Last Wombat in Mecca

•August 6, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I guess I wasn’t listening to Steve Miller’s band in 1969 when I was fourteen…otherwise I would have heard of the above-mentioned song! The lyrics are juicy & strange :

The last wombat in Mecca. Take 1.

There’s some things I can’t find
Some are better left alone
There are few things I won’t find
Some are better left alone
Like that bulldog in the bathroom
Like that wombat on the phone

As I float in my leer jet
Without a sling shot or a shield
As I hang in my leer jet
Without a shotgun or a shield
Hey, a flying saucer wobbled past
With a bulldog at the wheel

Can you give us a description
Said the air force on the phone
Can you certify you’ve seen this
Said the air force on the phone
No, but here’s his passport
And his teeth mark’s on the phone

If I take a long vacation
And nail my bulldog to a wall
If I leave this smoggy nation
And nail my bulldog to a wall
If my bulldog keeps his mouth shut
Will you remember me at all

I learned about this song when I met a gent at the Marin Museum of Bicycling & Mountain Bike Hall of Fame this afternoon.  When I visit the museum, I like to introduce myself with a card (usually Craig Coss’s fine “queen” card–available for $2 and a SASE, send it to the museum). The permanent exhibit has both Charlie’s first bike and my racing machine, Otto, which features a bunch of Wombat-phernalia under my bike’s red tires.  When I pointed out the acronym for Women’s Mtn Bike & Tea Society, he shot back “Like the Last Wombat in Mecca?”

Whoah!!! Never heard of it.

“Steve Miller Band” he said helpfully.

He recounted how he had founded a tofu-empire called Wildwood. With my velcro memory for unpleasantness, I flashed on the acrimonious split-up, leaving impoverishment and simmering resentment. Having lived thru a similar situation torn from the pages of Capitalism’s Playbook (i.e. the canny business person will take every advantage and leave others with nothing)  with Charlie, I couldn’t resist asking “are you all still friends?” And surprisingly he answered.

“Well…no, X thinks we’re friends but we’re not, and Y…. (no comment) and Z  “is no longer with us”…
“Which of you made out the best?” I asked devilishly.

“I did”.

Need more be said?

Oh yes!
He brandished his card. It showed the logo of the very successful vegan ‘cheese’ company that adjoins the museum.
“Oh! You’re with Miyoko’s! I LOVE YOUR DUMPSTER.

He dropped his head, leaned on his cane and growled, “that stuff is in there for a reason.”

“Well, I sure appreciated the ten pounds of organic cashews I gleaned two months ago. Still roasting and spicing them up…and the coconut oil is top-notch.”

He went out to his Tesla and got me a copy of his hit record, “Just Invoke the 33rd”.  Gonna listen to it real soon.








Reluctant operator

•June 22, 2017 • 5 Comments

This evening, after driving home two miles from a musicale that happens every Thursday, I noticed Charlie got across the street by himself, despite his near blindness. I always hope he’ll get a Sense of Direction, and he must have a little bit of one, otherwise, he’d be standing by the car waiting for me to steer him across the street to our little abode.

He headed straight for bed. I was still full of music, and Bonnie Simmons was on KPFA, and hell, it’s the solstice time…long days. Long years: 50 years since the 1967 summer of love. In L.A. it was  happening differently–for this twelve-yr old kid, it was radio music and crushes on guys like Eric Feldman (who never stopped his infatuation with music).

The house is warmish from the heat of the day. I go into the bathroom and notice the soap-dish Charlie fab’d about 10 years ago is looking ….coated with soap scum. I took a nearby brush–the writing’s nearly gone, but he’d marked it up: “Charlie’s scrubber”. Hanging above the claw-foot tub is a big 4 gallon bucket which is inscribed on the underside: “C’s nettle-gathering bucket: KEEP CLEAN”.

I soak his soap dish and get it back to beautiful stainless steel with delicate wire-work to hold the soap above the surface which thoughtfully tilts into the 1936 sink.

Everywhere are reminders, written notes which cry: This Is Charlie’s. Do Not Use. Now he can’t read. And I am in charge of maintenance around here. I have to use his things. I rarely rarely go in his sacred machine shop, but today the cleats on my ol Shimano shoes–at least 3 yrs old–need some attention.
The work bench is a mess. I’ve left everything on it, and none of Charlie’s projects (he’d left the fork he was building for me in the central work-spot) remain. All dismantled, except the aforementioned fork which Cameron Falconer carefully completed so I could ride the bike C’d built me that summer when I was at Middlebury learning Japanese….

Anyway, it’s so heavy, all this territoriality that has crumbled and my extreme reluctance to assume the mantle of Boss…

Just had to share this..

Tackle the page

•June 7, 2017 • 2 Comments

I’d like to thank you regular readers, first off…It was precisely a decade ago that Chris Hill plopped me down at a table to begin this WordPress blog. In those days it was free, but since about 2011 I’ve had to pay to keep ads off.
It’s in vain that I protect you from ads, since the rest of your day is saturated with them, but I like to think it’s a small plus.

Mark Twain: “Write without pay until someone offers pay. If nobody offers within three years, the candidate may look upon this as a sign that sawing wood is what he was intended for.”

And if the candidate has to PAY to write (like me) then….sawing wood, and dumpster diving is what she was intended for.

Daily life here at our Asylum for Two is pretty nice, especially when I reflect on the trauma of so many people’s lives. The garden blooms. Charlie can take a walk on his own and usually not get lost. He can dress himself. He can eat without help. I could even leave food for him to heat..he’s not the avid vegetable chopper of yore, but he doesn’t miss that. What he misses is Touching Metal. His hands are ‘butterfingers’ (this is the too-frequent epithet he flings at his nerve-damaged digits). His feet don’t coordinate enough to skip, though I coach him on that. He can see a LITTLE BIT, but not enough to ride a bicycle alone safely (I’ve let him do it unsafely, and it’s not a good idea).

We are OK, and going to Be Here Now, since that was what fate delivered in September 2015.


New for 2017!

•October 31, 2016 • 1 Comment



Getting Out On The Mountain

•May 10, 2016 • 3 Comments

In the last 7 months I’ve had so few chances to get out on a ride, it’s hard to call myself a biker. I never thought I was that married to the machine, and to the self-imposed role of cyclist first and foremost.
The result is, that when I’m motoring about (and I do this ten times more than ever before) I see the riders out on their bikes and feel a distinct squirm of the gut.

Evidence of some big cosmic gear shifting?

Our dear friend and caregiver David D. reminds me that the ‘self’ is an imaginary construct, and that truly we are all part of a cosmic One.
I’m very late to the sagging table of spiritual bounty, having been force-fed Catholicism at a tender age.
But these days, I’m subscribing to a notion of Togetherness (with occasional additional subscriptions to a God) simply because the idea of sharing the burden is so appealing. I pray that I’ll not be ding’d for Failure to Subscribe the first 60 years.
Anything at all to relax my racing mind.

These days, I ride Tuesday mornings, 7 a.m. pretty regularly–before Charlie wakes up–with an early bird gang of fellows who’ve ridden for at least 35 years without fail, week after week after week. They vacation together. Many kayak together…and for the past few years, but mostly the past 7 months, they’ve embraced me as part of the Over The Hill Gang. They were ‘over’ when they were young men, artists, professionals, & bon vivants. And now they’re really over the hill, modeling muddern maturity to anyone that cares to see a weathered face, rippling calf muscles and exuberant energy.
Sign me up….

michael lipson baldy

Tamalpais, fog, and the Over The Hill Gang riding up Baldy today. Photo: Michael Lipson

So long Owen

•February 17, 2016 • 4 Comments

Jacquie, Owen, Franklin
Last Saturday, a few of us convened to say goodbye to a friend and mentor who had died the previous month.

Owen Mulholland (I’m leaning on him, and he’s with his twin, John Mulholland) was one of the first diehard bikies I met in Marin County.

Within a year of meeting, both of our lives veered in new directions. I quit trying to pass physics classes in order to apply to medical school, and started envisioning myself as a bike racer, and he fathered a son.
Emile grew into a superb human being and I managed to acquit myself in the racing.

I shared one little thing with Emile: the sting of Owen’s tongue.

When dancing on the podium with Liz Newberry who’d just won the national cyclocross championship (a new thing for women), Owen chastised me for unseemly behavior.

But he also backed me when I needed a letter for a small grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation. And rode with me, and listened as I wept about being yet again shunned by the men’s morning ride.

He was a writer, historian, father and above all a cyclist to the core.  He truly lived to ride, and Emile saw to it that his close friends would be able to experience a meandery loop through Point Reyes, taking in a couple of side-trails and then climbing up the long long wooded spine of Mount Vision. I went with the dirt riders on my Croclo-Zeiss (Cunningham  cross bike). There were kids in front of me and old men behind. In the middle feels comfortable now. The ride was just hard enough for me to feel worked, under the forest canopy which the Japanese know is so healthful.

Road riders convened with the dirt riders and we shared stories. Franklin Blackford (the fourth person in the above picture) spoke of how he was embraced by Owen and his men’s Wednesday riding group within months of moving here. Believe me, it’s rare. Our county doesn’t have a warm fuzzy exterior, but there are people within that reach out and grab you.

After the ride, John Mulholland approached me with a smile and announced I was wearing his Pedal y Fibra jersey from 1963, when he raced in Mexico. I was flattered, and wondered how it ended up with Charlie Kelly. It was C.K. who gave it to me (well, he was throwing it away, actually, and I caught it mid-throw), and who swore it was from someone in the Grateful Dead crew.

A very patched up 5 pocket work of sartorial art, I am keeping and wearing this thing til it’s in shreds. It’s only fitting.





Bearing up under the strainers

•January 22, 2016 • 2 Comments

jacquie sieve 2015bearing up under strainers