The national news has been reporting on the fire situation in California, which prompted me to call my father. I was primarily concerned about how all of the smoke from the fires might be affecting air quality for him. I tried reaching him twice and on the second call, he answered the phone rather breathlessly. This morning the fire evacuation zone that he lives in was given a warning, meaning get ready to evacuate. Also, the zone adjacent to his was issued a mandatory evacuation order earlier this morning. There are three active fires in Monterey. The one that is most threatening to him is called the River Fire. I didn’t speak with him long, because he had been busy packing valuables in the car. He lives atop a ridgeline that separates Monterey from Carmel Valley. The danger from the River Fire is that it could run west along that ridge. Looking on the map, the fire looks to be about five miles away, but the closest mandatory evacuation zone is only about a mile away. The road to his house began as unpaved jeep trails. There is only one way in or out. Hence, the evacuation orders. I pray that he does not need to be evacuated and even if he does that his house is not lost.
My brother Chis lives with Dad and is also heeding the warning. He has some fire retardants that can be spread around the house before they leave, in the event of an evacuation order. They have always been diligent about keeping the chaparral well away from the house, but you never know with that stuff. It is hot and smoky there. They’ve been advised not to go outside, but if an order is given they then can’t stay inside either.
We have been watching the new HBO TV series, Perry Mason that airs on Sunday nights. This show is not your father’s Perry Mason. Except for a few character’s names and its Los Angeles setting there is little to equate it with the long running TV crime series starring Raymond Burr in the title role. Billed as an origin story and more closely aligned to the underlying novels of Erle Stanley Gardner, what is served is a noir detective story. It echoes more of Dashiell Hammett and Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade than the courtroom drama that made the name more famous.
I grew up watching the Burr courtroom drama. It was a show that the whole family watched together. We all took delight as the minute hand climbed to the top of the hour, as each episode drew to a close and all tried to guess who was the real guilty party. Knowing full well that that person wasn’t sitting at the defense table. I must say that my conviction rate fell far short of Mr. Mason’s.
Unlike in that series where every week brought a new case in this reboot the entire season is all one big case. In this series Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) is not even a lawyer, but a down on his luck private investigator, who in 1931, at the height of the Depression cannot catch a break, until he is hired by another defense attorney, played by John Lithgow. Involving a baby, Mason is thrown into a grisly kidnapping case that has gone horribly sideways. In addition to Mason, two other familiar character names from the old TV series appear, Della Street and Paul Drake, but also in guises other than remembered or imagined.
This show has a very dark reimagining of Perry Mason and his world, but also a splendidly drawn one. His attire is always disheveled, no tailored suits for him. More than just a gumshoe, he looks like he rolled around in it too. LA itself is just as seedy. The LA cops are not just corrupt, but viciously so, but throughout this noir story nothing is as dark as Mason’s brooding soul. This quote is typical of his world view, “Everybody’s up to something. Everybody’s got an angle, hiding something. And everybody is guilty.” The show’s cast of characters are so richly developed that it will be a shame to pick only one of them as the guilty party, as it will also be impossible to pick the right one. We’ve watched the first three episodes of this eight part series. The fourth one drops tonight.
Last year, we encountered this delightful building. It is a nondenominational chapel and is located along Route 1 in the unincorporated community of Sea Ranch, in Sonoma county. It is open to the public every day and is an inspiring place to meditate, contemplate or pray. It is emblematic of northern California. A local told us about the place and we visited it on our way out of town. It has the look and feel of something out of Middle Earth and feels totally organic, without hardly any straight lines or right angles to be found.
This morning, we walked in Tower Grove Park. This park has hundreds of varieties of different trees and is wonderfully shady on hot and sultry summer days. There are a number of tree circles within the park and we observed a woman doing Tai Chi within one of these tree-henges. She looked spiritual while performing her stylized martial exercises.
Another group of people were getting a vigorous workout. There are a set of tennis courts in the park that we pass by every time that we walk there, but today I noticed something odd about some of them. They were smaller than a regulation tennis court. It turns out that they are pickleball courts. Pickleball is a mashup of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. A Sixties invention, the game uses something like a wiffleball and ping-pong paddles for play. It was invented by a father who while trying to entertain his bored children hit upon this novel game, when he couldn’t find their family badminton racquets and shuttlecock.
Around town, Forest Park with all of its attractions like the museums and the zoo, is also-known-as the front yard of Saint Louis, while Tower Grove Park, with its smaller and more intimate venues is known as the town’s backyard. On this holiday weekend, with everything else that is going on this year, staying home, in the backyard seems to be the thing to do. Speaking of yards, ours could use a little love and feeding this weekend too.
Imagine my surprise this morning, when I found that “MARK 🥺” was trending on Twitter. Investigating, it was not immediately apparent what this was all about or even which Mark they were tweeting on. I eventually ascertained that it was some sort of K-Pop thing and didn’t really reference me, as if. I’m sure that if I ever did actually began trending on Twitter that would not be a good thing. I figured out that the emoji is the “pleading face” emoji, but have no idea why that one was being used, but then there is a lot of things on Twitter that I don’t know or understand. I guess, this mystery is part of its allure.
This morning’s Twitter surprise was nothing compared to yesterday morning’s wakeup call. It is never good when Anne gets a text from her sister first thing in the morning that begins, “Don’t worry…” Jane was texting her sisters that Harry had taken the tip off of one of his fingers with his table saw and that she had taken him to the ER. She later added that after check-in she left the hospital to go home for coffee and a shower, which sounded snarky, until we figured out that the hospital probably doesn’t appreciate a bunch of people loitering around the waiting room these days. Digesting this we figured that they had taken Jane’s car and if so, had she made Harry wear a plastic bag around his bloody hand, so that it wouldn’t bleed on her nice new car or simply asked him to hold it out the window? After it became apparent that this accident was not that serious, the other snark sisters came out to play. Jay mentioned in passing that she needed to drink (fluids), because she was giving blood that day. To wit Anne asked, “Bloody Mary’s?” and Jay replied, “No, Bloody Harry’s.” Harry is doing fine, home without much pain and no stitches. Although he was perturbed with the amount of road construction traffic on the way home.
Years ago, in high school, I had a similar accident, except I used an electric table plane instead of a saw to tip my middle finger. I can still remember the look of anguish on my shop teacher’s face, when he realized what I had done. That accident only resulted in a band-aid and his watchful glances for the rest of the semester. Much later though, I was helping the boys build their pinewood derby cars and for some reason, I got distracted and started messing with the furnace. I had propped up the furnace’s galvanized exhaust pipe, which came down on my hand, leaving a deep cut. I called Anne at work and told her to come home, and then I drove myself to the ER. Some Lidocaine and a few stitches later, I was on my way home. I must say that Lidocaine is way more soothing than snark.