When I was a little boy I recall my father’s parents having one of those little hydrostatic wonders called The Drinking Bird. It’s a device roughly the size and shape of a bird that you place a glass of water in front of and dip it’s beak into. The cooling evaporation draws a liquid up a tube from the base, causing the thing to tip over on it’s pivot points from the weight imbalance, dipping it’s beak in the water again and repeating the process.

I bought some from China for the shop and set one to going this evening and it struck me that I’d always wanted one but never got around to buying one. Now I have a small batch and it dawned on me that these things should sell really well. So I ordered a dozen more. But the real point is that after all these years and all the opportunities I’ve had before to acquire one, I never did and now I wonder why not?

Anyway… There I was at the shop this morning watching the March of the Trolls, the blithering, filthy, piss-reeking, brain-fucked meth addicts walk past and seeing a couple of them wander around my shop hoping for something valuable to snatch up and sell for drugs. One who’s been in before was asking me the price of some incense hanging from a rack, and was no doubt very disappointed at it’s low price. She left after rushing about the store touching and tapping various items but stealing nothing.

I’m going to start doing what my landlord and neighbor merchant does and chase these derelicts out of the store the second they walk in. They’re only looking for something to steal anyway, and they smell really bad.

A few hours after the Troll Parade went past in the morning, the Annual Town Parade started up, with a strung-out bunch of vintage cars pulling boats with people in them and Christmas garlands on them, intermixed with vintage tractors pulling boats with people in them and Christmas garlands on them, and pickup trucks pulling boats and trailers with people in them and Christmas garlands on them, everyone calling out Merry Christmas, and young ladies on horses and little knots of people carrying banners and so forth, some of them strung out a block apart, and Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Department patrol cars with lights flashing, and a few ambulances and a couple of ancient fire trucks, and the whole affair looking kind of sporadic and spontaneous and not really planned out well even though they’ve been doing it for over 40 years, every year, it finally trickled out and ended and everyone went home.

There was no Santa Claus and no theme to the parade that I could determine. I’ve been living here for over 5 years and this is the first I knew of the Annual Parade. It was probably the worst parade I’ve ever seen, but everyone seemed to be having a really good time riding in boats and utility trailers pulled behind old cars and such, and waving to people watching them. These people in this little town are probably the most unsophisticated group I’ve ever lived among, and that’s okay with me. They’re also more open and honest than city people, and the ones who come into my shop keep telling me how really glad the shop, and I, are here.

I can see why. The Irskine fire last year happened here, and it was the second-largest fire in California during a long season of really bad fires. People died, a lot of homes were utterly destroyed and the owners lost everything, lifetime accumulations. The poverty that’s endemic here only worsened, businesses closed up and the drive to Bakersfield for supplies is a hardship. Then I come along and open up the only crafts store in the entire area, sell stuff cheaply and provide low cost entertainment. I wonder if they’ll start a religion around me after I’m gone. It would be so much nicer if they did it now, I could use some offerings of silver and gold…..

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