Sunday, October 04, 2015

Syrian Refugees Begging for Relief and a Warm-up for Columbus Day
By Fred Owens

Syrian refugees begging for relief.
Leaving aside all the pain and suffering, death and injury, abandonment and destruction -- leaving that all aside, think of the sheer embarrassment of knowing, and admitting to your self, and describing in detail to total strangers, that your country is falling apart.

Imagine for a moment that the Syrian people love their country as much as we love ours. And they would boast of its good fruits, its beautiful vistas and its ancient heritage. They would have such a natural pride in the good things and they would invite to us to come and share it.

All that is lost now. Now they have only the embarrassment of confessing that Syria is a shambles and they must beg for shelter and safety in other countries.

But it could be worse.

Vladimir Putin wants to help. Imagine that you have a very big problem -- a mortal illness, an unpayable debt, a famine, an epidemic. Imagine some total disaster that brings you and your family to the brink of death.

Then imagine that Vladimir Putin has come to help you. "You can trust me," he says, "I only want to help."
Putin has come to Syria to help the people. God save them.

Bernie Sanders. He's too old. As Senator or Governor I'll take the chance on his continued vigor, but as President I want somebody in the prime of late middle age, 55 to 60.
I won't vote for Bernie Sanders because he's a socialist. Socialists are not bad people, but they like to form committees and have long meetings and produce volumes of new rules and policies and procedures. I have no patience for that.
Hillary Clinton. She squats in the middle of the road like a 300-pound toad. She gets my vote and I expect her to win. I want to vote for the winner -- terribly shallow of me but true. She's the safest bet. She occupies the most central position and that's where you win elections in this country.
But could she please send her husband on a long-trip to Bulgaria? I'm really tired of that clown. He had his eight years.
The President's Spouse.  The spouse of the President should occupy an utterly non-political position, to be an esteemed architect or a research scientist  -- some field of great endeavor, but not political. I only vote for one person when I vote. We can praise Eleanor Roosevelt, but we should not repeat that pattern.
Monarch Butterflies. Migrating Monarch Butterflies have been spotted in Santa Barbara. The advance guard is flitting about here and there, in twos and threes. Might there be thousands or tens of thousands coming soon? They will roost in eucalyptus groves near the marine breezes for their winter's sleep.
We trekked out to Elwood Mesa this morning for our first butterfly jaunt. None were spotted in the trees, but they are coming in a few weeks, and the only question is how many.
Hail Columbia. Frog Hospital celebrates Columbus Day with great enthusiasm. On October 12, 1492, the whole world changed and for the better.

Samuel Eliot Morrison wrote the best book on the subject.....
Admiral of the Ocean Sea

The Columbus Day Parade was the great celebration of Italian-American immigrants who were, and maybe still are, quite proud of him for being originally from the Italian city of Genoa..
Many places are named after Columbus -- the Columbia River, Columbia University, the city of Columbus in Ohio, the province of British Columbia in Canada and the nation of Columbia in South America.
We might consider Columbus to be the first immigrant and rename the holiday Immigrants Day, in celebration of all the people who dared to cross the great water to find a new home.
In 1491 there were no Jews in America, no Hindus in America, no Moslems in America, no Buddhists in America, and no Christians in America, but now we are all here and that is a good thing. In 1491 there were no Africans in America, there were no Chinese in America, and there were no Italians in America, but now we are all here and that is a good thing.
It was a good thing for all the peoples of the earth to discover each other..... Prior to Columbus we were in a state of mutual ignorance. It matters little what Columbus did when he got here, what matters is that he found the way, and kept good records, and made it possible for others to make the same crossing.
We celebrate Christopher Columbus for his voyage across unknown waters. He found the way over, and he found his way back. He showed the way and millions followed.

Some people dream of a pre-Columbian purity in a realm of utter paradise, but I don't yearn for the past. I look to the future. I am inspired by explorers and discoverers and wanderers. I am descended from people who were not content to pass the time sitting under the old chestnut tree, but my ancestors looked away yonder and wondered, "What lies over that hill?"
Hail Columbia!

Frog Hospital Subscription Drive.   Your contribution of $25 is greatly appreciated. The Frog Hospital newsletter has been cruising down the Internet for 16 years now. I have tried to kill this newsletter several times – tried to stomp it out like the ember from an old campfire, or dig it up like a pestiferous weed, but it won’t die – Frog Hospital just keeps on going.
So please send a check. Your contribution keeps me from getting cranky. It helps me to maintain a detached attitude. Let’s keep it going….

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Fred Owens
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Thank you very much,

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sun 'n Surf in Santa Barbara

FROG HOSPITAL -- Sept. 13, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
By Fred Owens

I work part-time gardening in Santa Barbara, but this time of year is always slow, so we spend more time at the beach -- we went almost every day this week. I mean, it was brutally hot. We could walk in the park and watch trees die or go to the beach.
Four years now the drought and half the rain, and the hope of El Nino in November. The sign of El Nino is the warming ocean waters, getting to 70 degrees on Santa Barbara beaches and very welcome for swimmers and surfers.
And sharks. More sharks than we've had in the past. You know the old saying  -- Sometimes you eat the shark, and sometimes the shark eats you.
I am not sentimental. I feel equally predatory and would sooner eat the shark than have it eat me. So I think we ought to hire the captain from Jaws and have him go out and hunt sharks.
There being an environmental concern, of course. Shark populations are in decline worldwide thanks to confiscatory fishing practices. Too few globally.
But locally too many sharks and they bite people. So let's arrange to have not too many sharks, not where I'm swimming.
We often go to Hendrys Beachj, about one mile from the house. Hendrys is what people call it because the Hendrys family had a homestead here long back. On the map it says Arroyo Burro Beach.
Arroyo Burro has a small creek that flows -- trickles these days -- out of the dry, dry, bone-dry, crispy-dry hillsides -- trickling into a small lagoon.
We see ducks and herons in the lagoon, and kingfishers. Lots of birds.
The water is brackish.
The lagoon is next to the parking lot which is free. God Bless America! In America, especially in California, we have a constitutional right to park at the beach for free. And we are proud in Santa Barbara to maintain that tradition of free parking.
Park the car, grab the gear -- towel, sun screen, book, ice water, snacks, umbrella, beach chair and boogie board.
Find a place on the beach to put your towel, not too close to other people, not near loud people. These days young people don't bring loud radios to the beach. They stay glued to their smart phones and go into a silent trance with ear buds roaring musical groups I've never heard of . But parking near old people reading books is still the wiser choice. Correct towel placement is the key to a successful beach outing.
Hear the sound of the surf. Magical, soothing and timeless.

Discuss the tide with your beach buddy. Is it rising or falling? Can you see the islands out there through the mist? On a very sparkling clear day you can see all four islands -- Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel.
Observe beds of seaweed and kelp washed up on the sand. Santa Barbara channel has always had an abundance of kelp, which breaks lose in stormy weather and washes up on the beach, sometimes in big piles. Not slimy, not smelly, but a bit awkward to be wading through bits of seaweed in the shallow water -- like swimming in a salad.
Count pelicans. There's two, flying low, just barely skimming the waves, rumbling like World War II bombers over the English Channel.
Sea gulls flock together but they don't seem to actually like each other, a kind of mutual disdain. They simply do not share food. Mr. Big Boss Seagull eats first as the lesser birds watch and leap in for a quick grab. No manners whatsoever.
Stilted  shorebirds are tirelessly stalking. Grabbing little pecks of grubs and snails and morsels of sea cucumbers. Very skinny birds.
Dogs chase Frisbees into the surf.  People walk along the beach in pairs, or solo, with dogs, lost in thought or lost at sea.
The beach faces south, so the sun declines to the right. The surf changes every quarter of an hour -- getting bigger, fiercer, choppier, then getting smaller, quieter, slower, smoother.
Surfers have their own magic network. They appear out of nowhere when the surf rises and they catch those waves. We make a running commentary on the surfers as we watch from the shore. Good wave there! or Oh, too bad, nice try.

I Got Mooshed.  I hope you can see this photo of me on the beach with my broken boogie board. I tried to get on this wave. It was too big, but I had this sense of exhilaration. I launched into the wave on the boogie board, then dove head first into the sand. Fortunately the board caught the sand before my head clunked, The board broke in half. A lesson in respect. The ocean is not my friend. Not my enemy, but not my friend. The wave does what it does, not what I want it to do. I can get another boogie board. I can't get another head.
Passion. Someone was telling me about their passion. "My passion is environmental restoration." Great. Now I need to have a passion. Up until now I've just been working for a living.
Explaining the War in Syria. The war in Syria was caused by the previous war which was caused by the war before that......and so on....

Presidential Looks. Presidential candidates -- how they look matters. I am planning to vote for Hillary Clinton. She looks all right to me, about halfway between Pretty and Plain...... I mean, there's lots of issues about character and substance, and those issues are far more important than looks. But looks do matter. And sometimes they work for you and sometimes they work against you. In Hillary's case, she looks just right. Anyhow, this had come up in the conversation when He Who Will Not Be Named criticized Carly Fiorina.
Surf's Up,

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Monday, September 07, 2015

Fat Tom

FROG HOSPITAL -- September 2, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
Fat Tom
By Fred Owens
Fat Tom was the father of Seth Anderson. Seth was driving the car that night when his half-brother Eben Berriault leaned out the window with his gun and shot Scott Kinkele in the back of the head. That was in July of 2000 on Highway 20 in Skagit County, Washington.
You can't blame Fat Tom for what Seth did that night, but if you knew him and you knew Seth, you could see some traits that were passed on from father to son...
Ballistics. I am not telling this story in any orderly fashion, but as it comes to me. I made an inquiry to Lane Dexter of Newhalem, a village way up the Skagit Valley. Lane works on the Skagit River dams that send hydroelectric power to the great cities of the Pacific Northwest.
Lane takes after his father Ralph Dexter who also worked on the dams and kept a small ranch with horses near the village of Marblemount, also near the Skagit River dams.
Lane, like his father, is a skilled marksman and well-versed in ballistics, which is why I asked him about the crime on Highway 20.

Lane has been my friend since I met him in 1970 when we were both quite young. He was careful about how he answered my questions about the shooting. That's why I asked him. Lane is a steady fellow with a good heart. He helped me to examine this tragic crime in a calm manner.
Seth was driving drunk at highway speed that night. Eben Berriault was also drunk and shooting at signs and cars as they wove along the road near midnight. They pulled up behind Scott Kinkele's car. Eben leaned out the window and fired his shotgun at Kinkele, killing him instantly. Kinkele's car made a sickening slow spin across the grass meridian and came to a halt against the fence on the other side of the road. Seth and Eben kept going at high speed back to their home in Anacortes.
Eben was no experienced marksman. He was a convicted felon with no right to even possess a weapon. He was drunk and he was leaning out the window of Seth's car and firing at a moving target. Why didn't he miss? How many times did people say that or think that -- why didn't he miss? It was a bad luck shot if ever there was one.
Lane disavowed expertise or particular knowledge of the case. He only said that such an unlucky shot was possible, and could be fatal. It was more than likely that Eben would have missed, but  he didn't miss and the tragedy unfolded.

Over and Over Again

How many times has that scene played in Eben's head as he watched Kinkele's car make its sickening spin across the grass meridian? Why didn't he miss? Eben is serving a life sentence in Monroe Prison.
Seth was driving the car, and that made him culpable. He could have stopped it but he didn't. But Seth doesn't replay the scene in his mind like Eben does, over and over again. Seth left his prison cell at Walla Walla Prison as he left this world. He was found in his cell near to death in January of 2001, some six months after the murder. But I will tell that later. Now for Fat Tom, who was Seth Anderson's father.
Fat Tom. Tom Anderson grew up in East Los Angeles, of dubious parentage and casual circumstances. He was a mimic of
Cheech and Chong and seemed to know their life story personally. He served time in the Chino Correction Center for Juvenile Delinquents, although he did not say what crime brought him there. He told prison stories the way some men tell war stories or college stories.
The tragic thing about Tom was that he was so damn smart. He was seriously intelligent. He read books with complete understanding, and he was verbally adept. But he never had the chance, or never took the chance, to develop his mind.
He was a very big man. Not tall,  five foot ten inches at most. But wide. A massive chest, legs like tree trunks, arms strong as marble. He was not fat, but we called him Fat Tom because of his large big-boned frame.
He had light-brown curly hair that hung down straggly around his face and to the back of his neck. He had sparkling blue eyes and a tawny complexion. He was Irish with a dash of Hawaiian.

Fat Tom was a provider and hunter. He would dive into a dumpster and come up with ten pounds of cheese past its due date. Once he came into camp with a burlap sack full of wild honey and honey combs. He had ripped apart a rotten log with his bare hands and scooped out the honey. Many bee stings he got for that, like it was nothing. Once driving late at night, he struck and killed a deer. He stopped the bus, dressed and butchered the deer on the spot, working by flashlight. The bus riders made a camp outside of Carrizo Springs, which is a small town in South Texas near Uvalde, and ate venison for two days, inviting people from town to join them. "We're having a feast," Fat Tom said. "Plenty of venison for every one, come and join us -- and bring beer."
Another time, Fat Tom went to a farmer's field outside of Rio Grande City to harvest the honey dew melons. Maybe he asked permission, or may he didn't, but he brought a pile back to camp, a hundred melons in a heap. Everybody ate melons.
Fat Tom was a big man and like a shark -- he had to keep eating every day. His life was chaotic, he had no plan, but he took care of himself, and honestly, he didn't always ask.

He drank beer, smoked pot, smoked tobacco, liked to talk, talking all the time, telling jokes, he never got in fights.

If some guy would give him a hard time, Fat Tom would laugh it off and talk him down. Not to fight, just to have his bowl of beans and a bedroll by the campfire, that's what he wanted.
This was in 1973. Eva Sue had been married to the father of Eben Berriault. They were living in Berkley, California, but they divorced. Eva Sue went back to the logging country near Mount Shasta, bringing Eben and his younger brother Jesse with her, settling in Fall River Mills, a small town. She soon got restless and got some wild ideas, to live like a gypsy and go from place to place, to live from day to day. She made a pack and a bedroll for herself and those two kids and hitched a ride down to Arizona, right down near the Mexican border, near a town called Arivaca, going to a hippie camp called California Gulch.
These border camps like California Gulch never seemed to belong to anybody back then, good for maniacs, free spirits, mystics and criminals, and hard to tell the saints from the sinners, but you took your chances, and if you wanted to be somebody else, you could be somebody else. Nobody would ask questions, or expect an answer.
Eva Sue met Fat Tom at California Gulch, but they did not become a couple right off. Instead they set off on a hippie bus for South Texas to make the peyote ritual, which is a cactus type of hallucinogenic, guaranteed, upon consumption, to make loopy people even loopier.
Lots of things happened on that hippie bus. They all ended up in Michoucan way down in Mexico and hardly knew how they got there. The bus broke down. So they all left the bus and went their separate ways. Fat Tom got arrested by the Mexican Police for being an illegal immigrant. He had no papers and no money, and no visible means of support. They deported him back to America. Years later Fat Tom made a funny story out of  that. "I was a wetback in Mexico and they threw me out, ha ha!"
Fat Tom caught up with Eva Sue again, plus Eben and Jesse -- remember those boys, 8 and 10 years of age, were riding on this bus along with the gang -- but Fat Tom and Eva Sue wanted to get off the road and end the migrant life, so they moved to Montana and got a cabin and lived there for several years.
Fat Tom did farm and ranch work, steady enough. Eva took his last name and became Eva Anderson. They had two children, Seth, born in 1977 and  Grace Anderson, born several years later. You know about Seth and his crime and that is why I am writing this story.
But let me finish Fat Tom's story. Fat Tom did not take too well to settled life with a family. Life is very hard in Montana, especially in the wintertime. He began to drink a lot more than ever and became less reliable and may have been abusive -- I'm not sure about that last part and I hope it's not true, but I can see Fat Tom just kind of giving up on things, like he was never going to make it in the real world, and Eva Sue got tired of pretending that he would make it, so she packed up the kids, five of them by now, and two of them with Fat Tom. She packed up her things and her children and moved to Wenatchee in Washington state.
I lost track of Fat Tom after Eva Sue left him. He must have drifted around. Once he came up to Washington to see Eva Sue and the kids and that's where I saw him for the last time. He was still trying to make a joke out of everything, but I was tired of the joke and did not enjoy his company.
He went back to  the old streets of East Los Angeles, down and out, sleeping in his car, drunk every day and they found him in his car, dead.
Tom Anderson was a good man in his way and he meant well. He deserves a Requiem.

Like Father, Like Son. Seth Anderson was like his dad, and I mean that in a good way. Seth was a provider and a hunter and he wanted to take care of people. He wanted to love somebody. He wanted to do things that would make his mother proud. He almost made it, but I will tell how Seth's life ended at age 23 in the next and last part of this story, coming soon.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2015

it could be worse

FROG HOSPITAL -- Sept. 2, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
It Could Be Worse
By Fred Owens
I support Hillary Clinton for President. She is competent if uninspiring. She'll do, as they say. She needs a nickname, so let's call her Old Bones. She needs a slogan, so we can say "It could be worse." She gets my vote if the election were held today.

Hillary is the safe, moderate, middle of the road choice. Who needs excitement? I can watch excitement on TV.

Naming Names
The symbols of the season are changing. First the confederate flag went down and the junior high school that was named after Robert E. Lee goes by Harriet Tubman now. Next, Mount McKinley becomes Denali, as many Alaskans prefer.
Andrew Jackson will not last long on the twenty dollar bill. If it has to be changed, I would pick Eleanor Roosevelt.

Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, buying the territory from the Emperor Napolean without consulting the inhabitants. He will be criticized for that land grab, and apologies will be made. Jefferson's reputation will be downgraded a notch, but he will remain in the pantheon of American heroes.

The Washington Redskins are privately owned. The team will change it's name when it loses fan support and corporate revenue.

That leaves Columbus Day, a looming target. It gets personal here. Christopher Columbus is one of my heroes. Columbus is the Great Navigator, he is an inspiration to all who are lost. He discovered the New World, although the people who got discovered did not know who the hell he was. October 12, 1492 is one of the most important dates in human history. On that day the world changed and the human race became united. I celebrate that day, although many do not.
Few people care about Columbus anymore, so look for his holiday to disappear or change, under pressure from native American groups who are on a winning streak now.
Climate Change is a Business Opportunity. It's as simple as spreading mulch instead of planting grass if you are in the landscaping business. Or if you have a plant nursery, you discontinue azaleas and stock up on succulents.
If you're in the building trades and the prediction is for warmer winters and hot summers, then the heating-cooling systems need to be changed and there's money to be made doing this. Invest in air conditioning.
The prediction is for rising seas. If you're in real estate, invest in higher ground.

On a bigger scale, if the Arctic ice cap keeps receding, then you plan on new shipping routes on the Northern Way.
My advice to young men and women starting out in life is this -- every change in the weather creates new jobs. When the flood comes, sell hip boots.
Fat Tom.  In the next issue I will continue the story about the Murder on Highway 20. This happened July 28 of 2000 in Skagit County around midnight. Naval officer Scott Kinkele was returning from a day's hike on Mt. Rainier. Eben Berriault and his half-brother Seth Anderson were on a spree of reckless abandon, speeding down the highway, driving drunk and shooting at signs and other vehicles. They pulled up behind Kinkele's car. Eben leaned out the window and shot Kinkele in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Kinkele slumped over the wheel and his car lurched sickeningly across the grass median strip and came to a halt on the other side of the highway. Eben and Seth kept going, back to their home in Anacortes. It was a shocking crime.
The story for next week is about Fat Tom. He was Seth Anderson's father.  Fat Tom was a good man, in his way .... but ..... but you will hear about him next week.
Frog Hospital Grows. We received a $50 subscription from a good friend in Boston. That brings us to $400 for the year. Our goal is $4,000, so we have a long way to go. -- notice the editorial "we."  Actually it's just me. Frog Hospital is honest work. Your check or PayPal donation will be greatly appreciated.
Take the money you were going to send to PBS. I need it more than they do. Sure, you like Bernie Sanders. Give him $20 and give me $20. Hillary Clinton has millions, she should be sending me money, for
Pete's sake.
Who's Pete?

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
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Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Murder on Highway 20

FROG HOSPITAL – August 26, 2015 – unsubscribe anytime
Murder on Highway 20
By Fred Owens
Eben Berriault shot and killed naval officer Scott Kinkele on Highway 20 in Skagit County. It was just past midnight on Friday, July 28, 2000. The prosecutor termed it a “thrill killing.” Berriault was convicted of first degree murder and is serving a 55-year sentence at Monroe Prison. This story is based on news accounts of the crime and my personal contact with Eben Berriault. It is not an objective account. I have known Eben since he was nine-years-old.
I wrote a letter to Eben Berriault. He's been in prison for fifteen years. I have not contacted him since the day he got arrested in 2000. I was at his house the day he got arrested, but I left before the cops came. Eben is somewhat notorious in Anacortes where he used to live. He was convicted of the murder of Scott Kinkele one night on Highway 20..... For that crime he was given a 55-year sentence..... Serving it in Monroe prison....Eben's mother and his wife and his two children visit him often and they have told me how he is getting along in prison.... But today I wrote him a letter. He can write back if he wants too. Or not..... I've known him since he was a blonde-haired nine-year-old boy playing and running around.... It's a common thing to hear people say this, but I never expected him to be spending his life in prison.....Why did he do it? To be honest, I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I know such a man. At the time of his arrest and conviction I kept my mouth shut and would not stand with him in court. His crime horrified people. His crime horrified me as well and I wished I had never known him or his family. But I do know them quite well. 
Eben and his brother Seth and I had talked about going fishing in Seth's new boat. We can go out in the channel and catch some salmon, I told them -- but instead they decided to run up to Mount Baker and go poaching a deer. That's when they got drunk and on the way home from the mountain they shot and killed Scott Kinkele..... Why didn't they go fishing with me? Nothing would have happened. I was a bit of a Scoutmaster to Eben and his brother and we would have drunk plenty of beers and broken a few fish and game regulations but nothing more than that.
Rhonda McLaughlin wrote to me on FB, “I was approximately 10 minutes ahead of this on my first night back to work after having a baby! I was heading home from LaConner to Anacortes on 20. I still get chills to this day when I pass the trees on the highway! So senseless!”
State Highway 20 runs all across Skagit County, from the Cascade Mountain Pass to the ferry landing in Anacortes. But it was on that stretch of highway past the Farmhouse Inn and just short of the bridge, where Eben Berriault murdered Scott Kinkele and left him for dead.
I have no understanding of why Eben shot Kinkele in the back, but I do understand about where it happened. That stretch of the highway has no soul. No soul. No spirit. No life. It is nowhere. No angels, no fairies, no ancestral ghosts. Only emptiness. The devil comes to earth in places like that. The devil waits until his people come to play out their evil purpose. Eben comes. His brother Seth comes driving drunk. Kinkele comes innocently, after stopping to buy gas. Did Kinkele know he had an appointment with Eben and his shot gun?
 The bridge over Swinomish Channel is named after Duane Berentson, a prominent local politician. The Farmhouse Inn was established by Torre Dybfest, a popular man who knew how to feed people and make good money doing that. The train tracks run parallel to the highway and out to the refineries, but were hardly ever used in 2000. Across the highway from the Farmhouse Inn was a seed company cleaning station. Across the Duane Berentson Bridge is the Swinomish Casino, source of new wealth for the tribe.
It was on that stretch of the highway between the Farmhouse Inn and the bridge where the crime took place. Not a bad place, but an empty place – so it seemed to me. That was my own emotional reaction to the crime in July of 2000 – I was not surprised it happened there.
You ask why. Why did Eben do it? Why did he pick that car, with that driver, at that time, on that stretch of the highway. Why?
Eben was not angry, not as I knew him, but he had this emptiness in him, an empty place in his psyche,  a blank space, vacant and missing.
In 1983 in Wenatchee, he was 19 years old and hanging out with Chipper and Bear from the STP family. Chipper and Bear were very dangerous, violent men and why he was drawn to them and their people I’ll never know. There was a drunken party around a campfire, then a fight, then guys came at someone with rocks, then rocks and kicks and the guy died, then they took his wallet and ran off. Eben was there and he was arrested for that and they got him to testify against the others in exchange for “only” a five-year sentence for manslaughter. Since he testified against the others, he was a marked man in prison society and served all five years in protective custody, which is very restrictive.
Eben was 19 when he went to prison and he didn’t do it – kill the guy – but he was there and that was enough and he wasn’t one to complain and say he got a raw deal. As I said, he never appeared angry, but there was this empty spot in him.
He was in prison out by Port Angeles and then for the last year of his sentence he was in Monroe prison. I remember seeing him the day after he got out. His mom came over to Mount Vernon to visit us on the farm – Eben and his mom, Eva Anderson, his brother, Jesse Berriault, his other younger brother Seth Anderson, and his two younger sisters, Ruby and Grace. They all came to see us at the farm and Eben had just gotten out of prison. He was in a state of electric shock. It was very strange to me – his extra-pale skin, his over-built muscles from confinement and weight-lifting, his super tension, like a five-year wound-up spring.
That was 1988. Eben lived with his family in Anacortes after that. He met and married a wonderful, sensible, caring woman – a black woman  from Belize. He really got lucky, to meet and marry her, she was a treasure. It seemed things were going well, on a steady track. They had two children and Eben worked construction, not steady but often enough, and drinking his beers at home and not too many beers. It seemed the bad times were all over, and 12 years passed since he got out of prison in 1988 until that night on Highway 20 when he shot and killed Scott Kinkele.
There was no reason to kill Kinkele. The prosecuting attorney called it a “thrill killing,” but that is not the right word. I don’t know the right word for what Eben did. There is no right word. He shot Kinkele and Kinkele died.
Dylann Roof shot and killed nine African-American church ladies in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a crime that shocked the nation, but Roof had a reason – he hated black people.
Eben didn’t hate anyone. He wasn’t angry, just empty and vacant enough for a bad spirit to enter him and take over his soul and get him to fire the weapon. That’s the best I can come up with. Crime – murder -- is that which does not make sense. Justice is how we make sense out of a crime. It made sense for the court to give Eben a life sentence in prison, a fifty-five year sentence to be exact. He belongs in prison.
I excuse him for the murder in Wenatchee in 1983 when he was 19. The way you clear him of that crime is to say the guy would have gotten killed in a brawl whether Eben was there or not there. Eben was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and got a conviction for manslaughter. I knew those guys from the STP Family, and you come near them once and you never come near them again because they were very bad and violent. Eben didn’t do that. He hung around and ended up in prison.
But I don’t clear him of the murder on Highway 20. It was all his fault. He shot Kinkele for no reason. Kinkele was a naval officer, a graduate of Annapolis with everything to live for, but he died, and the woman he was meant to love and marry never met him, and the loving children he was meant to have were never born. Scott Kinkele was too young and his loss rippled across the world. His mother died three years later, of some medical condition to be sure, but truly of grief and anger over the loss of her son.  Eben’s younger brother Seth was driving the car that night. Seth was sentenced to 38 years at Walla Walla prison, but six months into his sentence he hung himself in his cell. So all those people suffered and died because of what Eben did. He belongs in prison for life.
His family, his wife and kids, and his mother, have always stood by him and visit him often.
Frog Hospital Subscriptions. We have taken in $350 from subscriptions so far this year and we are most grateful, but let’s aim higher, let’s aim for ten times that amount, let’s aim for $3,500. Keep those checks and PayPal payments coming in. And send me the name and email addresses of your friends, so that we can expand the Frog Hospital family.
Thank you very much.
Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Life Begins

FROG HOSPITAL -- August 15, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
New Life Begins
By Fred Owens
New life arrives, begins, challenges, dares, evolves, fails, grinds, hankers, idealizes, jams, kicks, loses, matters, needs, opines, quits, rules, says, takes, underscores, values, wins, xonerates, yields, zings!
When does life begin? When did my life begin?
I was born on a Tuesday in June of 1946. I get this from the birth certificate. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, at Evanston Hospital. My parents checked into the hospital at 5:45 a.m. and I was born at 7:58 a.m. -- two hours later. I was my mother's fourth child. It didn't take long. I was going to write "an easy delivery," but I am not qualified to say that.

I imagine Fred and Marie waking up late that night and knowing it was time to go to the hospital -- the fourth time, with less drama. Mary Elizabeth, Tommy and Carolyn were all asleep. My parents must have arranged a babysitter for them. Some relative who was easily reached by telephone? I don't know.

Fred and Marie rented a three-bedroom stucco bungalow at 2646 Prairie Avenue, hardly a five-minute drive to the hospital. Fred commuted downtown to work. It was a short walk to the Northwestern station on Central Street. My birth certificate describes him as "salesman, magazine" -- he sold ads for the Sporting Goods Dealer. Dad was typical of a salesman in that he dressed very well and was very sociable, quick to pick up a check. He was an untypical salesman in that he didn't talk very much. Maybe that's why everybody like him -- he was a good listener.
He was 41 at the time of my birth, born in St. Louis, Missouri. Full name: Frederic Edward Owens. Mother was 31. Full maiden name: Marie Roselyn Cuny. Occupation: housewife. She was born in Chicago.
It was her folks they probably called early in the morning to come and watch the kids. They lived maybe twenty minutes away, an easy drive at 5 o'clock in the morning. It would have been Aunt Carolyn. She had a job downtown on LaSalle Street, a legal secretary. She kept that job for more than forty years, but that day, June 25, 1946, she woke up to hear the phone ring at 5 a.m. and she knew right away why the phone was ringing. And she knew that meant skipping work, to baby sit my older siblings, Mary Elizabeth, 7, Thomas Joseph, 4, and Carolyn Therese, 2.
I was born at 7:58 a.m. The birth certificate does not say how much I weighed, although I remember mom telling me I was a nine-pounder. I was named Frederic Edward Owens Jr. after my father. I was born a male, after nine months of pregnancy. In the box marked legitimate, it was checked off yes. I was legitimate.
My parents were both white. They were also both Roman Catholic, but it doesn't say that on the birth certificate.
My eyes were treated with Argyrol 20 % which is silver nitrate, commonly used to prevent some kind of eye disease.
I was a healthy baby. Mom stayed in the hospital several days, as was the practice in those days. Tuesday, the day of my birth, Dad would have taken the day off, but he likely went back to work on Wednesday.
Then who watched the three kids at home while Mom was resting at the hospital?  I don't know. Aunt Carolyn had to get back to work too.
Having four kids now and needing more room, and Dad doing well on the job, my parents bought a house at 1612 Forest Ave. in Wilmette, about one mile north of the Prairie Avenue rental. Both houses are still there, made of stucco and not changed very much. My Dad died in 1974. My sister Mary Elizabeth also died that year. My mother lived until 1996, making fifty years in that Wilmette house.
Henry Zettelman, M.D. delivered the baby -- I aImost forgot that.
You Can't Be President.  Every day Bernie Sanders wakes up and someone tells him he can't be President. "You're a good guy, Bernie, but you haven't got a chance."
So if all the people who "can't be President" voted for Bernie, he would win in a landslide.
It is dismissive and smug to state that he "can't win,"  as if Sanders and his supporters are fools to even try.
California California farm exports to China will decrease because of the devaluation of the Chinese yuan according to this story in the Los Angeles Times

California farmers sold $2.3 billion in agricultural products to China in 2012, with almonds, dairy products, wine, walnuts and pistachios making up the top five products, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. That number will
be lower in 2015.

The Bail Trap.
This New York Times magazine article describes many thousands of prisoners held in county jails because they cannot post bail. This needs to stop.

A rich man gets a mansion and a poor man rents a flat -- fair enough. But if the rich man commits a crime he can post bail and sleep in his own bed while the poor man rots in his jail cell. This is not fair, and it can be remedied. Bail needs to be set in proportion to the crime and set low enough for the poor man.    Sandra Bland, who died in her Texas jail cell, might still be alive if her bail had been set at $100 instead of $500...... Her arrest served no purpose, but leaving that aside, a $500 bail was too high.....and she need not have died in custody.
Personal Stuff

I Don't Get It. I don't get it. I never got it. I may have had it a long time ago, but I forgot where I put it. Did you take it? Can I have it back?

Wendell Berry gets a medal and I don't. President Obama invited Wendell Berry to the White House and gave him a medal. Why does he get a medal and not me? He's an environmental activist and talented writer. So am I. Where's my parade? I look in the mirror and figure I'm just as good as Wendell Berry.
Just last week I rescued a drought-damaged camellia. It almost certainly would have died without my emergency care, but did I get a medal? A phone call from President Obama?

Harriet Spanel. Former Washington State Senator Harriet Spanel has been a long-time reader of Frog Hospital. I appreciate her interest and support.. She mailed me a check for $25 to help keep it going. And you can send your check today, or pay on PayPal. Frog Hospital is growing and ready to reach a higher level and we need your help to get there.

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105


Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Camellias in Distress

 Almost overnight Donald Trump got too boring to talk about, so I bumped him to the end of the newsletter, and will lead with this garden melodrama.

I had a camellia just up and die -- over at my customer's yard, by her front door. It had looked poorly with yellowing leaves, but then last week it just went south and all the leaves turned brown and crinkly, not a single green leaf. I went into emergency treatment for what it was worth -- I did some radical pruning and made the camellia smaller by half, figuring to lighten the load. Then I flooded it with water.
The radical pruning and flood of water might shock it back to life. Or not.
I figure we're going to lose a lot of trees around here because of the drought. Trees have a way of not showing signs. One day they look fine, next day they're dead. It's like their running on reserve energy and one day the tank is empty and that puts the kibosh.
Gonna lose a lot of trees. Have to plant more trees is all I can think to say.

Drought News. Californians statewide have reduced their water use by 27 percent and this is without threat of fine or punishment. It seems we are all pitching in as best we can. Walking neighborhoods I see many lawns taken out. The water agency gives a cash rebate for lawn removal as an incentive, and that fund is fully subscribed. This is a non-coercive program that is working and saving a lot of water.
California agriculture uses 80 percent of all water in the state. This is a good thing. Farms should get most of the water. It's food, it's fiber and it's jobs. All good. Farmers are facing cutbacks equal to or greater than residential users.
The only crop I have researched fully is the local avocado crop here in Santa Barbara. Having studied the numbers, acreage, crop yield, etc., having interviewed the growers and interviewed the water agencies, I found the facts are clear that the avocado growers are getting squeezed much harder than residential users. Nobody has it easy.
El Nino. The air is humid and the ocean is warm -- signs of El Nino and autumn rain. This could be good.

Work. I have had a hard time finding garden work. My girl friend says it's the drought and people just aren't doing much. I think it's my age and people don't want me to keel over dead on their property. They won't come right out and say that, but I know what they're thinking. I suppose I do not convey youthful vigor. And the fact is that I keep shifting the context -- from hard manual labor to the finesse work more suitable to my senior status -- pruning the roses.

Besides that, I am getting particular about who I work for. Like the lady last week -- I did this high quality pruning job for her which required the ability to speak and understand the English language, so that I was able to do it precisely the way she wanted it done.

When I was finished, I told her how much and she haggled me over the bill,  -- cheapskate!  I don't need that grief, although there is not much I can do about it. Santa Barbara is flooded with immigrant labor and people are used to getting their yard work done for very little.
I'll say it again. When the environmental age comes the gardener will be paid as much as the plumber, but we're not there yet.

Figgie Jam. Fig trees grow at the Mesa Harmony Community Garden where I volunteer. We never water them -- they laugh at the drought and bear fruit regardless. I picked a sampling of figs and gave some to Heidi at the liquor store. She's from Syria, where figs are a staple of life. Her family is from Homs, in Syria where most of the city is destroyed by the civil war. Her family is killed, wounded, in hiding and in exile, and she won't talk about it. But I gave her the figs and she smiled brightly.
The other figs I took home and cut them up, threw them in a pot with sugar and cooked them into figgie jam  --  delicious, tender, green figgie jam.
A few days later more figs ripened. I picked five pounds and brought them to the local Food Bank.
And more figs are coming. Fig trees are laughing at the drought, roots down deep and built to last.

Free Speech. I don't know who makes the rules, and I don't know what the rules are. I know what the rules used to be -- in matters of  polite discourse in mixed company. Even using the term "mixed company" dates me.

There was a double standard, back when there were only two sexes -- one way to treat women, another way to treat men. I thought an adjustment was in order but I can't believe they want to throw out the whole program.

It  gets confusing. Now there's like a quadruple standard for four sexes and countless gender variations. One cannot make assumptions. Like someone calls you and says "This is Ralph."  He's a guy, right? Are you sure?

You have sex in left field and gender in right field, and a hole in the culture as wide as a jumbo jet. Donald Trump just flew right through it. You say he broke the rules -- what rules?

The rules keep changing and people don't know how to behave. There is no agreement and no consensus. There is no arbiter, no editor, no referee,  no captain. The storm is raging and it's every man -- belay that! -- every person for his or herself.
Turmoil. Disruption. Chaos.

The Haircut. I went to the Mesa Barber Shop last Thursday, 8 a.m., for a haircut. I got in the chair and told a Donald Trump joke. "Maybe he's a got a billion dollars and a private jet, but I have a better haircut." Nobody laughed. Maybe it's not a funny joke. Or maybe it's because all the barbers are Mexican, and all the customers too, except for me and they don't like Donald Trump and it's not funny.
Well, I got a good haircut and left a good tip.
It is a hall mark of cultural interaction to make blundering statements. In fact, such blundering, embarrassing statements are an important part of the process. Never apologize. Never rehearse. Just keep going. Avoid sensitivity training at all costs. Don't try to say the right thing -- just blurt it out.
Although saying "you people......" usually doesn't work.
Sweet Santa Barbara. Please disregard any complaints I make. I live near the beach in Santa Barbara with a beautiful woman.

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital