An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse

The open house for Anne’s place happened last Friday. I didn’t really know how it went because subconsciously I was trying to stay away from the whole business of the sale. I went into a little bit of a slump last week; feeling very negative about life in general, wondering why I was bothering to get up; schlumping around the house… and I didn’t really know why. I continued to feel this way even when, by any objective standards, I got two pieces of validation: I placed “in the money” in the novel category for the MCWC writing contest, and one of the youth at VOICES made a point of telling me he got an A in his English class at the junior college, and he thought the writing workshop helped make that happen. Life is good, right? I wasn’t feeling it.

Much later I figured out most of these blue feelings were centered around the house. I’ve said all along that I didn’t have an emotional connection to the house, that the estate work was just a task, one last thing I could do for Anne… but I realized on Sunday that the house is the last tangible thing, and it is going away. And I do have some feelings about that.

I also tend to have low expectations. It took me so long to move forward that I was afraid we’d lose the summer  selling season. I was seriously afraid there would be no offers, and I was planning a talk with my realtors about dropping the price when/if that happened.

I went down to the realtors’ office yesterday to review offers. Gene had told me on Saturday that there was one. I was delighted. I thought this would go quickly.

When I got there, he showed me the nine offers that had come in. Seven were over asking price.  He’d told me some might come in over asking; I’d assumed they be about $10,000 over. They weren’t. They were $50,000 over. For those of you who like math, that’s 10% over asking price. Some were higher.

I opted for one that was not the highest, but who waived an appraisal, was paying in cash (and provided proof of solvency); and waived an additional inspection. This means the buyer has a pretty good idea of what to expect.  Other offers, while higher, wanted a longer escrow and additional inspections, on their dime. Even though I already understand that I am selling the property As Is, a fast sale over asking price seems like a better deal than a slow sale over asking price, especially since I know the buyer will counter “down” as the process continues.

As of yesterday afternoon, the offer I accepted outright was already in escrow, and I counter-offered on two others as  back-up offers.

I’m thrilled… and surprised. I understand nothing about real estate or economics, obviously, but this kind of, well, feeding frenzy seems exactly like the housing bubble in the late 2000′s, the ones that led to the housing bubble and ultimately to the recession.

Apparently, investment money from elsewhere (that’s code for “China”) is flowing into the San Francisco Bay Area faster than maple syrup at an IHOP. This flood is juiced up by the tech biz and the techies who want to shorten their commutes. So a person in Daly City can sell her nice tract home for $800,000; buy a cute house in the country, walking distance from town (and don’t forget Starbucks!) for $550,000, spend $100,000 renovating it and still have about $150,000 to invest or spend on fancy wine. Alternately, a contractor can buy it for $550,000, spend $100K rehabing it, and offer it for $800,ooo, if they’re willing to wait awhile. The house is on nearly an acre, and is part of an independent water company. Right now, is this area, those are big plusses.

I said to my realtors, “I don’t understand real estate.” They both started laughing. Bill said, “We’ll tell you a secret… when it comes to pricing a house, nobody knows. The whole process is so volatile.”

They had seventeen showings the day of the open house and five or six after that. Gene said he was flooded with calls over the weekend, and out of that, nine were serious. He said it was the most interest he’d seen in a house in that past four years.

I hope the first offer works out and they get the house, because they are a couple who plan to renovate and live there. If the property were mine, I would really be swayed by that kind of emotional appeal. It’s not, though, and my first duty is to the beneficiaries and the estate. I can justify taking a s lightly lower offer with a shorter escrow in service to getting them their money faster.

And, it may all fall through tomorrow. That could happen. I think it won’t though. I think that ephemeral beastie called “the global economy” will continue to make its presence known, in the most unusual of ways.

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Building a World

I’m struggling with world building right now. I’m writing a set of linked novellas, all set in a world with magic, but it’s a world that used to be like ours is. A catastrophic change happened, ushering in magic and eliminating certain other things (like Starbucks).

Just at a time that I was feeling discouraged at my ability to create a coherent world and add the right details, I read Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is famous. He was tapped to finished the endless Wheel of Time saga; he is adored by writers and fans alike, and reviews of Mistborn trumpeted the wonderful world-building. To be fair, several reviews quickly followed those laudatory statements us with things like, “Well, it’s not exactly world-building, but his descriptions are atmospheric!”

Since Sanderson is seen as an expert of world-building, and especially the creation of magical systems, I found I was reading the book in a questioning mode. First of all, I enjoyed the book. This is not a review. I have written a review and it will post at Fantasy Literature. This post here is in the nature of a study.

I’m also aware that Mistborn is the first book of three, and it’s likely that many of these questions will be answered in the subsequent books.

Mines? Refineries? Foundries?

Sanderson’s magical system revolves around metals. Sanderson’s use of magical metals is innovative (if unintentionally funny sometimes). In Mistborn, one mine, of one metal that seems unique to Sanderson’s world, is mentioned and is quite important to the plot. Still, the magical people use other metals for power; copper, gold, and tin for instance. They also use alloys. There must be mines, smelting plants, refineries, and foundries, but we see and hear nothing of this. One noble house is responsible for running the magical mine; I would guess that lesser houses would be given charge of the copper, tin, etc… it’s never discussed. It wouldn’t matter, except that a large part of the plot involves bringing down the noble houses.

  • Where do they get their metal from?
  • How do they transport it?
  • How/where do they refine it?
  • The underground magicians, the allomancers, use metals all the time. Why doesn’t the Lord Ruler get a better grip on it? Make it harder to get?

Is there an economy?

Of course there is an economy, but we don’t see how it works. Mention is made of certain denominations of coins, but the currency is never demonstrated, because no one ever buys food, or a horse, or a pair of shoes, onstage. Basically, the coins exist only as magical props for the allomancers. Noble houses have to worry about “contracts;” and becoming impoverished; how do they make their money?

The coins are made of metal; the allomancers use metal as a source of their power. Why doesn’t the Lord Ruler go to a paper money system so he can control the metals?

The real economy seems to be a slave-based one, where 90% of the population, called skaa, are either serfs on plantations in the country, or factory workers in the city. (And what is made in those factories? And who runs them? The nobles, clearly, but which houses, and why? Does the capital city have trade partners? We never know.)

Just who are the nobles, anyway?

Out in the countryside, nobles run plantations that grow “crops.” I don’t know what the crops* are, except we do know that people eat lots of barley, and some vegetables. What are the crops? How are they harvested and shipped? Where are they shipped? The nobles out in the countryside are not the same families as the “great houses” who have keeps in the capital. That baffles me completely. Wouldn’t it be more likely that  you’d have your “city house” to stay close to the political action, but you’d send your second son or unlucky brother/cousin, out to the sticks to maintain the plantations?

What do the nobles do?

In the story, they have parties. We know this because the main character is sent in disguised as a young noblewoman, in order to get the latest gossip. They party, they scheme against one another. That isn’t enough. It’s troubling, when toward the end of the book, the main character, who is the impostor noblewoman, makes a comment about “going to balls on the weekend.” The weekend? The nobles have a workweek? Why?

Does it matter, really? After all, if the book is engrossing and fun, why do I care? Well, part of it is the length. If this were a romp at 345 pages I’d probably let it go. Mistborn weighs in at 643 — more than enough space to answer some of these questions.


Anyway, I finished the book having enjoyed the story, but feeling no more inspired or encouraged to address all my world-building headaches. I suppose, though, that it did give me a list of questions I have to answer. A long list. And that’s just… great.


*I know you’re thinking, “Geez, Marion, don’t be so picky. They’re crops, okay?” But it’s not okay. The sky is covered with a constant layer of ash, and the plants have changed color from green to shades of yellow and red, so what are they growing?


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Anne’s house is now officially in multiple listings. The two realtors have already done 17 showings, with an open house the upcoming weekend.

I was amused by a couple of statements in the listing document. First of all, though, I have to say I was impressed. The photography and text elevated the house in a way I hadn’t expected. One of my favorite photos was a close-up of some nearly-ripe Gravenstein apples on the tree in the back. It’s a favorite because it’s a type of picture I’ve taken dozens of times; but it’s also a favorite because it evokes a certain impression of the house. Pastoral, orchardlike. Country.

My second favorite line was rather technical. That one was, “This legal exterior bathroom and the RR2 zoning make this house an interesting opportunity for buyers.” This is code for, “You can create a rental unit!”

But this was my favorite:  “The house is within walking distance of Fircrest Market and the town’s only freestanding Starbuck’s.”

Now there’s the seller.

The house is a pleasant walk from Starbuck’s, it’s true.

Now that the house has been emptied out and cleaned, I do see it differently. I don’t see it as Anne’s home (or Spouse’s childhood home, for that matter) anymore. It just looks like a house. Frankly, for the first time it looks like a cute little house with some character. I have spent so many months recently looking at its defects that I had forgotten; it’s a cute, redwood sided house, on nearly an acre, in a pleasant neighborhood… and an easy walk to Starbuck’s.

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A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins

I take the novel workshop every time I go to the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference. Before it starts, I try to read a book by the instructor, so I can decide whether he or she has the chops to teach me anything. I know that sounds arrogant and entitled. I struggled with that for a bit, and decided… you know what? I’m old, and I can act arrogant and entitled if I want to.

So, is Scott Hutchins, this year’s instructor, worth listening to? I read his novel A Working Theory of Love, this week. Based on that I would say yes, indeed yes. If Hutchins can teach as well as he writes, I am definitely going to listen.

It’s possible that if I were born, raised and still lived in Cleveland, Ohio, I would not have enjoyed this San Francisco Bay-based novel quite as much. I think it helps if you actually know people like the ones Neill Bassett Jr, the first-person narrator, meets in this story. I suspect people in the Midwest would think Hutchins is making this stuff up – and he is, but it isn’t much of a stretch.

A Working Theory of Love is funny, tinged with sadness, insightful, and sweet. Neill is the son of a father who committed suicide. Neill Senior was a doctor, one of the last of the country doctors, a southern Catholic living in the south. Unbeknownst to both his wife and son at the time, Neill Senior kept voluminous journals of his life. The journals are not deep or overly personal; they tend instead to be a record of day-to-day life. These journals, which Neill Junior has, come to the attention of a Silicon Valley inventor, Henry Livorno, a fading genius who wants to create artificial intelligence, and thinks that language will help do that. He hires Neill to upload the journals, and engage in conversation with the program they now call Dr. Bassett.

Neill is divorced and trying to live the single life in San Francisco. Over the course of the book, three women come into his life; the much younger Rachel, who lives in Marin County and is part of a group called Pure Encounters, a perfectly modulated Marin County sex cult; Erin, Neill’s ex-wife, and Jenn, a computer engineer who works for Livorno’s competition, and whose driving goal in life is to be on the TV show Survivor. There is another important woman in the book, and my personal favorite; Neill’s mother Libby.

If you’ve never talked to anyone who had a brush with a cult or a powerful fad group, you will find Pure Encounters to be funny, baffling and even kind of interesting. If you know someone who plunged head-first into one of these movements, you might find yourself falling out of your chair laughing. Really, it doesn’t have to be a formal movement; it could be gluten or soy, or meditation. Hutchins nails it.

The serious parts of the story; Neill finally facing his father’s suicide, deciding to take a risk on a relationship, are deftly done. The fun parts of the story; preparing a computer program for the Turing test (designed to prove artificial intelligence), the pitch-perfect rivalry between Livorno and his millionaire-student and competitor Toler, play out with wit and suspense. Toler is a jerk and I wanted to hate him, but Hutchins makes him human; dislikeable and understandable.

Hutchins expertly misleads his readers (I mean that in the best possible way) to one inescapable conclusion about the motive for Dr. Bassett’s suicide, and then does a ninety-degree turn, leaving our expectations in the dust. Good job.

And then there are the SF-Northbay things that are accurate and hilarious. On Stinson Beach, north of the Golden Gate, Neill meets Rachel’s friend Raj. “ ‘Short for Rajasthan,’ he says, shaking my hand. ‘Unfortunately.’ He’s as Caucasian as a Smothers Brother, but this is Marin, birthplace of the American Taliban.” I don’t know how well a John Walker Lindh reference plays, now, outside of northern California, but I certainly got it; just like I got references to the sex shops, performance/protest art, foodie ice cream and Rachel’s conversion to “locavorism.” Yep. These are my people.

Basically, Hutchins runs the peninsula; portraying Palo Alto culture (bright purple artificial vaginas and “stealth companies,”); San Francisco with its trendy restaurants (trend of the time, offal); and Marin County with its… well, just being Marin.

“What happened to us American men? There we were, joyfully plundering the world like openhanded pirates, and how that we have it all we all sit in half-lotus on the edge of paradise, the most beautiful county in the most beautiful state in the luckiest country under the sun, to meditate on loss and resentment.”

Hutchins also understands that reader appreciate a real plot, where things happen and cause other things to happen, and he can actually craft one! I did think it was unlikely that Jenn would just happen to have a Pure Encounters brochure in her house, but other than that, the plot elements link together smoothly. There is a sense I often get in literary novels, that the writer thinks, “Okay, I got Main Character from Point A to Point B, I made up some tension, and now I can stop and write that six-page lyrical interior monologue I really wanted to do all along.” Hutchins commits to telling a story, and it’s a story with honesty, depth and optimism.

This started off as a research project and ended up being a treat. I’m already planning how many copies I’m going to buy at the workshop bookstore, to give to friends.

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Here’s One Reason I Enjoy a Lee Child Book

I know I go on about Lee Childs and his fictional almost-super-hero character, Ramblin’ Man Jack Reacher. His plots go from implausible at best to outright ridiculous, and I don’t care. They are warm popcorn, coated in fresh melted butter, with tiny fireworks explosions of salt crystals.

And, every once in a while, he lays out a paragraph that reads like this one:

“The woman wiped the neck of the bottle on the hem of her dress and held it out toward him. He shook his head. Sat down on the porch step. The old wood creaked once under his weight. The glider kept rocking, back and forth. It was almost silent. Almost, but not quite. There was a small sound from the mechanism that came once at the end of each swing, and a little creak from a porch board as it started its return. Reacher could smell mildew from the cushions, and bourbon from the bottle.”

On the other end of the continuum, and equally entertaining, we have Reacher’s breakfast experience in an un-named fast food chain restaurant.

“… He had more coffee and an English muffin filled with a round piece of ham and something that might once have been an egg, first dried and powdered and then reconstituted. His threshold of culinary acceptability was very low, but right then he felt like he might be pushing at the bottom edge of his personal envelope.”

I just love this stuff.



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The Great Glass Sea; a Russian Novel Written by an American

I am recommending this book to a lot of people; The Great Glass Sea, by Josh Weil. It came out earlier this month, and it’s published by Grove Atlantic; available on Kindle as well as in paper.

My experience with Weil was as an instructor at the Mendocino Coast Writers Conference first and as a writer second. As a teacher, Weil has the vital and unusual ability to make a workshop space feel safe and encouraging, and still point out places in people’s work where there are deficiencies. He was accessible, responsible, and funny.

I also knew I liked his prose, though, because I picked up a copy of The New Valley before the workshop. At the time, I thought it was a little odd that the person teaching the novel workshop hadn’t exactly published a novel (The New Valley is three linked novellas). Still, his prose, his observation of small details, and the way he lets his characters mourn a style of life that is changing, or vanishing, around them, wowed me. At the conference, I had a conversation with Weil and he told me about the book he had coming out; The Great Glass Sea.

The book is set in present-day Russia; not quite our present-day, but close. A consortium of oligarchs has built and launched a set of reflective satellites; space mirrors, turning an agricultural section of the country into endless daylight. This is still Russia, though, and even though it is light, food crops have to be protected from the elements, so the town is also building hectares of glass greenhouses; a vast sea of glass. Two brothers — identical twins — work in the greenhouses. Yarik, the elder twin, comes to the attention of one of the oligarchs, and is soon promoted to foreman. Yarik has a wife and children, and looks ahead to the future. Dima, the younger twin, cares for their aging mother who suffers from dementia. Dima has no interest in the shining future of the greenhouses. He yearns to buy back the little farm (once part of  a collective) that their uncle owned, and go back to simpler times. Each twin, in his own way, becomes a symbol or spokesperson for various political groups who have opinions about the greenhouses.

The book is not just about changing societies, although that is a big part of it. It is about a disappearing way of life; about family; about folklore; about the unintended consequences of technology; about everyday life in Russia (which Weil knows about; he spent time as an exchange student, and went back as an adult when he was researching the book); about politics, economics and peer pressure; about mental illness, about love and regrets.

This is a long and densely written work, with a tone that ranges from folkloric, to elegiac, to humorous, to tragic. It’s filled with powerful imagery and gestures gone wrong. It’s dreamlike in spots, and hyper-realistic in others.

I reviewed the book for Fantasy Literature because of the science fiction premise, but the book is not about satellites and greenhouses. It is about how people react to the changes brought by satellites and greenhouses. It’s also, basically, a book about brothers.

I recommend The Great Glass Sea highly. It is dense and you will have to make a commitment to it. If you do, you won’t be disappointed.

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Shoreline Highway; Tomales Bay and Valley Ford



Tomales is about six miles north of the edge of Tomales Bay. It’s another small town; smaller than Point Reyes Station; a village, but getting closer to “hamlet” designation. There are about 200 people there according to the 2010 census and the biggest employer is Tomales High School. The town has broad pastureland broken up with stands of cypress, Diekmann’s General Store, an antiques shop, a bakery that is open Thursday through Sunday, two restaurants only open on weekends and a deli. The Church of the Annunciation is on the west side of Highway One.



If you stop when the church is open, go inside and check out its lovely stained glass windows. Maybe it’s just me, but I find “Church of the Annunciation” and a sign saying “Deliveries” in close proximity to be funny. I don’t know what happened to Baby Jesus’s arms, but the statue is still pretty nice.



I hadn’t eaten in Point Reyes Station, and I missed the opportunity to eat at Nick’s Cove, a few miles south, which is, or used to be, famous for oyster-themed meals. I was sure there would be a place to eat in Tomales.  This was a very bad decision. Next time I will either stop sooner, or push on to the town of Valley Ford.


What a cheerful, welcoming exterior! Don’t be deceived.

The Tomales Deli was open and serving. They have two of the storefronts on the east side of the street; the second room has a couple of tables but seems like more on a community room than a diner. A clever hand-painted sign reads “Dilly-dally at the deli,” but I would not take them at their word. It was about one-fifteen and they were pretty busy, since they were the only place open. There were three people behind the counter assembling food at top speed. I had the misfortune to get one of the worst countermen I’ve encountered in my life.

There were two people ahead of me in line, I thought, but after a minute one of them looked at me and said, “We’re waiting for our food.” They stepped to one side and I moved up to the counter. On a niche by the door into the pantry, a small TV was showing Germany trouncing Brazil in the World Cup. I didn’t pay attention to the score at the time, but maybe that was part of the counter guy’s problem. I waited. He called up some names to deliver orders, including the people I’d talked to. He did not make eye contact with me. He did not acknowledge me in any way for five and a half minutes. At one point he deliberately looked around me at the people who had come in behind me. I moved into his field of vision and he still refused to make eye contact.

Finally he deigned to take my order. I ordered a sandwich that is usually served warm. He said he would call me when it was ready. I found a seat in the other room. After a few minutes – they were very busy – I got up and stood in the doorway so I could hear my name when it was called. It wasn’t called. I could see a sandwich in a basket sitting on the counter. Didn’t call my name. Didn’t call it. Called the couple – also tourists – who had come in behind me. Then he saw me standing there, quickly turned to pick up my ticket, and called my name. The bread was stiff and clearly had been warmed or toasted, but the sandwich was room temperature.

Other than not being warm, the sandwich was good. The sprouts and avocado that were part of it were fresh, with ripe avocado, and if I had gotten it when it was ready it would have been delicious. The apple pie was very good.  I can recommend the food, but really can’t recommend the place. I understand being busy, but it doesn’t take that much time to say, “I’ll be with you in a minute.”  There are people in the world who don’t like me, certainly, but usually they get to know me before they make that decision. Maybe I just wasn’t quite Marin-county enough for this guy.


The only problem with their sign is that it points away from the restaurant.


Valley Ford is also a tiny settlement, with Rocker Oysterfeller’s, Dinnucci’s Italian Restaurant and a place called the Estero Café. The two restaurants were also closed on a Tuesday. According to Yelp, Rocker Oysterfellers is good but it’s hard to tell when they are open.

I spent some time here; a lovely shop with lots of local handcrafts including textiles from Abby Bard, handmade soaps, and jams and preserves. There is, or will be, a cheese and wine bar in here too.


Both Tomales and Valley Ford were railroad stops, back in the day. I don’t know if the narrow gauge tourist line that brought people from San Francisco out to the redwoods ran through the valley, but it would certainly make sense. Now, it is dairy and tourist country.


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The Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes Station



Point Reyes Station is the small township (about 800 people) on the edge of the Point Reyes National Seashore. I didn’t go all the way down to the ocean this trip. Instead I spent my time wandering the main street of the village.

Bovine Bakery gets rave reviews, and this seems to be valid, since the place has been packed every time I’ve been in town. This day was no different. The Cowgirl Creamery Annex appeared to be closed when I got into town. They make some of the best cheeses in the Bay Area, but I never seem to get there when they are open.

In Point Reyes Bookstore I bought two new books (they have new and used). I bought On Looking by Alexandra Horowitz. Horowitz wrote one of the best canine books ever, Inside of a Dog.

I also bought Assholes, A Theory by Aaron James. Yes, that is the name, and it is a scholarly work, discussing the causes and suggested treatments of asshollery. James has a PhD in Philosophy from Harvard, and is looking for some balance in his academic writing career by writing some “lighter” works and this is one of them. It is not a humor book (although it is funny in spots); it is not particularly glib. He has a real theory of what makes people behave like assholes, why they make us crazy and how we can manage them. I’m looking forward to getting farther into it.

Both of these probably qualify as “pop science” books; they are well written and have serious themes and ideas, but they are not academic and are marketed to lay people.


When I decided to go to Point Reyes Station I knew I wanted to stop at a gallery/gift shop called Vita and look at the steampunk bird sculptures she carried. I walked to the east end of the street where her store is. It looked closed, and a card on the door listed the hours as “Wednesday through Sunday.” I walked down to the intersection, took a few pictures, and looked around. On my way back, from this angle, I saw that there were lights on. I saw another card on the door that read, “Open Tuesdays by appointment or chance.” I tried the door and it was unlocked. Appointment or chance?  I don’t know, but they were open, and I bought this guy.


It looks like there are three restaurants in town. The two on the main street looked fancier than I wanted, so I decided to head back and eat at one of the places in Tomales or Valley Ford (a bad decision, as it turned out).  One of these days, I will get to town early enough to eat at Bovine Bakery before the rush; or pick up some fresh bread and a couple of specialty cheeses, and eat at the West Marin Commons, a pocket-park at the west end of Point Reyes Station.


The graffiti on the derelict buildings was pretty fascinating.



I liked the crazy-quilt effect of the door, but on the window it says, “Communism will win.” Really?


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The Shoreline Highway Part 1

I drove down Highway 1 to the town of Point Reyes on Tuesday. Instead of following Highway 12 all the way to the little town of Bodega and turning right, I took the Freestone Station Road. It has some slightly different views.


Looking back at my turn onto Highway One

This time of year the hills are golden, but things seemed drier than usual. On the way to Tomales, I found Highland cattle! I did not know anyone here was raising them. This small herd of cows and calves seemed very content and very comfortable with photographers.  I probably wasn’t the first person who ever stopped to take a picture.



The estrero runs through this shallow valley into Tomales Bay. If you look at this area on a map, the waterways are really interesting, reaching back fingers quite a way north.


On the way to Tomales Bay

Unlike the cows, the blue heron was not pleased to see me. I parked in a wide arc by the side of the road, not quite a turnout, and took a couple of shots from across the street. The bird turned its head to survey me with one (disapproving) eye.  I looked both ways (because of course I was on a curve) and dashed across the street to where a dairy had an access road and a cattle guard. This is dairy country, and  later I would drive through the tiny town of Mashall, home of Strauss Family Creameries. Back to the bird, though. The access road meant I could get quite a bit closer. As I moved cautiously forward, a motorcycle came down the highway, southbound. It was a CHP bike cop. His head turned to the right as he noted my car, slightly to the left as he noted me, trespassing, with a camera, and the full-throated roar of his motor didn’t even wobble one note as he shot past. Apparently he was pretty used to seeing photographers too.


The bird, however, was not amused.


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What Retirement’s Like (Some More)

I was trying to figure out how long I’ve been retired. In October, it will be two years. And maybe, now, I’m starting to understand what it is.

The first several months (okay, year) of retirement seemed pretty busy and scheduled. Spouse was recovering from a serious injury through most of it. Then his mom had her health issues. I spent a lot of time with her through 2013, and that became part of my routine. Now that routine has to change.

The beauty of retirement is in the small things for me. It’s being about to do housework on a Wednesday instead of Saturday. It’s the idea that I can drive down Highway One to Point Reyes (which I might do today) if I want, at almost any time. It’s walking to the store or the bank during non-peak hours.

The bookstore fills quite a bit of my time, and I love the writers workshop at VOICES. Now that it’s summer, there are a dozen farmers markets to visit, and maybe even some farms. I don’t have to try to fit that in around other obligations.

The funny thing is that weekends have become incredibly crowded. This is because any social get-togethers with people who are still working devolve to those days. It’s shocking how quickly four or five weekends in a month can fill up, while the Tuesdays are sitting there empty and dreamy, full of potential.

I sleep more but I get up earlier than I used to on non-work days. I also watch television shows that I could never stay awake to see before. And, for some weird reason, I listen to more classical music.

I started this off by saying maybe I was beginning to understand what retirement is. I just re-read what I’ve written. I see I’m wrong. I don’t understand it at all.

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