A day in Lamorinda

Yesterday, as it is becoming the custom for our local players, I drove to Lamorinda, a 40-minute ride from Marin.

Lamorinda is the home of true-blue pétanque fans. They polish their boules at sunrise and start playing before lunch; they only stop at sundown. They also, I have been told, sometimes continue to play after sundown, illuminating the field by using cars’ headlights.

As a pétanque dilettante, I seldom go to such extremes. Three hours of physical exertion is plenty for me and my aging anatomy. But otherwise, the Lamorinda gang is friendly and welcoming. Show up with boules and you are in. They also have excellent players, and it is always a challenge playing there.

Yesterday was also a little unusual by the sheer fact that the temperature reached 75° Fahrenheit around 2:00 pm. Let’s not forget that we are in the middle of winter and that it is 45° in New York and 21° in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Lamorinda people also have the healthy practice of reshuffling the decks after a few games. After a short break, teams are reassembled in different formations. It means that you will get a chance to play with many different players throughout the day. One slight drawback to this policy is the fact that with everybody’s face covered with a mask, you often don’t know who you are playing with.

During short playing intervals, I managed to snap a few pictures. This is the advantage of owning a small, versatile camera. It can easily by carried in a pocket while playing and put to work when the occasion presents itself.

When it comes to action shots, some people are naturally more photogenic than some others.  This usually indicates that are naturally gifted athletes.
It does not mean though that if you don’t look as good as the golden boys (or girls) you are less proficient. It simply means that very few people have it all: natural grace and ability.

I hope that you like the few shots I managed to take.


Welcome to St Helena

Have you ever heard of St Helena? Maybe not, but it is somewhat famous.

Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 31 Mars 1814, by Hippolyte Paul Delaroche

This the place where in 1815 the British government sent Napoleon Bonaparte following his escape from Elba.

“Napoleon arrived in St Helena on 15th October 1815, after ten weeks at sea on board the HMS Northumberland.  He died there after six years in exile on the island.” 

It is a tiny island (10 by 5 miles) located in the South Atlantic 1,210 miles west of the coast of southwestern Africa, and 2,500 miles east of Rio de Janeiro. Saying that it is remote would be an understatement.

Why bringing up this forgotten episode now? The British didn’t know what to do with their inconvenient “ogre” after his downfall… Especially after his escape from Elba, and his subsequent march on Paris to reclaim his tarnished crown. They then shipped the troublemaker to St Helena, and it worked. Napoleon was unable to escape and was never heard of again until his death in 1821.

We are now in a similar situation. What should we do with a disgraced, unrepentant former president bent on revenge? The answer seems obvious to many people. A one-way ticket to St Helena.

Like Napoleon, he would be allowed to keep a small retinue of his followers… and his hairdresser. His wife (like Marie-Louise of Austria) would not have to share his fate and would probably become Queen of Slovenia at a latter date.

While in St Helena, the ex-president could indulge in his real estate passion. He could build have a few towers built, preeminently displaying his name, and a grand golf course. He would then have plenty of time to entertain his cronies, while forcefully reiterating his grievances about “the Radical Left” that stole the 2020 elections.

A small contingent of soldiers might also be garrisoned on the island to prevent a Mussolini-like escape from the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso d’Italia massif.

A second option (less likely) might be the monastery. He and his progeny could relocate to a Trappist monastery to atone for their sins.

“The 48th chapter of the Rule of St. Benedict states “for then are they monks in truth, if they live by the work of their hands”. Following this rule, most Trappist monasteries produce goods that are sold to provide income for the monastery.”

The family led by his enterprising daughter could launch a fashionable brew called Trump Trapp or Trapp Trump. Whatever the name, it is bound to attract some followers and distract the ex-pres from attempting another storming of the Capitol.

See you at the Inauguration!


Cleaning frenzy

Forced confinement has driven many people to extremes. They eat too much, drink too much, think too much, sleep too much… They do everything in excess.
My wife is no exception, she cleans like there is no tomorrow. She cannot stay still. The minute she runs out of things to do, she cleans or vacuums something. Furniture, floors, walls, toilets, sinks, clothes…
It is a bizarre, slightly scary obsession… probably born from stress.

“My theory on housework is, if the item does not multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be.” Erma Bombeck

I am not big on cleaning. Like most men, I adhere mostly to Erma Bombeck’s philosophy. If it does not multiply or smell, leave it alone. I have been told many times to never wake up a sleeping dog and I think that this is very good advice.
Don’t wake up sleeping dust either, it might jump at you.

And besides I have a cat (or what resembles a cat); it is her job to catch anything moving or crawling. She has nothing else to do and taking bugs captive is the least I ask her to do. But contrarily to my hyperactive wife, the beast does very little else. Under the pretense of meditating, she skirts her duties and mostly snoozes.

In my book, doing anything in excess is bad. I think that it says so somewhere in the Bible. Thou shall not overdo it… and if it is not there, it ought to be.

Since she stopped working a few months ago, my wife has been like a lion in a cage… Pacing and cleaning…cleaning and pacing.
She might be overcompensating for my lack of enthusiasm for swabbing or polishing. After all, I am retired. My new job formally proscribes me to do anything that might upset me.

But don’t think for a minute that I am not doing any cleaning at all… At least twice a week, I shave and empty the trash. I also occasionally do the dishes and polish my shoes.

When you think of it, “clean” is a five-letter word, which is much more consequential than a four-letter word. You have to handle those with care… like nitroglycerine. Any false move and it might blow in your face.

Fortunately, the cleaner-in-chief has re-enlisted for another tour of duty in her former outfit. This morning she suited up in her field uniform and went back to her barracks.
God speed my dear.

So, I am glad to report that everything is now (temporarily) quiet on the Western front.