JANUARY 11, 2009

Its been a quiet week on the Island, my hometown set here on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Balmy breezes have swept in to chase those chill temps away and push off the rain clouds, although high fog has remained the order of the day lately. The weekend proved to be bright and sunny, causing some Jaqueline to call home to Sasquatch Lake in Minnesota, where her relatives are enjoying the brisk minus 10 degrees in the snow, and get all the New Year news.

Sparticus, the border collie died one night when he ran out on the frozen lake to chase what her mother thinks was Jason's escaped pet duck, which had clipped wings so it couldn't fly all that well, just sort of bumble along about two feet above the snow. The duck got away but they found Sparticus out there, frozen stiff as concrete, still on point, waiting for the hunter who would never come. The ground being too frozen to make a proper burial, they sort of stuck the dog out in front as a lawn orniment on the snow there to wait until Spring.

This reminded Jaqueline to place the tulip bulbs in the freezer, which is what we do around here to trick the plants into thinking winter has come. Her own dog, Haggis, remained safe in the front room, looking out the window and occasionally urinating on the denuded Xmas tree, which was waiting for pickup by Scout Troop 409.

Its the post Holiday season and while everybody who still has a job goes back to work to pay for those new HDTVs and WII devices and return the really unwearable maroon and green and beige sweaters sent by Aunt Maude, the curbsides are all strewn with those derelict reminders, a few strands of tinsel blowing in the breeze. Uncle Mike refused to pay the Scouts the $4 for the pickup, so he went at his tree with a pocket knife, a pipe hacksaw and a small hatchet until the six footer met the four-foot recycler requirements, leaving quite a carpet of splinters and needles there on the sidewalk.

It was quite a sight as the part-time policeman went at the former evergreen with the same energy of a young Pete Townsend windmilling on the electric guitar, producing instead of rock and roll a great number of flying woodchips and it lasted a good while with the Abodanza kids all standing around, gawking like it was some pinata fete.

He was having a real tough time of it until Jose passing by commented, "If you are trying to kill that tree, why don't you just shoot it with your service revolver?"

This, thought Mike was a brilliant solution, especially when the head of the hatchet flew off to embed itself solidly in the fender of his truck parked right there near the front door, so he went and got his Baretta from upstairs intending to teach that damn tree a lesson and maybe split the trunk.

Telling the kids to stand back behind him he fired at the tree, getting the satisfactory desired result as the bullet shattered the pine in half. Unfortunately, the bullet ricocheted off of the pavement beneath, dinged the side of his truck, and went up from there to the telephone pole where it smacked into the telco transformer, sending a shower of sparks down and a plume of black smoke upwards.

Half of the lights on the block went dark.

Telling the kids to scram and not tell anybody anything, Mike ran inside to put away his gun. In the meantime the insulation oil in the transformer caught on fire and the top of the pole became a blaze, singing Mr. Peepers who had been hibernating quite happily up there for several weeks in a nice warm nest that soon grew too hot for comfort. The smoking animal scampered along the powerlines to leap into the poplar tree down the block just before the lines detached from the pole and fell hissing and sparking to the street.

This maddened a brace of Silverhair poodles who had been leading their chosen owner on leashes down the block and they broke loose to chase the snapping powerlines, much as poodles will do after a length of string. This, of course caused the owners a bit of anguish and their cries of distress alarmed those folks who still had power, although by this time, much of the block had blacked out.

The kids, meanwhile had scattered to the four winds to chatter excitedly different versions of these events, which got greatly embellished somehow as the versions multiplied.

Believing the Island or someplace near it was under terrorist attack, Festus alerted Mayor Beverly to get to the Office of Emergency Services, which for the Island was located inexplicably some twenty miles inland -- more of Bush Administration and Homeland Security planning for you -- underneath Anderson Prison.

Someone pulled the All Alert siren and a firetruck from Station 8 ran into Officer O'Madhauen's cruiser as it ran a red light trying to get to the fire.

PG&E crews attempting to get to the scene to deal with the power outage were blocked as all the bridges raised up and the tube was barricaded on news of a disaster alert, per policies implemented by the Maritime Security Act, also devised by the Bush Administration.

The Iranian submarine, The Chador, observed much of this through its periscope from the middle of the estuary, and they wondered if all this would be put to blame on them along with everything else. So it was, they glided undetected through the estuary and out into the bay where they ran silently, ran deep out the Golden Gate to the oddly named Pacific Ocean, promising to themselves they would not return until January 20th had safely passed by with its long anticipated changes in schema.