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Valley People (January 18, 2023)

RAY AND JANE ZENI maintain their old family ranch 16 miles out Fish Rock Road, Yorkville. They had a very large pine tree fall on their house on January 4th. A Go Fund Me has been set up for them. Give a helping hand if you can.

THIS PHOTO is of the Zeni home, destroyed by a falling tree during the recent storms. The Zenis, Mendo settlers from early in the 20th century, maybe a little earlier, at a time when many Italian immigrants arrived on the Northcoast and have thrived ever since. Zeni the first claimed a homestead deep on Fish Rock Road, for years the only settled ranch for miles. Read somewhere that Zeni the first walked all the way into Cloverdale to meet the northbound train carrying his bride to him, the last stop for her after leaving Italy, and then the two of them walked all the way back out to their home on deep Fish Rock where they worked hard and prospered, and where their descendants still live.


The General Knowledge and Trivia Quiz returns next week...

We are back on the usual Quiz schedule of 1st and 3rd Thursdays so I hope to see you on January 19th at Lauren’s at The Buckhorn, tipping off at 7pm.

You know it makes sense.


Steve Sparks, The Quizmaster.


If you are in need of some storm clean up, culverts, fence fixing, or clean up from fallen trees please call or text me at (805) 816-4169 or email me

$30 per hour

Thank you,


OLIVIA ALLEN WRITES: I wanted to reach out and let you know that both things we have seen in the AVA so far about my parent's accident have had a lot of errors. My mom says she will reach out later to correct them all, but the main thing I wanted to share is that she and I have been in Santa Rosa with dad in the ICU since the day after the accident. We have not been staying at home, we've been by his side.

WE HOPE Bill is back with us soon. We miss his visits to the ava office, but we merely relayed the accident report in which there was little to no room for error. 

MATIAS VIETTO, the 22-year-old Argentinian who robbed the Mi Esperanza market in Boonville at gunpoint back on December 9 has been returned to Mendocino County and booked into the County jail to face charges of robbery (of an estimated $20,000) and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony. 

Matias Vietto

VIETTO, Boonville's gun-slinging wine intern, presumably, is now housed at the Mendocino County Jail. Was the young Argentine a wine intern? Middleclass name, middleclass puss, Argentina is a burgeoning wine center, and what diff does it make anyway? Well, none, really, but it's interesting to learn that there’s also a famous Italian winery called Vietto, and our Boonville Vietto is likely related. We just might see a high priced lawyer hired to defend this wayward Vietto. There’s precedent. When wealthy, young foreign nationals were busted in a dope raid back in the day, the Ukiah courtroom overflowed with five thousand dollar suits hired by their families and, in one case, the Italian consul himself appeared to ensure his wayward countryman eluded prison. This Vietto kid’s likely conviction for armed robbery will get him at least ten years in the state pen unless our wine guy DA takes pity and they go wine tasting together, so to speak.

FRANKLIN GRAHAM: The new book by Darwin Bond-Graham and Ali Winston, ‘The Riders Come Out at Night’ was released on January 10, 2023, by Simon and Schuster. As one who has written many articles for the AVA, and is a part-time resident at Navarro, you may be interested with the “buzz” online for the book. The New York Times has a review, as does the SF Chronicle. The book’s rollout is now taking shape. The AVA had a hand in Darwin’s early career as a journalist.


Due to the increase in wet weather after three years of drought, the Mendocino County Maintained Road system will be experiencing increases in the appearance of potholes on County Roads. County Road Crews will work to address these potholes, in a systematic manner but there may be delays.

Road Crews are busy with the re-opening of roads blocked by trees & slides due to the severe weather conditions and must prioritize public safety first. As weather conditions improve, crews will systematically move through areas patching all potholes prioritizing the main collector roads in the county. While we encourage reporting of potholes, we ask the public to understand that response for “location calls” for potholes is not efficient, so responses will be delayed until the area is visited.

Please be aware that as the heavy rain continues, wet patched fixes often wash back out. This is common across many county roads. Therefore, residents and visitors should expect more potholes as rain comes from now until April.

Remember to adjust your speed for conditions (slow down on rough roads) and stay in your lane of travel. Potholes are not a justification to depart your lane of travel and conditions may require planning trips with a longer travel time.

To report dangerous road conditions or a major pothole, please contact the Mendocino County Department of Transportation at 707-463-4363. (County Transpo Dept. Presser)

A READER COMMENTS: "The Palace Hotel is Ukiah’s business, and I am not from Ukiah, so let Ukiah do what they do. But I have a question, what is the attraction of the Palace Hotel, other than its history? Was it ever on any list of attractive buildings in Ukiah? For the last 60 years I have driven or walked by this building, and spent a night there, but not once have I taken much notice of it beyond its wall of brick that cannot be fully seen because of the tight quarters of the location. Brick structures continue to be built today, they are not unique. Quaint bars, and restaurants with attractive features continue to be built as well. But I have a question, what is the attraction of the Palace Hotel, other than its history?"

“OTHER THAN ITS HISTORY?” I'd say the history of the Palace is significant in the memories of a lot of Mendo people, although its architecture is ordinary, but in these rootless times memories of a better time is all we have. My late friend, Richard 'Dick' Day of Philo's pioneer Day Ranch, since blasphemously obliterated by a winery, told me how as a kid freshly inducted into the Army, he decided to splurge on the most luxurious last free night he could think of — a night in the Palace Hotel. Dick said the Army had told him he'd be home in a year. "I was home five years later," he recalled with an ironic chuckle, after having served in every major European campaign during World War Two.

NAVARRO RIVER AT GREENWOOD BRIDGE ... never seen it like this in 22 years! We still haven't reached our old "normal" of 40" but probably will this week. (Mary Pat Palmer)

EILEEN TOPPLES AT HENDY WOODS: RIP “Eileen”- I can’t really believe it… I always ensured people that she’d be standing for long after I was retired. A tree that seemed to defy the laws of physics with its massive tilt. 

Testament to the redwoods collaborative strength in numbers, having weathered hundreds of years of storms. When she lost one of 3 siblings that helped her stay ballasted, the support of the remaining two were not enough to cantilever her weight. 

An eerie crackle sent chills down my spine this morning… A widow maker? No, this sounded more like the slow bending and twisting of wood a hundred feet away…Then popping, that increased in frequency until snap… I spot several branches rain from the canopy. A thunderous roar echoed through the cathedral of giants as I see her crash to the ground. The forest seemed uneasy for the few minutes after, the remaining debris of foliage followed slowly to blanket the fallen. 

Of all the trees in this grove, this was the only one I named… Eileen, though meant only as a corny dad joke that has caught it’s fair share of sympathy laughs. I never thought I’d see the day, but I’ll never forget it either.

— Steve Jahelka, Philo

LOTS OF US regard Hendy Woods as one of the many public areas that we take a proprietary interest in, so I wasn't surprised to learn that an ancient redwood called “Eileen” by her human family “lost her battle with gravity” and fell this week. Bob, Harry, Mabel, and Lisa remain standing.


Like Everyone, it's been a rough 2 months. Started the first storm besides tree lost our whole power system went down. We have a major off grid system that runs everything including the machine shop. Water came down the conduit from the panels up the hill and dumped on the inverters in the power bunker. Fried. It took almost a month without power to give up trying to fix it. We found a very experienced contractor (GOD to Us) Who has us temporarily going. We spend 3 or more hours a day since then cutting and digging trees and ditches on 6.5 miles of ranch roads and infrastructures. Then the 6 draft horses we have aren't usually locked in 24 hours a day. What a huge amount of poo mixed in saw dust to clean. Bubby our old man horse tried to colic- fine now. We picked the worst placement. We have had bad wind 40- 60 mile an hour almost every day. Hard hat any time outdoors. Went to the neighbors ranch, not a single branch down. We have 300 acres of redwood forest even if you have cleared and thinned made pastures if you trees are 100-200ft tall there is nowhere you won’t be hit by one. Well enough whining here are a few pictures.


Well there she blows! The big fir went 6:00 this morning. It had 3 ways to go. Of course it took the worst. It went right thru the center of the grove. Happy it's down but now we lost 3 from the grove and 5 going to come down that were healthy and in the ground half out of the ground 2 aiming right for the barn and if my clinometer is correct they will take almost 1/2 the girls side. 2 more fences and posts down. Girls are moved around. I just hope when it's all over( the girls have taken quite a beating over the last 2 months) that they can emotionally recover. They are quite terrified. All these trees measure out 100 to 137 ft. The root ball on the fur is about 18 feet in diameter. Just a waiting game for now. Just way too much windy to help the trees down.


A Mendocino County Superior Court jury returned from its deliberations late on Wednesday afternoon to announce it had found the trial defendant guilty as charged … plus some.

Defendant Stacey Eugene Rose, age 52, generally of the Ukiah area, was originally charged with one felony count of criminal threats and three misdemeanor counts, to wit, brandishing a replica firearm, resisting or delaying a peace officer, and vehicle tampering. 

At the conclusion of the People’s case-in-chief, the prosecutor asked for leave of court to amend the charging document to conform to the People's proof that had been presented to the jury. 

That motion was granted, meaning that two additional and separate misdemeanor counts of vehicle tampering were added to the list of charges the jury would eventually be asked to decide.

Accordingly, having started the trial looking at four criminal charges, the defendant ended the trial facing six criminal counts, with the jury finding the defendant guilty of all six.

After the jury was excused, the defendant and his case were referred to the Mendocino County Adult Probation Department for a background study and sentencing recommendation.

The defendant was ordered back to court on Wednesday, February 15th at 9 o’clock in the morning in Department B of the Ukiah courthouse for consideration of the probation report and recommendation, and for formal sentencing.

The law enforcement agencies that investigated the defendant’s crimes and assisted the prosecutor in preparing the case for trial were the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s own Bureau of Investigations.

The prosecutor who presented the People’s evidence to the jury and argued for the verdicts that were returned was Deputy District Attorney Jamie Pearl.

Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Victoria Shanahan presided over the three-day trial and will be the sentencing judge on February 15th.

(DA Presser)

ALL OF WHICH stemmed from one episode where Stacey, distraught on the end of a relationship he’s well out of, brandished a fake gun at his family's home on Lambert Lane, threatening suicide and general mayhem. The Sheriff himself, Matt Kendall, a shirttail relative, talked Stacey down.

STACEY'S fundamentally a good guy, Known him since he was a kid, and I'm confident I speak for a lot of Anderson Valley people with similar perceptions of the guy. He's obviously going through a rough patch, but he'll pull himself together and resume his normal, employed functioning. It's not in anybody's interest to pack him off to prison. I hope the probation office and the court will recognize that this one episode was atypical, that Stacey is not a violent person, but a person with a long history of non-criminal behavior who, despite this event, will always be a presumed member in good standing of the Anderson Valley community. 

AS A FACEBOOK enrollee, I can't help being distracted by the occasional video, especially those culled from pro wrestling. What a great show some of these guys put on, and how clever their writers are at the huge, and hugely varied insults and promises of mayhem they come up with. A little bit goes a long way, however, and it surprises me that so many people pay to watch it all live.

PRO WRESTLING reminds me of the weirdest apartment I rented as a reluctant student at SF State in 1963. I rented it with my youngest brother because it was cheap and within walking distance to the school. (It took me years to realize that rather than squandering all that seat time to get a diploma in subjects I was innately interested in is a reading list, and maybe an exam at some point if you think you need certification. Of course as a kid you'd somehow need to be pointed in the direction of a trustworthy reading list provider, and I didn't know any. Still don't, truth to tell, but the fave book lists submitted by ava readers recently certainly qualified most of them.)

SO I FOUND this odd place on Ramsell Street, a dreary, fogged-in neighborhood whose only virtue was proximity to Factory University. The apartment's only access was by a homemade elevator crafted by the old man who owned the house. If the place caught fire we would have had to jump off the roof because the elevator was it for in and out, and it took the rattletrap old cage whole minutes to grind up and down a distance less than twenty feet.

EVERY NIGHT, the old man watched television wrestling. We could hear him cheering on the heroes and booing the villains. He was totally into it, so far into it he'd run into his elevator and grind his way up to us to complain about some staged outrage he'd just witnessed, sputtering indignantly that “something should be done about it.” We'd calm him down and tell him not to worry because it was faked, and he'd grind back down to ringside pacified for the moment. I got so I dreaded the sound of that elevator because I knew the old guy had again been spooked by the antics of Gorgeous George or some other ring villain popular at the time. He was a widower, so he watched alone, and we were the only people he could share the experience with.

THE FAMOUS ARTIST, Charles Surendorf, had a son that lives in Comptche who built a vault in his house for dad’s artwork. Surendorf senior was a contemporary and friend of local block print artist EmmyLou Packard who did famous prints of Mendo and Dor Bothwell, a Mendo artist. He had a studio in Columbia (Ca) and when state parks bought the whole town and demanded everyone dress like old timers Surendorf refused until he was evicted by the state. Herb Caen was a good friend of his. Surendorf loved stirring the flames of discontent 1906-1979.

AMONG THE MANY THINGS I don't know much about, count art, especially local art. Always admired the paintings of Olaf Palm and James Maxwell, and from what I've seen of it, I like Virginia Sharkey's abstracts. My all-time faves are my late friend Frank Cieciorka’s landscape paintings of Southern Humboldt, and Peter Allegaert’s Goodbye Mendo paintings, and I feel fortunate indeed to have known Joe Cave well enough when he lived in Boonville to have him gift me a large oil of a vista off Peachland Road. 

ON A CHILLY JANUARY AFTERNOON in San Francisco, at the top of a long flight of wooden stairs leading down to Baker Beach, the cold and rain having excluded the usual exhibitionists who destroy the stunning natural visuals, I look out at the Marin side of the Golden Gate and think of Weldon Kees, poet and original beatnik, who had driven to the Marin end of the bridge on Monday, July 18, 1955, parked in the view lot, walked out onto the bridge and jumped. Another writer, MFK Fisher, said she'd always fought off an urge to hurl herself over the side whenever she was walking mid-span. Me too, and I'm not suicidal, and not that these random memories are relevant to the rest of this personal geography, but like most people I can't stop what runs through my mind at certain sites, and this is what first runs through mine whenever I see that inimitable bridge.

As does my most vivid bridge experience ever when I was on driving across the bridge with my father one afternoon in 1952. As the fog howled through the Golden Gate, the hood of my father's lime green junker of a DeSoto cab he’d bought for 100 bucks complete with jump seats between the driver and the princely plush leather of the rear thrones, suddenly flew up and over the side of the bridge. "Jesus Christ!" he exclaimed. "Did you see that?" Couldn't have missed it, pop. 

In another memorable commute the old man had run out of gas on the bridge on his way to work, then he ran out of gas again on the bridge on his way home. "You again," the tow truck driver had said. "I think you just set a record, buddy." A few years later, as a not so keen teen, I sped across the bridge from Marin to San Francisco one night with a carload of hilarious classmates, and right on through the 25-cent tollgate without throwing the 25 cents in the collection basket, careening on into the Marina where a small army of cops jerked us out of the car, shoved us around, righteously yelling that we were "a bunch of little assholes," wrote the driver a huge ticket, took our names, confiscated the car, and told us to get the hell out of their sight forever. "Or else." Or else what? Even then sanctions were mild to non-existent.

The Indians said that San Francisco Bay was once a great inland lake secured at its narrow Pacific mouth by a continuous land mass from Marin and San Francisco out to the Farallones. The Indians said a lot of things, most of them ignored or dismissed as myth, but on both sides of the Golden Gate the fractured geology seems to confirm the Indians' long memory of a stupendous earthquake that opened up the Golden Gate to the Pacific, and it is fact that in 1880 to make the Golden Gate safely navigable a huge rock, perhaps the last remnant of the ancient, single landmass that joined Marin and San Francisco, was dynamited out of the channel, its obstructing remnant more evidence that Marin and San Francisco once were one.

And I think of everything else the bridge means to me, all the times I've crossed it, and the time I crossed it and kept on going north to Mendocino County, the least chronicled area of all of the United States, where I went on living, mostly, for the rest of my days.

But today, looking across the narrow mouth of the bay from Baker Beach, I can almost smell the acacia sweetened air of the lambent, late winter Corte Madera where, when I was a child, immigrant Sicilians raised cows in their backyards and white Russians shared their home brew vodka with their neighbors. The Sicilians called the Russians Molotov and the Russians called the Sicilians Mussolini, and they all belonged to a volunteer fire department that threw a big 4th of July drunk and barbecue after an inter-departmental water fight between the Corte Madera and Larkspur volunteers with their firehoses washing each other down Magnolia Avenue. "Negroes" and "mongols" were not allowed to buy or even rent property anywhere in the county except in Marin city, the Sausalito shipyard suburb that came with World War II. 

And Mount Tamalpais, the serene green sentinel looking down on the accelerating events beneath it, as always, eternally indifferent.

By 1970, the symptoms of the last illness were becoming clear — class and race warfare, drugs, random violence, the seemingly endless war on Vietnam, feral children, bad feeling everywhere. Name your pathology, it was up and running by 1970, busting on upfield, eluding all its old tacklers, straight arming convention, galloping along through the gathering dark. By 2007 there was another endless war underway and new, more ominous symptoms of the rolling collapse joined the old ones — water shortages, mysterious plagues, geologic cataclysms, civil strife, fire and ice.

I wanted out and north I went, all the way to Boonville, to Mendocino County, the big empty where the remnant Indians had begun their ghost dances in 1870, and what they saw coming was a great cataclysm that would shake the earth free of the white people who didn't know how to live on it, and the great god Taikomol would bring all the Indians back to life for a great restoration of the true people of the earth, while the people who had brought the great sickness down on these true people and their abundant earth would be gone.

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