MAY 8, 2016



So anyway, "Time," to paraphrase an old Russian master, whose life was itself a conflation of chronic struggle and the timeless efforts of many other Russian masters before him packed into a globe of intersecting tesseracts that can only be fully understood by riding in an open carriage drawn by horses with a bearskin rug across the limbs in the icy heart of winter, and then again passing the same spot in Spring to observe the changes in a particular tree by the seasons, "Time, is a spherical prison without exits," so went that master. "I have prowled the edges and pounded upon its glassy walls to no avail. But Time is not limited by place."

We had some rain bouts in the mid-morning this past week which yielded to delightfully cloud-scudded skies here splashed with golden sunshine. The turkeys have been crossing the driveway to get uphill in the late afternoon and at dusk the fawns have been drifting indolently across the road lower down. Because they are fawns and not experienced, they pause there in the middle of the road and stare at you with mild concern as you drive up; not exactly a positive evolutionary development in that species.

Possibly because of the exhuberant good weather the sermons this Sunday were unfailingly optimistic. Pastor Gwynn Fuqua preached on Luke 24:44-53, "Clothed With Power". St. Peter's was all about "Worship the Triune God who is Love", largely because the Anglicans don't get to celebrate much during the year and they are all still hyped about the Ascension, which occured last week, but nevermind.

Pastor Cornelia Ruff took a verse from Ephesians, a book not many know about because it is one of those wacky Bible booklets people argue about. Speak the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15) was the topic which sounds pretty good and passable to muster for NorCal.

At the mosque on Santa Clara Mustapha Kemal dwelt upon the saying which goes, "The man who takes but a single step towards God shall enjoy the fact that God will then take two steps towards him." This saying is not often remembered by those who criticize.

Father Danyluk was as annoyed as Pastor Nyquist of the Lutheran Emmanuel Church that so few sat there Sunday morning until each of them realized that it was all because of Mother's day and seeing the kids in the pews getting antsy each of the men of cloth decided quite independently to take their respective flocks to Ole's Waffle House. "O heck, the lilies of the field are going to do what they do. Life is short and we all are going to become dust; lets go have pancakes," said the Catholic priest and so the troup of them went around the corner and down the block and filed in to have pigs in a blanket and so did the Lutherans and it was all good for it nourished the soul as well.

Jack Kornfield came down to Spirit Rock to speak again. Jack was always a popular item among the Buddhists in town as he spoke very well and so they always charged an extra sawbuck for people to park in the overflow . Buddhism does well among people who understand suffering and loss a good deal and still can afford the sentiments. Californians have gotten a lot of reponse to suffering from this group or the other, saying "Just offer it up. Just offer up your suffering." Well, among people who have dealt with massive wildfires and earthquakes and lost everything, just offer it up sounds a lot like just give it up and give it up does not sit well with Northern Californian natives who have fought pretty darned hard for generations to hold onto what they have.

The Buddhist idea that suffering comes hand in hand with life and there is not a whole lot you can do about it and it really has no special meaning other than you ought not get attached to anything at any time has some appeal. Sounds almost like the philosophy of Norwegian bachelor farmers, who any day might turn out to be zen gurus if you only were to have a camera there to watch any of them from the top of a ladder in the kitchen.

they scandalized their daughters

It came around to Mother's Day and them in Marlene and Andre's Household that had mothers still alive and still receptive to the idea of being acknowledged took their mothers out to Mama's Royal Cafe in Oaktown for brunch. Mrs. Gallipagus got tipsy on mimosas and then took the older gals over to The Alley Cat where they scandalized their daughters by singing a number of songs off-key to the accompaniment of Ron Dibble on the piano as they knocked back sloe gins and Manhattans one after another until Tipitina had to fetch them all in her Dodge Dart and haul them back to where they needed to crash.

Mr. Howitzer obtained his bicycle gun that was used for hunting wolves in the 1860's and his bouquet so as to drive out to Colma and pay respects at the tomb of his mother where a bust of the old madam Agnes scowled with a sour visage upon the landscape there. She had sent the boys off to boarding school and then to sanitoriums when the kids turned recalcitrant. She had been as a mother about as comforting and warm as a gritty limestone block. Nevertheless, she was family.

Mr. Howitzer brought the gun to deal with the crows that seemed to love flocking about the family mausoleaum. Deer also came across the fields to graze, but the groundskeepers refused to shoo them off and they would stand there at dusk under the oaks rooted in the bones of his ancestors and look with equanimity at him and everything else without regard for history. Some other people possessed of a soul would have been enchanted but Mr. Howitzer loaded his smoothbore bicycle gun and discharged in their direction so that they ambled off to find quieter areas of the vast cemetary.

do you mean Colma, the City of the Dead?

A groundskeeper came wandering up the Path to the Stars and told Mr. Howitzer he could not be discharging firearms within city limits for fear of disturbing the peace, and Mr. Howitzer looked around in amazement at miles and miles of placid open space cemetary and graves and commented, do you mean Colma, the City of the Dead? There are no funerals going on right now and night is falling. Are you afraid that someone will wake? and the groundskeeper, who was named Anselm, said, nevermind there are rules and the cemetary lay within corporate limits and rules were rules.

Mr. Howitzer left in a huff and took his gun and a bottle of Johnny Walker to Fort Funston where he shot at beercans as the sun set in memory of his dear, dead, damned mother Agnes.

Denby drove on the back of Pahrump's scooter to the depot and got the bus there to take him to Napa where his mother still resided. Pahrump made a day of it by circling back to take Martini to the Chapel of the Chimes and its curious dogbone structure of hallways there.

Ha! I still have all my faculties

Denby brought his flowers dutifully past the nurses' station at Napa to where his mother lived these days and she took the chocolate he brought and ate it greedily all at once save for a couple bars she put under her pillow so the staff would not discover it there. "They say I am pre-diabetic, whatever that means," she said. "I have cut back on sweets like a good girl. Even though I am a mother to three children and was a stone mason and built houses in my time and I could do it again, believe me! And now look at me. Taking orders. Ha! I still have all my faculties and I can drive wherever I want to anytime."

"Yes mom," said Denby, remembering how she had lost her driving license after driving through the plate glass storefront of Danny's Carneceria.

Since Pahrump was occupied with Martini, it turned out to be a long, arduous journey home from Napa for Denby and when he fell into bed that night he dreamed of a lady named Beatrice dressed in a white robe who glowed like sunlight lit within and who promised to guide him so long as his resolve remained through this dark wood of error.

And he said, "That is someone else's story!"

And she said, "What is his-story? History is a pile of broken stuff and an angel is trying to go back and fix things. But a storm is blowing out of Paradise and keeps blowing the angel backwards."

"This is madness," he said. "It is time that all of this come to a stop."

"Time," said Beatrice, "Is not something you or I have. Nobody owns Time. Things continue without you being there; you toss a few seeds in the wind and let chance determine what grows. That is just the way it is."

Nevertheless she had managed

The Editor stood out on the back of the Island-Life offices deck and allowed the cool breezes to sooth his hot brow. His mother had been a mixture of warmth and efficiency, born in France, married to a Russian expatriate, and raised in a welter of world events. His birth had been an add-on to revolutionary events. Nevertheless she had managed amid divorces and domiciles to handle things as best she could, given the circumstances of the times and the limits imposed upon her.

A pair of fawns came into the light cast from the offices onto the lawn and he regarded the animals with equanimity. We are all the children of rebels and discontents, he thought. Perhaps we should start acknowledging our birthrights. Perhaps we should acknowledge our common motherhood.

Right then the long howl of the throughpassing train ululated from far across the water where the gantries of the Port of Oaktown stood glowing with their multi-kilowatt sentry lights; it quavered across the waves of the estuary, the riprap embankments, the grasses of the Buena Vista flats and the open spaces of the former Beltline; it moaned through the cracked brick of the old abandoned Cannery with its ghosts and weedy railbed, and it keened between the interstices of the chainlink fences as the locomotive glided past the shuttered doors of the Jack London Waterfront, headed off on its journey to parts unknown.

That's the way it is on the Island. Have a great week.