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Valley People (December 9, 2020)

THE ANDERSON VALLEY FOOD BANK is more than ever as crucial to struggling local families as it's been in its long history. It can be cyber-contacted at There is a donate button to press that takes one to AVFB's paypal account. Donations can also be sent to AVFB P.O. Box 692 Boonville CA 95415. The AV Food Bank distributes food twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Mondays from 3 - 6pm at the west end of the Boonville Methodist Church. Its small staff of local volunteers packs the food the morning of each distribution. “We usually pack for 100 - 120 families each distribution and serve from 609 to 1,036 people monthly depending on who shows up to receive food that month.”

A 4.4-magnitude earthquake struck between Hopland and Lakeport Sunday morning was widely felt in the Anderson Valley. The tremor was recorded at 7.03 am local time, at a very shallow depth of 5 miles below the surface. Based on the preliminary seismic data, the quake was probably felt by many people in the area of the epicenter. It did not cause significant damage, other than objects falling from shelves in areas near the epicenter. 

FOR A REAL jolt of Christmas feeling, it’s pretty hard to beat the Navarro Store, as beautiful a display as any in the county and probably the entire Northcoast. A true seasonal spectacular brought to us by proprietor Dave Evans, Kim Kice, Lisa McKenzie, and Tomiann, a steadfast team of deependers who never fail to put the ‘c’ in community.

CAPTAIN RAINBOW: “With great regret AV Grange won't be having our traditional Holiday Dinner. It's one of our most favorite things to do. Darn! But, how about a Christmas Drive-in movie at the AV Grange? OK! Take a break from all that Xmas bustle, bring the kids, (or not), wave at your friends in their car 6ft. from yours, bundle up and enjoy, from Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Saturday, December 19th. Parking lot opens at 5:00 the movie will start at dark, probably 5:30 or so. This movie is the people version starring Jim Carrey. We will have cart to car snack service including hot drinks. We obey the Covid protocols and you will too. If the rains finally come, and we feel certain it'll be rainy on Sat. the 19th we will publicize a rain date, (Sun 20th, or Tues. 22nd) Also, if there is enough interest we would like to show a movie in the doldrums between Xmas and New Years, (Dec. 27, 28, or 29) How about Modern Times with Charlie Chaplin? or…? Contact Cap Rainbow 895-3807 with excitement and ideas.

KATY TAHJA with an only-in-the-rural: “I called my daughter from town on the phone and she had to interrupt the conversation to yell at her son, ‘Don't put the chicken in the trampoline!’ She came back to the phone and said, ‘I can't believe I just said that…’ I said, ‘Tell him the chicken will poop in there if it gets excited…’ Ahhh...the joys of raising kids in the country.”

WHILE we’re stopping in Comptche at Mrs. Tahja’s house, a reader notes, “About those Incense Cedars our fave historian, Katy Tahja, wrote about in the last issue… A wonderful but long out-of-print book called “A Flora of the Vascular Plants of Mendocino County” (1990) reports they also have been identified on Yale Creek near Fish Rock Road, Red Mountain near Cummings, at the confluence of Fox Creek and the Eel River near Branscomb, and at Eden Valley, Mt. Sanhedrin and Anthony Peak. These cedar clusters are a long way away from their native Sierra habitat.”


AVJH/HS students of the Anderson Valley Service Learning Team are looking for support in advocating for the creation of a local community pool with the upcoming Parks & Recreation Grant (over $150,000).

If  you have any information regarding community pool construction, maintenance, benefits, or know of any resources that may assist them in creating a proposal for the AVCSD Recreation Committee to consider,  please do not hesitate to contact them via email:

Anderson Valley Service Learning Team

The AVCSD Recreation Committee is asking for proposals by this Saturday,  December 12, and will be reviewing proposals at their next meeting, Tuesday, December 15.

If you are interested in learning more about the grant, please see links below:

Per Capita Program Website

Per Capita Program FAQ/s

SAD to hear that Herb Dower had died. Mendo old timers, especially sports-oriented old timers, will remember Dower as the indefatigable sports reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in that paper's golden years. Herb had, no exaggeration, an encyclopedic knowledge of Northcoast high school athletics right down to schedules, won-loss records, rosters. All by himself, Herb sold a lot of papers because high school sports on the Northcoast were the very cynosure of our communities. The whole town turned out for ball games. I remember meeting the man himself at the annual Boonville Basketball Tournament, the famous Redwood Classic, a heavily-attended pre-season event that Dower covered as if it were the NBA playoffs. He was a shy, self-effacing guy who understood how central sports were (and are) to the life of small-town Northcoast. When he retired, or was forced out when the big boys from the east took over at the PD, the loss was felt from Santa Rosa to Eureka.

I GET all my covid information from Dr. Grant Colfax on the Bay Area TV news, Dr. Fauci wherever he shows up, Mendo County's daily covid chart, and random magazine articles. Governor Newsom's breathless, confusing covid briefings I tuned out months ago. (I'd pay attention to Grant Colfax's little brother, Dr. Drew Colfax here in Mendo, but I only hear KZYX early in the morning, and he appears much later in the day. These two Boonville-raised medicos, home schooled btw, do Mendo proud.) 

FIVE OR SIX YEARS AGO Dan Kuny, then logging in the Sierra foothills, told us, “There’s so many dead trees up here that if a fire ever gets going it’ll burn all the way to Reno.” He was right, and here we are with miles of burned over forest and still no plans to manage it with a view to protecting it.

LOGGER DAN worked the big fires this year out of Covelo, got his damaged ankle repaired from his nearly fatal logging accident in May of 2016 and is back at work logging a private tract in Amador County.

SHOP LOCAL. With so many small businesses struggling, buying local has never been so crucial to helping your friends and neighbors stay open and solvent than it is this holiday season. If you can’t find a reasonably priced gift in the Anderson Valley you’re not looking hard enough. 

BILL KIMBERLIN’S fascinating account of his years working to create the classic Star Wars films is called Inside the Star Wars Empire, and is available in both hard cover and paperback. The book recently got an enthusiastic thumbs-up review in the Washington Post, which says in part, “Kimberlin first directed his own indie film (American Nitro), described as having a strong cult following) but paid the bills as a visual effects expert, often as part of Industrial Light & Magic. He’s certainly an engaging storyteller.” — Michael Dirda, Washington Post. Mr. K's engaging book is on sale at Mosswood Market, downtown Boonville.

AND MR. K isn't the only person wondering, "Why is there no more public access to the Albion River? I used to be able to launch our Kayaks just up from the ocean and paddle upriver. Last time I tried this, it was all fenced off with a pay-station. Isn’t public access a fundamental right on the California Coast to both the Ocean and to the waterways that connect to the Ocean?"

LYNN SAWYER corrected my false impression that all those large boxes piled up at the Philo Post Office meant lots of new people moving in. Nope, “I had asked Johnny, at the Philo Post Office, if the population had grown to warrant so many new boxes. He said no, the new boxes are lockers for packages. The Philo Post Office has inadequate storage lockers for the number of packages they receive and they end up filling up the back room. This should help people get their packages in a more timely manner, particularly when you pick up your mail after business hours.”

MATT BARNES OF PHILO POSTS: “Important Postal Service PSA for those of us that have mandatory PO Boxes because we don’t get USPS home delivery...starting in January, the local Post Offices will be sending back any mail/packages, labeled only with your street address, the same day they are received. Currently they will hold them for about 3 days. 

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this headache multiple times. (Post Office employees - please provide further guidance if I got any info wrong.) I’ve had good success of ensuring delivery by doing my addresses this way...

Physical Address
PO Box 312 (USPS Only)
Philo, CA 95466

I have had limited success writing the zip as 95466-0312 because many automated systems change it to 95466-9XXX. 

I realize this is not like the good old days when the local POs knew who you were and put mislabeled letters/packages in your box. Please don’t turn this into a gripe session. Let’s figure out if there are ideas to ensure a high degree of successful deliveries. I think we would all love some guidance from the local Post Masters.”

AV FIRE CHIEF ANDRES AVILA: “The fire on Ray's Road in Philo on Tuesday was an escaped control burn. It was a very routine burn pile with nothing necessarily out of the ordinary but it escaped under the right conditions. Even though we had some rain in November and we are having cold nights, the current weather conditions can very easily support vegetation fires during the middle of the day. This fire managed to get the right ingredients for supporting its escape since it was on a south facing slope, it was located near grassy fuels, and there was a gentle breeze. Fire conditions during the morning hours dramatically change during the midday which is what happened here. The current burning conditions are excellent for clean and efficient burn piles but on the other hand, folks need to be extra vigilant with fire safety and closely watch the microclimates that they are in. In the end no damage, just some scorched grass and briars.”

SMITH STORY [PHILO] is a great place to shop for your gifts needs. The room is loaded with vintage home items, new and old poetry and cookbooks. A handful of Christmas cards and holiday wrapping paper etc. Located in Philo, the space in the very front of The Madrones. “Our wine is also available for purchase without tastings. We open around 11am and close around 5pm. One person/group inside at a time, masks on of course.”

GEORGE HOLLISTER COMMENTS: "Re, A Brief History of Highway 128: Great writing Mr. Smoot. I hope we have a chance to read more of your writings. I have a question; on the East side of 128 going from Boonville to Cloverdale, on the final grade going down, there are is a set of switchback turns. These sharp turns are problematic, which leaves me wondering how come 128 doesn’t continue down at an even grade before the top turn in the set of switchbacks? There appears to be enough flat road below to accommodate an even grade road, with no switchbacks. Is there a cliff? A big hard rock?"

ALSO: “In the early 1920s, when one of my great uncles, John Finley Robertson, owned that eastern acreage, this area experienced such a prolonged drought of multiple years length that his milk cow eventually strolled across what had been a deep part of the stream, barely dampening her hooves. I think that drought was in the early to mid 1920s. I heard the Newmans of Comptche describe how they ran out of water for their cows then, and had to hand dig a new well on their property in the upper portion of Winery Gulch. I imagine this then required daily bucketing of water to supply the heard. I know a rancher in the Boonville area who in today’s drought is doing a similar version of the same. That consists of pumping from a well into a 350 gallon pickup mounted tank, and making the required trips to water the herd. With livestock, a rancher has no choice. Either get the animals water, or they will be out looking for it themselves anyplace their noses can find it, which might be on a neighbor many miles away."

WALKING around outside in the Boonville dark is normally uneventful, but I often do it to exercise in peace. But the pre-dawn has its excitements. Over the years I've walked straight into the side of a sheep standing in the middle of Anderson Valley Way, and twice have nearly walked into a man standing silent and immobile, also on Anderson Valley Way. Full-striding into the sheep occurred on a dark night made darker by a thick tule fog, a night only a person with severe OCD tendencies would have been out in in the first place. The immobile guy? I will always suspect the guy standing silent in the roadway deliberately did a number on me since he did it twice, although a neighbor told me he was pretty sure that the immobile guy was simply “a Mexican guy waiting for his ride to work.” In the middle of the road in the dark, and hearing my lumbering gait and the metronomic tap of my walking stick moving toward him? And he just stands in my path without moving? Huh? Huh? Huh? Answer me! Ordinarily I'm not out for an aerobic re-charge that early, but there are days when the day starts at four, and who am I to thwart The Great Design? “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.” So the other morning I got up and out before dawn for an hour quick time up and down Lambert Lane. The moon had sunk into the sea off Albion, the sun had not appeared over Hopland. It was very dark, and real dark once past the Lambert neighborhood. I'm trucking along, my flashlight in my pocket, listening to the hypnotically predictable Tanzina Vega on KZYX feeling fortunate to have eluded Thom Hartmann — American liberals have never been more predictable, more boring — visibility a few yards when, suddenly, this guy appears. Startled, I shout, “Good morning.” He moves toward me. Jeez, did he think I wanted to stop and chat? I shout louder, “Keep going!” He keeps going. I think he was carrying something, cradling whatever it was, with both arms. A 5150? A disoriented homeless guy? Who knows. The times are way out of joint, and the destabilized are everywhere even on Lambert Lane at 5:30am. I'd prepared to give him the old boot camp butt stroke I'd mastered during pugil stick training, but I seemed to have startled him as much as he'd startled me, and when we both moved on I was again king of the Boonville pre-dawn. I felt a tiny bit of remorse for having yelled at whoever it was, but why had he taken a couple of steps towards me, me an inviolate senior citizen innocently exercising to postpone his rendezvous with The Reaper? 

THE YORKVILLE MARKET IS hosting our last community dinner for 2020 this Friday, 12/11.  We will be serving a delicious meal of Chicken Cacciatore over creamy polenta with green beans as our main course, and olive oil (locally sourced) cake with marscapone whipped cream and Yorkville quince sauce for dessert.  The price per person is $25.00.   This meal will be take-out only, and reservations are required by Thursday at noon.  Please call us at (707) 894-9456 or email me back at to reserve your spot.  When you make your reservations, I will confirm with a pickup time to avoid any bottlenecks in the checkout process.   Also, remember that if you are looking for a locally sourced one of a kind gift to give this holiday season, we have a lovely selection of soaps and lotions, art, pottery and artisan food products available right here at the Market.   Wishing you all a merry end to 2020 and a fantastic beginning to 2021!

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