Thursday, February 1, 2007

One Day In Guerneville

Guerneville Bridge (1922)
Now a pedestrian bridge across the Russian River
Taken 1.28.07

It sounded as if someone was jumping on the deck outside my room. Either that or they were thowing luggage around and it was bouncing off the deck. I checked my watch. 2:30 a.m. Hmm. Maybe the bars just closed and my neighbors in 15 had imbibed a bit too much. Then the shouting started. I understand it all now. The children in the next suite were having a lovers’ spat. Loudly. With much cursing and swearing and throwing things. At 2:30 in the morning. At one point a car door slammed, an engine turned over, headlights came on, and I watched out the window to make sure the Volvo was safe. The next thing I heard was the sound of a young man crying, sobbing actually. The rescuer in me wanted to console him, but somehow I managed to ignore that particular voice. I could not, however, fall back asleep, so turn the light on and do some reading.

Later, when I got out of bed at a more normal time, I headed over to the lobby to see if I might plug into the high-speed internet connection. It was twenty minutes before the door would be unlocked for the breakfast crowd, but Holly graciously let me in and I had the same problem that Bear had had at my house. The computer told me I was connected, but it couldn’t find the internet. This game is getting old. With the prospect of not being able to do my on-line work, this was looking to be an extremely expensive three day weekend.

The resort serves coffee, juice and granola on weekday mornings, but on the weekend Holly bakes muffins—and delicious muffins at that. I had two, and was tempted to have more, but I’m not the only guest here, after all. Packing up the laptop, I headed down the hill to the Coffee Bazaar where I had a delicious raspberry mocha, a slice of mushroom spinach quiche, and an immediate wireless internet connection. With breakfast and work now done, I hid the laptop in the back of the car and set out to explore downtown Guerneville.

The first thing to catch my eye was the bridge crossing the Russian River. Today, set aside as a pedestrian bridge, the graceful iron work spans the river and gives great views both up and down stream—through a heavy metal grid work undoubtedly designed to keep Billy Joe McAllister from throwing things. Two black men were drumming in the plaza at the north end of the bridge, and I boogied out, camera in hand, to see what vistas might be photo-worthy.

Main Street, Guerneville California
(With 2 red pickups!!)
Taken 1/28/07

Back on the north bank, I visited several shops including Twice Told Books where I picked up the latest issues of the Advocate, Out, and Poets and Writers, and a used hard-bound copy of Keep On Dancin’—the story of how disco was born. At Wayne Shele’s shop, I admired the dragons, the ducks, and some beautiful rayon scarves, and bought The Joy of Gay Cooking, one of those spiral bound church-lady cookbooks “compiled and edited by the Metropolitan Community Church of the Redwood Empire.” The $15 price went to the church. The recipe for Couscous with Mango, Ginger, Almonds & Cashews sounds promising, but I’ll probably pass on Sautéed Brussels Sprouts for People Who Hate Brussels Sprouts as I’m one of those people who HATE Brussels Sprouts. And if you’ve been wondering what to do with those 300 crates of tomatoes and 4,000 pounds of onions that you have peeled and chopped in the pantry, the church even has a recipe for that—the Los Angeles County Annual Barbecue Beef Dinner for 75,000 People!

Up the River is a fun “toy” store which did not have the particular piece of body jewelry I was looking for, but did have several other wonderful things, including a small sticker saying “Bears Come in All Shapes and Sizes” which will soon be adorning the Volvo. Chocolate and Hemp yielded a couple of Scharffen Berger 1 oz chocolate bars, a hemp t-shirt for me, and one that is being sent off to my very own TokerBear. Personally, I don’t indulge in any kind of smoking material, but I am insensed that our Congress can name Bourbon the National Drink and outlaw Marijuana at the same time. The shirt that Gary will be receiving in the mail is made of hemp and has two pictures on it, one labeled “Good Bush” and the second labeled “Bad Bush.” I leave it to you to put two and two together.

John Rizzi is an artist working in glass. He makes beads, fish and marbles, primarily, and has a gallery just off Armstrong Woods Road where he sells his work and that of other glass artists. The gallery is staffed by John and Kazoo, both of whom are very friendly folk. I fell in love with two different pieces, neither, alas, by John, and bought one of the pieces. Now comes the question, how do you display a large glass male torso? If you’re interested in seeing some of John’s work, his website is

John Rizzi and Kazoo
In John's Glass Studio and Gallery
Guerneville California
Taken 1/28/07

Walking to the ATM, my camera mounted with its longest lens hanging from my neck, a woman approached me on Main Street. “Take a picture of a homeless person?” At least that’s what I think she said. She told me a story of identity theft, being out of work, unable to get food but able to get alcohol, and then she blessed me and went on her way. As I returned from the ATM, she approached me again, this time imploring me with her eyes. I asked if she needed help and handed her a bill—a much larger bill than she was expecting, I’m sure. She blessed me again and again, so I asked if I could take her picture. I think her name is Lehigh. She spelled it for me, but I never fully understood what she was saying. She did insist that I get the scars on her neck in the photograph, as they were her sole identifying feature.

Portrait of a Homeless Person with Scars
Guerneville California
Taken 1/28/07

Safeway’s parking lot is set aside for a flea market, and I picked up a hardbound copy of Tracks in the Sky: Wildlife and Wetlands of the Pacific Flyway. When I held the book up to the man in charge of the booth, he informed me that I could have it for $10.00. As the original price of the book was $35.00, I jumped at the chance to add this to my photography library. The photographs by Tupper Ansel Blake are truly inspirational shots of wildlife caught from Alaska to Costa Rica, and maybe beyond. I’ll easily have ten dollars worth of pleasure just looking at the pictures and feeling compelled to go and shoot likewise.

Back to the resort, and the hot tub, a nap (remember, the night had been interrupted), then a walk downtown to the Mexican restaurant I had seen while shopping at Safeway. I hadn’t really seen anything more than the sign for Mi Casita, but it was red, white, and green, the colors of the Mexican flag, so I figured the restaurant had to be good. And besides, as Billy taught us in her wonderfully camp cookbook, You’ve Had Worse Things in Your Mouth. The restaurant turned out to be a small, mostly take away place tucked in next to another small restaurant offering Sushi and Burgers—not a combination I favor, although I love both Sushi and Burgers—just not together from the same kitchen. While I was waiting for, then eating my Chicken Tamal and Chile Relleño combination, several customers came in, ordered meals to go, then left. I was the only one to eat in the establishment. I found it curious that the customers seemed to come in groups of three—one woman with two men.

I considered stopping at one (or more) of the bars in town, but 7:00 p.m. seemed a bit early, and as I’m not really a barfly, it was easy to pass on the opportunity. I had really been looking forward to a Margarita with my dinner, but the restaurant wasn’t equipped as a bar, and without thinking I ordered my usual—iced tea. Back at the resort, I told myself that I could sit alone in my room in Smith River, that was not what I intended to do here, so I grabbed Chris Hedges’ American Fascists and headed for the resort’s lobby. Holly and her partner Julie were busily sealing, stamping and putting address labels on a brochure being sent out to resort guests, and were being assisted by one of the current guests, Hank. I had met Hank, and his partner Scott the night before when we watched Harold and Maude. I offered to help with the project, but was told that when the movie started, the project would be put aside. Another movie night! This time The Hepburn/Tracy film Adam’s Rib. I had never seen this classic, so Chris Hedge’s book went unopened, and the five of us enjoyed the film. Instead of popcorn, we shared vanilla ice cream with Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. I can heartily recommend this combination.

Julie closed up the hot tub immediately after we watched the movie, so no soak before bed. Back in my room I read the next two chapters in Hedges’ book. Now I’m truly worried. If we can’t do something to stem the loss of the middle class in this country, we will end up with a totalitarian state led by America’s Taliban, the likes of James Kennedy, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson. Fortunately, I was able to sleep through the night without nightmares.

And the evening and the morning were the second night.

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