At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Monday, July 27, 2015


Time and place is everything. In the months that I took care of my grandmother when she was slowly fading from cancer, I would take the Honda Civic and drive out to the end of the pier in the evening to smoke a pipe while watching the sunset beyond the Golden Gate, blue sky fading through aqua, cerulean, and ultramarine into lapis lazuli and slate-grey velvet, with streaks of saffron and canary yellow, roseate tinges, and glowing orange. The depth and distance made the colours glow, and the fragrance of Rattray's Black Mallory added to the enjoyment.
One could still smoke in public in those days; one wasn't a leper.
There may have been a smell of pot from others there.
In all honesty, I cannot remember pot.
The Rattrays, I can.

Several years ago I mentioned this to a friend, who promptly organized a jaunt. All of us piled into his station wagon and headed out to the area near Cliff House, to smoke our pipes and observe the dying of the day.
Such a lovely idea, of course we have to do that!

We forgot that the fog rolls in there.

Too thick to see bugger all.

We actually did enjoy it, though. Five grown men, five pipes, and not a single horrific aromatic mixture among us. Also, and this is important, no enormous women from Berkeley screaming about how we were nasty throwbacks killing babies with our fumes. Those are a bit more common downtown, and during the day.
There's an infestation of them in the Financial District.

What there was, which was quite as fascinating to watch, were pigeons in love. We had gotten out of the car, because five pipes going at the same time would have made the interior oppressive. We were sitting off to the side, smoking, when we became aware of two pigeons on the hood of the vehicle. The male was performing his strutting dance with the spread tail feathers, showing that he was hot to trot, and the female (at least, we think it was a female pigeon) was doing the usual dithery absent-minded wander-around indicating keen appreciation. Then they went at it. Possibly because the residual engine warmth made precisely that location the most enjoyable and romantic place to have sex.

I had never actually observed pigeon sex before.
It's interesting, in its own way.
But not exciting.

None of us said anything. Being surrounded by darkening fog, watching pigeon-humping, while smoking pipes; it seemed intellectually fulfilling, and likely to induce a contemplative or poetic mood.
A very San Francisco kind of thing.

A raccoon dropped from a tree overhead onto the feathered couple, and ran off with the female in its jaws.

The male flew away, startled.

I can't remember which one of the other four said it, but his remark seemed apposite.

"If that had been humans f*cking, the raccoon would have stolen their underwear instead."

Of course, nowadays that area is too well-traversed for wild passion on the front of a station wagon. And the reek of pipe tobacco would have the young couple fleeing long before they had ripped off their clothes. But the idea of a small furry robber trundling off, clutching panties and boxer shorts to his chest, is charming.

Maybe he's doing it for educational purposes.

Perhaps it's the thrill of the "chase".

And because he can.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.


  • At 12:37 PM, Anonymous e-kvetcher said…

    Off topic, someone pointed me to this page. I am still scratching my head...

  • At 12:52 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    Cite: "Welcome to the world of Ghyll. The basic idea is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced, and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers -- the other players -- on the construction of an encyclopedia about Ghyll. Despite the fact that your peers are self-important, narrow-minded dunderheads, they are honest scholars. No matter how strained their interpretations are, their facts are as accurate as historical research can make them."

    Looks like an interesting and inviting waste of time. I shall bookmark the site.

  • At 8:06 PM, Anonymous 30dayBeer said…

    Dear Esteemed Expert,

    Salutes and Greets, meneer, for we have returned from our voyage in old Hon-sing of Kou-lei. While there, we sampled the local six-hundred fourscore and nine varieties of tealeaf. Actually, "abominable interpretations" would be a more apropos term than would befit "varieties", as we found them to be nothing but insipid imitations of the Canton-Chewchow-Fukien Triumvirate of Tea Ritual. But no matter, as the streets were smattered with quite literally thirty shrines on every block to the melange called "keo-pee", which we have been informed is a corruption of the Arabic "al-qahwatu". Upon patronizing one of these (quite literal) qahwaterias, we decided that this was one foreign import that the Chō-sen People have done correctly, perhaps a better improvement than its progenitors in the Harrar Highlands.

    The Falash-Mura must be liberated, speedily and in our days.

    But of no importance. We have received terrible tidings of our friend in the Middle Kingdom. You might so recall him having been a liaison of the Binleung Israelites with our group. [Through a relay of no less than twenty individuals (call it information-laundering), it has been informed to us that he was detentioned for "unspeakable crimes" (the officiall name of his charge). We have also heard that his punichmentes ranged from "having his stones pulled" and "filling his mouth with cement", but further research illustrates that these are only (gratefully) meted out to those accused of murder.]

    It happened thusly, and no less: he had promised the Israelites that he would bestow unto them a guide of the delights of Balut, and he had relied on us to deliver him the Good Word. It is why we tasked you with giving this much-needed primer, as we have not the literary clout to persuade successfully as you do. Days and months they waited, but it became clear to even them that he had failed to procure on this information and deliver his promise.

    We were also told, according to local Binleung legend, that an unfullfilled vow is a grave trespass in Israelite custom. For you see it brings dishonour unto those to whom were promised - and as you no doubt know, bringing shame is tantamount to execution in non-Occidental ideology.

    It was for all this that our friend was circumscribed by the Israelites, never to return to this Shangri-la of maize and cacahuetes (its most numerous exports). He has told us personally that he was literally "run out of town", when angry Israelites chased after him yelling "A Shah! A Shah!" We have no idea why the Aryan Monarch would become such a foul epithet, but once again local legend demonstrated that they were likewise chased from their homeland-in-exile, and from that day they would do the same to heretics, informers, and of course, shamers and promise-breakers.

    For our imminent return to Holam-sing, we are now burdened with the efforts of finding a new traductor for which we cannot function. This is a task that strains our resources, something which we would quite like to avoid. When we return, we will no doubt encounter this same question again. Lest we lose another liaison to the highly guarded Israelite honor, we implore you to provide us with a proper thesis, preferably in full post form, to pass down the awaiting Israelites of the deliciousness of Balut.

    Or Dinuguan.

    They must know the essence of Philippine délicacies!

    Delay no more,

    Thirty Day Beer

  • At 9:30 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    There will, alas, have to be a delay. I am eating cheesy bread at present, and tomorrow mornings post will likely be written in haste.

    The matter you ask about requires contemplation and research. Time.

    Expect a missive no earlier than Wednesday. Evening, probably.

    Sourdough, grated cheese, and a hot skillet.
    Pinch of salt.

    It is good.

  • At 9:36 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said…

    I should also mention that the giant purple snorkle-whacker that lives in Binkley's closet of anxieties has finally admitted that he eats childrn.


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