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Valley People (November 26, 2023)

FORMER 5th District supervisor David Colfax died at his Boonville home on Sunday, November 12. 

MARSHALL NEWMAN sends along a photograph of the fabled Wieses:


Petit Teton Farm is open daily 9-4:30, except Sunday 12-4:30. As well as the large inventory of jams and pickles made from everything we grow, we also have perfectly raised pigs and cows and sell USDA beef and pork. There also are stewing hens, squab, and occasionally rabbits for sale and right now we have fresh fruits available...pears, Asian pears, quince, and apples. 

18601 Highway 128, Boonville

707 / 684-4146

We'd love to see you. 

Nikki and Steve

Creeping up on the 59th anniversary of the '64 Xmas flood.


Friday 2-5pm and Saturday 11am-4pm

For fresh produce we will have:apples, pears, winter squash (delicata, acorn, kabocha, butternut), cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, chard, kale, chicories, arugula, spinach, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, and herbs. We will also have dried fruit, tea blends, olive oil, fresh and dried flower bouquets, and everlasting wreaths available. Plus some delicious flavors of Wilder Kombucha!

For folks who are looking to make applesauce, we have #2 quality apples available for purchase in 40lb cases. Please email Annie in advance if you would like to pick up a case at the farm stand this week! (#2 apples are just cosmetically damaged but perfectly delicious!) $60/40 lb case 

All produce is certified biodynamic and organic. Follow us on Instagram for updates @filigreenfarm or email with any questions. We accept cash, credit card, check, and EBT/SNAP (with Market Match)!

Shop Filigreen Farm and Boonville Barn Collective at Velma’s Farmstand on Saturday December 2nd from 11-4and pick up an array of holiday gifts grown a mile apart on Anderson Valley Way!

Filigreen Farm will have everlasting and evergreen wreaths and bouquets, olive oil, dried fruit, tea blends, and late fall produce.

Boonville Barn will have a variety of chile powders, chile flakes, whole dried chiles, gift bundles, dry beans (!), strawberry & chile jam, and other items from the farm. 

Velma’s Farmstand is located at 11750 Anderson Valley Way.


I attended Tumbling McD  [Philo] as a camper from 1972 to 1976, and would stay the entire 6 weeks (e.g., 3 two week sessions back to back). I remember the head counselors Karen and Kevin, and some of the others (Danny?). Kevin saved a kid once, it happened in a flash of a second that a horse decided to roll with the kid in the saddle, and within a fraction of a second he was kicking that horse, and biting his ear to get him back on his feet. Fortunately, the kid was not hurt, but I remember being amazed that Kevin was so observant and protective over his little charges, and sprung into action from his horse nearby like a super hero. He saved that kid’s life that day.

I had a horse named Blue, who was given to me solely because I developed good ridership skills, and she was spooky and had a tendency to scare kids who were assigned to her. I loved Blue, and always asked for her, because she and I had a rapport. Whenever her ears went back, I knew she was signaling that she was about to do something, like back into a branch or tree, or dart sideways, or worse, kick the horse behind. She couldn’t help being bad from time to time, but she never intentionally hurt me, it was always because of something that scared her or made her skittish. She grew to like me, and we got along great each summer.

Loved the overnight ride to the river campground, where we had the most delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried potatoes ever!

I remember Archie inviting us to swim at the pool in the afternoons, he was by then quite old, but had a tall TV antenna installed, I don’t think he had great reception, it was hit or miss, and it seemed like he was disappointed when some of his favorite shows were washed out in static. He also would come up to attend the campfire singalongs from time to time, and for the weekly square dances, and of course the end of session horse shows. I think he loved seeing all the young kids enjoying themselves, like a grandpa would his own grandkids. It was like family there, and we were treated as such.

One of the highlights of the session would be an overnighter to a dark and lonely campground way up the mountain where Kevin would recount his story about Big Foot. One of the counselors would hide in the woods, and then make a sudden appearance as Big Foot, to scare all the campers. It got to be a yearly tradition, so nobody was really fooled, but it was fun!

I didn’t’ know it then, but there was a music camp that I also was to attend in later years at El Ranch Navarro, across the river from Tumbling McD. The Berkeley Youth Orchestra had rented out the place for a retreat, and I remember as a cello participant who was playing Kol Nidre by Max Bruch, that I was right next door to my old summer camp!

I wonder if the old picnic tables are still there at Tumbling McDee where we all carved our names into the wood? That would be a blast from the past to remember all the campers who attended over the years!


“Kevin runs the Indian Creek Inn behind Brambles in Philo. He has a great memory of the tumbling McD days and is excellent at story telling. The Michells who owned the ranch when I was a child did some amazing landscaping around Archie’s house which still stands. There is a 90-foot pool and multiple cabins. The kids camp compound is mostly standing with the original signs on each door. The Wentzels added a vineyard in the 2000s but mostly neglected the ranch. My wife and I owned the ranch for a few years recently, but covid hampered our plans for a wedding retreat. While cleaning the ranch we did not notice any tables with carving but did meet several people who had attended the camp and loved having them stop by.”

THE GREENWOOD COMMUNITY CHURCH/ Greenwood Civic Club is sponsoring its 23rd annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday, December 2, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

The fair will be held at the Greenwood Community Center in downtown Elk. Take home jewelry, pottery, wreaths, food products, bath & body items and other handcrafted delights for all ages. Come support your local organizations and artisans. Snacks and lunch will be available for purchase. Funds raised will help maintain the historic Greenwood Community Church. For more information, or to inquire about booth rental, contact Mary O'Brien at (248) 917-3369.


HIGH SCHOOL football coach, John Toohey, has done a remarkable job in molding a group of rookies into a fiercely competitive team that this season made it all the way into the small school playoffs. John was a formidable athlete himself who went on from Boonville to play at the college level. This comment of his resonated with me: “…I don't know what kind of future this game will have in Boonville beyond this school year, but if there is one thing this season has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind, is that the transformational potential of the game of football, and the amount of consistency, accountability, communication, respect and sheer work it takes to be successful playing this game, not only outweighs its dangers, it is the dangers themselves that are integral to the teaching of these invaluable lessons. And while I will continue to coach a brand of football that is as safe as possible, I will also fervently defend the game as an important and vital educational tool for the development of young men of a certain demeanor.”

I AGREE. Young men of that “certain demeanor” are the many young men whose naturally combative physicality can be productively worked off by sports, especially football. 

MUCH of my excess testosterone-fueled aggression was worked off playing sports in high school. I played football and baseball in high school, but not basketball because I detested the basketball coach, and he, me. As a high school kid I was tall, skinny and slow. I didn't fit on a football field. They put me at receiver where I could catch but was too slow to do more than catch the ball. They put me at center where I regularly got creamed by big fat guys. They even put me at quarterback for desperation pass plays because I could heave the ball downfield to a little fast guy named Freddy Thomas. We never connected. In the fifties, coaching was poor, weight training unknown, conditioning was, “Do twenty push-ups and take a lap around the field.” Practices were torture sessions of meat grinders and gauntlets, but the Friday night lights were pure ecstasy.

THOUGHS FROM A FORMER RAINBOW COMMUNE MEMBER. (The iconic commune on Greenwood Road, now a vineyard.)

The first winter brought feelings of freedom and liberation and an intense connection to the land. I lived in a tipi for the entire winter of ’72-’73 with around 75 inches of rainfall, one of the largest on record. Social life was always available at the “pantry”’ a 12’x16’ building that served as kitchen, living room, and gossip chamber for the 15 or so brave souls who stuck it out for the first winter at Rainbow: Jack and Kay, Sam and Judy, Mark and Laurel, Jim C., Jerry B., Crazy Patti, porn star Ken S. from time to time, Ron K. a crusty New York Jew who was funny and very intellectual with a thick Brooklyn accent, and Erik K., a bamboo and shakuhachi flute maker from New York who looked like Allen Ginsburg. 

Ukiah Commune, 1970

No shortage of entertainment from this motley crew. Mornings and evenings in the pantry were always lively, especially when a jug of Red Mountain vino or DeKuyper blackberry brandy was around when someone could afford it. But this was no party scene. It was an intense work scene. We pretty much worked from 7am or at the latest 8am until dark most every day sometimes taking Sunday off for a day of rest. Jim and I were respected right off because we knew how to work. We had learned organic gardening on our own in Berkeley and took immediately to planting the garden at Rainbow, an ambitious venture given the enormity of the task and the expectation of the early communards whose place we were visiting, not yet accepted fully as new members. For me it was an incredible education in hard knocks after four years in the Berkeley “ivory tower.” Even with Berkeley’s street education in People’s Park, Stop the Draft Week, MLK and RFK assassinations, the tail end of FSM, etc. 

To be living on 300 acres in the wilderness, learning how to pump water, carrying gravel down steep hillsides, making shakes with a froe, building the “Main House” from the ground up with redwood rounds for foundations, learning how to snap a chalk line and hold a plumb bob… These were all new and exciting life skills of which I relished every moment, despite the relentless and exhausting efforts thereof – most of all it was real. There was something about all the very hard toil and sweat that bonded us early communards tightly together. And the connection to the land was unequalled in anything else I’d ever done up to that point. I was truly in love with this new life and figured out early on, certainly before the end of the summer of 1973 that I was bonded to the land and city life could be no more for me. My heart and soul were firmly entrenched with the land and the endless night sky. This was before cell phones, google, the internet, fax machines, and even calculators – in fact I remember buying the very first calculator I could find at Value Giant in Ukiah for about $29 and amazing everyone at the commune. 

I remember when I was 10 years old, I came across the Sunset House catalog that was the first catalog I’d ever seen with great gadgets and the fascination never ceased right up until I started Real Goods – a catalog for land dwelling off-the-gridders like myself who had become entranced with this lifestyle I loved so much. I remember buying from that Sunset House catalog a “magic brain calculator” a forerunner of an electronic calculator – a fancy abacus of sorts that led to hours of enjoyment for me accentuating my fascination and talent for numbers and all things mathematical. 

Back to the night sky: In college I’d developed a great love of both astrology and astronomy – the former came likely from my maternal grandmother, who founded “the First College of Astrology and Numerology” in Santa Monica in the early 1920s around the time when Rudolf Steiner was developing the Biodynamic Principals, Krishnamurti (her friend) was starting his Self-Realization Fellowship in West L.A. by Pacific Coast Highway 101, and when my grandmother knew Manly Hall and Dane Rudhyar, accomplished occultists and astrologers in their time. She had willed her natal and progressed astrological charts to me, figuring out through my double-Scorpio laden horoscope, that I was the one in the family most likely to appreciate her occult legacy. 

I read a lot in Berkeley and dabbled into the Tarot, and discovered that both of these disciplines were a handy way to gain favor with a young woman’s heart by providing the focused attention and deep understanding that these “sciences” brought to communication. My love of astrology led to learning about astronomy and a fascination with the stars where I learned the names and positions of all the constellations as well as the names of probably 100 or more stars like Zuben-el-junubi and Zuben-es-schamali, the two stars of Libra, Shaula, the stinger of Scorpius, and the relationship between the constellations: follow the tail of the big dipper for an “arc to Arcturus” and a “spike to Spica” – the center of Virgo. I ate up astronomy and took great pleasure in spending countless hours at night in the incomparable beauty of the Rainbow nights void of any city light pollution, star chart in hand, learning all the stars I could. I saved up and bought a Celestron 8 cassegrain telescope which furthered my penetration ever deeper into the night sky. 

Once again, here, being an early 20’s healthy young male, I soon discovered that the stars, knowledge of the cosmos, and a “come and look through my telescope” approach was quite successful at wooing young women to my domain. And being on the commune which ranged from a population of 12-15 over the winter to maybe 20-30 in the summer, having company with a woman could be rare, and the influx of lovely and interesting female companionship was the subject of some competition among us single men. 

Earlier I digressed from talking about the early lack of technology where I was going to mention that our only form of communication in the early 70s was CB Radio. I quickly purchased one and used it to talk to locals including Dennis Podden, who was the caretaker of Allen Green’s vineyard, before Allan moved up to the ridge. My handle became “Big Dipper” reflecting my love of the night sky.

The social/political life on the commune was intense. Jack H. was a good 10-20 years older than the rest of us, born I think June 3, 1933, making him 81 today. Jerry B., Mark J., and I were all 1949ers and Jim C. a 1947er so naturally Jack at 40 years old in 1973 had elder status. In addition he and his friend Jim C. as well as Mark J. had put the small down payment on the land, leaving the rest of us with a balloon payment due in 1978 for $60,000. The cost of the land was only $200/acre back then. But in addition to Jack being the oldest of us, he also had a big ego, an Italian/New Jersey strong personality and a wicked temper. 

We weren’t a religious commune, and we really had no common vision other than the fact that we all loved the land, nature, sought alternatives to the capitalistic society we’d all been raised in, and we had all been radicalized in the ‘60s and were somewhat political. Finding that common vision was problematic and elusive, and of course, Jack thought his vision was the vision. 

Our vehicle for discussing such heady topics was our “Sunday Morning Meetings” which took place at 10am after a nice pancake breakfast and ran for a couple of hours. Topics ranged from who we would allow to come and live at Rainbow, to who washed the dishes and made dinner, to goat husbandry, chicken husbandry, who wasn’t working hard enough, and in Jack’s words, “who was obsessed by their own personal bullshit trip.” These meetings generally were not particularly fun, and often turned into Jack pulling rank and demanding his way. Nevertheless, these were the closest family times we all had together and we tried to work through the issues and the aches and pains of a bunch of suburban mostly privileged kids living for the first time in community with no rules whatsoever to speak of. It was at once frustrating, energizing, and fascinating as the world was our oyster and everything was possible. We were a “lord of the flies” group learning how to live together apart from the society in which we’d been unwillingly bred into. And I loved it.

* * *

An excerpt from a letter written to me recently by my sister: 

“I just read John’s musings on Rainbow that he wrote a couple of years ago, and it made me think of how little I appreciated the profound work that went into its creation. It’s not surprising that we have such disparate recollections as our ages were so far apart; John had just graduated from U.C. Berkeley, and I was just a young girl fresh from the Mediterranean.

Unlike John’s joy at discovering the pleasure of living off the land, my memories of living at Rainbow were anything but idyllic. They were colored by a sense of deprivation and utter despair. I hated the place, the grungy lifestyle, the dirt. I was ashamed of our plywood dome-shaped house with its plexiglass windows and aphid infested tree growing out of it. 

The lack of water, lugging plastic jugs up the hill to sleep on hard floors with nothing to cover us but flimsy sleeping bags. Braving the cold to use the shitter, toilet paper hidden in a rusty coffee can. Privacy was another luxury none of us were afforded. We had no choice but to live in a one-room house and listen to our mother have sex with a man who said he wanted to suck my toes, something that only made me long for the day when I would never have to endure such misery.

Was it because we were late to the scene and all the hard work had already been done or was it that we were just kids who just wanted to have friends over without being ashamed of who we were? That I held no appreciation for the ideals of communal living? Was it the horror of our first visit where we were greeted by a group of hairy, half-naked men in the dark, dirt-floored pantry in the stifling heat of summer that made me think my Mom had lost her fucking mind? Is it any wonder we didn’t want to live there? 

Mom never gave us a logical reason to appreciate communal life, she was never much for spouting the ideology of back-to-the-land movement, and I suspect, even if she had, we would have dismissed it as a selfish desire to continue her drop out regardless of how it affected us. She didn’t owe us an explanation, nor did she feel a reason to give us one; just that we should shut up and get over it because we didn’t have a choice in the matter. As she was so fond of saying, “If you don’t like it – leave,” adding, “and don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” (— SM)

“THE CHRONICLE previously reported that in 2018, almost 33,000 pounds of glyphosate were used in Napa Valley. Napa Green’s ongoing certification program already asked participants to reduce their use by 5% each year. While Brittain didn’t have any data on how much participants have actually reduced their use of glyphosate since, she said certified members have shown mandated reductions.”

AND PEOPLE PAY forty bucks a bottle to drink this stuff? I don't even want to think how much Round-Up is dumped on Anderson Valley's vineyards, but it's lots and lots, and lots and lots of killer chemicals run off every winter into the now fish-free Navarro.

AS ANDERSON VALLEY becomes ever more suburban in a sort of Third World way, with lots of well off well-offs in the hills, and the people who serve them stuffed into back road mini-slums on The Valley floor, it's still striking how wild a place the Anderson Valley remains just off the pavement. 

OUT FOR A LONG WALK on an achingly beautiful late Fall afternoon the other day, I finished off an hour's amble by climbing down off the east end of Ornbaun Road where the rains of '64 carried off the bridge that once crossed Anderson Creek to link Ornbaun Road with Anderson Valley Way, and footed it up the sprawling streambed to where the creek parallels Anderson Valley Way in the same area as the Stilt House, former home of the Luffs, the last native Pomo speakers in the Anderson Valley if not all of Mendocino County. 

THERE'S A HUGE CULVERT carrying winter rains off the east hills, past the north end of Evergreen Cemetery and beneath the pavement of Anderson Valley Way on into Anderson Creek. This winter stream is called Cemetery Creek, but it's no creek in the winter as it swells to twenty feet across as if the entire winter run-off of Anderson Valley was being fired into Anderson Creek out of the huge water cannon the culvert becomes in big rains. 

IN THE DRY MONTHS the culvert is walkable. I can propel my entire upright bundle of aged flesh through it without so much as bending my head. 

THE OTHER DAY, as I approached the culvert from Anderson Creek, I saw a coyote at the cemetery end of the mammoth pipe, and the coyote saw me. We stood there staring at each other for a ridiculously long time — maybe three minutes — before it occurred to me that the impudent little beast seemed to be playing a sort of stare-down game with me. I resolved to outlast him, so I stayed on without moving at my end of the culvert, perhaps forty feet from the wise guy creature mocking me from the other end. 

I STARED, he stared. We stood there looking at each other for another ten minutes or so. Even my minor twitches and foot-shifts didn't cause the coyote to bolt. I sneezed. The coyote handled my sneeze’s reverberating echoes without flinching. He seemed to be laughing at me. 

THE COYOTE finally won. It was getting dark and I was hungry. I took a full step up the trail adjacent to the culvert. Looking up toward the roadbed, I watched the coyote turn and then saunter off in what seemed like satisfied fashion into the blackberry thicket bordering the cemetery.

HERE’S one for the local books. Thirty years ago, in February of 1994, a badly injured man was discovered in the wreckage of his car at the foot of the precipitous hillside two miles south of Boonville. Two weeks later, a young woman was pulled from the wreckage of another accident, which also began at the same downhill bend in 128. In both instances the victims’ Boonville-bound vehicles flew off the road and plummeted down the hill, finally coming to rest in the dry creek bed bisecting the Burger and Minor ranches. 

IN THE ‘94 wreck a man identified as “elderly” in the pages of this newspaper was found alive pinned in his crushed Toyota at the foot of the lethal hill. He’d been pinned in what was left of his car for some 14 hours. Two men who just happened to be walking towards Boonville on 128 on that seldom walked stretch of road, looked over the side and spotted the Toyota resting upright in the streambed. 

HELP was summoned and a badly injured Allan C. Mueller of Kensington, 52, was hauled back up the hill to live another day. 

THE YOUNG WOMAN, also was found miraculously alive when the wreckage of the pick-up she was trapped in was spotted from above, this time by a passing log truck driver. Trapped for two days in the wreckage, the young woman had been the passenger in the truck driven by a young man killed when he was thrown through his windshield as his truck tumbled some 300 feet to the Rancheria's streambed. When rescuers reached his passenger she was conscious but barely alive. She survived. 

DARNED if miracle man Allan C. Mueller didn’t stop by the AVA to introduce himself. At the time of his near death experience years prior, Mueller said he had been headed south towards his Kensington home after a visit with friends in Caspar. He said his Toyota was struck from behind by a truck containing two men wearing what he somehow recalled as black baseball hats. Mueller didn't think the black hats had deliberately hit him, “but they didn’t stop,” 

MUELLER'S Toyota had been shoved over the side about 8pm. He wasn’t found until late the next afternoon. Then-AV fire chief Pat Colleary said Mueller’s Toyota “was just like a piece of aluminum foil” without “a straight piece of metal” on it. 

MUELLER said his recuperation had occupied much of his life since. He had sustained severe injuries to his head, causing him loss of memory and mobility. He said he “still wasn't right.” Mueller did say the description of him as “elderly” in the AVA’s account of his terrible ordeal “still rankled.” But he laughed when he said it and assured us that all his marbles were back in their pouch. Mueller said he thought Caltrans should install a safety rail at that turn, which CalTrans has since done. People had been flying off that curve virtually since the first automobile made its way west from Cloverdale years ago. 

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