- 128 Flooded
- Body Found
- Child Theft
- Morales v Mendo
- Heartless Hospital
- Fallis & Crowningshield
- Applications Pending
- Teen Room
- $100,000 Canopy
- Little Dog
- Comment Moderation
- Yesterday's Catch
- Marijuana Immigration
- Ice Plant
- Beautiful Liars
- Hu's on First
- MWD Reversal
- More Guns
- Stand Down
- Working Class
- Like Us
- NYer Language
- Big Muddy
- Shelter Autoclave
- Marco Radio
HIGHWAY 128 STILL CLOSED SATURDAY 7:48 PM. Flood stage is 23 feet. The Navarro River level was ten feet below that, 13.28 feet at 7:15 pm. What’s the delay? The river never came close to flood stage. In fact it never reached 19-feet! (MendocinoSportsPlus)
HIGHWAY 128 FLOOD PHOTOS from CalTrans, taken Saturday morning at milepost 9:
* * *
UPDATE (10:10am, April 8): Highway 128 from Hwy 1 to mile marker 11 is now open (California Highway Patrol)
RECOVERED BODY-CORONER'S CASE NEAR HART CRASH SITE
Location: Highway 1 at Juan Creek, Westport CA
Date of Incident: 04-07-2018
Time: 1:58 PM
Victim(s): African American Female, age unknown
On April 7, 2018 around 1:58 PM the California Highway Patrol (CHP) received a call regarding a found body in the surf of the Pacific Ocean at Juan Creek and Highway 1 in Westport CA. This area is in the immediate vicinity of the recent Hart Family crash. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office responded to the location to conduct a Coroner's Investigation and learned that a couple, vacationing along the coast, observed a possible body floating in the surf near Juan Creek. The Westport Fire Department had patrolled the area an hour prior but did not see anything. The body was pulled from the surf, onto the beach, by a third bystander where it was later recovered by Westport Fire. The recovered body appears to be that of an African American Female but the age and a postitive identity could not be determined. An autopsy will be conducted on Tuesday and the cause of death is unknown. The Sheriff's Office is investigating the possibility that the body may be one of the two missing Hart girls but identification will most likely be done through DNA analysis, a process that can take several weeks. It is not uncommon after a significant storm, such as the one passing through the north state currently, to bring items to the surface or wash onto the beach. The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is monitoring the ocean conditions to see when further searches might be safetly conducted. This evaluation includes the use of divers if conditions permit. There were no other signs of the other missing Hart children.
* * *
BODY RECOVERED OFF MENDOCINO COAST COULD BE MISSING HART CHILD
Mendocino County sheriff’s officials Saturday said the body was found near the site where the Hart family crashed off a coastal cliff two weeks ago.
* * *
DEADLY HART CRASH STANDS OUT FOR EXPERTS WHO STUDY FAMILY ANNIHILATORS
UKIAH SHELTER PETS OF THE WEEK
Blackie is a 1 year old, spayed female, short hair cat. She is a dainty girl with an easy going personality. Blackie seems like she will be the type of roommate you don't even know you have!
What a doll! Pam is very easy to leash up, and an easy walker. She has very good manners. The minute Pam got into the play yard, she spied the tennis ball! Pam LOVES to play fetch, and she will get the ball and drop it at your feet. If you're not responding, she'll nudge the ball a bit closer to you--just to let you know she's ready and waiting. She is a a 3 year old spayed female mixed breed dog who currently weighs 51 pounds. Pam wass a good girl during an outing with a couple of shelter volunteers.
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah, and adoption hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday from 10 am to 6:30 pm. Many wonderful dogs and cats await their forever homes here. To view photos and bios of more of the wonderful adoptable animals, please visit online at: www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Please join us the 2nd Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
CHILD THEFT? If what is alleged, child theft is what it is, and we have no reason to disbelieve what we've been told because it's the kind of CPS story we've often heard versions of.
THE MAN telling us the story is a grandfather. His two grandsons, now 2 and 5, were removed from the drug-crippled home of his son nearly three years ago by Mendocino County's Children's Protective Services.
OVER THE INTERVENING YEARS, the offending parents have recovered themselves and have fully complied with the original conditions demanded of them by CPS. They want their children back. But the two boys are still in foster care after innumerable court hearings and despite several thousand dollars paid by the family for a private attorney to help them regain custody of their children. The grandparents have also been denied visits with the children.
UNTIL RECENTLY, the grandparents enjoyed court-sanctioned visits with their grandchildren three days a week, but when their Fort Bragg CPS worker was fired, the custody case reverted to Ukiah and they lost all access to their grandchildren, which can't have been good for the two contested children. Ukiah CPS has resisted all the family's efforts to get the kids back.
IT GETS WORSE. The family alleges that their two boys are now in the foster family of the son of CPS boss, Bryan Lowery. Reportedly, the two kids were removed for a month from the Lowery family for allegations of child abuse but returned to the Ukiah foster family after the family underwent “training.”
THE DISTRAUGHT FAMILY of the two boys says they understand the Lowerys now want to adopt their two boys.
MENDOCINO COUNTY Judge Reimenschneider has rejected all the parents' and grandparents' pleas for fair hearings while he simply rubberstamps CPS’s arbitrary decisions, claiming that the family has missed appointments. The family says these alleged missed appointments were scheduling mix-ups complicated by the distance they must travel from Fort Bragg to Ukiah. (Mendocino County residents living far from Ukiah can verify the difficulty of coordinating court appearances with Ukiah.)
THE CHILD CONFISCATION process in Mendocino County occurs outside public scrutiny "to protect the best interests of the child." The only way the secrecy can be penetrated is for the families suffering from it to tell their stories to the public and hope the resulting pressure on this deeply flawed system gets them justice.
JAMES MARMON WRITES:
Big jury trial taking place in US Federal Court right now in San Francisco Ms. Rebecca Whiteman, against Mendocino County Social Workers and the County
Morales et al v. County of Mendocino et al
My good friend Robert Powell is the Plaintiff’s attorney. He also handed “Baby Emerald’s” case for me.
Robert Powell is responsible for the landmark decision that found that Social Workers did not enjoy absolute immunity and could be personally sued if the lied or withheld exculpatory evidence in cases. Very famous attorney
Here’s the landmark case, there’s been plenty since. He scares the hell out of lying social workers.
James Marmon MSW
Former Social Worker V
Mendocino County Family and Children’s Services.
SIX MONTHS LATER, HAVE THE LESSONS OF OCTOBER’S FIRES BEEN LEARNED?
If another catastrophic disaster struck tomorrow, would Sonoma County be better prepared to respond? Some authorities say yes, others are not so sure.
You may remember us from the Navarro store — Ken and Donata Waltz. The following letter was sent to the Frank R. Howard Hospital in Willits. A week or so after I mailed the letter someone call from the hospital but I was not available to take the call. She left a message that they were investigating this "incident" and that they were impressed and were appreciative of the amount of research I've done in sending them information on Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome (CVS). I called back and reached her answering machine. We played pattycake for a bit — I'm busy, they are busy. Finally I left a message saying that since we were having a hard time connecting she should e-mail her "findings," and we can figure out how the situation could be remedied. I never received an e-mail and she never called back. So I decided to go to the media about this. I think people should know how heartless this hospital was in the non-treatment and abuse of my husband.
To: Howard Hospital/Adventist Group, 4321 First Street, Willits
To Whom it SHOULD Concern,
My husband, Kenneth R. Waltz, has been treated at your emergency room on four occasions this year (2017), once for a kidney stone and three times for unremitting vomiting and dehydration caused by Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome — not to be confused with Cannabis Hypermesis Syndrome — an unproven theory that does not apply to him as he has had this since he was a child. Ken completely stopped using cannabis for 20 months, involuntarily (Ken was incarcerated for cannabis use for a year and then on probation and tested for eight months while on probation) from March 20, 2012 to the end of October, 2013, with no change that could be attributed to his cessation of cannabis and everything to do with less stress, exercise implementation and good diet implementation and no physical pain or illness during that time — all triggers of his CVS. His attacks lessened in severity and length of time but did not resolve.
Once Ken has entered a vomiting period without being able to abort it at home we have ended up at the hospital emergency room to rehydrate and sedate him so that the cycle is aborted and he is essentially recharged.
The first time I brought Ken to Howard Hospital this year for CVS in Willits I gave staff/nursing protocols for CVS. While admitting Ken, the nurse brought up the theory of CHS. I explained how this was a poorly done study — I've actually read it — while staff has rarely been instructed, apparently, to bring this up, in order, I suppose, to thwart the "drug seekers," as they are so rudely referred to. I asked if she had actually read the study this theory is based upon and her response was, "No." I noted when reading the study that there was no control group.
Ken was treated as per the protocols and though the visit was imperfect, about four hours later Ken began to stop cycling and was sleeping long enough to abort the cycle so he was discharged and I took him home.
The next time we went through the same, but Ken was placed in the hall on a gurney (I think all rooms were full). The nurse bungled his IV prep, causing Ken much pain, mostly due to a bad attitude because, in my opinion, we are adamant about the fact that cannabis use is not the cause of CVS!
The next time I brought Ken to the emergency room for CVS, I dropped him off at the door of the emergency room with a note with his name, my phone number (to call me when he needed to be picked up — it usually takes at least 4-5 hours to get Ken well enough to go home) and his problem written on it because he is barely able to communicate when he is in a CVS attack. When he speaks it comes out garbled, hard to understand. I could not come in because I had to get sleep. I had already been deprived and couldn't continue that way knowing it would be at least four hours. I have pets and barnyard animals to tend to also. I was called by staff a few hours later who left a message that Ken was ready to be discharged. I called back and informed them it would take half an hour to drive there and then I picked him up. Later when he was feeling better he told me the staff/nurses were not understanding of why he was dropped off and felt they were reticent to follow protocol for CVS. They took too long in administering the correct drugs, leaving him in agony for a long time until he finally fell asleep in an agitated state.
I brought Ken in again on October 9 for CVS. I came in with him, afraid they would treat him badly again if I didn't. We went through this same drill about the faulty theory called CHS, explaining the same thing, that it did not apply to Ken even if it was a reality because he has had it since he was a child. It appeared they were onboard and so I told the nurse I was going home. I made sure she had my number to call me when Ken was feeling better. This was Sunday evening — the night of the fires, the windy night.
I went home, went to sleep, woke up at 8 AM and checked my phone — no calls. No news is good news, I thought, he should be sleeping. A few hours later I learned the cell phone towers were down because of the fire. I left immediately for the hospital. I came into the door of the emergency room and a staff member stopped me at the door politely asking who I was there to see. I said, "I dropped my husband off here last night and want to check on him." Suddenly her demeanor changed. She seemed flustered. She said, "Oh, last night? You should check at Admitting," and pointed to the desk through the door — not the emergency room desk, but hospital admitting. But since she seemed befuddled or something I went to the emergency room desk since this is whom I had entrusted Ken to, asking about my husband. They also seemed confused and flustered. Then the first woman again told me to go to admitting. I went there and a woman, not behind a desk, said, "Who are you looking for?" I said, "Ken Waltz." She got this big smile on her face and said, "Oh — he's over there!" She was pointing at the emergency room waiting room. I said, "He is?" I had not seen him when I came in. She then said, "Oh yes! He's lying down over there!" She was again pointing in the general direction of the waiting room and I again said, "He is?!" I walked down, checking between the aisles (by the way, there is no way to lie down, there are metal armrests! Later my husband told me they told him to lid down on the floor there!) I have a witness to this, a friend of mine was there with her husband and saw how badly Ken was being treated. She did not recognize my husband until much later. Anyway, I walked all the way to the bathrooms at the end and he wasn't there. I checked the bathroom and he was not in there. No one was. I walked back to the woman who told me to look there and told her he was not there. She insisted that he was! She then walked backwards towards the waiting room apparently looking for him, as if I can't see or know my own husband! When she got to the bathroom, the door was closed and she said, "Oh, he's probably in there!" I said, "No, I checked," just as a man came out and was not him. She just walked away from me. So I went back to the emergency room desk and again asked, "Where is Ken Waltz?" Suddenly the same woman who told me to look in the waiting room appeared again and said, "Oh, here he is!" — like it was a happy thing! I said, "Where?" She began to walk out of the emergency room door, outside! I followed in amazement, thinking, is he on the bench? She walked around the corner of the building pointing down. I looked to see poor Ken lying in a fetal position in the grass while the ash and smoke swirled all around! The woman, still smirking, left as soon as she made me aware of where he was. I was in shock. All I could do was help him up, allowing him to lean on me as we walked to our car. He was mostly incoherent due to his CVS and whatever treatment/drugs he got. But he was obviously still cycling as I could see his body convulsing and writhing every few minutes. I was fearful of the fire and worried about my grandchildren who live in town. So I left without making a fuss.
I have been meaning to write this letter since it happened, but I've been so distraught over it, it came hard and finally I'm getting to it. I hope you understand how egregious, unprofessional, rude and inappropriate all of this was! To discharge him in that state to no one, during a fire, was insane and outright indifferent and cruel! I want to sue you! I want you to know that! At the very least you owe him and myself an apology! Your staff needs to be instructed in appropriate professional ethical treatment! They felt justified in doing this because they saw him trying to induce vomiting. This just goes to prove they know nothing really about CVS because this is a known thing that CVS patients do because it stops the pain they feel in their stomach for a minute in which they hope to fall asleep which is pretty much the only way the cycling of CVS stops!
I have included much info for you to look at with notes throughout and perhaps you can start training of doctors and nurses on how to behave toward CVS patients. I have highlighted passages and sentences that I think are relevant. Please get educated!
When Ken was feeling better he told me the doctor kept asking him what meds he needed or wanted. He doesn't really know! SHE is supposed to know! He finally asked for Benadryl because he knew that this is what they had given him before and she said, "Oh well, we are not going to give you that!" What the hell? Why not? Do drug addicts regularly ask for that? This is bigotry!
One more thing, even if Ken’s use of cannabis or sticking his fingers down his throat was causing his symptoms, is that how to care for an obviously sick and distraught human being? If say a person was ailing due to clogged arteries for eating a poor diet and came into the hospital complaining of some symptom, would you demand they leave because after all they are causing their own problems by eating a cookie in your presence? What the hell? Seriously?
I expect a response about this in writing and an appointment to talk to someone personally.
I am totally disappointed in corporate healthcare and quite honestly shocked, angry and dismayed.
FALLIS & CROWNINGSHIELD
Judge Cindee Mayfield ascended the bench and bid the lawyers, “good morning,” smiled all around until everyone knew, or should have known, they’d get a fair hearing. Then she called the “People v. Fallis…”
“David Eyster for the People.”
“Christiane Hipps for Mr. Fallis, who is present and in custody, your honor.”
“This comes on for arraignment on the information and a further bail/O.R. hearing.”
DA Eyster: “The People are opposed, judge.”
Hipps: “Your honor… “
What ensued was one of those spirited legal debates that old veterans engage in, like Errol Flynn and Tony Curtis playing with swords. What with all the clang and squeal of debate came down to was that Mr. Negie Fallis, however suspicious he may look in the disappearance of Khadijah Britton, was, after all, entitled to cheap bail, since he had no visible income.
Fallis was returned to the jail and Andrew Crowningshield was brought in. He appears to have shaved his beard off. His lawyer, Kristine Burk, met with DA David Eyster and the plea forms were filled out before Judge Mayfield called the case, so everything went smoothly.
Count I. First degree murder, 25-years-to-life. First Special Allegation: did personally discharage a firearm that resulted in death, another 25-to-life, consecutive. Total: 50-years-to-life.
IT’S NOT A GOOD SIGN when a County staffer only presents a snapshot of information, and forces the reader to look back at prior reports to figure out how much has happened since the last report or from the beginning or if there’s any kind of trend developing. This is particularly irritating when the staffer has declared that he/she is some kind of processing magician who can make former stumbling blocks and knots disappear with the application of a few sprinklings of management buzzwords and process improvements.
ON TUESDAY, Mendo’s new Pot Czar Kelly Overton will report on his latest numbers, again without bothering to provide any earlier numbers. And again nobody in Official Mendo, including our $84k per year supervisors and our $180k per year CEO, seem to care, seemingly pleased that someone is reporting meaningless raw numbers about their ridiculously overcomplicated pot permit process. (Come to think of it, that’s true of most of the data the Supes get about their departments, if they get any at all.)
Cannabis Program Data (through April 2, 2018)
Cannabis Cultivation Permit Applications
Received 868 (March 27 it was 867)
Issued 103 (was 95)
Approved 30 (was 33? So it’s gone down 3.)
Issued + Approved 133 (was 128)
Denied 16 (was 17, so the number “denied” has gone down 1. Last report such minor problems were explained by “we adjusted some data.”)
Under Review 516 (Was 524)
In Queue 178 (was 175).
SO THAT’S A LITTLE PROGRESS, we guess: a few applications have moved a little further down the processing chain, albeit much less than Mr. Overton lead the Board to initially believe — except for the number of “approved” applications going down (?). But the backlog is still huge — out of the 868 applications 80% are still pending. Most of those 868 were applied for last summer and are still pending. Mr. Overton also doesn’t bother to report how long the average process takes for any given step or what the main remaining stumbling blocks may be.
LIBRARY TEEN/CONFERENCE ROOM REMODEL: Back to the drawing board. (Looks like construction costs these days are more and more likely to be well above previous estimates, probably due to the aftermath of the fires and the high demand on materials, labor and bidders.)
April 11, 2018
To All Bidders: On behalf of the County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors, I want to take the opportunity to express our appreciation to you for submitting your recent bid for BID No. 03-18 Teen Room and Conference Room Remodel Project at the Ukiah Library. We are unable to award a contract and must reject all bids as all bids exceeded available funding. We have directed staff to revise the project scope and re-bid the project.
The Board of Supervisors encourages you to continue participating in the County’s competitive bidding processes. Please refer to the County’s website for new and upcoming competitive bidding opportunities:
If you have any questions or need any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me at the number above.
Dan Hamburg, Chair,
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
SPEAKING OF HIGH CONSTRUCTION COSTS…
AVA, Feb. 9, 2018:
THAT CHAIN LINK FENCE cordoning off the Health and Human Services Building in central Ukiah is not aimed at bum-proofing the structure, as we had suspected. It is Step One to bum-proofing the building. The homeless had been massing there to spend the night, somewhat protected from the elements by an overhang. That overhang is about to be re-done, hence the fencing to keep people out while the work on it is underway. But here's the rub: the new overhang will be at least partially porous, meaning rain can get through, meaning that the homeless hoping to sleep beneath it in stormy weather will have to find dry space some place else. At least that's what we are told by a person who knows.
OF COURSE official Mendo is hardly likely to admit to bum-proofing its Welfare Office, once the site of at least six separate businesses including the Greyhound stop which came complete with a ticket office presided over by a memorably churlish woman who made buying a ticket an unforgettable encounter. “Our first concern is the health and safety of our staff and the public,” CEO Angelo told the Ukiah Daily Journal. “That’s the number one reason we are fencing it off.” The number two reason is bum-proofing.
* * *
THE $100K CANOPIES/OVERHANGS
Item 4(i) on next Tuesday’s Consent Calendar:
Approval of Agreement with Interactive Resources, Inc. [out of Richmond, CA] in the Amount of $98,560 for the Term of April 10, 2018, through December 31, 2019, for Design and Engineering Services for the Removal and Installation of the Front Entry Canopy Structures at the Yokayo Social Services Center at 737 and 747 South State Street in Ukiah Recommended Action: Approve Agreement with Interactive Resources, Inc. in the amount of $98,560 for the term of April 10, 2018, through December 31, 2019, for design and engineering services for the removal and installation of the front entry canopy structures at the Yokayo Social Services Center at 737 and 747 South State Street in Ukiah; and authorize Chair to sign same
LITTLE DOG SAYS, “I'm not a cop dog but I sure could use some armor. All kinds of dangerous critters come at me late at night, and some of them have two feet!”
FROM THE WEBMASTER:
Outside of the deranged, vulgar, or otherwise highly offensive comments -- and the spam -- one of the biggest challenges is the few folks who tend to post too much, and end up dominating the forum. Think of it as a town square, where you want to mingle and chat with many townspeople, not just the loud ranter on the corner. You might listen for a minute or two, to try and understand what it is they're saying, but then you move away, toward milder climes. This is the function of "moderation" of the comment area. When commenters don't moderate their own output, someone else needs to do it.
I think the problem is partly the conditioning people get from twitter, facebook, and everything else in the realm of so called "social media," where participants are encouraged to utter everything that pops into their head, whenever it pops. No filter, no limit, no restraint, and very little thought. Couple that with devices that never leave the body, and that means it is going on all the time (at least all waking hours...how long until the sleeping mind gets piped in). No wonder people are going nuts. There is no rest from it. It's hive mentality gone mad.
I'd rather read something that somebody wrote after they gave the topic a little thought. I do not want to be in everyone's head, hearing their every thought. That way lies madness.
— Mike Kalantarian
CATCH OF THE DAY, April 7, 2018
THOMAS BOREN, Willits. DUI.
JOSHUA CARROLL, Ukiah. DUI.
MARSHALL COLLINS III, Albion. Probation revocation.
DALLAS EZELL, Laytonville. Evasion/reckless driving, probation revocation.
KEEGAN KNIGHT, Willits. Controlled substance, controlled substance while armed with loaded firearm, under influence in possession of weapon, concealed weapon in vehicle, paraphernalia, possession of assault weapon, short-barrelled shotgun/rifle, loaded firearm in public place, offenses while on bail, certain misdemeanors within ten years involving owning/possessing.
ELEVTERIO MONTALVO-PEREZ, Willits. Controlled substance, protective order violation.
BRYAN NEWBERRY, Willits. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
RAMIRO OJEDA-GARCIA, Ukiah. DUI.
JACQUELINE SHEPHERD, Redwood Valley. Under influence.
JESSE SMALLEY, Willits. First degree burglary.
DREVEN VALENCIA*, Ukiah. Domestic abuse, false imprisonment, resisting.
ANOTHER MIGHTY CONUNDRUM
by James Kunstler
The sanctuary city movement, and all its baggage, terminates in one troublesome idea: that the USA should have open borders and that anyone from a foreign land who manages to get here by whatever means is home-free-all. The most recent Democratic nominee for president said just the other day that she dreamed of open borders. The much-abused word dream has been at the center of our discourse about immigration, a purposefully sentimental manipulation of language for a culture struggling to ascertain the boundaries of reality in an era of universal wishful thinking.
Anyone who listens to National Public Radio, for instance, may notice the care they take to keep the boundary as fuzzy as possible vis-à-vis the status of people here from other lands. “Undocumented” has been the favorite trope, a dodge that implies that the people in question are victims of a clerical error — someone over in the Document Division forgot to hand them the right paperwork. Or else, they are simply labeled “immigrants,” leaving out the question of whether they are in the country legally or not. Do not suppose it is mere sloppiness.
Lately, there is the matter of census-takers asking the people they interview — theoretically everybody who resides in the US — whether they are citizens or not. It would seem to be within the legitimate interests of demographic statisticians to ask that question, but it has ignited a firestorm of opposition. All manner of casuistry has been applied by that opposition to rationalize why we wouldn’t want to know whether people here are citizens or not. It all seems to come down to a cynical political calculation that the voter rolls can be eventually padded in favor of the Democratic Party (of which I remain an unhappy registered member, in order to vote in the New York state primary election).
The sanctuary city movement seems to me the most mendacious element of the story, a nakedly emotional appeal against the rule of law. The attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, lately threatened to fine corporations there that share employee information with federal agents. There has not been such arrant flouting of federal law by state officials since Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama crying “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” in June, 1963 — and we all know how that ended.
I’m among those who would like to see the immigration laws honestly enforced. In fact, I would also like to see the 1965 immigration law reformed to admit far fewer people from any land into this country. We have economic and cultural interests to protect, and they would seem to be self-evident.
So why has there been no move by the federal authorities to impose sovereign federal law over figures like Mr. Becerra, or Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who went through the barrio there Paul Revere style warning that the ICE agents were coming? Well, one big reason is the marijuana situation. Nine states have legalized cannabis for recreational use (i.e., for getting high), and 29 have legalized it for medical purposes. This includes all of the states on the “Left Coast.” All of them are flouting federal law in doing that. But imagine the political uproar if the feds tried to step in at this point and quash the cannabis trade. In the early adapters, like Colorado, California, and Washington State, the trade has blossomed into multi-million dollar corporate enterprise, with significant tax revenue.
So, much as I object to the dishonest practices around immigration, I don’t see how the federal government can take principled action against them without first addressing its attitude to the marijuana situation. Of course, that could be easily disposed of by congress adopting a simple law to the effect that the cultivation and sale of cannabis shall be regulated by the states. The craven members of congress apparently don’t even dare to raise the issue of resolving this conundrum, and the thought may have never even entered the mighty golden brain-pan of our president — not to mention The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, Fox-News, or any of the other media organs of public debate. Well, maybe the time has come for that discussion.
(Support Kunstler’s writing by visiting his Patreon Page.)
THERE'S A MARKET FOR EVERYTHING
"Succulent Poaching" - Photos of Ice Plant and DudleyaIn case it's useful. In regards to the "Succulent Poaching" article in today's AVA. (4/7)
—Ice Plant: (Invasive, non-native) (Photo by Jean Pawek)
Using this photo: Photos taken by Jean Pawek may be freely used without requesting permission, as long as credit is given to the photographer.
Dudleya farinosa: (native)
The thumbnail photo may be freely used for personal or academic purposes without prior permission under the Fair Use provisions of US copyright law as long as the photo is clearly credited with ©1995 Saint Mary's College of California.
–Gail Johnson <email@example.com>
LYING IS UNIVERSAL --- we all do it; we all must do it. Therefore, the wise thing is, for us diligently to train ourselves to lie thoughtfully, judiciously; to lie with a good object, and not an evil one; to lie for others' advantage, and not our own; to lie healingly, charitably, humanely, not cruelly, hurtfully, maliciously; to lie gracefully and graciously, not awkwardly and clumsily; to lie firmly, frankly, squarely, with head erect, not haltingly, tortuously, with pusillanimous mien, as being ashamed of our high calling. Then we shall be rid of the rank and pestilent truth that is rotting the land; then shall we be great and good and beautiful, and worthy dwellers in a world where even benign Nature habitually lies, except when she promises execrable weather.
—Mark Twain, 1880; from "On the Decay of the Art of Lying"
IT FINALLY HAPPENED
METROPOLITAN WATER DISTRICT REVERSES COURSE ON DELTA TUNNELS AGAIN
by Dan Bacher
The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, one of the key backers of Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project, on Friday, April 6, changed its position again on whether to finance a two tunnels project or a staged project, with one tunnel to be built first and a second tunnel to be constructed later.
On Monday, MWD general manager Jeff Kightlinger reported in a memo to the board that staff would submit at the board meeting on Tuesday, April 10, a recommendation for the powerful water district to fund its share of a potential first stage of the California WaterFix. This would include two intakes and a single tunnel with a capacity of 6,000 cfs.
However, things have changed since Monday. “Since then, a number of Metropolitan directors have requested that the option presented at the February 27 board workshop for Metropolitan to finance California WaterFix at a level that would allow the full project to move forward also be brought to the Board for consideration,” said Kightlinger in today’s memo to Board Members.
“Accordingly, the board letter that has been posted sets forth both options, with a staff recommendation to express Metropolitan’s support if the Department of Water Resources elects to pursue a staged approach and support of Metropolitan’s participation at up to 47.1% of the project cost,” he stated.
Here is the full board letter: http://mwdh2o.com/PDFWWACurrentBoardAgendas/04102018%20BOD%208-7%20B-L.pdf
After hearing of MWD’s change in plans to put the two project options up for a vote, Brenna Norton, Senior Organizer for Food & Water Watch, responded, “Whether one tunnel or two, Southern California residents will foot most of the bill for the tunnels.”
“Rather than investing in faraway projects, we should invest in local projects that put LA back to work and guarantee new water for our communities,” Norton concluded.
On Tuesday, April 10, Food and Water Watch, Sierra Club California, the Southern CA Watershed Alliance, and S.E.E. are organizing a press conference and rally to protest MWD’s board vote to fund the California WaterFix.
The press conference starts at 11 AM, with the MWD board vote and public comments beginning at 12 PM. It will take place at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Headquarters, 700 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (next to Union Station).
“After eleven years, and over a quarter of a billion dollars, the project description, operational details, and cost analysis are still sorely lacking,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD). “This isn't simply about the people of the Delta being opposed to the plan. It's about the State, and its sponsor MWD, failing to make an honest and accurate case for any tunnels that show.”
Those who cannot attend but wish to watch the press conference can watch live at 11AM on the Food and Water Watch Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodWaterWatchCalifornia/
Those wishing to watch the MWD board vote online are encouraged to tune in to MWD’s livestream at 12PM: http://www.mwdh2o.com/WhoWeAre/Board/Board-Meeting
For more information, read my earlier article about Metropolitan Water District’s recommendation to finance only a staged California WaterFix project: https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/4/5/1754635/-Metropolitan-Water-District-Withdraws-Support-for-Full-Funding-of-Delta-Tunnels-Project
The State Water Resources Control Board is currently conducting evidentiary hearings on the petition by the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to change the point of diversions for the Delta Tunnels project, in spite of a change in the project by the state and federal governments from the twin tunnels to a two phase project. The board has to date rejected the pile of recent motions by cities, counties, water agencies, conservation groups, fishing groups and farming organizations to stay the hearing.
The Delta Tunnels project would hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter and spring Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species. It would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers, according to opponents.
I beg to differ from Michael Morrissey’s assertion that American society is more violent than England and Australia (“A violent society,” Letters, March 23). I grew up in a very small town in England in the 1960s, and there was plenty of violence and cruelty.
Notwithstanding the fact that violent crime in the U.S. has almost halved in the past 30 years, the latest government figures show that the rate of violent crime in the U.K. is actually double that of the U.S. This may be due to how violent crime is defined and reported, but from my own observations, and a little knowledge of history, the idea that the British are somehow less violent than Americans is laughable.
However, one fact is undeniable. The murder rate in the U.S. is five times that of the U.K., and the highest of any Western democracy. Why? The U.S. has no more violent or crazy people than other countries. What it does have is vastly more guns, with few effective controls on their availability. Though the overwhelming majority of gun owners in the U.S. are responsible and law abiding, unfortunately, here in the U.S. any moron can get a gun. So of course they do.
“Stand down. It’s just Mr. Pruitt opening another bottle of champagne.”
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The Democratic Party would have more success and legitimacy if it tried to establish its political base among the hardworking American middle class. If they would do that it would expose Republicans as the plutocrats they have become.
ALL THESE WEIRDOS, and me getting a little better every day right in the midst of them. I had never known, never even imagined for a heartbeat, that there might be a place for people like us.
— Denis Johnson
REASONS I can barely stand to read the New Yorker anymore — randomly selected sentences from recent book reviews:
"His tone is often contentious…"
"In this novel, Zebra, an Iranian exile, uses literature to grapple with the historical ructions that define her life…"
"In a story that might otherwise be self-serious the author resists the standard redemption arc, infusing her protagonist with a darkly comic neuroticism…."
"The family is beset by mounting catastrophes which eventually give way somewhat sloppily to happiness…"
"The book was a hit, and not just because its cover features eye-catching multicolored stripes and commanding sans serif lettering…"
BEAUTIFUL BEACH-SIDE VIEW of Big Brown River
(Photo by Susie de Castro)
FORT BRAGG SHELTER NEEDS NEW AUTOCLAVE
Dear Friends of Animals,
After more than a dozen years of almost daily use, our autoclave -- the machine that sterilizes the surgical instruments used in our veterinary clinic -- needs to be replaced. The autoclave is essential to our clinic operations.
We are fortunate that our autoclave has performed so well for us for so long. In fact, when we needed to have it repaired in 2016, the repairman advised us the prognosis for it lasting much longer was not good. The repairman recently returned and said final failure is imminent.
Since July 1st, 2017 our active veterinary clinic has performed more than 500 spay and neuter surgeries and nearly 2,300 other veterinary procedures, thanks to your support (and the longevity of our autoclave!) Without these procedures, imagine the countless numbers of unwanted litters in our community. And, of course, we have also helped pet caregivers keep their pets healthy. Clearly, having a reliable autoclave is essential to our mission. We need to replace the old machine with a new one before the old one fails.
We urgently need to raise $5,000 to purchase a new autoclave for our shelter. Can you help? Your support will help us continue providing crucial surgeries for our shelter animals and community pets.
Donations can be accepted through our website, mendocinohumane.org via the DONATE button, or by checks brought to The Ark, our thrift store at the Round-about, or to the Adoption Center here on Summers Lane, or mailed to
Mendocino Coast Humane Society
1961 Summers Lane
Fort Bragg CA 95437
The recording of last night's (2018-04-06) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is waiting for you to listen any time of the day or night, via https://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Also there you'll find a fresh batch of dozens of links to not necessarily radio-useful but nonetheless worthwhile items I set aside for you while putting the show together, such as:
The goddess of spring.
A terrified scurry for dear life. "Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I will break my lever."
Hymn for Goldilocks.
And the /black chicken/.
by Denis Rouse
A Foreword of Sorts
To: Donald Silva
Regarding original art, scene from Battle of Curupaity September 22, 1866, that opened the bloody drama of The War of the Triple Alliance between Paraguay and the tripartite allied armies of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. It is generally thought Curupaity is the only battle in the years-long conflagration that Paraguay won (Paraguayan casualties: only 92. Combined Argentinian/Brazilian: 10,000). The battle was fought over access to the Paraguayan capital of Ascension on the Parana River involving naval, artillery and foot soldier forces. Paraguay’s forces numbered 5000 men, Argentina and Brazil had 17,000, but Paraguay held the high ground above the river and the allied naval bombardment didn’t have the range or the ability to destroy the Paraguayan citadels. Worse for the Argentinians and the Brazilians they chose to attack the Paraguayan positions with infantry crossing open marshy ground thus creating something of a turkey shoot for the Paraguayan rifle and artillery men from their mostly hidden parapets. The parallel here is something like Gettysburg, had the Paraguayan general pressed his advantage and totally destroyed his enemy, as Meade should have done against Lee’s army, perhaps at least the war would have come to an earlier conclusion. Instead the war continued and the Paraguayans were slaughtered wholesale in many coming battles, including a shameful massacre (The Battle of Acosta Nu – 1869) in which Paraguayan children were told to paint mustaches on their faces and defend their country like men which they did to the last kid, and the Paraguayan president Mariscal Lopez was found in hiding and summarily executed. A half million or so people perished in this war, the worst ever in Latin America, including 70 to 80% of the male Paraguayan population, the country is still struggling with it.
We bought the painting at an outdoor market near the parliament building at the Plaza De Independencia. The artist Francisco Vargas took it off the wall and unstapled it from the frame and rolled it in protective paper so we could stash it in our luggage, our prayer is that it is undamaged when you unwrap it, it needs to be re-stretched and re-mounted on a frame. The next day, our final one in country, we dressed appropriately (I didn’t wear my sweatpants or shorts and Gwen slipped into her Paraguayan attire purchased earlier), and we were driven by our guide Gustavo (whose grandfather is a veteran of the Chaco War 1932-35 with Paraguay’s neighbor to the north, Bolivia, another mortal engagement in the country’s martial past) to the Museo de Militar at the Ministerio de Defensa where the above mentioned events and others astonish your history-loving heart. Think of the British Museum stuffed in a bloody empanada.
Con salud, amor y dinero y tiempo para gustarlo.
* * *
Paraguay En El Corazon
For Alban Eheler
Dear faithful amigo and guide, nuestro bruder en Paraguay, we’re home again, home again, with a furious case of jetlag after spending ten days with you in your fascinating country down there deep and landlocked in the great South American continent. Woody Allen would know how to handle our story, elderly Jewish man from L.A. with his shiksa girlfriend from Spokane land in Asuncion, Paraguay at Silvio Pettirossi Airport at zero dark thirty in the middle of the fricking night after seventeen hours from LAX including a grueling five-hour layover in Panama City courtesy of our commercial carrier, that isthmus country’s COPA Airlines. First order of business is to stagger over to the nice lady in the immigration kiosk and pay her $320.00 American for two visas (crisp clean bills only; folded, creased, limp ones unacceptable) then get met by Gustavo Schulz, professional Paraguayan tour guide of German heritage, but very much Paraguayan since he was born here and his grandfather was wounded in the Chaco War (1932-35), a conflagration with Bolivia, Paraguay’s neighbor to the north, which many believe shadowy imperialist interests from the U.S.A. and Europe, by proxy through rival oil companies, contributed greatly to the outbreak of the 20th Century’s worst South American conflict (130,000 casualties). It’s sometimes called in Spanish “La Guerra de la Sed” (“The War of the Thirst”) because of the huge arid wilderness in which it took place, because most of the fatalities were the result of dehydration.
Luggage stashed in Gustavo’s Hyundai minivan, we’re headed to our hotel in downtown Asuncion through a quiet, vacant 12-mile corridor of 2 am surreal Clockwork Orange gloaming that intensifies the feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. The feeling vanishes when we pull up to the fetching entrance of the Granados Park Hotel in the heart of the city and see friendly welcoming faces at the registration desk who register us so quickly and efficiently it’s obvious they’re being considerate, that they know we are dead tired, we need our room and our bed without delay. Gustavo says something about being ready for a walking tour at 8 am, that Alban’s coming in the morning, that Alban speaks English, Spanish and German and he’s very smart and he knows a great deal about Paraguay and then he leaves us with wishes for a restful if truncated night. It’s obvious again even in our state of near collapse as we partially unpack and get ready for seriously needed Z’s we’ve lucked out hotel wise. The Granados Park brochure says the hotel “offers a beautiful look starting from the central lobby with an architectonic style and enormous placidness. It’s sophisticated yet with a warm atmosphere, made of noble materials and light colors designed for the warm welcome you need”. The copy is right on the money. Speaking of money our room is a big cushy comfortable royally appointed luxury suite for $140.00 a night. I’ve paid more at the Holiday Inn Express everywhere in the states for far, far less. Score a big one for Paraguay, the American dollar is worth thousands of Paraguayan guaranis, about six thousand at the moment, and I will tell you up front that it’s the least of many great reasons to visit this country.
Morning comes like it usually does. Coffee, need it badly. We get it rich and dark in the convivial breakfast room of the hotel along with a buffet table loaded with all the cold, sliced, fresh fruits of Paraguay including papaya and mangos and plums of unusual sweetness and delicacy, and eggs scrambled the way eggs should be scrambled rich and creamy, with roasted peppers and onions if you choose, and warm loaves of just baked bread and thick chunks of savory smoky bacon and slices of wonderful ham and local cheeses and desserts including cheesecake that would make a New Yorker blush. Ah, breakfast at Tiffany’s in the beating heart of Asuncion, life is far more interesting than we know. Alban Ehler, professional Paraguayan tour guide who’s partnered with Gustavo on our behalf, shows up promptly to accompany us on a stroll through downtown Asuncion which, thanks to the hotel’s proximity, involves short walking distances to many sites suffused with Paraguayan history and culture, including foremost the Casa de la Independencia where events led to the country’s freedom from Spain on the morning of May 15, 1811, without a shot being fired, when, however, two cannons were set up at the Spanish governor’s front door. A gentleman central to this much celebrated outcome is Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, who would become Paraguay’s first president, actually dictator-for-life, who a year earlier placed two pistols on the table in Congress and declared his intentions against Spain and Argentina with whom Paraguay was also contentious at the moment. I was particularly fetched by this because just down the street posted at the columned entrance to the Cabildo, the pink palace where the senate used to meet, is a big portrait of Paraguay’s most famous writer, Augusto Roa Bastos, whose Cervantes prizewinning novel “I The Supreme”, which I was into a hundred pages or so, reimagines the mad surreal visions of de Francia, who called himself “El Supremo”, in one of the great milestones of Latin American literature.
We’ve just met Alban but Gwen and I are already much taken with him. He was born in Germany but has lived and worked in Paraguay long enough to marry Guillermina, a lovely Guarani lady, their daughter is four. He tells me he gets along great with his in-laws because they speak only Guarani and he doesn’t. His passion for the country, his expertise in its history and its culture, and his political leanings that suggest abiding compassion for the Paraguayan people have impressed us. When we walk by a ten-story commercial building that was obviously abandoned during a late stage of its construction due to a combination of government, banking and real estate malfeasance that shut off the funding and left an ugly towering deteriorating dangerous monument to corruption, he gives me some details with a whispered German expletive. As our stroll brings us to the National Congress Building (funded by Taiwan which tells of Paraguayan/Chinese relations), and Alban begins to narrate the horrific events that took place here just before Easter in March 1999 when a huge crowd of pro-democracy demonstrators were shot at by snipers, inciting a melee that left eight dead and 700 wounded, our attention is diverted by a young boy with a mangled hand and missing a foot begging for money, he obviously from the thousands of makeshift hovels of the Banado just across the street, where the poorest of the poor are crammed into low lying space between the gleaming parliament on the Plaza de la Democracia, and the river which flooded in 2014 only adding to their misery. Alban hands the boy a coin which I suppose is a few hundred guaranis and the three of us continue what the tour operator bills as our Full Day Asuncion Golden Tour.
How did Nietzsche put it? Were it not for art we’d die of the truth. Next stop is a small park of flowered greenery called the Plaza de los Desaparecidos. The reference is to those thousands killed, tortured and exiled (the latter including Paraguay’s aforementioned literary giant Augusto Roa Bastos) during the dictatorial reign of Alfredo Stroessner, the son of a German immigrant, and head of the Paraguayan armed forces, who seized power in 1954. What ensued was a murderous 34-year campaign to eliminate opponents under the guise of a hunt for communists. When the dictatorship ended Stroessner’s statue in the centrum of Asuncion was removed from the Cerro Lambare, the highest hill in Asuncion, and consigned to an artist commissioned to create something appropriate to the memory of the victims of this awful era. The symbolic result here is literally smashing, the torn apart remains of Stroessner’s bronze image crushed between two huge blocks of concrete with only a left hand and the damaged face clearly visible.
Day of the Circuito de Oro
Gwen wants to go shopping on this Circuit of Gold, a collection of small towns an hour or so away from Asuncion each featuring one or more of the traditional Paraguayan crafts. She’s interested in the silver filigree jewelry of Luque, the pottery of Aregua and especially the famous Nanduti lacework of Itaugua. Nanduti means spiderweb in Guarani, it’s that exquisite and delicate. Alban and Gustavo pick us up at the hotel in the morning and off we go with Gustavo at the wheel of the van again, this time during rush hour in Asuncion when superior driving skills and reflexes are mandatory because the fashion here is to anticipate other vehicles causing any delay, and instead of slowing down per the custom we know, speeding up to adroitly avail any option of escape. Made us clinch our butts a few times but I was surprised how effective is the technique. And as far as pedestrians are concerned, they know they’re at the bottom of the food chain, no one steps off a curb without serious risk appraisal. I liked the shopping, but Gwen liked it a lot more, the van was quickly filling with her treasure. For me the best of the day was getting our first look at the green countryside, the campo of Paraguay, and the quiet rural village life that’s within surprising proximity of the buzz of the city. Too, we visited the beautiful basilica of Caacupe, the spiritual capital of the country where the feast day of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 brings in around a million pilgrims. Alban tells of the legend here about Jose, a terrified young Indian boy being hunted by a fierce tribe. While hiding behind a tree, he vowed that if his life was saved he would carve a statue of the Virgin from the wood of the tree. When I ask Alban if Jose fulfilled his promise, he has a succinct answer: “Is the Pope Catholic?”.
We have lunch in San Bernardino at Los Alpes, a Paraguayan restaurant with German roots located near the bucolic somewhat hidden retreat on the shore of Lake Ypacarai. There’s a shadow here if you know as everyone seems to that Josef Mengele, Auschwitz’s “Angel of Death” lived here for a time notably during the Stroessner regime. Much of history isn’t a box of chocolates, but as the philosopher warned, forgetting it is the most dangerous ignorance. The sausage was terrific, but I was disappointed that the deep pan of stewed surubi, the giant catfish of the local rivers, a favored staple of the country, was cleaned by the time I got to it. You shouldn’t have wasted time on the salads first, Alban tells me. We wind up the day with a stop at the large imposing church of Yaguaron, a 16th Century Franciscan Reduction, one of the first missions established in Paraguay for the benefit of the indigenous people. There’s a weathered seemingly nondescript wooden sign nailed to a tree near the front gate that reads Todos Quieren Cambiar El Mundo, Pero Nadie Preocupa Por Cambiarse a Si Mismo. Everyone Wants to Change the World, But No One Wants to Change Himself. It struck me as the gospel truth.
Day of the Caiman and Capybara Empanadas
Alban shows up in the morning with Cesar, another driver who works for the tour company, and we take off again through the intense video game that is Asuncion’s rush hour. Cesar plays it as well as Gustavo but he’s big, burly, with forearms the size of stovepipes, looks as if he could do major damage on the Paraguayan football team that specializes in a defensive attacking mode of soccer that equals the NFL’s violence but without helmets and pads. I’m amazed at Cesar’s skill at the wheel, his relaxed aplomb as he sips iced shots of terere (cold mate) from his guampa (cup) utilizing his traditional metal straw called a bombilla, all the while keeping us going with alacrity through a traffic circus of cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and taxis, the latter reminding us how fortunate we are that the cabbie revolt, scheduled this morning to block streets in protest of the government’s impending approval of Uber, has been cancelled as the legislature decided to at least temporarily shelve the issue. Gracias Dios we’re all thinking aloud, you can still hail a cab here without downloading an app. How novel.
A short time later we reach Paraguari, a town known as the “Cradle of National Independence”, for it was here in 1811 that the Paraguayans defeated the Argentine Army in a decisive battle in that effort. But we’re not here for history, but rather for what Alban and Cesar call the best Guarani chipas so’o (pronounced soho) in Paraguay. At a local chiperia known quite well to them, they secure a bag of hefty hot baked croissant-shaped breakfast bombs with flaky corn flour crust, loaded with lard, cheese, eggs, and beef the country’s famous for, that make gringo breakfast burritos up north seem like ladyfingers. This is the second time we’ve eaten this morning but not much later, after a brief pause in Quindy famous for its fine leather manufacture of soccer and volleyballs, hundreds in every color hanging for sale on A-frames that line the roadside through the whole town (we buy one and deflate it and stash it in our luggage), we reach the outskirts of Caapucu where Alban has remembered our early discussion of rural favorites, Capybara and Caiman empanadas. So, voila, we pull into a small roadside restaurant preferred by local campaneros and out they come, fried little pies filled with the meat of the biggest rodent in the world and a smaller member of the alligator phyla, both a protected species, but in Paraguay many timeless cultural traditions persist. I notice Alban has stashed some of the chipas and empanadas in a bag thinking for a snack later in the day, but no, they’re for a caretaker at the Museo Cabanas where there is no fee to take a short hike back in time, being careful to step over cow pies, to visit a beautiful 17th Century stone and adobe rancho, an outpost along a busy route then of everybody from soldiers to priests, run by a colonial Spanish family living in a most tumultuous time in Paraguay’s history when the Cabanas probably wanted peace and quiet at times, when wealthy landowners in Asuncion wanted slaves from Brazilian headhunters, when Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries wanted security, dignity, communal independence and the Roman Catholic faith for the indigenous Guarani people, and when the Spanish throne wanted more control over its burgeoning empire in the New World. It was a conflicting dynamic that was to shape the country to this day where Guarani is the mother tongue in 90% of Paraguayan homes.
We wind up the day with what else? More shopping of course, but how to avoid it in San Miguel where cotton and wool is woven on old looms by hand and foot into gorgeous practical goods like the hammock Gwen buys to hang from the rafters of her wood shop at home, and my cool new shirt that will be perfect for the many Paraguayan parrilla barbecues we’ll host at home in the future, not! We roll through San Juan Bautista where Paraguay’s world-famous guitarist and composer Augustin Pio Barrios known as Mangore was born, then pause too briefly in San Ignacio Guasu to view the great murals and sculpture in the church that anchored the first of the Jesuit-Guarani Reductions, or Missions, founded in 1609. There’s so much of importance to see here, so much one wants to see, ten days just doesn’t begin to cut the queso.
Days at the Estancia
Ah, nirvana at Estancia Tacuaty, a big historic cattle ranch located what seems a million miles from the urban rush of Asuncion, sprawled on the lush pastures of the savannah known as the Pastizales de las Misiones, only about a hundred and fifty miles away as the Paraguayan cuervo flies, but we’ve had a long day touring in the 90-degree heat of February, late summer in the Southern Hemisphere, so the swimming pool we see glistening in the sun the minute we come through the gate looks like heaven, and as we discover shortly, it is.
You always know immediately when you’ve come to the right place. As Alban, Gwen and I seat ourselves on a comfortable ranch house patio with boss lady Senora Julia Gonzalez, soon to be just Julia to us, performing the guest registering formalities, a sleek English pointer, his name is Mister, leaps gracefully up on the tabletop obviously happy to show affection in the manner high spirited but gentle, intelligent, well trained dogs do. It’s an especially sweet moment for animal lover Gwen who calls her horses at home “my boys”. We stash the luggage in our rooms, Alban decides to take a nap, while Gwen and I make fast tracks for the cool refreshment of the pool. As we relax there in the shade of a towering copse of trees, including Paraguay’s national tree, the Lapacho, and some huge specimens of regional cedar known as cedros, the cacophony of a birdwatcher’s delight starts to play as flocks of wild parakeets zoom in and out of the massive foliage like speedy little fighter planes, so impossibly green they seem to disappear in the leaves. We soon notice a pair of woodpeckers working away on a fencepost, and a glance upward reveals the lone white sentinel of a Snowy egret standing tall atop the canopy. Then, adding zest to the surrounding ubiquity of avian behavior, Mister streaks by us like a round of tracer fire, intent on terrorizing a platoon of Southern lapwings, or Tero-Tero as they are known in Guarani, foraging along the shore of a two-acre lake that graces the ranch just a few yards away from our poolside retreat. And later, Gwen looks up and discovers there are others living in the branches besides the feathered type as she spots a big dark-furred male Howler monkey and his cinnamon-toned mate coursing effortlessly through their lofty arboreal world.
Next morning, I step on my herman big time. I get up early and walk to the kitchen in the ranch house where Julia has coffee and papaya slices ready for me to take back to the balcony of our second story room in the guest quarters so Gwen and I can enjoy a little pre-breakfast with a great view of the spread in burgeoning light. Before I leave she offers me a what I think is a cold guampa of terere with a bombilla protruding, and remembering that terere is often shared, and that it’s polite to finish it cleanly before passing the cup of yerba back to refill, I take a huge hit through the wooden straw realizing instantly it’s not terere but hot mate poured just for me. Julia’s eyes become big as ping pong balls. I’m in some pain but stifle it as best I can and thank her profusely as if it’s my custom to be the weirdest gringo in Paraguay.
The day gets better. Gwen wants to ride and I want to go fishing. It happens in that order. A couple of horses are saddled up for us, Guano the white gelding and Princesa the roan mare, and off we go for a relaxing hour on the green carpet of the pasture, Gwen at the reins of her mount, me on a lead line in the trusted hands of one of the tropaderos who work the ranch, Julia obviously thinking I bear watching.
Then Alban shows up with a big thermos of ice water, a guampa of terere, and a couple of bare bamboo poles with ten yards of monofilament attached to the tips, #6 hooks tied on the business end of the lines, and a Ziploc bag of raw beef chunks for bait. Thusly equipped for a style of fishing on a Paraguayan estancia that would gain Mark Twain’s approval, we walk to the shore of the lake, twirl out the baited hooks, and don’t wait long for action provided by fish that look like pan size trout that have been cross-bred with piranha, they’ve got the formidable jaws and teeth of the latter. They’re called Ta’ry in Guarani according to Santiago, Julia’s son, a sharp young lawyer from Asuncion we meet later in the afternoon.
We loathe leaving Estancia Tacuaty after only two peaceful days feeling like we’ve become members of the Gonzalez family, where the table fare three times daily is expertly prepared from what’s grown and raised right on the ranch, including a memorable evening of chicken-fried steaks, with sautéed manioc, and a gravy Julia brought to our table that was so wonderful it would have embarrassed my grandmother.
Day of the Three Jesuit Misiones
Margaret Hebblethwaite, the author of the Bradt Travel Guide to Paraguay, eloquently sums up the essence of the history we encounter this memorable day, roughly paraphrased, “A group of Jesuits arrived in 1607 to found a new province of Paraquaria, the origin of the name of the country. (asterisked footnote here: *Alban disagrees with Ms. Hebblethwaite, says the Guarani called their world Para gua’y, or Land of a Thousand Rivers, for centuries before any Europeans arrived). With them, a new era began in which the Jesuit Reductions did not work within the Spanish colonial system, but outside of it, in territory that the Europeans were forbidden to occupy. The Spanish were thus deprived of slaves and had the embarrassment of seeing those who they regarded as semi-human natives develop a civilization of art, architecture and music superior to their own. The resentment, jealousy and hostility this aroused eventuated in the order of Carlos III of Spain in 1767 to expel the Jesuits from South America. Although the reductions were over-run, exploited and de-populated, 150 years of protected life laid bases which have never been completely annihilated, most particularly in the survival of the Guarani language in a country that is still truly bi-lingual”.
The story becomes palpable as Alban and a slim gorgeous young Guarani guide with shining black hair, a girl named Maria, lead our way through a colonnaded brick, mission-tiled arcade at the Reduction of San Cosme Y San Damien for a look at the sundial still functioning with precision atop a stone plinth, set up in 1718 by the astronomer-priest P. Buenaventura Suarez who studied Jupiter, wrote a book predicting solar and lunar eclipses, and installed an observatory using quartz crystals from the Parana River for his lenses. An equally evocative moment comes when we enter the huge vestry of the roofless church, unfinished due to the Expulsion, at the Mission known as Jesus de Tavarangue where we’re dwarfed by massive walls and two rows of six great stone columns that would have supported three vaulted roofs that had been planned. The best moment for me comes when I’m standing alone with my puny camera on the brink of the vast plaza of the ruins of La Santisima Trinidad del Parana, The Most Holy Trinity of the Parana River, facing the enormous silent sculpted walls of so many angels carved in the stone, I could nonetheless hear clearly the elegiac wail of a lost paradise.
Two days that comprise our final touring before heading back to Asuncion include an overnight in Encarnacion at the riverside Awa Resort Hotel we’ll always remember because of the great people who work there, particularly the waiters who attend the twenty-five-foot dinner buffet table loaded with every Paraguayan favorite including two tureens, one of stewed pork and the other laced with beef. When Gwen couldn’t discern what was in each, with her Spanish limited, she queried one of the young men with, “Is this one moo-moo or oink-oink?”, a question that good-naturedly cracks up the whole room.
A couple of lunches on the road during those two days stand out, one at a local roadside café in Coronel Bogado that was big on parrilla, tender chunks of beef and pork grilled over a wood fire, then offered on skewers, just ask if you want a juicy cut bone-in. And at an obviously locally favored restaurant overlooking the Tebicuary River in Villa Florida, I finally get a bowl of Sopa de Surubi loaded with delicious bone-in cuts of the river monster’s succulence in a rich cheesy broth that’s a Paraguayan favorite. Alban and Gustavo order the fried version and poke a little fun at mine they say has all the fish parts that no one else wants, showing they know zilch of Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods” and Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” that play regularly on the tube at home. How Paraguayan really are these German guys?
Our last day in country in Asuncion we go even deeper into the food scene. We grab a cab with Alban and head to the Mercado Quatro, a teeming warren of what were once thoroughfares, now crowded aisles of shoppers purveying vendors under flapping low-slung canvas selling everything from counterfeit designer wear to yerba leaves that can cure any malady. Make the right turn by the smoking grill of chorizo and you end up at long lunch counters adjacent the butcher stall where a fifty pound surubi is being chopped into steaks, along with chickens and meats of every description, including body parts and organs that look unfamiliar, and order two different soups with noodles (chicken and beef, I think) along with sticks of manioc, and if you require more zest, peruse the sure to please Smirnoff bottle of fiery homemade chili juice.
The evening before we grab our 2 am marathon flight for home, Alban has to forego our invitation to share a last repast together because it’s his daughter’s fourth birthday, so Gustavo picks us up solo in his trusty van and we head for Roveo, a big glitzy Brazilian barbecue restaurant near Estadio Manuel Ferreira where a soccer game going on has the whole neighborhood rocking and cars seem to be parked everywhere atop one another. We enjoy the action in the restaurant on a ten-foot-wide TV screen. We whale on the biggest salad bar in the country. And can’t pass on any of the many delectable cuts of meat brought to our table on swords, and then, full to the gills, I notice the sushi cart. I can’t resist trying what looks to be one of my favorites, the Japanese call it ikura, a dollop of salmon roe on a vinagared rice ball wrapped in nori. Upon tasting I judge it by far the best, finest, silkiest, subtlest flavored I’ve ever eaten. And the color of the roe was paler and more reddish than the orange of the salmon’s and slightly larger. Could it have been from one of the Parana River monsters, the surubi, or the giant golden dorado? With my bad Spanish I knew I didn’t have a prayer of finding out, and to tell you the truth I didn’t want to. I prefer to keep it a mystery de Paraguay, one of many, en mi corazon.