Getting It Together With Bob


I sit in the Ten Mile Justice Center courtroom in Fort Bragg, legs crossed, right foot bobbing in an effort to dissipate my nerves. I’m here for the second month in a row to request a continuance on a restraining order I was reluctant to file, but that law enforcement has encouraged me to pursue.

My lower back starts to painfully throb. I concentrate on taking deep, slow breathes, which manifest as shallow asthmatic wheezes. I want to cut and run.

The cases previous to mine are mundane—the opening of probate, something about a family trust, and an illegal eviction. About a half hour after court comes to order, someone enters through the back door. I don’t know who because I’m sitting in the front row of the gallery. The person sits behind me to the right of my peripheral vision. Cigarette fumes give me a nicotine contact high. All I can see of this person is orange and gray athletic shoes.

The judge calls a case for a someone named Bob (not his real name). The guy sitting behind me stands and moves forward. He’s a trim, grizzled 50-something who wears capri-length workout pants and a tank top with three horizontal slashes across the back. I’m somewhat alarmed that he seems to have ignored the posted rules for appropriate court attire—no shorts, no tank tops. His blonde streaked hair is combed forward and he’s got a healthy tan. If he were a few decades younger, he’d look like an attractive surfer dude.

The previously bored bailiff stands and rests his hand on his pistol.

The judge informs Bob the restraining order against him has been dropped. (This order has nothing to do with my case.)

“So I can go back to Ukiah?” Bob asks, incredulous.

“I cannot tell you what to do,” the judge says.

“I’ve been living in Ukiah getting my life together,” Bob announces proudly. “I’m off meth.”

“Good for you,” the judge says with genuine warmth.

“I have some clothes at that house. Can I get them before I leave town?”

“I cannot tell you what to do,” the judge says.

“Since the restraining order’s been dropped, I can go pick up my clothes?”

“I cannot tell you what to do.”

Bob shakes his head as if to dispel water from his ears. “I just wanna tell ya,” he says, “you’re the best. The best!” As if the judge had something to do with getting the complaining party to drop the restraining order.

“Thank you. You’re free to go.”

“I won’t forget this.” Bob turns to leave. “You’re the best. The best!” He’s giddy, pumping his fist in the air like his favorite team just won the World Cup.

The bailiff sits down.

I make note of Bob’s full name in order to later check the online Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Log. I’m certain—willing to put money on it—that  he’ll be arrested before nightfall for causing a kerfuffle at a house where nobody wants him, yet where some of his clothing still resides.

After he leaves, my case is called. For Bob, my experience would have been a day at the beach. For me, it was stressful enough to send me home to lay on the floor with an ice pack under my back and feeling what Southern women used to call “having a case of the vapors.”

The party I’m seeking a restraining order against, someone who made an obsessive series of calls to my home, someone who is well known to law enforcement, has a right to be served with notice of the filing. He cannot be found. I’m granted my continuance, but scheduled to return the following month. I want nothing more than to have this process over and done with, but fear I’ll spend the bulk of 2019 going to court.

A few days later, I remember to check on Bob to see if he escaped arrest the evening following court and made it safely back to his new life in Ukiah.

Exactly one week before his appearance in the coast courtroom, he was arrested in Fort Bragg for being a public nuisance. He was held overnight.

The day after his release, he was arrested in Ukiah (about an hour and a half drive from Fort Bragg) for disorderly conduct: alcohol, and held overnight.

Two days after that release, he was once again arrested in Ukiah on the same charge and held overnight.

The following day, he appears in the Fort Bragg courtroom to make it a matter of public record that he’s getting his life together.

Bob might have issues with substance abuse and appropriate public decorum, but the underlying struggles he’s dealing with have been visited upon all of us to some degree or another.

We’ve all made the Monday morning promises—“I swear to God I’m going to (fill in the blank).”

  • Quit smoking. Until you can no longer suppress the desire to chop someone’s head off (usually by noon on Monday when you bum a smoke from a co-worker).
  • Quit drinking. Until you get home after a stressful Monday at work.
  • Go on a diet. Go to the gym. Get in shape. Until, on your way home from work, you stop by McDonald’s for a value meal to pair with your tequila shots.
  • Give up that toxic girlfriend or boyfriend. Until 10:00pm when you start drunk texting.

Yeah, yeah, yeah—we’ve all made such proclamations, and we’ve all inevitably failed until for some reason—grace?—we follow through and actually turn things around.

Like a worried mother, I visit the booking log website every few days to check on Bob. I’m hopeful he’ll stay out of trouble for good—or at least for a time. Five days after I’m made aware of him, he’s arrested again in Ukiah for—you want to take a guess?—disorderly conduct: alcohol.

At least he’s not on meth, I tell myself.

Twelve days later, he’s arrested in Ukiah for indecent exposure.

I hope Bob eventually finds the grace to overcome his demons and find peace.

I hope I eventually get my own act together and stop checking on him.


PJsIt was one of those Sundays when three in the afternoon seemed like an appropriate time to get into my pajamas. I was worn out from a weekend of visitors and frivolity—but pajamas at three o’clock? I could have distracted myself by writing a blog post, taking the dog for a walk, jogging, or making a quilt square. But I didn’t want to do any of those things. I wanted to curl up on the sofa and watch hours of mindless television.

So I did.

About six o’clock, I went to the kitchen, poured a glass of water and looked out the window.

“There’s a big black cat in our yard,” I shouted to my husband Gary who was in the living room.

“Wait a second—it’s a dog.”

“What?” Gary cried in alarm.

In an attempt to disguise my jammies, I put on a jacket and went outside.

scottyThe Scottish terrier responded to my cooing and trotted over, tail wagging and head down. I sat to pet him and looked around to determine how he’d gotten in our yard. The front and back gates were closed and he was too small to jump the fence. Maybe he squeezed through the wrought iron front gate. Could he have flattened to the thickness of a pancake and slipped through the back gate?

The irony of a dog dumped in our yard and having a puppy dumped on given to us a year ago did not escape me. But this one we would not keep. Oh no, we would not.

I went inside and dialed 911.

“I’d like to report a stray dog in our yard.”

“Ma’am that is not an emergency.”

“It is to me.”

“All of our officers are involved in responding to crimes and arresting people.”

I made a mental note to check the online booking logs the following day to verify she was telling the truth. “I didn’t know who else to call.”

She sighed. “Give me your address and when an officer is free, I’ll send one out.”

Wait—doesn’t 911 automatically know your address? It was a bit disconcerting to be asked for mine.

I gave her the information, thanked her for her help, and let her return to the business of dispatching officers to major crimes. I went back outside to comfort the little lost dog.

A minute later, the phone rang. It was the dispatcher. “Is it a black dog?”


“About a half hour ago there was a report of a missing black dog. May I call the people and give them your address?”

“Yes, thank you.”

A few minutes later a car pulled up in front of our house, a woman got out, entered the yard and yes indeed it was her dog.

His name is Simon and he lives around the block. In preparation for giving him a bath, she’d removed his collar. Then she remembered she’d forgotten to put out the garbage and recycling bins. As she was doing this, he managed to scoot out the gate without her knowledge.

She cuddled him to her and I gave him one last pet. She headed to her car, stopped and turned. “I forgot to ask if you’d like a reward.”

I chuckled. “That’s so kind of you, but no thanks. My reward was being able to spend time with your sweet puppy.”

An even greater reward was finding the owner so he wouldn’t end up being our sweet puppy.

I went back to the sofa.

Two days later, a large bouquet of flowers was delivered to our house with a note: “Thank you for harboring our little ‘angel’ Simon.” Amy & Tony O’Neill.

Two days later, a large bouquet of flowers was delivered to our house with a note: “Thank you for harboring our little ‘angel’ Simon.” Amy & Tony O’Neill.

The Do Not Do List

According to an article in the May 25, 2013 edition of The Ukiah Daily Journal, Fort Bragg police arrested a 29-year old man for allegedly having “a stolen TV, a club and methamphetamine in his vehicle.”

It seems that on May 21st, officers stopped a gentleman in the 500 block of North Main Street and discovered he was on probation out of Stanislaus County.

The TV in his possession had allegedly been stolen from the Best Western Motel and the serial number had been removed.HotelTV

The club in his possession was a “Billy club.”Billyclub

The meth in his possession weighed 12.1 grams and was packaged for alleged sale.Methpackets

He had “recently been released from Mendocino County Jail on theft-related charges” and “the condition of his release was that he obey all laws.”

I’m wondering what the term “obey all laws” means to this man. He certainly did not abstain from breaking the laws surrounding the following for which he has been charged:

(1) Possessing and transporting methamphetamine for sale.

(2) Selling methamphetamine.

(3) Possessing an illegal weapon.

(4) Receiving stolen property.

(5) Possessing property with serial numbers removed.

(6) Defrauding an innkeeper of $400 or more.

(7) Violating the terms of release on felony charges.

Clearly, the court system must make future conditions of release easier for this poor fellow to follow.

Upon his next exit from jail,  the above seven items should be typed out, labeled Do Not Do List, and handed to him.

If this list is added to each time he’s incarcerated, he may eventually become a law-abiding citizen.DSC02589

What’s on your Do Not Do List?

Stupid February

Okay, I’m going to call it—February is the stupidest month of the year (so far). The following are three acts of idiocy reported in the Fort Bragg Advocate-News last month:

One arrested for DUI causing outage

On Friday, February 15th, a 35-year old local man used his 2008 Chevy Suburban to celebrate the end of the work week in an interesting manner. Around 11:00 pm, he hit a parked car with enough force to move it 10 feet onto the sidewalk.

I imagine him having a moment of shocked sobriety as he backed up, slammed the vehicle into drive, floored the gas pedal, and zoomed forward 30 feet to hit and shear off a main PG&E power pole.


When the police arrived, they discovered Mr. Chevy Suburban attempting to flee the scene. He managed to drive about 25 feet despite major front-end damage and the absence of his front passenger tire (in the whirlwind, it had been ripped from the axle).

Fort Bragg Advocate-News photo

Fort Bragg Advocate-News photo

As his Friday night party came to an end, the adventure for 2,600 Fort Bragg residents deprived of power was just beginning—and lasted until 9:30 the next morning. I suppose we should be grateful that he allowed us to unexpectedly experience a simpler time when electricity, electronic entertainment, and central heating didn’t exist.

Pair nabbed while packaging marijuana in motel room

I guess if you’re from out of town and buy a crap-load of marijuana that needs to be packaged for sale and you don’t have friends or family to stay with, it would make sense to rent a motel room. It would also make sense to behave yourself and be very quiet.

On February 25th, Fort Bragg police were called to a local motel to investigate a domestic disturbance.

They heard a gal yelling at a guy. The guy came outside. As police questioned him, they smelled marijuana. They peeked inside the room to see “packaging material and large garbage sacks full of processed marijuana.”

A search warrant was obtained and 16 pounds of pot was confiscated along with packaging material. The domestically-disturbed couple was arrested.

Maybe the next time they’re in a motel room processing pot and he foolishly does something to tick her off, she’ll use her “inside voice” to resolve the situation.

High-risk ‘honey oil lab’ cleaned up

honeyoilPerhaps you know all about honey oil, but I did not. (I grew up in Spokane, Washington in the last century.) Thanks to these dumb asses in Willits, I have garnered new terminology to add to my growing knowledge of the marijuana industry.

On February 26th, the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force arrived at a duplex in Willits where they found “150 butane cylinders being used in an alleged marijuana honey oil extraction operation.”

The two geniuses running this operation had placed the highly flammable cylinders near a fire burning in a fireplace. They also possessed a half-ounce of meth and 25 pounds of pot. Oh—and they had a child—a four-year old child.

Of course they did.

They were each charged with a bunch of stuff and the guy was also charged with “being armed with a deadly weapon in the commission of a felony and committing offenses while out on bail.”

Of course he was.

Oh—and he is currently “facing court after his arrest in June 2012 for possession of a controlled substance for sale.”

Oh—and “he was picked up again in January 2013 for possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a weapon in commission of a felony and committing a crime while out on bail.”

Of course, of course, of course.

Now some of you may be curious about honey oil. Thankfully, the Fort Bragg Advocate-News article (which was actually a reprint of a Willits News article) gives an explanation:

“To extract the honey oil, liquid butane is mixed with ground up marijuana in a tube.”

Sounds yummy.

“The liquid butane dissolves the tetrahydrocabinol and other ingredients from the marijuana. The person processing the material then pours the butane from the tube into a bowl and allows it to evaporate, leaving behind the marijuana honey oil residue.”

Hum—with its fewer petro-chemical additives, honey oil might be a healthier choice than meth.

With 150 butane containers, a vapor cloud of evaporating butane, and a fire in the fireplace, these master chemists turned their duplex into a ticking time bomb capable of doing grave damage to their child and neighbors.

Yes, they were arrested. Yes, their child was taken away from them. Who knows where they are now—probably back in their duplex in Willits.

So there you have it—Stupid February.

Guy on a Bench – Part 2

When Wilson and I wander the streets of Fort Bragg each day for 20 minutes, most everyone we encounter is capable of the following interaction:



            How ya doing?

            Fine. You?


            Have a good one.

            You, too.

Over the course of several months, I was lulled into believing that if a street person can master the above, then s/he might be capable of holding a more meaningful conversation.

I tested this theory on Guy on a Bench.

Author masquerading as Guy on a Bench

I had not seen him for a couple of weeks and became genuinely concerned. Maybe the drug dealers or panhandlers finally got to him and he freaked out and was thrown in jail. (But his mug shot had not shown up in the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Logs.)

Today, he was back on the bench. We exchanged our above-referenced greeting. I then added, “I haven’t seen you for a long time. Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he said. “Are you okay?”


My next mistake was to fail to keep walking. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Hippies come by here all the time asking me if I’m okay and infecting me with their supposed good karma. But they’re not good; they’re full of crap. Every day I have to fend them off with their supposed concern about my well-being. I’m fine until they come by. I don’t need their crap in my life. They need to keep their crap karma to themselves.

“Then there’s Ted [blah, blah] who thinks I need to be put in a home where I can’t get out and do what I want. Now there’s some bad karma crap going on right there. I tell Ted to stay out of my life and deal with his own crap.”

I engaged in what therapists term active listening—nodding my head and muttering, “Uh huh.”

“You must know Ted.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You’re nodding your head so you must agree with everything he says.”

“No, I’m just acknowledging that I hear you.”

Wilson looking for a poop bush

I tried to coax Wilson away, but all the talk about crap led him to choose an inviting bush against which to shake his booty and take a dump. (Such is his favorite bowel elimination ritual.)

As I waited for Wilson to finish and used a bag to retrieve the poop, Guy on a Bench continued.

“Ted’s a jerk and should stick to his own business. I happen to know his karma’s crap and he and the Hippies can go to hell for all I care. With their karma that’s exactly where they’re going. Trying to make their karma rub off on me—now that’s just wrong!”

“I’m sorry if I offended you,” I said, backing away.

“You should be! Don’t be going around asking people if they’re okay. I’m fine. It’s you who you should be looking at.” His eyes squinted in a mad dog glare. “I’m starting to wonder about you.”

Wilson and I skedaddled away.

Lessons learned: (1) just because someone can exchange a greeting doesn’t mean his brain is composed of anything more than nacho cheese dip; and (2) it’s probably best if I start keeping my crap karma to myself.