August 19th, 2001

caillebotte_man at his window

Red sky at night

But no sailor's delight. The fire in Lake County has sent a long plume of smoke across the Sacramento valley and into the Sierra. Last evening, I looked out my window and saw the sun settling into it; a huge orange ball, and the sky around it various shades of purple, like a vast bruise.

It reminded me of a fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, many years ago. It was several fires, all at once, actually. Ash fell over my neighborhood, ten miles away. I caught in my hand a falling leaf, small, perfectly preserved, reduced to fragile ash. It was like the ghost of a leaf, and it crumbled to a fine, oily powder when I touched it.

There were other, more disturbing bits of ash. One was a tuft of fur, probably from a squirrel. Another was the pin feather of some unlucky bird. Every line was exactly as it had been before it was carbonized, but it broke in half when it landed in my hand.

That night, as the smoke hovered low over the entire valley, the light of the fires was reflected from the bottom of the cloud, giving the city an apocalyptic glow. After a few days, the fires were put out, the ash disintegrated, the evidence of annihilation removed from our daily lives. But now, living in this forest, each time I smell smoke, I recall that leaf, that bit of fur, that feather. I see them settling down from the choked sky toward the inevitable earth.
caillebotte_man at his window

Dealing with aged P

My dad is still not clear on the concept of sharing a phone line with a computer. He keeps trying to dial out, and either disconnects me or thinks that the phone is broken. Well, he will be 92 in a couple of months. More disturbing than his inability to grasp new technologies is the fact that he has lapses in dealing with old ones. He seems to remember everything clearly except how to avoid doing dangerous things. It is as though he had a very selective form of memory loss. This afternoon, I came in from the yard to smell the house full of gas. He had a burner on the stove wide open with no flame. He can't smell things very well anymore, and he forgot to look at the burner to make sure that it was properly lit. Something like this will happen a couple of times a week. That is the main reason I don't dare leave this place, even for a weekend. And, of course, who else could operate the VCR, or re-program the remote when he hits the wrong button? If he didn't spent hours with the television, I just know he'd be doing something dangerous. I only wish he could remember not to dial the phone when I'm on line.
caillebotte_man at his window

Playful Mother Nature

There is a big cloud above Oroville, and hanging down from it is a long, translucent white tail which, I swear, looks just like a giant sperm! Strange. I have to go back out and see if it turns pink in the sunset.
caillebotte_man at his window

Vaunt: My beer is better than your beer- probably.

When I first came to Butte County from Los Angeles, I missed the wide selection of imported beers available in that cosmopolitan metropolis. In particular, I was disappointed that I couldn't get my favorite Japanese brews. Then I discovered the local microbrewery, Sierra Nevada. Their most popular product is their Pale Ale, but my personal favorite is the Porter. They also make a Wheat Beer and a Stout (which, naturally, can't compare to the superb Guinness, but is fairly decent for an American Stout.)

Today, the Sacramento Bee ran this article revealing that Sierra Nevada is now the second largest specialty brewing company in the U.S., after the Boston Beer Company, (Sam Adams.) Well, (and here's the invitation to flame) sorry, Boston. Sam Adams may outsell Sierra Nevada, but I've tried that stuff, and it is candy ass beer- even if it did help put Ben Affleck in rehab. In fact, Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot could have done the same thing twice as fast! ;)