- Roger Hanes
- Barth Apparition
- Ruffing Renewal
- Village Plan
- Coans Plead
- Basketball Camp
- Summer Driving
- Service Dogs
- Substandard Work
- One Permit
- Allman Initiative
- Labor Negotiations
- Little Dog
- Obscene Material
- Yesterday's Catch
- Cannabis Carbon
- Book Event
- Big Con
- Your Reps
- Undignified Prez
- Pure Mendocino
- Birthday Poem
- Foreign Lobbying
- Mr. Spofford
Roger Allan Hanes, 77, died suddenly of natural causes on May 28, 2017 at the Hanes family ranch surrounded by friends and family. He is survived by his children Sylvia Ann Hanes Palmer and her husband Richard Palmer, Leslie Marie Hanes and her husband Martin Culpepper, and Jonathan Elias Hanes and his wife Leslie Winters; and several grandchildren. He was born August 20, 1939 in San Francisco, CA and grew up between the city and the Hanes family ranch in Mendocino County. As a young man, he served in the US Army in a mortar battery in the 30th Infantry Division. After his discharge, he joined the San Francisco Police Department like his father, Ward H. Hanes. In 1965, he was injured and forced into permanent disability. It was at that point when he went to college eventually earning his veterinary degree in 1973 from UC Davis. He practiced as a veterinarian for many years, was an avid horseman, and maintained a active part in the Hanes family ranch business through most of his life. He was laid to rest in the private family cemetery on June 9th. A celebration of life will be held on June 24th at the Cloverdale Veterans Memorial Building. Arrangements are under the direction of the Eversole Mortuary.
SHORT SHOTS: The only person who can possibly relate to this is former Supervisor Norman deVall, and maybe Dan Gjerde, although he was just a kid at the time, but last week, as I pulled up to the Vet's Building in Boonville for the marijuana sting, er, County meeting to explain the grower track and trace process, I stopped and stared, an old man squinting in the afternoon sun through his rheumy, cataract-clouded eyes at Nancy Barth!
GOD'S TEETH! Could it be? I'm certain Nancy is no longer with us, but there she was, and looking pretty good, too, with a becoming perm atop her ample, Venusian form. I couldn't very well shout out a merry, "Nancy! Nancy! Hello! Remember me!" I might be shouting out a greeting to an apparition, a ghost of land use meetings past. But it was her, I swear. "Nancy! Remember me from the days you and Frank Creasy bedeviled "Norman," as you always called him. Norman this, Norman that. Norman it's raining, do you have your galoshes on?"
I STARED HARD at the woman I was certain was Nancy Barth. Seldom a week went by that there wasn't a letter from Nancy to one or another of the local papers chastising, "Norman," the besieged 5th District solon. And every time I was on Ed Kowas's talk show on KMFB back in the days when there was lively audio discussion in the county, Nancy would call in to upbraid me about one thing or another. One time she even tracked me down at KUKI out of Ukiah, hard as it is to believe Ukiah also had a call-in show. Tom Watters did the Ukiah talk, and a smart, articulate young whippersnapper he was, too.
ANYWAY, still discombobulated at having seen the risen Nancy Barth, and shooting hallucinatory looks over my shoulder at the old girl, I trucked on into the room stuffed with sedate stoners. And darned if Nancy wasn't chairperson! And darned if Nancy isn't the living image of County CEO Carmel Angelo!
THE FORT BRAGG City Council meeting coming up on the 26th, is mostly about city manager Linda Ruffing's contract renewal. I say be done with it! Give her title to the Old Coast Hotel with the bonus of Hospitality House if she continues to lead the Good Ship Fort Bragg wherever it's going, a matter of some debate in the old mill town.
THERE ARE PROBABLY a few people in the "village" of Mendocino who will miss the seemingly endless meetings aimed at whatever it was aimed at for a quarter century, but the California Coastal Commission has finally approved the town plan.
WE'LL be covering the Coan case in depth, but mother and son have pleaded not guilty to the murder of Jamie Dawn Shipman, 57, of Mendocino the morning of May 23rd. The Coans, it seems, had been asked to leave the Shipman property and a dispute between them and the Shipmans ensued. After the shooting, and it's not yet known who pulled the trigger, Ms. Coan departed the Coast in a vehicle belonging to the deceased's husband. She turned herself in in San Joaquin County the next day. Ms. Coan's son, Alexander Coan, was arrested in Comptche four days after the murder of Mrs. Shipman.
The Coans' preliminary hearing is set for August 14th. Mother and son are being held in the Mendocino County Jail.
UKIAH BASKETBALL COACH, Bill Heath, taught and coached basketball for many years at Ukiah High School. Now retired, Heath is in his 38th year at the head of the summer basketball camp he began nearly four decades ago.
SUMMER READINESS IS KEY FOR SAFE TRIPS
THE ANTHROMORPHS are out of control. At least that's the consensus among store owners in Boonville, hence these signs posted on the door of the dog-beset Boonville General Store.
ACCORDING to the Northern California Construction Training (NCCT) Company’s website they are “a building trade’s pre-apprenticeship training program that helps prepare men and women for entry into various construction trades apprenticeship training programs, with a “carefully selected staff of credentialed teachers.”
IN 2015, Sheriff Tom Allman arranged to have them train a small number of inmates to become apprentice carpenters. On Tuesday, Allman declared the program a success because of the inmates who were trained and released “100%” will not be back in jail.
BUT TWO YEARS LATER at today's (Tuesday's) meeting, the Board declared the program “badly run and substandard.” The Board was reluctant to pay NCCT some $64k in fees because, according to Supervisor Carre Brown, “It could be the trainers they sent us were not up to the standard they should have been.”
APPARENTLY the training included a home remodel job in Ukiah that wasn’t done anywhere near “industry standards.”
NCCT’s CONTRACT with the County, managed by the Probation Department, theoretically ended on December 31, 2016. But NCCT continued “training” right up until a few days ago, and NCCT now wants $64k more for that period.
DEPUTY COUNTY COUNSEL Brina Latkin (or is it Blanton? she switched back and forth between names during the discussion) said that the $64k was somehow “less than the contractor wanted.”
SEVERAL SUPERVISORS wanted to know how NCCT continued with the work when their contract was up in December 2016. Ms. Latkin/Blanton had no idea. Finally, a probation officer named Kathy White, blurted out the real reason: Controversial Chief Probation Officer Pamela Markham (who has been put on extended paid administrative leave while allegations of sexual dalliances with other Probation employees are investigated) told NCCT in mid-December that she “intended” to extend the contract. But it never got extended, even though NCCT kept right on “training.”
BOARD CHAIR John McCowen concluded that the Board wanted staff to determine “the legitimacy of the charges” before any more checks were cut to NCCT. “Do we have legitimate grounds to deny payment?” asked McCowen, waving an as-yet unpublicized report documenting the substandard remodel work, adding, “I doubt they would want this coming out in court.”
IN OTHER SUCCESS NEWS, County Ag Commissioner Diane Curry, looking exhausted, as any normal person would be dealing with demanding pot heads all day, told the Board that as of Tuesday the County had received 441 pot cultivation permit applications. The program is in such a state of confusion and delay that Ms. Curry’s announcement that exactly 1 (one) permit had been issued drew a round of applause from the assembled officials and pot growers in the audience. (When we get to two, the standing O will be heard clear over in Boonville.)
SUPERVISOR Carre Brown said, “I congratulate all of you!”
ALSO COMING in for more muted huzzahs was the bewildering Track & Trace program roadshow/workshops the County did. “I did not attended the Track and Trace workshops,” said Ms. Curry, “but I think those went well.”
WHICH WAS EXACTLY not what the people who did attend said.
NEWLY SEATED Third District Supervisor Georgeanne Croskey was almost beside herself: “Congratulations on one permit issued. It’s very exciting. And the staff doing great job with complaints.”
ABOUT HERE, secure from government delusion in our Boonville bunker, we were exclaiming things like, "These people are a lot crazier than we thought!"
MS. CURRY added that two permit applications had been denied by Fish and Wildlife wardens because of “pretty egregious environmental concerns” which will be “costly to remediate.” (They ain't seen nothin' yet.)
COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT manager (and former Ukiah Police captain) Trent Taylor said the County had received 130 pot permit complaints so far, mostly from grow-site neighbors, that the Complaint Department is working on. Supervisor McCowen insisted that the County is trying to be “flexible” in resolving the complaints, presumably because the program is far from final at this point.
TAYLOR said the County is fully staffed with seven enforcement officers now with the seventh one, a new hire from Arizona, expected to be on the job on the Coast in July.
McCOWEN said that he understood that people are going out purchasing property without knowing if the zoning permits pot growing, doing things like “grading and tree removal that are prohibited or not permitted … Creating trouble for themselves based on not knowing what’s required or allowed.” “Think before you buy or alter landscape,” warned McCowen, “otherwise you’ll end up with problems like these individuals” (the ones with Fish and Wildlife violations), adding, “there’s a potential for criminal charges and fines and high remediation cost.”
COMMISSIONER CURRY said she’d met with some realtors and emphasized that people “should understand what’s involved in getting into this program.”
SUPERVISOR DAN GJERDE said he’d run into people who bought property in the northern part of the County thinking incorrectly that Humboldt County’s looser rules applied; Garberville-based realtors had made the sales.
COMMISSIONER CURRY got another laugh out of us when she referred to the County’s application form of four pages of fine print as “small.”
McCOWEN asked Taylor about enforcement procedures and follow-up.
TAYLOR: “We’re there. We’re doing notices and citations. We have a procedure for denial of permits based on violations. We have not issued notices of violation or abatement. In fact, the vast majority will self-abate themselves [aka “harvest”] with a little pressure from us.”
THE RETIRED POLICEMAN said of the 130 complaints so far about two dozen involve people with pending permit applications. “The rest are not applicants.” One of the permit applications that has drawn a complaint is in Anderson Valley, said Taylor, but no details are were discussed because the County is trying to keep such things confidential, while still keeping the Board and the complainant apprised of the status of the complaint.
WHEN SUPERVISOR HAMBURG, a life-long stoner and long-time pot farm proprietor, attempted to join the enthusiasm with “I’m amazed that you can keep track! Maybe as many as 5,000 grows in Mendocino County. This is amazing! Keeping track. All these different steps. Fish and Wildlife, water quality, Planning and Building Services…”
NO SOONER had Hamburg begun to string out the superlatives at a "program" that can't possibly work, when County Counsel Katherine Elliott sternly curbed his enthusiasm: “You have recused yourself on these issues. We are taking no action today. But I suggest you not go any further on this.”
THE GIDDY HAMBURG then suggested his fellow Supes join the praise bandwagon and resumed stroking his "comfort animal," a tiny, rat-like dog no bigger than a child's bong that attends all public meetings with the supervisor.
A FEW pot lawyers complained that there was a problem with “prior cultivation” if the grower was a corporation instead of an individual prior to January 1, 2016. Or vice versa. Or something like that. Or something about the State not accepting LLC applications for pot prior to January 1, 2016. We don’t really know. It’s a legal issue. Have no fear, this will all be worked out. And lawyers will clean up.
SHERIFF TOM ALLMAN notified the Board of Supervisors Tuesday of a renewed attempt to put a mental health facility initiative on November ballot, noting that last year’s measure fell just a few votes short of the two-thirds vote requirement. (About 165 votes was the diff.) Supervisor McCowen was supportive, declaring that “it’s a fast track timeline,” and that he expects the second measure will address “concerns” that were expressed about the cost of operation, an apparent reference to the mostly spurious “concerns” from Supervisor Dan Hamburg first time around.
ALSO ON TUESDAY, during the discussion before the unanimous vote to give SEIU and Law Enforcement Management 3% raises over the next two years, plus various bonuses, Supervisor John McCowen told the Board that he was very pleased with the “quick negotiation” involved.
WHICH BRINGS US to the $250k the County plans to spend on a big outside LA-based law firm primarily on labor negotiations.
WHEN we asked CEO Carmel Angelo about this yesterday we got back an answer from Human Resources Director Heidi Dunham (not County Counsel Katherine Elliott) with an attached spreadsheet summarizing the work that the outside law firm “LCW” had done last fiscal year (July 2016 to June 2017).
THE COUNTY expects to end up paying LCW $225k for that period, and then another $250k for July 2017 to June 2018 in twelve categories of “service”: Labor negotiations, grievances, “misc” discipline, SEIU Local 2012 Writ Lawsuit, “Human Resources-Other UI Claims, ADA, Misc employee matters,” Board matters, HR Policy Review and Update, “Lawsuit,” “Department Investigation,” and “Department Investigation (2 investigations).”
MOST of the $225k was about $90k for those “Labor Negotiations” which were supposedly “quick.” (What would the fee for the LA legal gang have been if negotiations had been “protracted”?) The other big cost was for those “investigations” at about $72k.
ACCORDING to LCW’s website the “partner” Mendo paid $350 an hour for was LCW’s (SF Based) Donna Williamson which one Union negotiator said maintained a “poker face” during the negotiations. LCW’s website says: “With first hand experience in working for and representing independent schools, public schools, and community college districts, Donna possesses a unique and well-rounded perspective on education issues and the needs of schools and community college districts. As former Director of Labor Relations/Labor Counsel at Sweetwater Union High School District, Donna directed the labor programs of the largest secondary school district in California, serving as chief negotiator representing the Board of Trustees with six employee associations. She has also served as the Assistant Head of School at Midland School, an independent boarding school, in Los Olivos, California, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Santa Ynez Valley Family School in Los Olivos. Donna also co-authors the firm's monthly newsletter, Private Education Matters.”
ONE OF THE INVESTIGATIONS LCW got paid mightly to perform probably involved former Chief Probation Officer Pamela Markham who is alleged to have been boffing a fellow Probation employee during and after office hours, causing her to be put on paid administrative leave.
THE MATTER of in-house, work-time boffs is complicated by the fact that the Chief Probation Officer technically works for the Superior Court, not County administration, and our judges have let the matter fester for months — not only fester but rewarded with paid leave for the alleged offender, and that's how the judges would defend their gifts of public funds. "Alleged."
ANOTHER “investigation” apparently beyond the capacity of local authority may have involved a former deputy county counsel attorney who has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the County. (Sexual harassment?)
BUT NONE of this explains why 1. The county didn’t even bring this costly contract up last year, 2. The County counsel’s office isn’t doing at least some of this in-house, 3. Why it costs so much if the biggest contract was resolved “quickly,” 4. Why Human Resources is creating most of the costly referrals to the LA law firm without consulting with County Counsel, and 5. The LA law expenditure assumes all this stuff is ongoing or likely to happen again?
THE BOARD has never asked for competitive bids for this work, never asked why so much work is being referred to LA, and what can be done to reduce it, and why County Counsel can’t do more of this work in-house. Nor has anyone asked why they even need an “attorney” to do the negotiations? (It used to be done by a retired Humboldt County professional negotiator and before that by an Oakland woman-consultant, neither of whom where lawyers.)
SEVERAL TIMES in the last few weeks Supervisor McCowen has raised concerns about small amounts of money which he says could be “a gift of public funds.” But he seems to find these annual $250k gifts to be just business as usual.
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “The Boss told me to go easy on Fathom. ‘I go way back with the guy, LD,’ he says. ‘Just tell him to use the bathroom next year’."
CHO MO, ONE STEP REMOVED
On June 19th, 2017 at approximately 10:00 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives were contacted by a Special Agent of the Department of Homeland Security and Investigation, San Francisco Division. Information was relayed to the Sheriff's Office that Curtis Andrew Muller, a 32 year old white male from Ukiah, had possibly been exchanging obscene matter, namely items commonly described as child pornography via the internet with a male subject in the United Kingdom. The information had been provided to the Department of Homeland Security and Investigation via Interpol after authorities in the United Kingdom arrested an individual there and a connection was established. Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives prepared a search warrant which was issued by a Mendocino County Superior Court Judge. On June 20th at approximately 10:18 AM, Mendocino County Sheriff's Detectives, accompanied by Special Agents of the Department of Homeland Security and Investigation Child Exploitation Investigations Unit, served a search warrant at Muller's residence on Talmage Road. Representatives of the Mendocino County Child Protection Services also assisted in this investigation. Muller was not located at his residence, however he was located shortly thereafter in his vehicle in Ukiah. Muller was found to be in possession of multiple images of suspected obscene material as described in California Penal Code Secion 311.4. Muller was arrested for a violation of section 311.11 PC and booked in the Mendocino County Jail and his being held in lieu of $15,000 bail.
CATCH OF THE DAY, June 20, 2017
SHANNON ARNOLD, Goleta/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
SENG BOUNGNAVATH, Ukiah. Pot cultivation, pot possession for sale.
JOHN BRUNK, Fort Bragg. Shoplifting, trespassing, unlawful display of vehicle registration, forgery of vehicle registration, resisting, failure to appear.
RANDY FOUCHE, Fort Bragg. Petty theft-retail/shoplifting, controlled substance, obtaining services without paying.
TATE MADSON, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, paraphernalia, probation revocation.
TYLER MOREHEAD, Fort Bragg. Petty theft.
MIRANDA MULLINS, Laytonville. Paraphernalia, failure to appear.
SHANE SINGLETON, Willits. Probation revocation.
EDWARD STECKEL II, Hopland. DUI.
ELEA VANWORMER, Fort Bragg. Protective order violation, probation revocation.
JESSE WOLF, Ukiah. Meth for sale.
DAVID WOOTEN, Salem, Oregon/Point Arena. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
NOT SO GREEN: how the weed industry is a glutton for fossil fuels
THE SWEET LIFE: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch. This coming Sunday June 25 at 4 p.m., Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino will host a special event for “The Sweet Life: Cherry Stories from Butler Ranch.” Storytellers featured in the book will share experiences of George and Ella Butler and their incomparable u-pick cherry ranch on Boonville-Ukiah Road. Editor and publisher Dot Brovarney will introduce the program, which will open with song. Coastal singer-songwriter Sue Nagle, who calls herself “a major forager at Butler Ranch,” will perform her "Ode to George Butler." Mary Buckley, also a singer-songwriter, will lead the audience in her song, “I Love My Pie.” Graphic designer Kiersten Hanna of Braggadoon will talk about her approach to the book. Audience members will be invited to recount their memories of this unique and wonderful Mendocino County place. For further information, e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>, call Landcestry at 707-272-8305, or contact the bookstore at 707-937-2665.
THE BIG CON
by Clancy Sigal
A bunch of men in suits and ties in front of TV cameras investigating another bunch of guys in suits and ties could be one of the great shell games of the Trump era. Meanwhile, as the “Russia probes” go on, memos and tweets flying like paper shrapnel, many Americans not in suits and ties sicken and die as a direct result of the suits’ indifference or plunder or both.
We’re all Appalachia now and nobody gives a damn because, here in the Rust Belt and Trump-voting south, legislative thunder and lightning are coming down on our heads. We have no shelter from the hard rain of a trillion dollar cut in “entitlements” like Medicaid, Medicare, Assistance to Disabled Families, Food Stamps, Meals on Wheels hitting us suthiners in partcular and especially hard in the old coal mine valleys. I don’t like using farm language in front of the ladies. But we’re being fucked up the ass by our own people following the lead of the new President we truly love.
So up in Washington I see two different factions of the same Harvard-Wharton class squabbling over who next sits in the Oval Office, Kamala Harris or Mike Pence when Donald is impeached, Lord don’t let it happen.
The Democrats, damn their hides, can’t help me because they too wear the same suit and ties – even the women Democrats seem to. They all belong to the same “made it” tribe and share the same indigenous language native to Washington DC you learn only if you can afford a good college.
Way back in my grandma’s time, the Big Depression, traveling photographers like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans and Marguerite Bourke White walked among us seeing us at our stoical worst that somehow got the government’s attention to help us in the hollows, valleys and factory towns.
Tonight on TV I see pictures of exploding Syrian babies and Nigerian refugees drowning in the sea. TV glamour.
But we down here, waiting for a Medicaid van that probably won’t ever come, never see a big name anchor nosing around like they did in Vietnam or when there’s a mass shooting. Plain fact is, we’re too ugly, and what’s happening to our people too depressing for Megyn and Rachel to come down here.
After a day’s work who wants to relax looking at us bitching and whining?
God damn it, it’s undignified.
(Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is “Black Sunset.”)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
What do our elected representatives think about all this? I recently got a sense of this when I took a tour of the Capitol and sat in for a few minutes on an live session of the House of Representatives.
The chamber was mostly empty. One Representative after another were droning about some impending legislation, but few in the chamber were paying much attention.
What caught me by surprise was the some Representatives — in this open session of Congress — appeared to be busy texting on their cell phones, and at least one Representative was conspicuous by having his head buried in a newspaper.
That is your government at work.
TRUMP'S ATTACK ON CUBA - Ignorance and Arrogance Personified
2017 PURE MENDOCINO INVITATION
From: "Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County"
Please join us Saturday, August 26, 2017 in celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County! - http://cts.vresp.com/c/?CancerResourceCenter/05fd81e723/e9632b6940/28154246d3
A summer evening to enjoy the perfect blend of food, wine, fun and a good cause.
Pure Mendocino is the major fundraising event for the Cancer Resource Centers and a unique celebration honoring Mendocino County's leadership in organics and community health.
Tickets are available now for the 13th Annual Pure Mendocino Organic Dinner and Wine Tasting at Dark Horse Vineyard in Ukiah.
Farm Tour: 4:00 pm
Wine Tasting & Appetizers: 5:00 pm
Farm-to-Table Dinner: 6:30 pm
Chef Olan Cox and friends will showcase our community's finest organically grown food and wine.
Silent Auction: 5:00 - 8:30 pm
Unique items in Pure Mendocino-style
Live Music Under the Stars: 8:00 - 10:00 pm
Dance to Dgiin $135 per person - tickets must be purchased in advance.
Purchase tickets online at www.puremendocino.org -
or call us at (707) 937-3833.Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/PureMendocino -
to learn more about the event. This event always sells out well in advance. To ensure a seat, please order early. Thank you and see you there!
These are the times
golden with him
and new beginnings.
He is everywhere --
on Cow Mountain
with his horses and sheep,
in Mill Creek Park
with bass, bream, and bluegill,
in the lowering twilight
with Northern Spotted Owls,
and in the mornings
with Red-tailed Hawks.
And how long shall we say
winter will last this year?
How brown the leaves?
How bitter the fruit?
Shall we also say
how he takes upon himself
a certain bondage
with his ranch
on Cow Mountain,
which he loves
and sometimes hates?
Behold him now
with his herds and flocks.
Thick and green
is the grass
studded with yellow-orange --
California poppies! --
on this, his birthday, June 3.
JONATHAN MARSHALL, email@example.com
If we can schedule Marshall, we're lucky. He is available only for a limited number of interviews. He is the real deal -- an award-winning journalist and author of five books on international affairs and national security. He is also the Legal Studies Director at UC Berkeley's Law School.
Marshall has recently published a series of articles on the influence of foreign money in American politics, featured on ConsortiumNews. He states: “The combination of lax enforcement and tremendously high stakes -- including billions of dollars in foreign aid, arms sales, and economic sanctions -- has led to intense foreign lobbying in the United States, some of it financed with recycled U.S. aid.”
John Sakowicz at www.kmecradio.org
But there was at least one lonely figure on the scene, lonely and furtive. It was old Mr. Spofford, moving with the particular agility of a thief, down the path to the river. He carried a mysterious sack. He lived alone at the edge of town, supporting himself by repairing watches. His family was formerly well-to-do, and he had traveled and been to college. What could he be carrying to the river on Christmas Eve in an epochal snowstorm? It must be some secret, something he meant to destroy, but what documents might a lonely old man possess, and why should he choose this of all nights to hide his secret in the river?
The sack he carried was a pillowcase, and in it were nine live kittens. They made a lumpy burden, mewing loudly for milk, and their mistaken vitality distressed him. He had tried to give them away to the butcher, the fish man, the ash man and the druggist, but who wants a stray cat on Christmas Eve, and he couldn't take care of nine himself. It was not his fault that his his old cat conceived — it was no one's fault, really — and yet the closer he got to the river, the heavier was his burden of guilt. It was the destruction of their vitality, their life, that pained him. Animals are not supposed to apprehend death, and yet the struggle in the pillowcase was vigorous and apprehensive; and he was cold.
He was an old man, and he hated the snow. Pushing on toward the river, he seemed to see in the storm the mortality of the planet. Spring would never come again. The valley of the West River would never again be a bowl of grass and violets. The lilacs would never bloom again. Watching the snow blow over the fields, he knew in his bones the death of civilizations — Paris buried in snow, the Grand Canal and the Thames frozen over, London abandoned, and in the caves of the escarpment at Innsbruck a few survivors huddled over a fire of chair and table legs. This cruel, this dolorous, this Russian winter, he thought; this death of hope. Cheer, valor, all good feelings had been extinguished in him by the cold. He tried to cast the hour into the future, to invent some gentle thaw, some clement southwest wind — blue and moving water in the river, tulips and hyacinths in bloom, the plump stars of a spring night hung about the tree of heaven — but he felt instead the chill of the glacier, the ice age, in his bones and in the painful beating of his heart.
The river was frozen, but there was some open water along the banks where the current turned. It would be easiest to drop a stone into the pillowcase, but this might hurt the kittens that he meant to murder. He knotted the top of the sack, and as he approached the water the noise in the pillowcase got louder and more plaintive. The banks were icy. The river was deep. The snow was blinding. When he put his sack into the water, it floated, and in trying to submerge it he lost his balance and fell into the water himself. "Help! Help! Help!" he cried. "Help! Help! Help! I'm drowning!" But no one heard him, and it would be weeks before he was missed.
Then the train whistle sounded — the afternoon train that had pushed its cowcatcher through the massive drifts, bringing home the last to come, bringing them back to the old houses on Boat Street, where nothing was changed and nothing was strange and nobody worried and nobody grieved, and where in an hour or two the souls of men would be sifted out, the good getting toboggans and sleds, skates and snowshoes, ponies and gold pieces, and the wicked receiving nothing but a lump of coal.
— John Cheever, The Wapshot Scandal