Della is one of a handful of women who ride horses in Point Arena. I'm one, too. We walk some, ride some, enjoying the town and exchanging friendly greetings with locals as we meander to and from Della’s old stomping grounds down at Arena Cove. We never run the horses because Point Arena is built on gophers. Gophers galore – some even ridiculously resigned to the endangered species list, as with the burrowing Point Arena Mountain Beaver, which is not a beaver (castor) at all.
As we talk and ride, I tell her a funny story I heard about the late Manchester dairy rancher Marguerite Biaggi who attended a quilting affair with a bunch of Sea Ranch women. When everyone introduced themselves, several of the women qualified their living locations by repeating one after the other, “I live on 'The Ranch',” or some such dramatic derivative of The Sea Ranch. When it came Margarete’s turn, last on the introductions, she trumped with, “Hi, I’m Marguerite Biaggi, and I own the ranch.”
We ride on, and Della tells me she has a Sea Ranch story. Della cleans houses on The Sea Ranch. Several years ago, one of the homes Della cleaned was that of Milton and Rose Friedman prior to leaving The Sea Ranch in their twilight years.
Della was dusting Milton’s office while he took a call on the speaker phone. From what I could gather, Rush Limbaugh was on the line. He was raking welfare over the coals and ranting about abortions.
Della is pretty apolitical, but was not one to sit silently while a man stupidly spoke as uninformed idiot on: a) abortions, and b) women on welfare. She mostly cared about her local scene, had raised a few self-supporting kids. She was one of the persons sitting in her usual spot at the Whale Bar in Point Arena that night when the successful 2012 Mayoral recall petition was shoved down the bar, in front of her nose, to sign. And when it came to the faces of the overfed men trying to rule the world from TV by stomping on women’s rights, she would be disgusted.
Rush Limbaugh was one of those television presences, but she had no idea who he was. In fact, when she described what had happened at Milton Friedman's house, she couldn’t remember what his full name was, “Rich? Rash? Sounds like that… a funny name like somebody allergic to cheese or sausage.”
An empty Ocean Fresh Fish truck bounced by us down Port Road to the Point Arena Pier to pick up iced urchin, crab and fresh fish as we walked both horses in the bicycle lane. Neither horse reacted. We amble on to the Cove. I check my saddle bag for an empty crab sack to take home a live crab from the Pier. I puff, Della chugs.
“Was his name made-up of a California nature name”, I interrupted? “Was it a color, …vegetation, …the name of a geological feature, …mythological creature, or Gaelic?
She continued, “Russ? Rant? Ruff? Lumbergerectomy?”… We both laughed.
I take a puff and it hits me. I said, “Rush Limbaugh? Milton Friedman was having a conversation with Rush Limbaugh on his speaker phone in his office and you were in there cleaning? (Exhale.) That must have been rich! What did ya think of their point of view on women’s rights, or did they share?”
“Who’s Rush Lumber?” Della asked, unimpressed, half disinterested.
“Some TV talking head who might have hated his mother… and now makes life hell on earth for all women. He’s one of those creepy long arms of the law - violators of the vagina puppeteers, keeping his boot heel on women’s foreheads through fucked up legislation. …Never mind.” I stopped my horse and turned away so a sudden surging wind could carry my voice better. “And then what happened?”
“Wull, I was dusting, and Milton was involved in sorting papers while listening to the guy go on about welfare and how women were making too much money on welfare and it needed to be lowered. I listened to that for about as long as I could before I must have said something…”
“And, you said…?”
“I said, ‘That’s some big bullshit right there.’ I mumbled it under my breath, but Milton heard me and stopped Buzz from talking while asking me what I said.”
“And you told Milton what?” I stopped the horse to better hear her response.
“I told him that was about the biggest bunch of bullshit I ever heard. Milton stopped me and told me to talk into the speaker phone to the guy at the other end of the conversation. That would be that Rich, errr, that Russ guy…”
I chuckle to myself, because Della really doesn’t know who Limbaugh is. I trot my horse to catch up with her as I say, “Again, Della, that would have been Rush Limbaugh. He’s a real pig. Rush Limbaugh is the guy who makes you wonder why some shit floats. (‘Scuse the Cowgirl potty mouth talk.) He’s so bad on women. You ever heard Assemblywoman Jackie Speier put Rush in his place on abortion? Of course you haven’t, or you’d know she rides the flood gates of the abortion issue every time Limbaugh stupidly broaches the issue while she’s in the House, by sacking his ass every day they’re at work together. And, each time she is relentless in following up with other important business at hand as she begs him to get to work on more worthwhile issues like home loans and such for families losing homes, rather than to further keep women down behind abortion as a worn out issue for back rooms with one bare light bulb and the Christian right. Rush Limbaugh oughta be removed from office for what he’s done to women in this country. Check it out on YouTube. Jackie Speier sticks it right to him. What you heard? That’s the bottom of the barrel for all the brains ya get with Rush Limbaugh. He actually believes that shit. It’d take a lightning bolt to convince him otherwise. No real resolution offered, just marbles at our feet.
For instance, instead of fighting every four years for the right to have an abortion, women should be arguing for sufficient anesthesia when receiving one. 500 mg. of Motrin isn’t going to do it for pain when having an internal organ like the uterus scraped out with a suction curette, which is a fancy word for razor blade. No man on earth would stand for getting even one external scrotum scraped out under the same conditions. Nobody’ll explain it to men that way, and you know their scrotums are all shrunk up in themselves internalizing that after you put it to them in those terms. And it’s not only abortions – the same goes for D & C’s for any medical reason. The issue of whether or not abortion should be legalized should be a moot point by now, regardless of if women only come out to vote once every four years.”
(Women need to vote EVERY year, as it is to keep abortion rights legalized. No politician should be elected if issues over the private right of abortion exist in his or her mind as even a minor part of their platform. And, yes, women do not talk about having abortions (and D & C’s) without adequate anesthesia. It needs to be made a topic of conversation to improve conditions under which women are currently tortured by the medical establishment’s ruthless money-saving requirements in the wrong areas.)
Our minds and saddle bags full, the day was ripe for a good long ride. Lost in thought, we stopped to retrieve our refreshments. I tighten my saddle. Surfers and fishermen wave at us on their way to and from the Pier. She continued with her story.
“So Milton had you join in the conversation with Limbaugh on the speaker phone?”
“Yep! I told Milton that first off, on welfare, he was only going to get $500/month to pay rent, utilities, clothe the kids and buy gas to get to work and school and back before the tank went empty again. That’s with three kids and a part-time job. Yah, sure, ya got a little over $150 in food stamps for emergencies, but that doesn’t cut it either. Food is 30% more here on the Coast: Shipping up Highway One. Milton knows that cuz he’s sitting there chuckling and shaking his head “yes” like a local, but Rick can’t see that so I tell him we have to drive a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours from Gualala or Point Arena to fill up on cheaper gas and more reasonably priced food with better options available for all sorts of stuff from auto repair to medical care. You have to drive everywhere you go here. Milton knows that, too. He’s shaking his head. Some of my kids’ ball games are overnighters, and from Point Arena ya only wanta make one trip-a-day do ya on a 5 hour one-way trip to play the farthest city in an away game in my kid’s conference. That’s driving like we do here, a one or two hour white knuckle road trip with carsick passengers before you hit a straight patch over on 101. So I continue to tell them about hiring a babysitter once a month if you can afford to get an hour or two alone, away from the kids to think for a minute without ’mommy!, mom!, mother!’ in your ears. Ya gotta pay for tutoring, and sports stuff is so competitive and expensive now. Tennis shoes aren’t what they used to be. Now they’re a big status symbol. And, Milton’s wife Rose totally runs the show from her empty nest, while Milton here makes a living for them outside the home.”
Della stopped her horse and took a swig of Miller. “What was it you said Milton does for a living?”
“Securities Exchange Commission, Wall Street, and like that. He’s frequently seen or quoted on the national news many mornings with the Wall Street Report. Goes to New York a lot. He and Alan Greenspan, a neighbor of Milton’s on The Ranch, run the financial aaaaaa… world, as we know it – from TV.” I stare into the sunset, bummed about our national economy, right down to 911’s well-insured buildings.
I reminisce. “Remember several years ago when that big fire was down there ‘round Sea Ranch and a huge Airforce helicopter came from one of the US Air Bases to pick up Alan Greenspan and Milton Freidman? Landed right on The Ranch.”
“Yah, right,” Della mumbled as her eyes glazed over, unimpressed with Milton’s employment record or Greenspan’s rescue. She cracked another can of Miller Lite and goosed the mare. “So I told Milton, (with that guy Ralph listening in over the speaker phone…) that first off Milton’d have to do something I know he could not do. And, by the way, Rose doesn’t let Milton out of her sight. They travel everywhere together. (Big swig and burp.) …So, I said into the speaker phone that Milton would have to give up his wife, Rose. I told him that if he was getting welfare, he couldn’t have Rose around. Nope. No Rose,” and she nodded her head definitely in the negative repeating, “No Rose if Milton’s on welfare. Get rid of Rose. She’d have to be the first to go, if Milton wanted to qualify for welfare. No live-in nothin’. No Rose. No nothin’. Just the kids without the relief of having another adult in the house, because you can’t rent a room out to another person, either, and still receive welfare because the income is prorated and it gets you nowhere for the effort and stress of inviting a stranger into your home to live there with you, who is not responsible for the safety of your kids. You have to pretty much be alone to be safe these days. Just you and the kids. Then, you’re isolated, and that’s no relief, either.”
“Mmmm Hmm. Did you say Rose goes with Milton or stays ala Raunch?” The horses give a nod toward approaching bikers, pointing them out to us. We counter with reassurance and they go back to plodding in the riding/hiking lane, relaxed, giving a big sigh of relief. A few idling Harleys glide on by us as the air goes conveniently windless all of a sudden in the protection of the limestone cliff. I drop the reins and get out my rolling materials as the horses practically sleep walk to the Pier.
Della stopped her horse and looked at me to inform me that Milton doesn’t do anything without asking his wife Rose, so she knew he understood the content of what she was saying when she told Milton he’d have to give up Rose. She said the guy on the other end of the phone even let out a whoop when he heard that. “He must know Rose, too.”
“That would be Rush Limbaugh,” I reiterated.
Della went on describing to me how she tried to set “that guy” (Rush Limbaugh) straight via Milton Friedman’s speaker phone, about a mother’s welfare budget and the pitfalls of keeping a family together on welfare money. (Where’s a tape recorder when ya need it?) Again, that brought them back to Rose. Or, no Rose, as it was.
Milton told Limbaugh he’d never get rid of Rose, but that Della did have several good points. Milton Friedman leaned into the speaker phone, “That welfare budget is rife with practical problems, Rush.”
“Yah, sounds like she’s got a point there, Milton…” Limbaugh lamented.
And with that, Della was done dusting.
Sometime after Della’s three-way with Rush Limbaugh and Milton Friedman on the speaker phone, her services were no longer required in the Friedman household on “The Ranch”. Apparently Milton tried to relate the story to Rose, and when Rose heard the part about “getting rid of Rose,” her ears locked up on her and Della was immediately relieved of her cleaning job at Rose and Milton Friedman’s home on The (Sea) Ranch.
And that’s how Rose, ran Milton’s welfare.