Miraloma Life Online – September 2008

  • Help the Fight Against Graffiti in Miraloma Park
  • Proposed Change in Muni Bus Route 36 (The Thing That Wouldn’t Die)
  • MPIC is grateful to City Attorney Herrera
  • Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines
  • Disaster Meeting Place
  • Things to Consider When Replacing Your Front Windows
  • Legal Ease
  • Obituary: Martha C. Haywood
  • Autism, Play Groups, Filmmaking
  • MPIC Election
  • Save This Date – Back by Popular Demand
  • Sunnyside is the Party Park
  • November Ballot Measures (Part I)
  • No Offense Taken
  • Catch (a poem)

Help the Fight Against Graffiti in Miraloma Park

by Mike Naughton, President, MPIC

Our neighborhood is almost always graffiti-free, by no accident or run of good fortune.  This is due largely to the efforts a small group of Miraloma Park residents who take matters into their own hands.   The city has moved in the right direction cleaning up tags and stepping up efforts to prosecute offenders, but community involvement is the only proven solution for keeping the problem under control.

Stemming the recurrence of graffiti is through immediate removal.  Obliterating a graffiti tag destroys the tagger’s visibility and attention, and sends a clear signal to the offender that this is not tolerated.   Eventually, they go elsewhere.  But it returns, so constant vigilance and quick action is the key to staying ahead of the problem.

Immediate removal doesn’t always mean restoration.  Painting over a tag with whatever paint is handy gets the job done quickly.  Restoring the property with matching paint may have to come later.  The important thing is to get rid of the tag immediately.

Anytime you see graffiti on any piece of public property, such as mailboxes, light poles, traffic signs and signal boxes, please cal 311.  They will send DPW to clean it.  You can also report private property.  The city’s Graffiti Removal and Abatement ordinance requires property owners to remove
graffiti within 30 days.  The city will serve notice and take action against non-compliant property owners.  Thirty days of course, is entirely too long for a tag to remain visible.  Private property owners must take the initiative to abate the problem immediately.

The city cannot keep up with this problem, nor are all property owners quick to clean vandalism on their property.  Our local team of volunteers is the key to Miraloma Park’s success.  Please join us in keeping our neighborhood as graffiti-free as possible by contacting Sue Kirkham of the MPIC at 281-0892.  She will provide instruction and help you obtain cleaning supplies.

 

 

Proposed Change in Muni Bus Route 36 (The Thing That Wouldn’t Die)

by Karen Wood

Last June, Miraloma Life reported Muni’s plan to eliminate 36 line service north of Reposa Way to the Portola Drive business area, Forest Hill Station, and points north.

MPIC posted flyers throughout the neighborhood asking residents to oppose this planned route change via calls to 311 or by contacting MTA online. Other West of Twin Peaks neighborhoods— Forest Knolls and Midtown Terrace—would also lose their 36 service. To support our efforts, Mollie Stone’s made check stand space available for MPIC petitions, which collected more than 1,100 signatures! Thanks to intervention by District 7 Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who met with MPIC to discuss our concerns and took action, the plan to eliminate this important segment of the 36 bus route was significantly modified to restore service north of Reposa Way to Forest Hill Station.

However, the current revised plan does not provide for 36 service to the Myra/Dalewood/Lansdale turnaround—which MPIC had advocated to protect. In addition, it proposes to re-route service onto Bella Vista (see map and summary at http://www.sfmta.com/cms/mtep/documents/proposals/rte_036.pdf). Here is a summary taken from the SFMTA website:

Summary of [MTA] Staff Recommendations for 36-Teresita:
· Recommended for Van Service to better match passenger loads and road geometry Southern portion of route would be redesigned to cover a portion of the 26-Valencia along Chenery St. (ending at 29th & Mission);
· Would serve Glen Park BART instead of Balboa Park BART via Monterey Blvd;
· Would be rerouted on Mount Davidson to use Bella Vista Way between Teresita Blvd and Myra Way, eliminating turnaround on Myra Way; service on Teresita between Myra and Bella Vista would be eliminated [our italics];
· Service to Forest Knolls (via Warren Drive) would be eliminated; service to Midtown Terrace would be unchanged.

 Bella Vista neighbors and others have organized in opposition to this planned re-routing of bus service along Bella Vista and Molimo. Here is their position, which is supported by an MPIC resolution:

1) There has been no compelling reason to make the change. There are no traffic counts, no pedestrian studies, no community meetings and no prior notice.

2) There are six intersections along Bella Vista, as opposed to only one on Myra, five are uncontrolled and many have blind spots as you turn onto Bella Vista

3) There are blind spots due to elevation changes and turns. Gaviota to Dorcas and Dorcas to the mid-point of the block of Bella Vista between Dorcas and Molimo

4) The hard right turn from Bella Vista onto Molimo. Nothing larger than a mini-van can make it without doing a three point turn

5) The steepness and narrowness of Molimo as it rises to Myra. There are also more homes facing the street on Molimo than on Reposa.

6) There have been accidents at the intersection of Molimo and Bella Vista for years where vehicles have not been able to stop and cars and homes have been hit.

7) The impact of access for parents at Miraloma with the bus now circling the school, running on both Bella Vista and Myra in both directions

8) There are elderly residents of not only Miraloma Park but Sherwood Forest that would have to walk up and down the hill to catch a bus to take them the market.

MTA will hear public comment on the plan September 16. Concerned neighbors in the immediate vicinity of the route change have organized as Bella Vista Neighbors in Action and are circulating a petition opposing the route change to be submitted to the MTA Board. (For information contact Jed Lane at jed@jedlane.com).

 

MPIC is grateful to City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera

 for his recent assistance in abating a drug house in Miraloma Park. 

The Code Enforcement Division of the City Attorney’s Office has been of tremendous help to MPIC in our work to preserve safety and quality of life in our neighborhood by actively promoting compliance with Municipal Code provisions and in abating illegal activity in MP.
 

Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines

The Miraloma Park Residential Guidelines were adopted in 1999 by the City Planning Commission to promote preservation of neighborhood character by encouraging residential design compatible with neighborhood setting.  Residential Design Guidelines can facilitate the complex and often frustrating process of permit application and design review and can prevent costly and time-consuming Discretionary Review proceedings. Guidelines at www.miralomapark.org.
 

                    
Disaster Meeting Place

When disaster strikes, go to the NERT Incident Command Center at Miraloma Playground (Omar Way & Sequoia Way).   Rescue services, securing resources like food, water, shelter and medical services will be provided by trained volunteers.

 

Things to Consider When Replacing Your Front Windows

by Cassandra Mettling-Davis, Architect

One of the most cost-effective home improvements you can make is to replace drafty single pane windows with new double pane windows.  Many homeowners in Miraloma Park had their windows replaced in the 1970s with “modern” aluminum windows, to take advantage of their “no maintenance” feature. These single pane windows lose more heat from your home than single pane wood windows, and mold and water damage can result from condensation. And more importantly, aluminum windows are an inappropriate choice for the style of most homes in our neighborhood in terms of proportion and materials. 

Few homes still have the original wood windows, but if you search carefully, you may be able to find a relevant example.  You can see that the proportions and style of the original wood windows often add charm and character to those homes.  I recently had my aluminum windows replaced with wood windows, and used a nearby example to get clues on the original configuration.  I also looked carefully at the frame of my windows to see if I could find any scars on where the structural mullions used to be, and used this information to design new windows that replicate the originals.

For existing homes, there are two general installation techniques: retrofit or new construction.  Retrofit windows fit inside your existing frame, similar to the way aluminum windows were installed.  New construction windows require that the exterior siding or stucco be removed so that the window fins can be attached to the face of the building.  Then waterproofing is applied and the stucco gets patched.  This method is more time consuming and expensive but if you have existing leaks around your windows, this method may correct the problem.

Material selection:  I opted to use custom-made wood windows, constructed out of Douglas Fir.  Other choices that would be appropriate may include aluminum clad windows, which are wood but the exteriors have aluminum skin that will offer ultimate protection from the elements.  An advantage these clad windows offer is that they never need to be painted, but you are stuck with the color you order.  Manufactured clad windows may have limited choices with regard to operation and muntin sizes. Vinyl windows are less expensive, are usually white and cannot be painted, but perform well.  Aesthetically, they are not recommended for the front of a house.  Another choice may indeed be metal windows for those homes where metal frames were original and fit the architectural style.  These are typically modern 1960s homes, which can be found on some areas of Myra Way, for example.  If these needed replacement, I would recommend double paned metal windows to replicate the original intent of the design, while improving energy efficiency.

Operation:  There are several types of window operations to consider.  Double hung is the most common, which slides vertically, often found on the original pre-1960 Miraloma Park home.  A disadvantage of double hungs are that the middle rails can interfere with the view.  Windows that slide horizontally are called sliders. Casements are windows that hinge on one side, opening like a door, and allow a large opening.  One must make sure that the egress code requirements are met (see below).  There are also awning style windows that hinge from the top and open out.  Less typical for homes are the hopper style that hinge from the bottom and open in, and are more likely to be found in industrial type buildings.  And windows that do not operate are referred to as fixed or picture windows.  Original front window configurations in Miraloma Park often used a combination of these window types.

Code Requirements:  Bedroom windows, or windows in any room that could be considered a sleeping room, must be sized to comply with egress requirements (ability to escape or be rescued in an emergency).  In some cases, original double hung windows were replaced with large aluminum windows with openings that are too narrow to provide the required width needed for egress.  So if you replace bedroom windows, you need to make sure they comply with minimum clear width (20″), height (24″), and sill height (44″ maximum) requirements.  A 20″ wide casement does not provide the minimum clear width when in the open position due to the hinge and thickness of the sash.  Most reputable window installers will not sell you windows that do not comply with these dimensions.  Other code considerations are the use of safety glass (tempered or laminated glass) in areas where broken glass could cause harm, such as close to the floor, in or near stairways and within a certain distance of a door swing.

Window Components:  The sash is the moveable part of a window that holds the glass. For example, a double hung window has two sashes, the upper and lower sash. Each piece of glass is referred to  as a “lite.”  Mullions are typically vertical (but sometimes horizontal) structural members that separate window units.  Muntins are the smaller horizontal or vertical bars that separate glass within a sash.  Most modern windows with muntins have SDLs (simulated divided lites) where the glass is continuous with the muntins glued to each side of the glass to resemble separate panes.  The sashes are attach- ed to a frame, which is attached to the building. The sides of the frame are called the jambs, the top is the header jamb and the sill is on the bottom, sloped to shed water.  On the inside, the flat bottom is the stool, applied after the window is installed. It is
important to know the names of these components in order to communicate with your window fabricator or installer.

If you replace your windows, you may order the units from a dealer or custom fabricator, and then hire a contractor to install the units.  There are advantages of using a fabricator who also installs, so if there is any problem, you are dealing with only one entity.  Another approach is to hire a contractor, who will purchase the units directly, also to make sure you are dealing with only one entity responsible for the product and installation.  Make sure that you check your contractor’s references and his/her license status with the Contractors State Licensing Board.  Request that all agreements be in writing along with the installation and window warranty.

Other items you need to consider are the quality, style and finish of any window hardware. You may end up needing to replace the casing (interior trim).  Find out if the contractor will replace the trim to match existing because in many cases it may need to be custom milled to match all of the other door and window trim in your house.  There will inevitably be patching and painting required once the installation is complete.

Good quality windows are expensive.  It is important that you take the time to research your options to make the best choice.  Replacement windows add direct value to the price of your home, will provide substantial energy savings, and quiet street noise.  With the right choices, your windows should last a lifetime and enhance the look of your home. 

 

Legal Ease

by Mary Catherine Wiederhold, Esq.

This column will discuss the preliminary process of small claims court, the next column will discuss the actual court process, and a third column in this series will discuss appealing a small claims court decision. 

If you are suing someone or a business in small claims court or have been sued, I recommend reading ‘The Small Claims Court’ published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. After reading this guide, if you still have questions, the San Francisco Superior Court provides an advisor to answer questions.  In general, claims involving two people or a business and a person is limited to $7,500 whereas disputes between businesses are limited to $5,000.  Some disputes that might be resolved in small claims court are: you lent money to a friend and she refuses to repay it, your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid or your tenant caused damage to the apartment in an amount that exceeded their security deposit. Usually, the small claims court will hear the case thirty to forty days after the paperwork or claim is filed.

A first step before you sue is to determine whether going to small claims court is the best way to resolve your dispute.  If you owe money, it may be worth paying a bit more than you believe you owe just to end the dispute.  If the dispute goes to court and results in a judgment against you, the amount you owe may be increased by court costs and interest, and the judgment will be noted in your credit record.  A second step is to consider if your dispute can be resolved by using other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation through the San Francisco community board.  In San Francisco, mediation is also available through on the day of the hearing in small claims court.

With certain exceptions, anyone can sue or be sued in small claims court, and generally all parties represent themselves.  A person who files a small claims action is called the plaintiff whereas the party who is sued is called the defendant.  To either file or defend a case in small claims court, you must be at lease eighteen years old, mentally competent, fill out the forms and pay a filing fee. Currently the filing fee for a claim with $7,500 in damages is $75.  Spouses may represent each other in a small claims court action if they have a joint interest in the claim or defense and the represented spouse has given his or her consent.  However, one spouse may not represent the other spouse if the court decides that justice would not be served–such as where their interests are not the same or might conflict.
 

 

Obituary: Martha C. Haywood

by Dan Liberthson

The MPIC Board is saddened by the unexpected loss in early June of Martha Haywood, stricken by a fatal heart attack. Martha was formerly President of the MPIC (1994-96) and the wife of Jim O’Donnell, an MPIC past president and currently a Board member. A resident of Miraloma Park since 1991, Martha will be remembered as a loyal friend, a talented engineer and business manager, and a person of generosity and integrity, who gave freely of her talents and energy in the service of her community.  From San Antonio, she earned a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1980 from Southern Methodist University and then began an illustrious career with several California telecommunications firms, eventually becoming Director of Engineering. In 1995, she started her own company, MSI Learning, specializing in the area of virtual teams and eLearning. Innovative and hard-working, Martha wrote a bestseller at the Project Management Institute (PMI), entitled Managing Virtual Teams (1999). She designed a new e-learning format, known as semi-synchronous, that became the basis for online courses she developed for major corporations and PMI. Although her time was taken up by her business in recent years by her business, she still volunteered as much as she could whenever asked. Martha Haywood’s loving and accomplished life ended much too soon, and she will be sorely missed by her friends, family, and community.

 

 

Autism, Play Groups, Filmmaking

Autism Social Connection is located in West Portal and is a non-profit that services children and adults with autism.  They offer high quality free play groups that are small, usually three to five kids and are guided by professionals with early childhood credentials and advanced special education degrees.  Programs are centered on integration, where typical peers are included with people on the autism spectrum. The organization offers play groups for ages 3-10 years old and classes in filmmaking and acting for ages 8 through adult.  Autism Social Connection is always looking for volunteers in the neighborhood. Contact them at 415-508-8820 or email them for info at info@autismsocialconnection.org
 

 

MPIC Election

At the June meeting, the following officers and directors were elected by a quorum of members in good standing:

Officers: President: Mike Naughton; Vice President: Gary Noguera;
Treasurer: Phil Laird; Sergeant at Arms: Joanne Whitney

Directors: Phil Laird, Joanne Whitney, JoAnn Eastep, Gary Isaacson, Cassandra Mettling-Davis, Karen Wood, Jim O’Donnell, Robert Gee, Jim Ilardo, Jed Lane, Pam Dickey

Congratulations to all on their election. A complete list of currently serving officers and directors is on the back page of this newsletter.

 

 

Save This Date – Back by Popular Demand

The always well received and well attended Candidates’ Night and Political Forum will take place on Sunday, October 19 at the MPIC Clubhouse from 3-5 pm.  Candidates for District 7 Supervisor will discuss their positions on the major propositions and will field questions from the audience.  As always, our savvy board member Jim O’Donnell will be moderator.

 

 

Sunnyside is the Party Park

by Andrea O’Leary

Sunnyside Playground and Park has become a favorite play destination since its renovation. Every weekend, numerous parties are held there and picnic tables are in constant use. While advocates are happy so many come from all over to visit, it’s becoming very difficult for local residents to have spontaneous picnics in their neighborhood park. In order to assure a table is available, people are buying permits; making Sunnyside something of a cash-cow for the Rec. & Park Dept. (RPD) by charging $52 for each 3 hour stint, six to eight per day on weekends. Advocates are concerned that the public is being over-charged because it costs only $27 to reserve a table. The other $25 is for “opening and closing bathrooms,” per the RPD Permits Office. But, bathrooms are already open every day of the year during park open hours. Charging some users for facilities already available to everyone at no charge is not good practice and Sunnyside Park Families & Neighbors (SPFN) has asked the RP Commission to get an explanation for and correction to this discrepancy.

The Sunnyside recreation center renovation still has not gone out to bid and although the remodel is only possible because of surplus dollars from the larger capital funding, RPD is already projecting to go over budget, warning that less renovation is possible. SPFN is standing firm in advocating for getting what the community deserves. Any additional dollars to do the project correctly will not be excessive and justifiable considering ours is the one capital project citywide that came under budget.

There are eight RPD “Neighborhood Service Areas,” ours being NSA 5, for management of parks. Quarterly meeting are supposed to give residents an opportunity to tell RPD about their expectations, concerns and desires for their parks. However, because meetings are not broadly promoted and are scheduled for only one hour, they are often seen as more of an opportunity for RPD to talk about what they think is important and not seriously listen to the citizenry, as has been the experience in past similar gatherings. Park advocates have many concerns about the lack of responsiveness and cooperation under the current NSA 5 manager. Her replacement has been requested for various deficiencies including undermining the work of volunteers, manipulation of renovation work against the wishes of the community and a lack of performance and accountability. The first such meeting for NSA 5 is on Tuesday, September 16, 7:00 to 8:00 PM at the yet not reopened Upper Noe Rec. Center . http://www.parks.sfgov.org/wcm_recpark/NSA/NSAMapInfoPacket.pdf
 

 

 

November Ballot Measures (Part I)

by Phil Laird

You may need to enlarge your mailbox to accommodate the Voter Information Guides for the November 4 election:  with 22 local initiatives, 14 state measures, and a battalion of candidates from U.S. President all the way down to BART Board, the ballot will be the most crowded one in recent memory. Among the initiatives to be decided are some of the most expensive in our history, including bonds to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital and to construct high-speed rail from SF to LA. Here is the first of a two part summary of the local measures likely to be of greatest interest to Miraloma Park residents.

Measure A: SF General Hospital Bond Measure.  Authorizes the city to issue $887.4 million in bonds to rebuild San Francisco General Hospital. This would be the most expensive bond issue by far in the city’s history; property taxes could increase as much as $400 annually for an average home in Miraloma Park, according to the Budget Analyst’s Office. Unless it passes, the hospital will be forced to close much of its critical care facility because of seismic risk, and the city will lose its only trauma unit and one of the few remaining emergency rooms. Passage requires a 2/3 vote in a time when voters are keenly aware of the misapplication of bond money in rebuilding Laguna Honda Hospital. If passed, construction is expected to begin in 2010 and last five years.

Measure B: SF Affordable Housing Fund. This charter amendment will establish a fund and require the city to spend an estimated $2.7 billion over the next 15 years on affordable housing. Everyone agrees that affordable housing is needed in San Francisco and that the lack of it stratifies the city’s population in ways that are harmful to the economic health and vitality of the city. But how to provide “affordable” housing—and what that means—has been debated for a long time. Apart from rent control and ordinances limiting evictions, previous efforts have centered on providing redevelopment funds to developers and non-profit agencies, stipulating that X% of the properties have to meet criteria for affordability. But these have not resulted in an adequate supply of affordable units, nor has the private sector found sufficient incentives to build lower-cost units instead of luxury condos.  Most recently Prop. F competed with Prop. G on the June ballot to require that 50% (instead of 25%) of all the new units developed by the Lennar project at Hunter’s Point/Candlestick be affordable; but Prop. F was defeated and G approved.

This measure is the let’s-get-serious effort by the progressives on the Board of Supervisors (BOS) to make affordable housing a priority and a reality once and for all—or at least for the next fifteen years. The essentials are these:

* It creates a fund for affordable housing by setting aside $0.025 per $100 assessed valuation. (That’s about $180 on the average price of a home in SF.)
* It specifies what this fund can and cannot be used to pay for in the way of housing. In particular, other types of support for low-income housing cannot be reallocated for this initiative.
* It defines “affordable” at three price/rent levels: 30% of the San Francisco Medium Income (SFMI), 60% SFMI, and 80% SFMI, adjusted for family size. 40% of the units built or renovated with the fund must be affordable at the 30% level, and 60% at the 80% level. (Got that? The exact stipulations are more complex than this.)
* It requires the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH) to produce an affordable housing plan every three years, and each year the budget for the collection and use of the fund must be submitted by MOH and approved by the BOS.
* All newly constructed units must be handicapped-accessible (including an elevator for multistory buildings) and have at least two bedrooms.

Much of the very dense text is designed to prevent the city from circumventing this fund and its purposes with budgetary and administrative tricks. Fiscal conservatives are extremely concerned about the impact this measure would have on the overall budget of the city: with limited options for raising revenues, the large set-aside will have to come from other programs. Yet many of the sponsors of this measure have been unwilling historically to cut services in any way while advocating new benefits to be paid for by businesses and homeowners. So this is shaping up to be a major contest between “progressives” and whatever you call the “less progressives,” with significant implications for the city’s future, however it turns out.

Measure H: SF Clean Energy Act. This is the third in a recent series of efforts to move the city toward city-owned power, under the guise of moving toward “clean” energy. With this charter change, by 2017 (9 years from now) at least 51% of the city’s energy would be required to come from renewables or from conservation efforts; higher percentages would be required in subsequent years. One should ask whether these requirements, however laudable, are in fact feasible.

Most controversial, however, is a provision whereby the BOS can authorize the issuance of revenue bonds without voter approval. The measure is sponsored mainly by Sup. Mirkarimi with the support of six other supervisors and Assemblyman Mark Leno. It is actively opposed by the Mayor, Sups. Alioto-Pier, Chu, and Elsbernd, and the Coalition for San Francisco Neighborhoods.

Measure Q: Payroll Expense Tax. This ordinance combines two earlier proposals—one by Sup. Peskin and one by Mayor Newsom—into one measure. Sup. Peskin wants to extend the city’s 1.5% payroll tax to partnerships and other “pass-through” entities not currently subject to the tax, while Mayor Newsom seeks to exempt from payroll taxes small businesses with payrolls of  less than $250,000 per year. Estimates are that the combined proposals would yield a net increase in tax revenues to the city of $10 to $15 million.

Measure N: Real Property Transfer Tax. This ordinance raises the transfer tax (the tax on the selling price in real estate transactions) from 0.75% to 1.5% on real property selling for $5 million and up. Obviously this is unlikely to apply to homes in Miraloma Park, but another provision does: the transfer tax would be reduced by 1/3 on residential property where active solar installations or seismic retrofits have been completed after January 1, 2009. The list of all local measures and their texts is online at http://www.sfgov.org/site/elections_page.asp

 

 

No Offense Taken

As I am sure you know by now, dear neighbors, I aspire to the highest standards of journalism and editing in our illustrious Miraloma Life, now late in its seventh decade of publication. “All the news that’s fit to print” is not my bon mot, but I adopt it as a worthy goal for every self-respecting news venue. Of course, that doesn’t mean all the news or everyone’s individual opinion, since like any other editor I operate under limitations of space, time, sense, and manners. Occasionally, despite my earnest efforts, I become the target of bitter complaints from those whose screeds are too scurrilous and/or irrelevant to see the light of day in our publication, or who take exception to my publication of someone else’s work. I try not to let these bother me, and sometimes even reconsider my editorial prerogative, but I must say that never have I been so taken aback as by the following peroration, which I found ingeniously yet humanely (or having discovered in short order the author, perhaps I should say, coyotyly) attached to the tail of my poor kitty by a thick old rubber band, twitching too and fro furiously like a warning flag. Given all the consideration I have given this writer over the years, continuing to publish his pieces no matter how disingenuous and frankly cockamamie they have at times been, I was cut to the quick by this reprimand, and yet, and yet, compelled by my inbred sense of fair play, though much to my own disadvantage, I nonetheless reveal it to my trusting readers.-Ed

My fellow Miralomans, if you do not have the pleasure of reading this comment, composed at great pains by a creature who takes time from a frantically busy schedule to keep you well informed, the loss will be only because the editor of this great organ of your neighborhood chooses to print the unbalanced ravings of owls in place of the judicious compositions of your friend and ally, moi meme, Monsieur Coyote. There can be no question that these silly birds, purported pundits of Glen Park Canyon but actual rumor mongers and nefarious scribblers of disinformation, attempted in the pejorative missive that appeared in the May issue of the Miraloma Life, to smear permanently the reputation and honor of the Guardian of the Canyon and all its verdant surround. Whooo indeed! There can be no question to whom these vagabonds were referring when they used stealth words like “ominous snicker” to describe the laughter of their unseen “four-legged” intruder. Leaping lemurs, you would think they imagined some wild cougar, fanged and ravaging, rather than a civil and amenable creature such as myself. I was not snickering, nor had I any designs on them or their feather-brained progeny—I was merely chuckling in passing at the ridiculous antics of the youngsters as they bobbed clutzily up and down in the nest and howled greedily for gobbets of the unlucky rodents stuffed into their maws by their perfidious parents.

These winged atrocities have the nerve to accuse me of what amounts to no less than prowling, and pretend to be watchers of the Glen? In truth, they are nothing more than vagrants, here for a few months in the Spring to raise their noxious brood and then off to supposedly finer climes (though we all know there can be no finer place than our cool and fog-shrouded mountain and canyon). This is the height of effrontery and irresponsibility. You don’t see me running off and leaving your neighborhood unguarded, do you? There was the one time I vacationed in Florida, and that other trip to New York, but on both of these occasions I traveled on secret instructions from the CIA (Coyote Intelligence Agency), on serious business of domestic security. (Please shred and swallow this newsletter as soon as you finish reading it, as news of my CIA affiliation must never become common knowledge—I reveal it here only to you select and lucky Miraloma Life readers so that you will know I work always on behalf of my fellow Miralomans.)

And as to those owls, whom I was kind enough to leave a few mice, groundhogs, and squirrels all Spring so that they could feed their verminous crew, when I could easily have eaten everything, and them too, and to the editor who gave such unearned prominence to their spurious claims, I say you have behaved no better than pretenders, unworthy of the position to which you have been sneakily elevated. Now, you’ve heard my piece, and you’ll hear no more of this, as I am nothing if not generous, compassionate, and forgiving.

Your most humble servant,

M. Coyote, Esq.

PS: I am considering running as an independent in the upcoming national presidential election, but even if I am elected, as will surely be the case, do not think that I will forget you, my dear Miraloman friends. What is mine will be yours (don’t quote me on this—let it be our secret).
 

Catch*

(For Robert Teti, wherever he may be)
Age twelve in a suburb means tedium,
measured as by metronome strokes,
empty as the silence when they stop.

Arms swinging to and fro,
a hardball’s weight slung high,
and carefully looped at one another
(thock on thock, the ball in our gloves),
serfs to Boredom, my best friend and I
pivot and cast in thick summer air,
with slow-motion care, dying
as we grow, not knowing what to do
but throw, count our throws,
and anoint ourselves secret heroes
as the totals mount day by day.

Five hundred caught without a miss,
a thousand till the ball slips out
and thuds on the pavement, heavy
with the weight of our entrapment,
and finally, one late-August day,
with rain bulging the fat sack of clouds
(as near to pouring as Fall was looming)
and pressing down every breath,
somnolent with high wet depth,
it seems we cannot miss for trying,
as if we pitch through water and float

over and over to our rainbow throws,
until we reach 2000 flung and caught,
a number so impossible we know
we’ll never get there again, and then
simply stand and stare and wonder,
not knowing how to end, to miss
deliberately or go on and on and on,
the meaning of this waiting moment
sinking in, as if one gigantic emptiness
were ending, another, similarly huge,
about to begin.

We know we have done a thing
no one else would think to do
or value, so we keep it to ourselves
and, silent, watch each other glow.
Nothing is the same, nothing changed.
The rain bag breaks. The flood come,
we turn toward home and run.

* From “The Pitch is on the Way:
Poems About Baseball and Life”
©2008 by Dan Liberthson

(see Pitchpoems.com or Liberthson.com for information and purchase. Or available at Tower Market.)