It is in the air, literally. But it's also on the ground, as fine as talcum powder, the ashes. And they are not metaphorical. California has had, or is having, scorched earth. The pictures of suburban ruin from the wine areas north of San Francisco shock with the suddenness of their deathly transformation. And what is left feels ominous somehow. The powdery residue of the 3000°F fires that baked and vaporized households and lives is both a shock and toxic. Put modernity into a retort, and this Read more [...]


What can one say of San Francisco's most successful effort at summer…except that it must be enjoyed? Which is what brings me to our greenhouse on a Sunday afternoon. The greenhouse effect is most pleasant. Warmer, a bit. Sheltered from the breeze, yes. Quiet. While Jane takes a nap and gets a break from intense Sunday extroversion, well, here I am. And all alone. For less than a minute, actually. One of our two cats leaps upon me and it asserts its right. This is probably a litmus test of human Read more [...]

Still Standing

This week's sleepless nights have been followed by tired days…which seem to demonstrate, as if the fact needs it, that I am old. Fatigue means that the neuromuscular wherewithal I counted on yesterday somehow isn't here today. It means that in visiting the local grocer’s, at the checkout I fumble around for my money. This takes long enough for one of the clerks to offer to help. And not just ‘help' with any old thing, but assist this old thing with handling his cash. Indicative, I say. Yes, Read more [...]


They were tricky little devils, muskets. You held them at waist level and aimed like a gardener with a hose. They had no sight, no technique for optically aligning barrel with target. Still, they could kill someone. If that someone wasn't too far away. Like two meters would be handy. With three, you would start to stretch it. Four was really pushing things. And if you missed, what the hell, you ducked behind a tree. Or if there wasn't a tree you crouched. Good to get out of the line of fire while Read more [...]

Adults in the Room

As I take in today's news…not that any sane person can 'take in’ war carnage in America's capital of fun and gambling and general tackiness. Never mind about Las Vegas. It is what it is, and laughing at the place is like blaming the victim. Anyway, as the facts stagger across the screen…a few things also stagger into focus. One is that guns are a deep and powerful part of the American myth. Which, in a society so riven by class and education, means that a good two thirds of the populace Read more [...]