Sunday, October 15, 2023

FWIW: Hamas, Israel, and the Whole Messy Mess

It’s the hot topic on everyone’s minds—the renewed conflict between Israel and Hamas. Instead of getting into fruitless arguments on social media, let me present a few facts and a lot of opinions about the continuing struggle. Disclaimer: I am an atheist from a Jewish family and identify as ethnically Jewish. But I have no respect or patience for arguments that begin and end with mandates from God.

Doing the Deep Dive

The history underpinning the clash goes back a long way—a very long way. About 1000 kilometers away lies the Fertile Crescent, long viewed as the cradle of civilization. After the Sumerians and other civilizations rose and fell, Egypt came to prominence. At various times, they sought to extend their dominions outward, including to the east, into the so-called Biblical Land of Canaan. According to the Israelites article in Wikipedia, Israel was first noted in the Egyptian historical record in about 1200 BCE, which is when they arrived from Egypt. But, if you believe the Bible, they had inhabited the area much earlier, leaving for Egypt generations before due to drought and famine. The Israelites returned from Egypt in approximately 1200 BC, and there has been a continual Jewish presence there ever since, despite repeated invasions by, well, everyone—the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Persians, the Romans, the Crusaders—pretty much every nation with imperialistic ambitions passed through.

There has also been a long-term Arab presence there, also—and therein lies the conflict. Two sets of people with very different customs want to occupy the same property.  During the Iron Age (1200 BC or so) Israel and Judah controlled much of the area, while the other peoples occupied the southern coast—this info is from the Wikipedia History of Palestine. And here we encounter Palestinians—or the ancestors of modern-day Palestinians, perhaps. The term, “Palestine,” according to, derives from Philistia, a term used by the Greeks to refer to the land of the Philistines, who in the 12th Century BCE lived in an area between modern Tel Aviv and Gaza. The term has not been in continuous use; the Romans revived it in the 2d Century, calling part of the area “Syria Palaestina,” and according to the same source, it’s been in use since the early Islamic era. But after the Romans, the term wasn’t officially used until after WWI.

An interesting aside: notes a connection between “Hyksos,” invaders of Egypt from the east in the 18th Century BC; Habiru, meaning outsiders; and Hebrews, referring to Jews. So it’s possible that the ancestors of today’s Israelis were the Hyksos, which makes their claim even earlier—if that makes a difference. And I’m not sure it does. “We were here first” is only one salient point among many.

The later colonizers were the British; they captured Palestine from the Ottomans as a consequence of World War I. The area they dominated, known as the Palestinian Mandate, was much larger than modern-day Israel, the West Bank and Gaza; it included Jordan as well, but the Brits administered it separately.  Britain issued the Balfour Declaration in 1917, which favored the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine. I am not sure why, given Britain’s lengthy and appalling history of anti-Semitism. In any event, it was generally recognized that, after the Holocaust, the Jews needed a place of their own. The British announced that they intended to end their colonization of the area in 1947. The UN General Assembly recommended partitioning the area into two separate states, one Arab and the other Jewish. The Arabs did not accept partition or the lands allocated to them. The Jews did, declaring independence in May 1948 upon the end of the British mandate. As for how the Israelis got their land, some was purchased, but unhappily, many Arabs were kicked out of their homes. Some left to escape the carnage, hoping to return; others were expelled. The “right of return” as well as compensation for lost property remain live issues.

The Palestinians call this traumatic event “the Nakba.” A useful way to view both parties is to see them as deeply traumatized by their sad histories, acting from rage, pain and sorrow rather from logic.

After partition, the Arabs promptly attacked from all sides. They lost. Other Arab nations tried again, some singly, some with allies, and always lost: 1956, 1967, 1969-70, 1973, 1982, and 2006. The area has also experienced “intifadas,” consisting mostly of violent riots. Peace efforts have been brokered by various countries, most notably by the USA, but none have succeeded except on a piecemeal basis. Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979; Jordan in 1994; the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco in 2020.

Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, to create a buffer between itself and the hostile Arab world. That effort has backfired, leading to the current very messy mess.

I’ve skipped over a lot of history, most importantly, the impact of religion on the issues and conflicts. Many people refer to Israel as “the Jewish State,” ignoring the fact that Israel is a multicultural society in which less than 75% of the population is Jewish. 20% of the population is Arab. Since the Knesset’s first sessions, Arabs have sat in Israel’s ruling body and continue to do so to this day.  

It is also worth noticing that when discussing these issues, there’s a tendency to talk about the Israelis and the Palestinians as solid, unified blocs. Pretty sure they’re not. There haven’t been elections in Gaza since 2006, so we don’t know what the Gazans think. And before the current outbreak of hostilities, half of Israel hated their current government and wanted to change it.

The Palestinian Actors

The Palestinian Authority has partial civil control over most of the West Bank, led by Mahmoud Abbas. They are generally regarded (okay, this is totally my opinion) as ineffective, or at least, he is. They have been unable or unwilling to pursue peace. Hamas has as a tenet in its charter the destruction of Israel.

The Current Very Messy Mess

So, Israel has been in a bit of a pickle ever since they occupied those territories. As stated, after repeated incursions by the Arabs into Israel over time, Israel decided to take those territories as buffer zones and to create more defensible borders. Fine, but they kind of screwed it up. What they should have done was create borders that were safer for them, put people who preferred not to live in Israel on the other side of that line, and said "welcome to your new country." Something similar did take place in Gaza after Hamas was elected; Israeli withdrew while maintaining tight border control, but Hamas was free to create a vibrant society and to help Gazans live fulfilled lives. Instead, they clung to their ideology of destruction, using billions in foreign aid to continue their futile effort to obliterate Israel.

As things stand, being an occupier for so many years does not sit well with many Israelis…and the rest of the world has taken issue with the occupation, which IMO has at times been, well, very un-Jewish. 

An important concept to Jews is the idea of “Tikkun Olam,” roughly translated as “Heal the World.” The occupation doesn’t do that. There’s no solution to the current crisis or its underlying factors that anyone’s discovered, and no viable alternative to occupation that anyone has promulgated.

All sides in this matter have suffered from terrible leadership for nearly two decades. Most are religious fanatics. Netanyahu has been in and out of power since about 2006, and he's a disaster. He's a thief and a Trumpian-style fascist who will do anything he can to hold on to power. The result of his radically right-wing policies, encouraged by the religious crazies, can be viewed as part of the cause of the current crisis. The settlements in the West Bank have gotten out of control, with settlers building unauthorized towns, kicking Palestinians off their property, and sometimes killing them. Netanyahu has destroyed almost all hope for a two-state solution, which was the only viable long-term option. Even in the midst of war, many Israelis are calling for his ouster based on his visible incompetence.

I've already discussed some of Hamas's failures and they've been in power about the same length of time. Abbas is ineffective, and Iran ...

The Role of Iran

The true bad actors in this situation are not even Hamas, because they're just stupid—short-sighted, single-minded religious ideologues. According to Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas is largely funded by Iran—so they’re puppets of the Iranians, who I imagine are backing this incursion to deflect attention from the fact that their Fashion Police beats girls to death for wearing their head gear wrong. Their proxy war in Yemen isn't going particularly well, either. They are deeply threatened by the possibility of Israel normalizing relationships with more of its Arab neighbors, as well as the United States growing closer to the Saudis. (I do agree with them on that--I loathe the Saudis.) The Iranian people are fed up with their poor leadership and want to get rid of them.

Questions to Ponder

Why hasn’t Hamas held elections since 2006?

Probably because they know they'd be thrown out on their sorry asses because they're shitty at governing. They’re extreme misogynists; in fact, a woman can’t travel freely in Gaza without a male by her side. And if you’re queer? Best of luck, and don’t flaunt your sexuality on the street. You’ll get killed. And their founding charter has as a tenet the destruction of Israel, and obviously that is not going to happen. But while they persist in spreading terror instead of seeking peace, and buying rockets instead of building roads etc etc, they will be a failure. They don't know how to govern, and they don't want peace, which would obviously be better for the majority of the Gazans. 

Let's look at the situation this way. The United States forcibly seized many hundreds of square miles of property from the Mexicans, almost the entire southwestern United States. If Mexico started lobbing rockets into the United States in an effort to reclaim those lands, what do you think would happen?

Strategically and tactically, is this incursion really going to help Hamas achieve its goals? Is it going to help the Gazan people? 

The answer to both of those questions is no. Murdering teenagers and 20-somethings at an all-night rave does nothing but piss people off. Boasting about raping and murdering girls, killing grandmas and little kids exposes Hamas's barbarity and does nothing to further their cause. Frankly these people are so sickening and so stupid I want to slap some sense into them. Totally, totally counterproductive and nothing good is going to come of it. 

What Hamas has done is create a predictable overreaction from the Israeli government. One wonders if that was their intent, though some public statements indicate that their leadership planned to force Israel into hostage negotiations.

Is what Israel is doing to Gaza constitute genocide?

No. Unfortunately, genocide is one of those words tossed around by the ignorant to bolster their arguments when facts are not on their side. A true genocide is the utter and complete obliteration of a people, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.  Hitler’s Final Solution was a plan for genocide of Jews—he planned to kill every Jewish person on Earth, and the Nazis murdered a significant percentage. They also destroyed the strong physical and cultural presence of central European Jewry. The 1915 Armenian Massacre, conducted by the Ottomans, was a genocide; out of an estimated 2.5 million Armenians, over one million were killed, and the carnage, sadly, continues. (These numbers are rough estimates—online sources differ.)  During the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda (1994) about 77% of the Tutsis died—nearly one million people.

This conflict is different. Many contend that Palestinians are not a distinct national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Furthermore, Israel does not plan the complete extermination of all people identifying as Palestinian. Given the fact that Israel possesses the military might to reduce the West Bank and Gaza to rubble, and to kill everyone living there, their restraint over the decades has been remarkable.

Let’s compare the conduct of the Israelis over time to the reaction of Americans to 9/11, when a few buildings were destroyed and fewer than five thousand people killed. The USA invaded multiple countries, destabilizing much of west Asia. Millions died or were displaced in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other nations; the Arab Spring followed. While some of the results were great, as in Tunisia, some were ghastly, i.e., the Syrian civil war.

Is the current Israeli response appropriate?

No. While it’s true that Hamas’s actions are beyond appalling, the Israeli response has been brutal and heartless. Telling over a million people to evacuate north Gaza when few border crossings are available and safe presents Gazans with an impossible dilemma, and squanders the international groundswell of sympathy that Hamas’s initial attacks created. 

Israel’s government has stated that it intends to completely obliterate Hamas—an appropriate goal. But to do that, the IDF has to check every building—as well as under them, because Hamas has created a network of tunnels beneath Gaza where they hide and store weapons. The tunnels extend into Israel, and Hamas has been known to launch attacks from them. So, the Israelis may find it necessary to raze every building in Gaza with bunker-buster bombs or some other alternative that will destroy the tunnels. 

If my neighbor tells me, “I’m gonna kill you,” and brandishes a knife, I have the right to pull out a pistol and shoot him dead.

But that doesn’t give me the right to hurt my neighbor’s kids.

Yet another dilemma in this big messy mess.


Perhaps I should leave this area blank, as I have nothing helpful to offer.


Nothing good for anyone is going to result from this latest clash.

The Gazans hope to stay alive, and some will. Many won’t. Hamas wants to get some of its imprisoned fighters back, but their ultimate aim is the destruction of Israel. That won’t happen, at least not for the foreseeable future. Israel hopes to eradicate Hamas. Doubtful.

The most unsettling aspect of the current conflict is that fights in this part of the world tend to spread like runny noses in kindergarten. To the north, Hezbollah, also funded by Iran, has launched several missiles into Israel from Lebanon since the Hamas attack took place. 

This set of skirmishes could easily explode into regional war.  

Taking a broader view:

There is no prospect for a two-state solution. Every peace proposal made has failed. Some were generous to the Palestinians, including options for trains and highways connecting the West Bank and Gaza; locating their capital in Jerusalem; a structured right of return and reparations.

Both sides have wearied of the peace process, which has limped along for over seventy years. The Israeli response to the stalemate has been to build settlements in the disputed West Bank as their population has grown. Palestinians, understandably, are angered by this encroachment.

The violent religious right-wings of both groups have been emboldened and strengthened, with the voices for peace growing weaker.


I invite anyone who reads this blog to comment with helpful, thoughtful suggestions. Statements like “Justice for Palestine!” and “Hamas are terrorists!” are unhelpful and will be deleted. There’s enough conflict in the world.

Let’s try to create constructive solutions.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A Special Christmas Tale: Dance Me to the End of Time by Catherine Cavendish (#fantasy #romance #ViennaChristmas #ChristmasRomance)

       For the last couple of years, I have run a beautiful little Christmas shortie by one of my author buddies, Catherine Cavendish. I was lucky enough to edit Cat professionally, and not only is she very agreeable to work with, she's also a very creative writer. I love her work and hope you do too.

Dance Me To The End Of Time


Catherine Cavendish

          I’ve always loved Christmas. The tree, tinsel and a roaring fire… Candles flickering and the sound of carollers striving to hit the top register in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

           This year’s no different. Of course, there’s no roaring fire anymore. That’s been replaced with one of those living flame gas affairs. Quite nice, but you never could beat the real thing.

            “Penny for them.” My husband, Charles, interrupts my reverie.

            “Oh, nothing. I was just musing and remembering Christmases past.” I smile at him.

He adjusts his tie and smoothes his glossy black hair, all  gestures I have seen him perform countless times. “Do you think it will snow this year?” he asks, studying his reflection in the mirror.

            I turn to look out of the window. “It’s too dark to tell, but it looks damp out there. It must have been raining earlier.”

            “I didn’t notice,” Charles says, “but then I suppose I wouldn’t, would I?” He smiles at me and takes my hand, brushing it against his lips. Then I catch him examining my dress.

            “Something wrong?” I ask and instinctively look down at my white, floor-length gown. I see some creases in the silk which I attempt to smooth away.

            “That’s better. It was just a little wrinkled.”

            “Hardly surprising,” I say. “It only gets an outing once a year.”

            We laugh, and Charles strokes away a long, dark brown lock of hair which has escaped my elaborate coiffure and has wandered across my cheek.

            “Shall we dance, Emily?” he asks.

            “Certainly, Charles, it will be my pleasure.”

We waltz to a phantom orchestra. In my head I can
hear the strains of the Blue Danube, and I am transported back to another time and place. I can see a young girl and her young man, their eyes locked in an embrace as they swirl around a ballroom in Vienna while a conductor, violin in hand, steers the orchestra through his latest composition.

            “I miss the scent of roasting chestnuts,” I tell Charles.

           His mouth widens in a grin. “But can’t you smell them, Emily?  Concentrate really hard.”

            I close my eyes and let him lead me round
and round as the music grows louder, and now I can smell them. Chestnuts, little fried potatoes and the warming aroma of cinnamon from the Glühwein.  I can hear the bells of St Stephen’s Cathedral and feel the chill of the night air on my cheek. Little flecks of snow are falling onto my face, and my feet crunch on the icy ground.             

          Charles is waltzing me faster and faster. And now I can hear the voices.  The orchestra has faded and a choir is singing in German: “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht…”

            “Oh Charles--”

            “No, Emily, don’t open your eyes.”

            I obey. “Don’t let it stop, Charles, please don’t let it stop,” I cry, “Not this time. Not this year.”

            “Dance with me, Emily. Dance with me.”

            The choir has faded, and the orchestra builds to a crescendo. I know if I open my eyes, I will see the wild black hair of the conductor, falling over his eyes as his violin bow slashes through the air.

            But I mustn’t open my eyes.  Charles told me not to.

            “Oh Emily, Emily,” Charles says, “Let us never lose this moment.  Never.”

            “Never, Charles.”

            And then I open my eyes.

            “No, Emily, no!” Charles’ agonized face is before me. But the moment has passed.

            The orchestra is silent. There are no roasting chestnuts, no carol singers, no hot spiced wine.

            Vienna has gone.

           “Oh Emily, you did it again. Just like last year. Just like every year.”

            I am crestfallen. He takes my face in his hands. He kisses my lips, and I close my eyes again, trying to recapture the dream. But it’s too late.

            “Never mind, my love, there’s always next year.”

            “As long as we’re still here,” I say, my old fears returning.

            “I expect we will be. They seem to like us well enough.”

            From the hallway, I hear the unmistakable sound of a key in the lock. It’s time.

            “Come, my love. We must return.” Charles once again takes my hand and together we gaze at the empty picture above the mantelpiece.

            “Until next year and the magic returns,” he whispers.

            “Until next year. Happy Christmas, Charles.”

            “Happy Christmas, Emily.”

            The door opens and a young couple wanders in, each holding a glass of red wine. They are both dressed smartly, she in a navy suit, he in dark grey. She has short blond hair, and his is dark. They look very modern to me.

            The woman’s gaze is drawn to the painting. “I’ve always loved that picture.” She sighs, raising her glass to her lips and taking a sip.

            “That’s why I bought it for you,” the man says and nuzzles her neck.

            “Dance Me to the End of Time,” she murmurs. “Such an evocative title. And it really looks as if that’s what they’re doing, doesn’t it? You feel they could just step out of that frame and glide around the room.”

            Her husband laughs. “You and your imagination.”

            The woman moves toward the fireplace and is peering closer. “There it is again.  The damnedest thing!”

            “What?” he asks.

            “I noticed it last year, but only on Christmas Eve, and it’s happened again this year. Look at her eyes.”

            The man does as he is bid.

            “Can you see it? There at the corner of her eye. A tear. It looks as if it’s just about to spill down her cheek, but I bet you it won’t be there in the morning.”

            The man laughs. “You’re imagining it. Too much wine at dinner.”

            “Say what you like. I know what I saw.” She steps back.

            She’s right, of course.  It’s the tear I cannot cry every Christmas when the magic ends.

            And we are frozen here in time and space.


Catherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain
Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is available in all digital formats and in the print anthology, What Waits In The Shadows. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories. Her novel, Saving Grace Devine, has recently been published by Samhain Publishing and her new novel -The Pendle Curse - is coming out soon.
     She lives with a longsuffering husband in North Wales. Her home was built in the mid-18th century and is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.
     When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

You can connect with Cat here:!/cat_cavendish      


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Too hot for Ya? Read coooollll... (#hockeyromance, #sportsromance, #romance #militaryromance #veteranromance #alaskaromance)

For many of us, late July is a time to stay at home in the air conditioning. And with Covid-engendered fears, this year more than ever. 

I live in Mazatlan, Mexico, a great place except for the excessve humidity in the summer months. Today, for example, is a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit that my weather app claims "feels like 99." And it does, due to the 63% humidity. And it never cools down. 

Northern California was my home for most of my life, where we enjoy the breeze flowing from the Pacific Ocean, along the delta of the Sacramento River, cooling us every evening. For example, the high in Sacramento, my former hometown, is going to be 91 today, but it will drop all the way to 57 tonight--deliciously chilly. In contrast, the low tonight in Mazatlan will be 77, really not cold enough for relief.

So if you're living in a similarly hot clime, may I invite you to enjoy a couple of books set in chillier environs?

Irresistible force, meet immovable object
Veteran Fisher Chugatt has withdrawn from the world, retreating to the Alaskan village 
where he was born and raised.

Can a sexy, lively DJ from Los Angeles 
break through his shell?
DJ Valerie Percy rejects the phony life she's lived and travels to remote Takinsha Island determined to start over. She looks for an FWB, an accessory she considers more important than mascara. She wants a warm, outgoing man to laugh with her, 
hang out with her, and shag her silly.

And then she falls for Fisher Chugatt, a loner who rejects any relationship.
Can Valerie's love heal the pain Fisher carries?
What Goodreads reviewers thought of earlier editions:
"...enjoyable... Sweet story, steamy sex and very likeable characters."
"...a good read by the pool in the summer or by the fire in the winter."
"I enjoyed this one... I liked their chemistry..."
--Heather in FL

Set in lovely, cool Alaska, this book is
guaranteed to help you think cool thoughts even though the sex is seriously hot.

Buy it here. Free with KU!


Also guaranteed for sexy thrills 
and chills is my hockey romance.

How far would you go to win your lifelong dream?

When filmmaker Zoë Whipple agrees to shoot a documentary about a hockey team’s season, she doesn’t sign on for scandal, crime and murder. But she discovers that players, rabid to win the championship, don’t let morality or the law stand in the way of their ambitions.

When a rookie dies from cardiac arrest, Zoë is saddened but not suspicious until another player, in the grip of ’roid rage, goes berserk on the ice and ends up in the hospital. Digging into the mess reveals illegal painkillers and steroid abuse among most of the team. Zoë, whose reputation for honest filmmaking is at stake, threatens to expose the scandals.

Is her new lover, team captain “Crash” Crasseau, responsible for the harassment and vandalism meant to scare her into silence? When Crasseau’s ex-wife is murdered, and Zoë’s daughter is threatened, Zoë must choose between her career ambitions and her child’s safety.

What others have said about a previous edition:

Five stars! I genuinely enjoyed this book.
--John W. Cobb, Amazon reader

Whether you are a fan of sports or not, I have no doubt you will enjoy this romance.
--Detra Fitch, Huntress Reviews

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Spice up your isolation with a little PERILOUS PLAY--on sale for 99cents! (#99cents, #KU, #BDSM)

It's no secret that this quarantine is grating on everyone's nerves, so much so that many of us are becoming sloppy about staying home and wearing masks when outside. I know that I've had it literally up to my eyeballs with my sweaty nose and absolute boredom. Couple that with a new home with a bad TV system and there's a recipe for COVID disaster.

So I've been reading a lot, and looking for new, well-written material. If you're in the same situation as I am--and a lot of you reading this are--try this:

Available in both paperback and ebook, this stunning memoir has garnered many five star reviews lauding it for its good writing and excellent, helpful content. Here are just a few:

Five stars! A candid and page-turning account.
--Tina Williams, Amazon reader

Five stars! I wish more people knew about this book - especially any sub who is either incredibly curious about this lifestyle or those serious in their wanting more knowledge or needing to find some answers.
--Kathleen Rivest, Amazon reader

Five stars! I have been active in "the lifestyle" for almost ten years and Perilous Play is a must read.
--Elena J. Kelly, Amazon reader

Five stars!  A great read for both sides of the "/" and was enjoyable to read.
--Greg W., Amazon reader



Monday, May 25, 2020

Honoring our Military---Veteran Romance on Sale Now! (#99cents #KU #militaryromance #alaskaromance #PostCombatSyndrome)

Irresistible force, meet immovable object


Veteran Fisher Chugatt has withdrawn from the world, retreating to the Alaskan village where he was born and raised.

Can a sexy, lively DJ from Los Angeles break through his shell?

DJ Valerie Percy rejects the phony life she’s lived and travels to remote Takinsha Island determined to start over. She looks for a fuck-buddy, an accessory she considers more important than mascara. She wants a warm, outgoing man to laugh with her, hang out with her, and shag her silly.

And then she falls for Fisher Chugatt, a loner who rejects any relationship.

Can Valerie’s love heal the pain Fisher carries?


This book was previously published as Seducing the Hermit. It’s been revised and re-edited for your reading pleasure.

What Goodreads reviewers thought of earlier editions:

“…enjoyable… Sweet story, steamy sex and very likeable characters.”


“…a good read by the pool in the summer or by the fire in the winter.”


“I enjoyed this one… I liked their chemistry…”

--Heather in FL

Friday, April 24, 2020

Attitude of Gratitude: COVID in Mazatlan

I don't usually talk about the value of maintaining an attitude of gratitude until November and Thanksgiving comes around. But in these strange and very trying times, I try to keep a positive outlook no matter how distressing the reality. I acknowledge what's going on while still working to find the good in any and every situation.

But there's def good stuff going on. The authorities here, while knowing they're overmatched, are taking intelligent steps.  The beaches are closed, gatherings prohibited, alcohol sales suspended. Social distancing is emphasized--grocery stores will allow only one person per family to enter. No kids and no pregnant women. The streets (at least where I go) are quiet and most people wear masks.

At this roadblock, authroties took my temperature wth a handheld device that didn't touch my skin,  and sprayed down the car with disinfectant. Also received a pamphlet about COVID-19.

There are still wonderful things here to enjoy:

Close-up of a cactus flower
Sheep or goats? I first thought goats, but a closer look revealed that
they're recently shorn sheep. I think.

My big, beautiful, empty beach, Playa Cerritos:

Pineapples growing nearby

Plants that are pathetic little houseplants 
in the USA grow to giant size here

But into each lovely life a little rain must fall. As I mentioned, alcohol sales have been suspended. Below, see my last bottle of red...opened last night (sob sob).