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Mendocino County Today: December 28, 2020

Dry Days | 24 New Cases | Pandemic Bill | Old Noyo | Conrad Cox | Little Boat | Ed Notes | Seaside Hotel | Navarro Restoration | Lansing Street | Last Lights | Coyote v Roadrunner | Ukiah Outrageous | Whiskey Springs | Laytonville Memories | Christmas Catch | Cycling 1 | Gift Cards | Holy Thumbers | Vegas Bound | London Kids | Nuclear Goodies | Orphanage Dining | Holiday Misbehaving | Russian Gulch | Vile Legacy | Vaccine Distrust | Persepolis Procession

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DRY WEATHER is forecast to last through Tuesday. The next chance for rain will arrive Wednesday afternoon and evening. Some showers may linger Thursday morning, however precipitation is expected to wind down through the day. Wet weather will likely return on Friday and then persist through the weekend. (NWS)

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24 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendo on Sunday, bringing the total up to 2406...and another death.

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TRUMP seems to be going Zen. Or nuts. He tweeted today (Sunday) that he has some “good news” for Americans re the relief bill despite refusing to sign the $900 billion legislative agreement that has resulted in millions losing their unemployment benefits. Just before 6:30pm, Trump was back tweeting, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow! See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don't miss it. Information to follow!” The White House did not respond to questions about what the orange oracle meant. Trump said he wants the size of the relief checks to be tripled, an 11th hour demand that has thrown the fate of the legislation into limbo. If he continues his opposition, the federal government will run out of money at 12:01am Tuesday while he golfs in Florida. Apart from unemployment benefits and direct payments to families, money for vaccine distribution, businesses, public transit systems and more is on the line. And evictions can and will resume.

UPDATE: U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday signed into law a $2.3 trillion pandemic aid and spending package, restoring unemployment benefits to millions of Americans and averting a federal government shutdown in a crisis of his own making.

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Noyo River, 1946
Old Noyo

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March 20, 1931-December 13, 2020

The Honorable Judge Conrad L. Cox passed away peacefully on Sunday, December 13. Judge Cox was a long-time resident of Mendocino County who was loved and respected by many. In his younger years, Judge Cox attended the Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii. Although he was a true "Haole," at 6'3" he was practically the tallest kid on the island. The basketball and baseball teams welcomed him with open arms. Judge Cox moved back to the mainland and attended Stanford University where he earned his law degree. After graduation he and his young wife, Joan, moved to Ukiah where he started his career with the District Attorney's office. After several years, Judge Cox moved into private practice with his partner, Charlie Bell. Later they took on another young partner, Charlie Mannon, and the law office of Bell, Cox and Mannon was born. 

Judge Cox met and married his second wife, Joezelle, and they enjoyed a long, loving relationship of 40 years before Joezelle passed away in 2010. During their life together, they could frequently be found playing tennis at the Deerwood Swim and Tennis club. They both played in tournaments and enjoyed the company of neighbors. They formed many great friendships and enjoyed attending supper club over many years with their friends. 

Judge Conrad Cox

Judge Cox loved talking about the history of Mendocino County and would take his children on long drives while explaining who owned what land, which family originally farmed each vineyard, and so many other stories he had heard during his many years in the county. For those of you who knew him, you can imagine hearing his baritone voice when he spoke about the county he loved. 

In 1988, he was appointed to the bench of the Mendocino County Superior Court by Governor George Deukmejian. He later won two re-elections before retiring. Even in his retirement, Judge Cox continued to work as a sitting judge in Mendocino and the surrounding counties until 2009 when he finally stopped working. Judge Cox took great pride in serving his community and was an active contributor to the County. He started the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program which helped minors navigate their way through the court system. He also sat on the board of the Community Foundation, an organization he felt strongly about due to their support and contributions to Mendocino County. He was a longtime member and past president of the Rotary Club and could always be found helping out at the salmon BBQ in Fort Bragg each year. He was also a member of the Shriners Club. 

Judge Cox was pre-deceased by his second wife, Joezelle Cox. He is survived by his first wife, long-time friend and current companion, Joan Cox, as well as his four children: Susan (Rick) Dahlgren of Boise, Idaho; Kevin (Shanyn) Cox of Del Mar, California; Nancy (Randy) Liggett of Ukiah; and Jill (Ralph) Lucero of Redwood Valley. Judge Cox also enjoyed the company of his many grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is nearly impossible to summarize a great man's life in a few paragraphs, especially someone who meant so much to so many. It would require volumes to appreciate everything Judge Cox did, remember everyone he helped, and fully describe the life he lived. Judge Cox did not want a public celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Community Foundation of Mendocino County.

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Noyo Boat

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IT COULD HAPPEN HERE! (Mendo, I mean, rural home of at least a thousand anti-vaxxers and who knows how many varieties of Tinfoil hat-ism.) 

The man believed to be responsible for a downtown bombing in Nashville died in the explosion, police said Sunday. Anthony Warner, 63, acted alone in carrying out the bombing, which injured three people and damaged dozens of buildings. According to the Tennessean, the RV played the song “Downtown” by Petula Clark before detonating outside an AT&T station, causing service outages throughout the area. Warner apparently thought that G-5 technology was such an extreme menace to life as we know it, he martyred himself in a vain attempt to thwart it. Oddest of all was his sense of humor as expressed in his final song selection. Your run-of-the-mill tinfoil hatter typically lacks irony.

QUESTION: What do anti-vaxxers and G-5ers have in common? Answer: They flunked high school chemistry and physics.

THE MODERN HISTORY of the British Royal Family, as fictionalized in the wonderful Netflix series “The Crown,” engrossed my feeble attentions over the holiday weekend. It seems to stay pretty close to historical fact, but one fact surprised me because I'd never heard it before, and that was the toff's first steps towards a coup against Wilson's labor government with Lord Mountbatten as their head of a national emergency government. Queen Elizabeth, at least in this telling, told Mountbatten she wouldn't support it. The Queen comes off as an absolute rock of stability throughout the drama and, as we know, is still going strong all these years after her first prime minister, Winston Churchill. Britain's major bankers were the driving coup force along with key elements of the Brit aristocracy, a group George Orwell said was mostly pro-Nazi during the war and fascist-minded after. It's all wonderfully acted as only the English seem able to do and often very funny. Caveat: I think the drama is far too kind to Edward VIII, a friend of Hitler who advised Hitler that the Brits were about to give up during the blitz. Natch, he was lionized by wealthy Americans when he was kicked out of England.

BILL ALLEN WRITES: “I just finished Bill Kimberlin's excellent memoir. I breezed through it in two days. 

I couldn't agree more with your mini-review of it in Valley People last week. Except for a couple of glaring historical errors and some grammatical mishaps a better editor would've caught, it was a most pleasurable and informative read.

Curiously enough, however, my first thought after finishing the chapter about Boonville was not ‘pride of place,’ but a slight sense of dread. ‘Oh great,’ I mused, ‘when this book gets wide circulation the real estate values around here will probably shoot to the moon!’ (As if they aren't already astronomical.) The Lear Jets will be lining up to land at Boonville International! How long will it take to become ‘heralded’? We'll see. Here's to 2021. Hold fast, hang on. This rollercoaster ride ain't over yet!”

ED NOTE: I plan to make sure my copy of Kimberlin's book winds up with the AV Lending Library once it re-opens because lots of locals (and non-locals) will enjoy it. As for the Lear Jet hazard, they mass-landed about the time of the Rollins' and the New Boonville Hotel. Gastro-maniacs from all over began arriving when the Hotel was featured in the NYT, and some of them stayed to plant grapes, having noted the relatively cheap land prices here in the later 1970s. But most people of ordinary means haven't been able to get a mortgage here in years. For a county constantly touting itself as “progressive,” actual land use and building policies are basically feudal.

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Navarro by the Sea Hotel

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Yes, I wish I knew more about the restoration project on the Old Highway south of the current Navarro center. But it’s good to see the structure restored with the care that’s being done.

I did stop by the job one time this Fall and gave one carpenter a copy of the story I wrote describing The Town when it was supporting the mill, 1902-29.

My sources of information about the structure were local woodsman and friend Bill Witherell and the logging family Isbell, Harvey, Ilona and kids, who were the renters when I first moved to the Valley fifty years ago and up until last year.

Bill Witherell said that it was a hotel, or a whorehouse back in mill days, or maybe both. There were a line of five hotels on the other side of the Old Highway that began at the Navarro Inn site running to across from what I still call the Isbell home. Bill said the simple one story building was a hotel too, as small as it was.

And that’s the way so many houses and public buildings were built in those days, their foundations simply redwood mudsills framing their perimeters, short posts holding up the flooring and walls. Rot often set in in a generation in that Deep End climate. 

My sense is that the nineteenth century logging and milling cycle prevailed in those days: clear cut all the trees accessible by oxen, mule or rail spur and be gone in twenty or thirty years to the next Old Growth investment. So all the structures supporting the community need not be built to last; just get them usable cheaply and fast. And as my previous article mentioned across the creek behind Hotel Row was the Albion Branch Railroad with a spur left that passed within fifty feet of the Isbell House, then up the gulch for a quarter mile and more to a flat car loading landing. You can still walk the right-of-way today.

I know the generous good-neighbor Isbells would be pleased to see the old structure restored, though I don’t know if a Faller’s wages would support the rent these days.

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Lansing Street, Mendocino

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by Tommy Wayne Kramer 

I’ve had it with standing on my roof every December, looking down on Dora Street traffic while holding strings of lights in my hands, a little cold, a little confused, and so next year I won’t.

This is it: Last of the lights, end of an era, over and out. I’m so done with it and somebody else can do it and I don’t care if there is no somebody else. Me decorating the house with Christmas lights is O-V-E-R.

This year was worse than others but it would have ended soon anyway.

My holiday house decorating stretches back to the winter of ’83 when I was thumbtacking strands of those dinky little candy-colored lights above the porch, up on the roof peak and around the door. Festive as all get-out. Daughter Emily, age 3 1/2, thought those lights looked so darn seasonal that we must be at the North Pole or over in Bethlehem.

Back then I could do the lights on the North Oak Street house with nothing but a ladder and a couple beers. This Dora Street place is two stories tall and I’d need the fire department to loan me a 30-footer to get up to the peaks, so instead I clamber up on the roof like a goat, but a goat trailing along several yards of light strands. If I’m lucky I’ll only step on a few bulbs rather than get snarled up in the cords, fall 16 feet and make for a sad Daily Journal obituary.

So I’ve definitely had it. This year was the worst. I’m reluctant to reveal how stupid I’m getting to be to the whole world but when you’re standing on a roof like you’ve done all those other years but can’t quite remember what you’re supposed to do, it gets worrisome. And this is stringing Christmas lights; it ain’t rocket surgery.

The procedure is simple but for a minute or five I couldn’t figure it out. You plug that end into the other end and hoist strands up over those little hooks and then keep going with more strands. Sound confusing? It isn’t. If you’re 20 feet up in the air and don’t know why, it’s time to get back to bed. Or a nursing home. But there I stood, December 2020, looking at strings of lights like they were parts of an elongated Rubik’s Cube, not clear on how to proceed. I turned a few circles, stepped on a few more (instantly broken) bulbs, tangled myself loosely in light strands and thought “This must be what it’s like to be Joe Biden!” and I meant it in a most kind and understanding way.

I think if me and Joe were up on that roof we’d understand each other very well. But that wouldn’t get the lights strung up, and even if I weren’t without Joe I wasn’t any more lost not than if I’d hadn’t been with him or confused at all.

See what I mean?

Eventually, and maybe taking no more than twice as long as it did most years, I plugged plugs into sockets, strands into other strands, stepped on a few more lights and the job was over. But well before the job was done I knew I was done too, and that I wasn’t coming back for Season XXXVIII: Holiday Decorations 2021.

Maybe I’ll feel different in 11 months or maybe the Ukiah Fire Department will come by with a nice big ladder. I expect Joe Biden to be unemployed by then and looking for less challenging work, and free beer.

A menu to frighten the dainties

My New Year’s party is a few days off and the annual quest to fill the house with fun people is hampered by that Covid thing, plus Ukiah’s ever-growing population of tedious sorts who, if they think they’re invited, will ruin everything. You can’t just sneak around and cross anyone owning a Subaru off the guest list, but without an effective screening strategy the party’s already over. So the past few years my tactic has been to include a party menu with the invitation.

The 2020 New Year’s Menu:

  • Wuhan Chinese Gumbo
  • Catawba Wines from the higher elevations in the lower Sandusky region of north-central Ohio
  • Farm-raised salmon lightly dusted in MSG, in a reduced mint-ketchup sauce.
  • Shrimp (previously frozen) from Vietnam ponds in a robust Pabst Blue Ribbon & Polysorbate-60 brine, coated in crushed ranch-flavor Doritos and deep fried. Served in a warm hot dog bun.
  • Small Plates: Cage-to-table Catlets from the Mendocino Animal Shelter, and locally-sourced Spotted Owl, boiled.
  • Also: Rocky Mountain Oysters in a warm Marshmallow — Velveeta cream sauce.
  • Also: Sides of Spam and Olive-Pimento Loaf, toothpicks provided.
  • Desserts by Hostess Bakery.
  • Appertif: Pepto Bismol on the rocks

(In reality, Tex-Mex BBQ and cold Coors quarts again this year.)

(Tom Hine says if this sounds like your kind of shindig the action starts Saturday afternoon (12-26) and runs through 6 a.m. Sunday the 27th. TWK sez ‘Be There AND Be Square!’)

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Coyote & Roadrunner

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To the Editor:

The Ukiah City Council has developed a terrible addiction and we need to do an intervention! They have a history of dreaming up ways to spend our tax dollars on decisions we pay them to make, for outside advisors to tell them how to spend our hard earned money on useless ways to mess with our downtown!

Remember when they paid someone’s brother-in-law to paint the downtown intersections red? Now they have destroyed State Street for months on end, with no end in sight, to constrict traffic and remove parking places, and put in meters! I won’t shop downtown if I have to feed a meter and worry about it running out.

They paid an expert to tell us what to do about our homeless population. He was soon hired by Trump, a great recommendation.

The only good thing they did was to make the downtown east-west streets one way. That was a major improvement, but the new plan is to make them two-way streets!

Now they want to pay some outside company $10,000 a month of our tax dollars to tell us how wonderful they are! This is truly outrageous.

Carol K. Gottfried


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Whiskey Springs

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by Blanche Beal Lowe

When we were growing up around Laytonville in the 1900s, Papa used to say that folks in California need never go hungry if they have piece of ground and are willing and able to work. But there were some kinds of food we didn't have to work very hard to get, like the deer and squirrels the men folks brought in from the range. Unless you call hunting work, which they didn't.

Fish was another kind of food that we didn't work hard to get. Papa said the men who went salmon fishing down on Outlet Creek didn’t call fishing work either, even though the trip took the whole night long. The Outlet was a stream that poured down from the mountains into the Eel River and then into the Pacific ocean. At a certain time every year great big salmon worked their way several miles up out of the ocean to lay their eggs in fresh water. It was during that season that Papa and some of the neighbors went fishing.

They fished at night. They left our place in late afternoon in wagons loaded with their rubber boots, harpoons, torch lights, gunny sacks, a change of clothes, and lots of food. The torch lights were sort of boxes made of chicken wire mounted on long poles and filled with pine knots that had lots of resin in them to make a bright flame. 

Laytonville, 1900

As soon as the fishermen reached the river they set up their torches along the bank and built a big fire to help light the water so they could see the fish. Then wearing their hip boots and carrying harpoons they waded out into the icy water to wait. When the big silver fish came swimming up toward them everybody went crazy trying to get his harpoon into one of them. Harpooning the fish was one thing, Poppa said. But holding onto the harpoon and bringing the fish to shore was the hard part. That 35 or 40 pounds of muscle was fighting you every inch of the way and splashing enough water to float a battleship.

When everyone made his catch or gave up trying they put the fish into gunnysacks and themselves into dry clothes, loaded their gear, drank coffee and ate everything in site and started the long drive home. One fish made a lot of salmon steaks which we ate as fast as Mama could fry them. I think we smoked some salmon also but didn't salt any down.

The third kind of food we didn't have to work hard to get was honey. Papa cleaned and repaired two beehives he had found out beyond the granary and somebody gave us a colony of honey bees to put into one of them. The bees went right to work making honeycombs and honey to put in them. When Papa thought they had made enough for us and them too he took one full comb out of the hive. After Mama drained out the honey he put the comb back in the hive. That made sense because then the bees could spend their time making money instead of combs to store it in.

When a new queen was born about half of the colony followed her out of the hive looking for a new home. We heard the buzzing just as we set down to dinner.

"Bees swarming!" Papa yelled. "Get your pots and pans out there and start banging or we'll lose them!" In no time Mama had draped mosquito netting over Papa’s hat and face and tied string around his sleeves and pant legs and the cuffs of his heavy work gloves to keep the bees out of his clothes.

When we first spotted the bees they were a loose swarm high in the air down by the orchard. We set up such a banging on milk cans and skillets you couldn’t hear yourself think. Right away they settled on a dead limb, a brown, buzzing, breathing bunch bigger than a chamber pot just out of Papa’s reach. While Ralph ran to open up the empty hive, Carl brought the ladder, Papa climbed it, and with both hands lifted the swarm off the limb. He carried it down the ladder and up around the house, and finally set it down gently into the hive or in front of the hive.

Papa said folks learned long ago that pounding pots and pans fools bees into thinking a storm is coming and they will swarm during a storm. That's why they settled on the limb almost as soon as we started banging. He said we didn't get many bee stings because the bees filled up there honey bags to go swarming, and with those bags full they had a hard time using their stingers. With two colonies of bees working we had all the honey we could eat, sometimes even honey in the comb which we especially liked. Mama canned strained honey to take to the store for trade.

Other kind of food didn't come so easily. Vegetables for example. Every spring and fall the boys hauled manure from the stable and cow barn to spread on the great big vegetable garden on the slope below the house. From planting time till harvest we all took turns working in that garden.

From the first mess of early peas and potatoes until pumpkin time we ate out of that garden and orchard nearby. All summer long we stored and canned and pickled and dried and made fruit butter and jelly until we had enough food put away to feed two or three families. Mama liked a good tart apple for jelly. Sometimes she used a leaf of Martha Washington geranium or nasturium to add to the flavor. She said her mother strained her jelly through flannel to make it real clear. But Mama didn't and we thought her jellies were beautiful.

Another source of food the year-round was chickens and turkeys. At night we penned in the chickens for fear of varmints like coons, skunks, coyotes and foxes. We didn't pen up the turkeys: they were safe in the trees nearby where they preferred to roost. Day times they all had the run of the place, finding food around the barns and in the fields.

Mama put choice eggs under brood hens and raise lots of chickens. If chicks were hatching out one by one during a rainy spell momma brought them cheeping into the warm kitchen and kept them in a basket lined with an old gray wooden shawl until the whole brood was hatched out and the mother hen could look after them. We ate most of the young roosters, sparing only a few to trade for young roosters from neighbor flocks. To improve the flock of laying hens we always saved the best of the young hens and culled out and ate the poor layers among the older hens. Mama raised turkeys the same way only not nearly as many. Baby turkeys were even more delicate than chicks.

We didn't care much for the big strong-tasting turkey eggs which were almost as freckled, the boys said teasingly, as I was. But we did like the chicken eggs, so during the summer when hens were laying well Mama put dozens of eggs into big crockery jars and poured waterglass over them. Waterglass formed a coating over the eggs which kept the air out of the shells so they wouldn't rot. They did not rot. But along about March they didn't taste exactly new-laid either. My sister Ethel fussed because the egg whites wouldn't beat up nice and stiff for cake-making like fresh eggs did. You would never know the difference though when they were fried in bacon fat or scrambled with cornmeal mush.

Our milk cows provided us with all the milk, cream, butter and cheese we could use and more. But not without a lot of work. Mama molded butter for sale or trade at the store into one-pound packages using an oblong wooden press with a hinged back. She made great big round cheeses too which she put into frames and set to cure at the head of the stairs. I don't remember how she made that cheese except that she used rennet tablets to curdle the milk.

Laytonville, 1910

Another kind of cheese Mama and everybody else made was called smear case. To make smear case, Mama heated sour milk until it clabbered. Then she poured it into a cloth bag and hung it up over a bucket to drain. When the whey (the watery part of the milk) had drained out, Mama poured it into a crock and added salt and cream. And the calves and pigs got the whey. One time a German ranch hand at our table said the right name for that cheese was "Schmier Kase," not smear case. Papa snorted and said that smear case was good enough for him, and “Pass it please!” We'd have felt silly calling it by that outlandish name.

I think getting pork on the table took more work than any other kind of food. You had to raise the pig and feed him until he got to be a big hog then you had to butcher him. There was an awful lot going on when we butchered so I didn't see all of it. But this is what I remember. We always butchered on a cold day in November. The whole family plus a neighbor or two pitched in to help because all the outdoor part of the work had to be done in one day.

One year about butchering time Mama told us about a pet pig named Joe that somebody gave her for a wedding present. Pigs are smarter than most animals, Papa said. Joe was smarter than most pigs, Mama said. He was so smart and cute and playful that Mama forgot that he was the big fat hog they’d counted on to provide meat and lard enough to see them through the winter. Then one awful day Papa reminded her.

Papa said butchering Joe was like murder. "Broke your Mama’s heart," he said. "She never swallowed a bite of that meat.” Taught him never to get too friendly with a hog if you’re planning to eat it. "Like right here," he said, "we're going to have to go down there and shoot that hog we been feeding and talking to everyday, drag his carcass up onto a sled, haul it around to the kitchen yard, dunk it in a barrel of boiling water, pull it out onto a table, scrape the hike clean of hair, then cut it up."

The men did all of that and trimmed, ready for smoking, the hams and shoulders and part of the belly that would be bacon. I don't remember when Papa added salt to that meat. We put the other part of the belly down in strong brine and called that salt pork or sow belly. Mama always seasoned her baked beans with salt pork. The chops and roasts that we couldn't eat right away we gave to the neighbors. They paid us back with the same cuts when they butchered.

To smoke the meat we hung it from the ceiling of the little smokehouse above a hickory fire which Papa and the boys took turns keeping going night and day. I don't remember how many nights and days.

During the butching we had a slow fire under the big iron kettle and tossed all the fat trimmings into it to melt out the fat. (“Trying out the fat,” Mama called it.) Somebody had to keep stirring the mess until it was ready to be strained into buckets. The liquid part that went through the strainer was our lard. The leftover part we called crackings. Sometimes Mama cooked cracklings with cornmeal mush, but I think the dogs liked crackling to better than we did.

The leaner trimmings we carried into the kitchen where Mama set us to turning the handle on the grinder to make sausage meat. After she had worked salt, pepper and sage into the meat with her hands, she let us help make meat patties which she fried just enough to heat them through. Then we cooled them and laid them by the dozens into great deep jars and poured hot grease over them. When cooled the grease formed a coating over the patties to keep them fresh.

Mama held back some of the sausage meat to make mincemeat. If she had any venison she would add that to the ground pork and seasoned the mixture with raisins, apples, spices, suet, sugar and I don't know what else. What a lovely smell it had, simmering on the back of the stove before Mama sealed it up in fruit jars for mince pies.

Mama said some folks thought pigs knuckles were the best part of the hog. And they were good the way she pickled of them. The liver was good too, fried in bacon fat with onions. The heart, stuffed with turkey dressing and baked or floured and smothered in a covered frying pan was good too. The tongue was boiled with bay leaves, skinned and served cold. Mama made head cheese out of what was left of the head. She called it cheese but it was more like a jelly. I don't remember how she prepared it.

The boys cleaned off the hog’s bladder real well then tied it at one and, blew it up, tied it at the other end and had a football or balloon while it lasted. We saved every part of the hog except the squeal, Papa said. And next year he’d try to think up some way to save that.

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CATCH OF THE DAY, December 25, 2020

Alvarez, Giacobbe, Ortiz

KELISHA ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)


LAWRENCE ORTIZ, Ukiah. DUI-alcohol&drugs, child endangerment.

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Cyclist, Highway 1

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Americans will not get 2000 bucks. We will get the pathetic 600 that no one actually wants to take, but we will. And that will be that until probably next summer, when they decide it’s time to keep people “happy” again. Governors will keep any business that supports the middle class shut down for another 3-4 months minimum, knocking another 30-40% of them under for good. This is just ridiculous. Even more ridiculous is how predictable it is. How long before Congress just starts handing out Amazon gift cards?

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I cannot understand why the casino is open 24 hours a day in this time of a major pandemic. Where is the logic in a business this size, bringing in thousands of people a day, being immune to the pandemic? Sure they must be practicing hygiene and social distancing, but come on, where is the outcry? Our local and state officials have put a lot of local businesses on the edge of closing and people out of work due to this virus. Oh, it’s a sovereign nation. Yeah, right!

I think we are going the way of Las Vegas.

Ben R. Garcia


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London Street Urchins

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The nuclear lobby's Christmas stockings have been stuffed by Congress. The Washington Post reports that a whopping $11 billion in nuclear-related subsidies, compliments of U.S. taxpayers, have been included in the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill just passed by both houses of congress. It appears that many of the giveaways are included in Section II, NUCLEAR, beginning at Page 3,288 of the 5,593-page bill. However, scores of "nuclear" references, both power and weapons-related, can be found scattered throughout the legislation.

Full article:

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Orphanage Dining Hall

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by Jim Shields

The California Dept. of Public Health (CDPH) now warns that “disastrous consequences” will occur without a change in how we celebrate the winter holidays, and California will experience a surge on top of a surge on top of a surge. Many hospitals are already over capacity and high-quality medical care is beginning to be compromised as frontline healthcare workers “are beyond stretched to the limit.”

The substantial increases in C-19 cases in the healthcare system is happening at the very time when healthcare workers are needed to be healthy and available to treat the thousands of new COVID-19 patients, and all the other urgent cases that enter hospitals.

The Sacramento Bee reports that “Much like they did a month ago in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, health officials are once again issuing last-minute pleas urging people to scrap any plans for multiple-household gatherings this Christmas. The desperate ask comes as California approaches two months within its worst surge yet of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all soared to record levels with no slowdown in sight, even as two highly efficient vaccines have already started deployment in limited supply. A large portion — but by no means all — of the state’s recent virus activity has come in the Los Angeles area. The local health office reported that the county of 10 million residents had an astonishingly low 30 intensive care unit hospital beds available as of Monday.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has confirmed that since Nov. 9, average daily deaths have increased from 12 average deaths per day to 84 average deaths per day last week.

To date, L.A. Public Health identified 634,849 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 8,931 deaths.

All across this country, including this state and this county, too many folks are casually and carelessly ignoring public health orders to stay at home, don’t gather with people outside of family bubbles, and don’t travel during upcoming year-end celebrations.

A few days ago I conducted an unscientific study of traffic passing through Laytonville for 30 minute periods both in mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Using mostly license plate brackets as well as license plates as identifiers, I found that nearly 60 percent of vehicles appeared to be from areas other than Mendocino County.

According to CDPH, in the four weeks, from the Sunday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday before Christmas, California’s two-week average for daily new COVID-19 cases nearly quadrupled, rising from about 9,900 to more than 38,000. The test positivity rate has more than doubled in that span, from 5.9 percent to 12.2 percent.

I don’t expect this misbehavior to change with Christmas and New Year’s just around the corner. Of course, that means we’ll certainly see more deaths occurring during this two-week holiday period than any of the other holidays earlier in the year. Hospitalizaton, ICU care, and mortuaries will almost surely be on the verge of collapse. This is not a trend, it’s a slam-dunk certainty.

But there’s also another kind of misbehavior that has greatly contributed to people shunning doing the right thing.

Do I or should you blame them for their actions?

Nope, don’t think so. Many of these folks are the “untouchables” or the “deplorables,” so designated by our public sector elites, those politicians and bureaucrats who now form the ever-evolving-expanding overclass of government officials who know so much more about what’s good for you than you do.

Of course, they are completely immune from the lock-down orders and economic edicts they issue reducing you to “non-essential” status where you are shoved into unemployment lines, and small business owners — the main drivers of our economy — are ordered to shutter their doors.

Is it any wonder people rebel against this monolith that robotically dispenses orders that in many cases are not justified or buttressed by empirical data. As I predicted some time ago, courts are beginning to weigh in on some of these orders finding them devoid of constitutional and/or legislative authority.

Compounding disrespect of public health orders is example after example of elected officials and bureaucrats flagrantly violating their own orders.

Most recently coming to light is a caper involving Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus-response coordinator, who along with Dr. Tony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, are the most visible, trusted and respected medical professionals in the country.

Although I don’t know Dr. Birx, I like and admire her because she’s done the best she can in exceptionally trying circumstances given that her boss is Donald Trump. Yet even with her apparent stellar record of assumed selfless public service in these difficult times, she comes up short of deserving the public’s trust.

According to the Washington Post, “If you will be traveling to see loved ones this week for Christmas, and anyone suspiciously asks what you’re doing or where you’re going, just answer, ‘I’m going to winterize one of my properties before I sell it. My family will be joining me for a meal while I’m there, and we will be there for 50 hours or so.’ Dr. Deborah Birx gave that answer for her travel right after Thanksgiving. She was accompanied by three generations of her family from two households. Birx, her husband Paige Reffe, a daughter, son-in-law and two young grandchildren were present. But this makes her look like just another government official who expects other people to make big sacrifices until the end of the pandemic that she herself is not willing to make. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked Americans not to travel over the holidays and discourages indoor activity involving members of different households: ‘People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households.’ After The Associated Press raised questions about her Thanksgiving weekend travels … she declined to be interviewed.”

This is just another illustration of what I’ve talked about before. Just because someone is in a position of leadership, never assume that makes them a leader. There’s damn few leaders around anywhere nowadays.

Remember this, before you can lead others, you have to know how to lead yourself.

That’s exactly why we’re in the predicament we’re in with this Pandemic and much of the public ignoring doing the right thing.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:

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Russian Gulch

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Nothing will correct this unless or until an overwhelming majority of Americans recognize and condemn what has occurred.

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The Profit Motive and Racism Threaten Covid-19 Vaccine Success for ALL Americans.

Stopping the spread of Covid-19 requires 80% or more of the population to be vaccinated. This will be difficult due to a combination of racism and the profit motive. Many people, especially people of color, are suspicious and not willing to be vaccinated.

For hundreds of years, black and brown people have suffered exclusion from medical care, coercive human experimentation, involuntary sterilization, untreated infectious disease, exploitation andinequality.

Additional suspicion has been caused by the influence of money and conflicts of interest that have corrupted agencies designed to protect the people, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the words of a New York Times editorial, “The Food and Drug Administration is no stranger to political interference. Special interests have played as much of a role as actual data in the approval of questionable cancer drugs and faulty medical devices for almost as long as the agency has existed.”

The corrupting influence of the profit motive combined with the brutality of racism in medicine haunts the health of all Americans in the Covid-19 world. A more equal and healthier world requires the elimination of racism and the profit motive.

Dr. Nayvin Gordon


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  1. Brian December 28, 2020

    Dr. Nayvin Gordon: People will act selfishly and for their own interests whether it be a capitalistic or socialist system. But it’s not the system, it’s the people. I think what you secretly hope to do away with are certain people. They are the real problem. ….And that’s generally the ultimate goal of the Anti-Cap Klatch.

    • George Hollister December 28, 2020

      Self interest is what people in all societies have in common, regardless of the economic structure. Monopolies, including government monopolies, give self interest the opportunity to become repressive. None of us are angels. The alternative is choice. The most choice is found in a free market.

      • Harvey Reading December 28, 2020

        LOL, George. Quit hanging around with the lunatic fringe right…

  2. George Hollister December 28, 2020

    “So all the structures supporting the community need not be built to last; just get them usable cheaply and fast.”

    I have noticed reflections of this attitude in more places than Navarro. It was all over. Mendocino was built that way. Much of Fort Bragg, too. Few houses were built with concrete foundations. Cement cost too much, and what was the point? The attitude was, “there is no future.” None of those people realized there was a future for places along major highways, but there were no major highways. At least not here. No one considered there would be logging of second growth timber after the old growth was gone. Second growth redwood was, “worthless.” Who thought of tourism?

    • Tim McClure December 28, 2020

      Does anything ever really change when it comes to man’s relationship to the natural world? If anything the process becomes infinitely more destructive and short sighted. Case in point is the plan for extensive logging. ( 5 square miles) of the public land in Jackson state Forrest of a forest which has been in recovery for 50-100 years since the last round of destruction.
      Currently much of Mendocino county forestland is owned and controlled by distant corporate timber conglomerates. What takes place on those properties is anyone’s guess because of locked gates and a hostile attitude to public inquiry. As for government oversight, can a taxpayer have any confidence that their interests are being considered not to mention future generations and the sorry state of affairs they are being bequeathed.

  3. Douglas Coulter December 28, 2020

    Dainty Menu
    Is it pot luck?
    I have a copy of Roadkill Cafe for some great ideas!
    Michelin mashed Marmot is a favorite
    My friends in Covolo make a fine Pruno

  4. Eric Sunswheat December 28, 2020

    Target immunity deficient. Think smart not rhetoric.

    RE: Stopping the spread of Covid-19 requires 80% or more of the population to be vaccinated.
    (Dr. Nayvin Gordon)

    ->. Updated 5:31 PM EST December 27, 2020
    Everyone, Fauci said, has to be “honest and humble, nobody really knows for sure, but I think 70 to 85% for herd immunity for Covid-19 is a reasonable estimate, and in fact, most of my epidemiology colleagues agree with me.”
    (CNN Politics)

  5. Harvey Reading December 28, 2020

    Got my copy ordered. Walmart Online and Amazon both have it. Gotta feeling this book will justify all the mistrust and hatred I have felt toward “my” guvamint, for almost all of my adult life. Too bad it took so long to get the information from the papers all reconstructed again after they were destroyed in the hurricane.

    Daniel Ellsberg is a true hero. He’s been one of mine since the early 70s. Read it and weep, fascist scum!

  6. Douglas Coulter December 28, 2020

    Let’s misbehave
    OK look at Mendocino County just broke 2000 Covid 19 cases yet only 25 deaths. Over 1500 Hispanics and pushing 600 Caucasians, those numbers tell a clear story that nobody talks about. Hispanic communities are much more social, white folks be like, stranger danger lock your doors! We are more than happy to isolate when afraid.
    I did not see a spike in every city that had major demonstrations.
    I did not see a spike in cities that had riots.
    The media did say Sturgis Motorcycle gathering caused a spike but never showed evidence.
    I have been lied to too many time to believe media or Pharmaceutical
    Industry. I am not antivaxx I am anti profit driven medicine because profit is the enemy of science. I will accept Covid Vaccine in 10 years after I see long term after effects. Forced vaccine is only justified for real pandemics like Small Pox and Spanish Flu.
    Cancer kills more than Covid but treatment is big Pharms cash cow.
    This is not measles but they want to make us think it can spread like that.

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