical fit we had seen before.
He did and said all the usual things ("Oh my God! Keep them away from me! You can't be here," etc.-- picking up a stone and so on), infecting his children with his raw hysteria. And note well: this is the fellow responsible for the murder of whole species. He has no empathy for the animals that occupy the same planet as he does; he believes he is "superior" to them and that they will attack him, therefore he is justified in doing whatever he likes to them.
The question to ask this guy is, "What have you done to an animal?"
He's clearly exhibiting symptoms of guilt and fear of retribution. This man needs help, not new laws to bolster his insanely reactive behavior.
But he soon gathered his young and stalked off. A few minutes later a police officer appeared over the brow of the hill, walking toward us.
He approached Steve first. His ticket book open in his hand.
"Your dog isn't wearing a leash," he pointed out brilliantly. "That's against the law in this park."
Steve began to remonstrate (that means like, protest a bit when you know you are in the right) and at the same time Reba, who always carries a baseball bat on her walks to send the tennis ball spinning a little farther and faster and also to protect against stalkers and suchlike-- Reba snuck up behind the cop.
Just as the cop was saying, "The law states that each of you are subject to a $120 fine or you can appear in court with or without a lawyer to present argument--"
That was the exact moment when Reba hauled off and whacked the officer in the head with her Louisville slugger.
When the bat connected with the cop's skull, the sound was like a watermelon being dropped ten stories down to a cement alley.
Reba wiped her bat with handfuls of grass.
"That's one dead-looking cop," she observed.
And it was true. Stretched full length, partly on the pebbled path and partly on the grassy verge, he was not only bloody as a newly beheaded chicken but also extremely dead.
Then as the days passed, nothing much changed. Everybody came to look at the dead cop: shoppers on their way to the Fred Meyer store, grade school children walking home, even the J.C. track team running its laps would jog a trifle slower to take a leisurely squint at what lay half on, and half off, the pebbly path.
Highschool kids dropped by to lay bets on the number of ants crawling in and out of the corpse's nose and open mouth in any given ten minute period.
Boy Scout Troop 84 made a special project of monitoring the extra growth spurred in adjoining vegetation by runoff from the fresh fertilizer; it gave them something to do on an otherwise boring rainy day. The whole neighborhood came to stop by and gawk. And as the weeks passed we laid bets as to what would rot away first; would it be his uniform or his flesh?
What would you guess? Let's see if you are right, shall we?
Well, by golly, the uniform won. That tough blue weave took a long time to decompose, longer than the fellow himself, and shreds of it wound up covering his fairly white, smooth bones--but everything eventually comes to an end and today when I walk by the spot with my dog all I see are a couple pieces of whitish skull, some rotted blue uniform and finally--not a bit rusted, in fact still gleaming in the sun and hardly changed at all by time, weather, or worms-- that impressive badge of authority, his shield.
"July 6, 1933. We are at Rhinelander, Wisconsin and have a wonderful cabin in the woods, also a beach where we go swimming and a pier. The rowboat is tied up to the pier. I get to row Dad around while he fishes. Sue isn’t allowed to row yet and doesn’t want to. Corky is two and a pest. There are mosquitos—when the sun goes down, on goes the oil of citronella, a smell you don’t ever forget. Today is Sue’s birthday. She got a big cake with an American flag on it and some presents—she didn’t like the flag and wishes she didn’t have a birthday right after the 4th of July, too much firecracker stuff! We picked blueberries with Mom way up on a hill, that’s all for now, bye, Jody"
Writing a blog for another has its challenges, particularly when the person is a writer with very strong opinions and a distinct voice. And is dead. And one is representing that writer and her works.
Such is the situation here. My duty is to represent Jody Scott and to connect her works with readers. To find those readers somehow and see to it that they have the opportunity to discover her writing. And it would seem that social media is an integral part of accomplishing this.
So Jody Scott has a Facebook page and a Twitter account and this blog. She is not ouija board-ing me tweets or posts, and there is a lot of unpublished material I can share, in addition to my own recollections of our 30-year life together, but should I try to keep 'me' out of it? Is that even possible?
I've concluded it is not. So occasionally I am going to post as myself, from my viewpoint, on things that interest me and I believe would also interest Jody.
I interested Jody, and I knew, loved and understood her better than any other living person, so maybe that makes what I have to say appropriate and of interest here.
You who are reading this because of an interest in Jody Scott, feel free to let me know by commenting. And please help spread the word about Jody's writing by sharing, liking, tweeting or writing a reader review.
Post by Mary Whealen
Exquisitely detailed dioramas of abandoned diners, crumbling gas stations, small town brick storefronts, Tim Prythero's sculptures document America's fading analog past. Pop art that has dropped all self-referential posturing, Prythero is not saying, 'look at my cleverness,' he is saying, 'look at the world.' Or maybe, even more simply, just, 'look.' Which clearly he does!
Folksy, nostalgia-evoking and utterly wonderful, they remind me of Edward Hopper. Jody would love his work!
The piece I saw is "Tail of the Pup" and the back of the sculpture (that I could see by pressing my cheek to the museum wall) blew me away; plywood delaminating on the bottom of a sagging and patched screen door, overflowing trashcan, refuse blown against the wall, now-useless pipes and conduits, weeds growing in the cracks, a sponge mop disintegrating in the elements... I could feel how it would crumble in my fingers if I touched it. Here is a slideshow of his work. (http://www.timprythero.com/urban-street-scenes/)
the blog of Jody Scott
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